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Title: Private Spud Tamson
Author: Campbell, R. W.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                          Private Spud Tamson



                                   BY



                        _Captain R. W. CAMPBELL_



                           TWELFTH IMPRESSION



                       William Blackwood and Sons
                          Edinburgh and London
                                  1916



                        _I TAKE THE LIBERTY TO_
                           Dedicate this Book
                                  _TO_
                        _MY COMMANDING OFFICER_,
                         _MY BROTHER OFFICERS_,
                                 _AND_
                         _THE N.C.O.’S AND MEN_
                                  _OF_
                         _MY GALLANT REGIMENT_.



_NOTE_.


_The Glesca Mileeshy is no regiment in particular. The story is simply a
composite study of the types who fill the ranks of our Militia
Regiments, now known as The Special Reserve. In the near future I hope
to give a pen picture of our Territorials—the splendid force with which
I am at present connected._



    _NOTE_. ........................................................
    CHAPTER I. SPUD TAMSON ENLISTS. ................................   3
    CHAPTER II. SPUD ARRIVES AT THE DEPOT. .........................  11
    CHAPTER III. ESPRIT-DE-CORPS. ..................................  22
    CHAPTER IV. DISCUSSING THE OFFICERS. ...........................  35
    CHAPTER V. CANTEEN YARNS. ......................................  39
    CHAPTER VI. THE GARRISON LIGHTWEIGHT. ..........................  54
    CHAPTER VII. A LECTURE. ........................................  63
    CHAPTER VIII. ANNUAL TRAINING. .................................  69
    CHAPTER IX. LAUGHTER AND LOVE. .................................  78
    CHAPTER X. MOBILISATION. .......................................  88
    CHAPTER XI. OFFICERS AND BILLETS. .............................. 112
    CHAPTER XII. THE GENERAL STAFF. ................................ 132
    CHAPTER XIII. TRAINING FOR WAR. ................................ 142
    CHAPTER XIV. ALL ABOUT SPIES. .................................. 175
    CHAPTER XV. A COMPANY OFFICER’S WORRIES. ....................... 193
    CHAPTER XVI. NEW YEAR’S EVE. ................................... 205
    CHAPTER XVII. WAR. ............................................. 218
    CHAPTER XVIII. THE POWER OF BREAD. ............................. 245
    CHAPTER XIX. AN IMPERIAL AFFAIR. ............................... 267
    A CONVENTIONAL FINISH. EXTRACT FROM THE PRESS. ................. 292



CHAPTER I.
SPUD TAMSON ENLISTS.


_The_ Glesca Mileeshy was a noble force, recruited from the Weary
Willies and Never-works of the famous town of Glasgow. It was also a
regiment with traditions, for in the dim and distant past it had been
founded by 1000 heroic scallywags from out of the city jails. These men
were dressed in tartan breeks and red coats, given a gun and kit,
shipped straight to the Peninsula, and on landing there were told to
fight or starve.

"We’ll fecht," was their unanimous reply, and fight they did. Inured to
hardships, they quickly adapted themselves to the tented field, and
early displayed a thirst

"Ay—I waant tae jine the Mileeshy."

"Which Militia?"

"The Glesca Mileeshy, of coorse."

"Very well, come with me, and I’ll get you a Field-Marshal’s baton,"
said the sergeant with glee, for this recruiter was feeling thirsty and
much in need of his half-crown fee. He led Spud into the recruiting
office, and told him to strip.

"When did you have a bath last?"

"Last Glesca Fair," answered Spud, quite unashamed of his nigger-like
skin.

"What! Ten months ago?"

"Ach! that’s naething; ma faither hisna had a waash since he got
mairret."

"Well then, what’s your age?"

"Age! I dinnae ken!"

"Don’t know your age?"

"Naw, but I wis born the year that the auld chap wis sent tae
Peterheid."

"Oh, what was that for?"

"Knockin’ lumps aff the auld wife’s heid wi’ a poker."

"Very well, we’ll say you’re nineteen," added the sergeant. "Now, what’s
your religion?"

"The Salvation Army. Ye see, the auld chap kept in wi’ them, for they
gie him a bed when he’s ’on the bash.’"

"And what’s your occupation?"

"Cornet-player. I blaw the trumpet, an’ the auld chap gies oot the
balloons and candy."

"What is your full name and address?"

"Spud Tamson, Murder Close, the Gallowgate, five up, ticket number
10,005."

"That’s a big number!"

"Ay, that’s the number o’ fleas in the close."

"Now, my lad, get into that bath and then you’ll pass the doctor."

When Spud emerged from the water he was a different lad. The grime of
years had gone, leaving his skin pink and fresh. He looked fit indeed
with the exception of his spurtle legs and somewhat comical face.
However, the old sergeant wanted his half-crown, so Spud had to pass by
hook or by crook. He made him hop round the doctor’s room like a
kangaroo, and when he was just on the verge of failing in the eyesight
test he whispered the number of dots in his ear. And so Spud Tamson was
passed as a fullblown private into the Glesca Mileeshy.

"There’s the shilling. Go home and say good-bye to your friends; but
remember, be at the station to-night at eight."

"A’ richt, sergint. I’ll be there," replied Spud, as he marched proudly
out of the door. Soon after, he announced the news to his now fond and
proud parents.

"I’m prood o’ ye, son," said Mrs Tamson. "Here, tak’ yer faither’s shirt
and Sunday breeks and pawn them. You’ll get twa shillin’s on them. And
bring back a gill o’ the best, twa bottles o’ table beer, an’ a pun’ o’
ham. We’ll hae a feast afore ye gang tae the Mileeshy," concluded his
mother, as she handed Spud the articles for pawning. He blithely stepped
off, and on his return was followed by all the thirsty members of the
"Murder Close Brigade."

"Here’s tae Private Spud Tamson of the Glesca Mileeshy," said Mrs
Tamson, raising a glass to her lips, and giving Spud a look of pride.

"Ay, he’ll be a braw sodger," chimed in an old wife.

"If it wisnae for his legs," said Tamson senior.

"Let’s hae a sang," interjected "Hungry Bob," another relative who was a
professional militiaman. All were agreed, and Bob commenced to sing—

    "Their caps were tattered and battered,
      And jackets faded and worn,
    Their breeches ragged wi’ crawling
      When boosey and a’ forlorn;
    Yet when dressed in the tartan
      They’re the pride o’ the women’s eye,
    Are the Rusty, Dusty, Deil-may-care,
      Plucky Auld G.L.I."

"Hear! hear!" echoed the audience, sipping up the last of the
refreshments, then rising to follow Spud to the station.

"What’s up?" asked the neighbour, Mrs M’Fatty, as she saw the crowd go
marching out of the close.

"D’ye no’ ken—Spud Tamson’s jined the Mileeshy!"

"D’ye tell me! But he’s got bachle legs and bleary een. A braw sodger
he’ll mak’," said the other with a snicker.

"Oh, but he’ll blaw up weel when he gets a skinfu’ o’ skilly and army
duff," said Mrs M’Fatty, shutting her door again.

Meantime Spud was marching to the station, headed by the melodeon and
tinwhistle band of the "Murder Close Brigade." It was the proudest day
of his life, and he stuck out his chest as he marched into the Central
Station.

"In here," said the old sergeant, getting him by the scruff of the neck
and half pitching him into a railway carriage for Blacktoon. The whistle
blew, and as the train moved out his friends shouted—

"Keep oot o’ the Nick, Tamson."

"Pawn your claes an’ send me the ticket."

"I’ll come oot tae see ye," said his faither.

"If you’re no in Barlinnie," shouted Spud as a last farewell, then
collapsed down on the seat, to the disgust of a woman next to him.

"Dinnae smother ma wean," she said.

"I’m sorry, missus. I thocht it wis a doll."

"Did ye, ye impident keely. If I wis your mither I wid hae drooned ye."

"I’m ower bonny for that," answered Spud in a good-humoured way.

"Ha! ha! ha! What a face!"

"What’s wrang wi’ ma face?"

"It’s like a burst German sausage."

"She’s got ye that time," said an old packman in the opposite corner;
"but whaur are ye gaun?"

"Tae jine the Mileeshy."

"Man, I’m a piper in that ’crush.’ You’ll like it—it’s great sport. But
mind Sergeant-Major Fireworks. He’s a holy terror. He’s got a chist like
a horse, and a breist o’ tin medals. When he howls the dogs start
barking, and when he curses he mak’s ye shiver as if ye had the fever.
But he’ll mak’ a man o’ ye."

"What d’ye get tae eat?"

"Hard breid, skilly, bully beef, an’ army duff. You’ll smell the beef a
mile away. And mind the blankets."

"What’s wrang wi’ them?"

"They’re like the picture shows—movin’. But here’s Blacktoon, an’
there’s a sergint waitin’ for ye. I’ll see ye at camp, and mine’s a
pint. Ta-ta," concluded the old warrior, as Spud stepped out to meet the
sergeant.

"I’m Private Spud Tamson," said our hero, saluting the sergeant.

"Alright, but don’t salute me—salute the heid yins, that’s the officers.
Quick march." And off went Spud and his escort through the streets of
Blacktoon.

There was a smile as the bold Militiaman went by, and a little gang of
unwashed urchins joined the procession, singing—

    "Oh, this is Jock M’Craw,
    A sodger in the raw,
    But Bully Beef and Duff
    ’ll mak’ him fat an’ tough,
      And then he’ll be
      Like Bob M’Gee,
      A twelve stane three
        Mileeshiman! Mileeshiman!"



CHAPTER II.
SPUD ARRIVES AT THE DEPOT.


_The_ Depot in Blacktoon was a somewhat ancient affair. In its palmiest
days the blood-sucking Hanoverian mercenaries of King Geordie had been
quartered there. And during the Russian Scare a score of low jerry-built
buildings had been added to house the braw lads hastily summoned to
defend their kail-pots and their wives. The Depot was therefore a
glorified "Model"—in fact, some of the "Mileeshy" described it as a "bug
and flea factory." However, that was not the fault of His Majesty’s
Government, but rather the result of collecting from the highways and
byways all the odds and ends of humanity. Nevertheless, it was a useful
institution from a social reformer’s point of view. In times of stress
and unemployment the Depot became a refuge and soup-kitchen for all
those who could muster enough chest measurement and say "99" while an
old horse surgeon thumped the lungs with his ironlike fists. And strange
to say, it was also viewed by the magistrates as a sort of reformative
penitentiary. Many a lad summoned before the bailie for sheep-stealing,
burglary, wife-beating, or "getting a lassie into bother," was given the
option of "sixty days—or jine the Mileeshy." Naturally, these
rapscallions preferred the lesser of the evils, and, in this way, the
Secretary of State for War was enabled to put on paper that "The Militia
was up to the established strength and filled with men of a hardy and
soldier-like kind." Still, these men could fight. Wellington, as I have
already said, had found the Glesca Mileeshy able to rise to the noblest
heights. So, you see, there was enough of tradition to whet the
enthusiasm of the warlike Spud, and as he marched through the barrack
gates he swung out his pigeon chest, tightened up his shanks, and
swaggered across the parade in the style of a braw "Mileeshiman." The
sergeant marched him straight to where Sergeant-Major Fireworks was
standing.

"Halt!" the sergeant commanded.

Then addressing the sergeant-major, said, "Private Spud Tamson from
Glasgow, sir."

"Umph! You’re a beauty. What are you—a burglar or wife-beater, eh?"

"Naw, I’m Spud Tamson, rag merchant, frae Glesca."

"Say ’sir’ when you speak to me. And keep your legs to attention. You’re
a soldier now! Don’t scowl at me; I’ll have no dumb insolence from you,
understand! And remember, you belong to the Glesca Mileeshy, the right
of the line and the terror of the whole world."

"I ken a’ aboot that. Ma uncle wis in it."

"What was his name?"

"Rab M’Ginty."

"M’Ginty! Why, that was the d—— rascal who sneaked my trousers and stole
a barrel of beer."

"Ay, that’s him. He’s got an’ awfu’ thirst. I think he’s got a sponge in
his thrapple."

"Very well. You’ll go to ’A’ Company. March him off, sergeant." And away
went Spud to join the leading company of his regiment.

He was introduced to a barrack-room where twenty men lived under the
rule of a red-nosed corporal nicknamed "Beery Bob." The walls of this
room were whitewashed and decorated here and there with photos of boxers
and ballet girls in tights. Along each side of the room were the little
iron beds with rolled-up mattresses and blankets neatly folded. A single
shelf contained each man’s belongings, while at the end of the room
there was a cupboard to hold the rough bread, greasy margarine, and
chipped iron bowls and plates. To the sensitive eye the place just
looked like a prison, but the average Militiaman regarded it as a
palace, for he hailed from a brute creation who only know squalor and
misery. Indeed, it was frequently argued that to house these men in a
more artistic sphere would be stupid, for the simple reason that they
would wipe their feet with the tablecloths and use the saucers for the
boot blacking. In any case, it was life under the crudest conditions. On
a pay-day it was simply Hell.

Dinner was being served as Spud entered. This consisted of a
greasy-looking stew, coupled with queer-looking potatoes. The old
soldiers, of course, made sure of receiving the biggest share. This was
an unwritten law, handed down from the Army of the Romans, and it was
_infra dig_. for the recruit to object. Imagine the surprise of the
hungry Spud Tamson on sitting down to a bone and a couple of potatoes.
It was too much for his fiery nature, and, on observing the plate of an
old Die-hard next to him, which was loaded up with the choicest titbits,
he remarked to him, "You’re like Rab Haw—you’ve eyes bigger than your
belly."

"Nane o’ yer lip, or I’ll knock your pimpled face intae mincemeat."

"Wid ye! D’ye think I’m saft?"

"Shut up, I tell ye."

"Tha’ll no’ frichten me, auld cock—I’m gem."

"Tak’ that," said his opponent, wiping his hand across his face. Spud
promptly hit back, with the result that the table went up with a bang
and all the dinners crashed to the floor.

"Mak’ a ring! Mak’ a ring!" shouted the others, for Militiamen dearly
love a scrap. In a few seconds this was done. Spud and his enemy off
with their jackets, and soon the thud, thud, of blows, and an occasional
grunt told of a deadly combat. If Spud was lean, he was wiry, and he had
been reared in the school of self-help. He hopped round the old Die-hard
like a bantam, and now and then slipped in a terrific blow on the
elderly man’s corporation.

"Go on the wee yin!"

"Two to one bar one!"

"Slip it across him!"

"Whack his beer barrel!" were some of the rude but encouraging remarks.
But all the pluck of Spud was useless against the great hulking form of
"Dirty Dick," as his opponent was called. After a ten-minutes’ bout Dick
gave out a terrible snipe which sent the brave Spud to the floor and
caused the blood to spurt from his nose in a regular stream.

That was the end of the combat. Willing hands tended the unconscious
Spud, and on his recovery they hailed him as a fit and proper person for
the Glesca Mileeshy. Dick, in a true sportsmanlike manner, shook hands
and marched the whole crowd to the canteen. There the health of the
gallant recruit was pledged with Highland honours, followed by the
"Regimental" Anthem of the Glesca Mileeshy—

    "Beer, beer, glorious beer,
    Fill yourself right up to here;
    Don’t make a fool of it,
    But down with a pail of it,
      Glorious, glorious beer."

This episode was duly reported to Tamson senior. That worthy rag-vender
was well pleased—so pleased, in fact, that he got fu’ on the strength of
it, and received a hammering from Mrs Tamson, who cracked the frying-pan
over his head. In the Gallowgate, the Murder Close Brigade also hailed
the news with pride. Spud was "one of the boys," and they determined to
give him a public reception in a fried-fish shop when he returned.

Meantime Spud was being initiated into the arts of the soldier. From the
stores he had received a pair of wide, ill-fitting tartan breeks,
resembling concertinas, a red jacket, which hung like a sack, a white
belt, and a leatherbound Glengarry cap. A penny swagger cane and the
inevitable "fag" completed the picture of Spud as a warrior bold. He
also received a rifle and equipment. The rifle was an ancient affair,
officially known as a "D.P." (Drill Purposes). A certain number of good
rifles were allowed to each company for firing purposes. This
arrangement, perhaps, saved the lives of many in the Depot of Blacktoon,
for the Glesca Mileeshy at large resembled the Dervishes of the Khalifa.

Before dealing with the drilling of Spud on the barrack square I must
not forget to record his first ragging affair. This, as in the case of
every recruit, occurred on the first night in the barrack-room. It is
known as "setting the bed." As each bed is a collapsible affair, kept
together by movable bolts and stays, it is quite an easy matter to
abstract a few, leaving sufficient to allow the practical jokers to
carry out their scheme. On the night in question Spud, of course, was
quite unconscious of any trouble to come. When "Lights out" sounded he
hopped into bed and soon was fast asleep. His snoring was the signal for
the mischievous rascals to crawl out of their beds. Dirty Dick was one.
He fastened long strings to the legs of the sleeping man’s bed. To the
ends of his blankets strings were also attached. During these operations
a "ghost" was getting ready by draping a white sheet over his body and
tipping his fingers and eyes with phosphorus. A sergeant’s sword was
also given a touch of gleaming phosphorus. This completed, all scuttled
back to their beds and waited for the signal.

"Go," shouted the leader. The strings were tugged, away went the legs,
off went the blankets, and with a horrible crash Spud’s bed collapsed
like a pack of cards on to the floor. His dreams were rudely shattered,
and he found himself standing in his shirt-tail ’midst the wreckage,
muttering some unparliamentary thoughts. The stillness and darkness of
the barrack-room made the affair uncanny. He had just commenced to
wonder whether his brain was sound when he was again startled to see a
ghost advancing down the room, loudly exclaiming, "Spud Tamson, I am the
Ghost of Jack the Ripper. I have come to slit thy gizzard with a sword,
so prepare to pass into the land where the angels sell ice-cream and all
drinks are free." This eerie person also waved his blazing-sword and
hands in such a terrifying way that poor Spud shivered with a strange
and awful fear. He thought he was in something like Dante’s Inferno.
Nearer, nearer came the "Ghost," waving his awful sword. Was he to die?
Would he never see his dearly beloved Gallowgate again? And oh, what of
his Mary Ann, that romantic Glasgow creature who held his heart in the
hollow of her hand? Something had to be done.

Just then he caught the suppressed laughter of his fellows. His fears
vanished with the wind. He knew he was being ragged. Again he would show
his pluck. Picking up an iron leg of his bed, he waited for the "Ghost"
to come quite near.

"Spud Tamson, bare thy black and unwashed neck—I have come to slit it
like a butcher cutting a pig——"

Bang! went Spud’s iron stanchion. It struck the sword, then Spud gave
the "Ghost" a terrific blow below the belt. He howled, then flew at his
aggressor like a tiger. In a second the still barrack-room was turned
into a boxing-booth. The unseemly noise was so bad that it roused the
corporal, "Beery Bob," out of his usual heavy sleep. Well used to these
affairs, the corporal, seizing a big stick, jumped out of his bed. Crack
went the stick over the nether region of the "Ghost," who at once
galloped to bed. Crack went the stick again over Spud’s poor meatless
form. There was a yell, and Tamson exclaimed, "It wisna me, corporal! It
wisna me!"

"Naw, but that wis me. Get tae bed and nae mair o’ yer yelpin’," he
said, turning in, while the remainder of the Militiamen were laughing
underneath the blankets. Poor Spud, realising that he was amongst the
Philistines, immediately camped for the night midst the wreckage of his
dreams.



CHAPTER III.
ESPRIT-DE-CORPS.


_Sergeant_ Cursem could drill anything from an elephant to a baboon. His
figure was a walking advertisement for Lipton’s, while his voice
resembled the rasping fog-horns on the Clyde. He had the eye of an
eagle, the moustache of a Kaiser, and the finest vocabulary of
curse-words in the Army—hence his name of Cursem. Of course he was a
Regular, one specially selected to thump duty, drill, and discipline
into the motley array annually enlisted to defend his Majesty, his heirs
and successors. His was a tough job, but he managed it. His brute
personality and muscular strength were sufficient to repel the insolence
and insubordination of the average Glesca keely. Naturally, he was
famous. Round the hot plates of the "Models," in the ticketed dens of
the Gallowgate, and in the stone yards of Barlinnie, there were ancient
heroes who recited his deeds and mimicked his adjectives. And Cursem’s
nicknames were legion. "Blowhard," "Hardneck," "Swankpot," and "Grease
lightning," were just a few. Still he was popular, for underneath his
rough exterior was a heart of gold. Old swaddies delighted to tell of
his gallantry, too, for once on the Frontier of India he had slaughtered
ten bloodthirsty Pathans in the space of an hour. Spud and his pals, in
consequence, always paraded in fear and awe. When Cursem bellowed "Fall
in" they trembled, while his thunderous "’Shun" made them shiver and
pale.

Cursem had a stock address for recruits on their first parade. "The
first duty of a soldier is obedience," he would say. "If you’re told to
cut the whiskers off a German, or stick your stomach in front of a
pom-pom—do it, and no back answers. You’re not paid ’to think,’ you’re
paid to die. And when you die—die like a soldier and a man. It doesn’t
matter whether you’ve been a tinker, burglar, or wife-beater, once
you’re a soldier—you’re a gentleman. If you want to get drunk, there’s
the canteen. Don’t go into the beer-shops in town and fill yourself up
to the neck, then get arrested for assault and battery. Next—wash
yourselves. Some of you chaps haven’t had a bath since you were born.
Take a pride in yourselves. Cleanliness is next to godliness—you’ve a
chance of getting to heaven if you wash the black collars off your
necks. There’s enough germs below your finger-nails to kill the Army
with itch and fever. And when you’re marching—march like guardsmen.
Don’t waddle like ducks and bulldogs. Stick out your chest. If you
haven’t got a chest shove some cotton-wool in your tunic. Swing your
arms out and straighten up your legs. Step out as if you owned the whole
Empire. And keep your eyes off the ground. There’s no fag-ends or
half-crowns there. Now, answer your regimental names—"

    "Tamson,"—"Here."
    "M’Fatty,"—"Here."
    "Muldoon,"—"Here."
    "M’Haggis,"—"Here."
    "M’Shortbread,"—"Here."
    "Whiskers,"—"Here."
    "M’Sloppy,"—"Here."
    "M’Ginty,"—"Here."

"Very good—now, we’ll do some drill. Squad—’Shun. As you were—put some
life in it. ’Shun—by the right—quick march. Step out—hold up your
heads—swing out your arms. Left—left—left—right—left. Come along,
M’Ginty, you walk like a beer-barrel. Step out, M’Haggis,—you’re not at
a funeral. Left—right—left—about turn. I said right-about, Tamson, not
left-about. Don’t sulk and scowl at me. No dumb insolence here, my lad,
or I’ll clap you in the guard-room. Squad—right turn—lead on. Stop that
talking in the ranks. Tamson,—hold your head up."

"Haud your ain—— heid up," muttered Tamson.

"Squad—halt. What do you mean, you tin-chested, bandy-legged rag
merchant. Didn’t I tell you not to talk in the ranks?"

"It wisnae me—it wis M’Ginty."

"You’re a liar, Tamson," answered M’Ginty.

"Silence, you red-haired, spud-bred Irishman. I’ll do all the talking
here," roared Cursem, his whiskers sticking out like needles and his
eyes blazing with anger. "Now, no more nonsense. By the right—quick
march. I’ll sweat you to death, and make your shirts stick to your back
like glue. About turn—keep your eyes off the colonel’s cook—she’s
married and got a family. Right form—come round now—steady—forward—by
the right. That’s better. Squad—right turn—leave the canteen clock
alone—it’s not twelve yet, and there’s no free beer. Come along,
Muldoon,—step out—you get a loaf of bread and a pound of beef to do it
on. Halt! Now you can talk about your Mary Ann’s," concluded Cursem,
after the first spasm. But the rookies had no wind left to talk. They
were content to gasp and study in silence the mountainous personality of
Sergeant Cursem.

It was also during the minutes at ease that the sergeant discovered the
callings and antecedents of his men.

"What do you outside?" he inquired of the pimple-nosed M’Ginty.

"Everybody, sarjint," replied this sharp imp of the streets.

"I _thought_ you were a burglar. And, Muldoon, what’s your calling?"

"Gravel crusher, sergint?"

"Umph! What’s that?"

"Road merchant and milestone counter."

"You’re a tinker, eh?"

"Ay. Hae ye ony tin cans or umbrellas tae mend—I’ll dae them for a
pint?"

"No. Now, M’Haggis, what are you?"

"A coal merchant."

"Where?"

"Doon below."

"In the pits—I thought that, by your neck. And where did you get the
name of Whiskers?" he next inquired of a queer-looking mortal from
Cowcaddens.

"Frae ma faither. The hair used tae grow oot o’ his nose an’ ears. He
wis a Hielanman frae Tobermory."

"Umph—I can see the heather sticking out of your toes as well,"
interjected Cursem. Then turning to Tamson, he asked his pedigree.

"Rags and balloons, sergint."

"I suppose you push the barrow?"

"Na—I blaw the balloons, mak’ the candy, and soond the trumpet for the
auld chap."

"Where did you get that broken nose?"

"In a fish shop."

"A fight?"

"Ay—an Italian hit me wi’ a bottle for pinchin’ a plate."

"Well—you’re a lot of beauties," said Cursem, addressing the crowd. "You
could steal the hair off a billiard ball and burgle the Bank of England
in broad daylight. But never mind, lads," he continued, in a more
intimate and kindly way, "you’re doing your little bit for your country.
That’s more than some of the vulgar rich _can_ do. And you can all stop
a bullet, or plank a bayonet in a German’s stomach. Hooligans can be
heroes just as well as aristocrats. This old Militia was first raised in
a prison and died like heroes in the Peninsula. And I’ve seen men like
you slicing the heads off big fat niggers out in India. And, mind you, I
would sooner lead a company of the Glesca Mileeshy than a company of
Oxford grads."

"Why, sergint?" ventured one of the squad.

"These gents think too much—you don’t. A good soldier never thinks. If
he does, he’s a nuisance. A soldier’s a man who doesn’t ask why he’s got
to die. He does it, and that’s the end of it. And I want to talk to you
now about Esprit-de-Corps."

"What’s that, sergint?"

"Esprit-de-Corps means that you’ve got to feel and believe that you’re
equal to a hundred niggers, ten Frenchmen, five Germans, and a couple of
Yanks."

"Is that no’ swank?" asked Tamson.

"Well—yes. What you call swank won Waterloo, the Crimea, and the Mutiny.
See! But just to make it clear, gather round here and I’ll tell you of a
fight I was once in."

The recruits came closer, for when Cursem opened up his heart they loved
him. And then all liked to hear the yarns of the tented field. And
Cursem was a clever enough soldier to know that this was the best way to
let these simple-hearted youngsters understand that tradition and duty
are the mainsprings of an army.

"You see, this affair happened out on the Frontier. That’s where the sun
peels your nose like a banana, and gives you a thirst that gallons can’t
kill. Well, we had been marching, skirmishing, and killing for nearly
six months. We had lost half of the regiment with bullets, fever, and
sunstroke when we arrived at a place called Fugee. There the old colonel
told us that there were three thousand oily-skinned Dacoits waiting to
kill us out by a night attack. Mark you, we were only five hundred
strong, and half-starved at that. The nearest garrison was 100 miles
away, and we had only rations for three days. Pretty tight, I tell you.
So the officers and sergeants had a pow-wow. The colonel put it straight
to us when he said, ’It’s fight and get out, or stand still and get
butchered to death.’ We voted to fight. ’Very well—we’ll burn our camp
baggage, spare rifles, and everything we can’t carry on our backs. Then
we shall sally out at night. ’A’ Company will make a feint at the enemy,
while the remaining companies slip round their rear. ’A’ must fight its
way through or perish, while the remainder must also take pot-luck. Do
you agree?’ We all said ’Yes,’ and went back to get ready.

"Everything was burned. And as I was in ’A’ I got my boys ready for
their job. The old colonel shook hands with every man of ’A,’ and wished
us luck. He never expected to see us again. Then out we crawled to the
foot of the hills. It was as dark as the devil’s waistcoat. And now and
then we fell into dongas and holes. No one spoke, and all tried to keep
behind the captain, who had an illuminated compass. For over an hour we
stumbled along, when the captain whispered ’Halt!’

"’Sergeant,’ said he, ’I can smell niggers. Come with me for a minute.’
We went forward. ’Steady!’ says he; ’there’s one asleep.’ And before I
could say Jack Robinson his sword was in the nigger’s stomach. The
beggar roared like a donkey, and that started the bother. In a minute
the hills were ablaze with bullet flashes. The captain was shot dead; so
was the subaltern. My helmet was riddled, and I got pinned in the leg.
Just then the dawn broke, and I saw one chance for us all—through a
little valley. ’’A’ Company, fix bayonets—charge,’ I roared. And didn’t
the boys come on. All Glasgow lads—and plucky ones. We shot, bayoneted,
kicked, battered, and cursed through a thousand dirty-smelling Dacoits.
They made mincemeat of twenty of us in five minutes. I was bleeding like
a pig, for they were cutting me up for sandwiches. But on I went with
the remainder of the company. The shots, the whistling knives, the wild
yells and curses made it just like hell. Yes; that’s the word. Once I
looked back and saw the enemy disembowelling some of our boys. Just then
our silly bugler, who got in a funk, sounded the ’Retire.’"

"And did you, sergint?" asked Tamson.

"No—I shot him dead. The battlefield’s no place for fools. Well, we cut,
cursed, and blundered through till we got on to a hill. There were only
ten of us left. You see, we had tackled the main body, so that I knew
the regiment had got safely through. It was hopeless for us to follow.
We were cut off. It was to be a last stand for us all. The enemy had
shied clear for a while. They knew they could get us any old time. So I
got the boys to build a sangar, and we lay down. There was no water, and
we had only a few biscuits to last us out. Our throats were parched, our
tongues hanging out, and nearly every man had some kind of wound. We
tied them up with rags. But oh, my God, the sun! It burnt the sinews of
our legs, and sent one fellow raving mad. He rushed down the hill like a
mad priest, and in five minutes he was shot dead and disembowelled by
the outposts of the enemy. All through the night the Dacoits chanted
their death songs, for they were biding their time. For three days we
lived like that. Four more died. And on the fourth day the enemy drew
near for the final murder of us all. We were weak, but frenzy made us
strong. I fired as if I was at Bisley, and potted ten of them dead. All
the others did the same. That stopped their rush. But only for an hour.
Then they crept on again. Nearer they came. I could smell them—their
dirty, evil eyes were mocking us. But every head that popped up from
behind a stone got bashed with a bullet. Then our ammunition went done.
I had one round left. I heard them come on. I felt it was domino for us
all. My brain was going; blood was trickling down my shoulder; but just
as my memory snapped I heard the echo of a bugle and cheer. The relief
column had got through. When I came to I was in hospital. I was a
lunatic for six months, and the only one left out of a hundred men.
That’s what we call Esprit-de-Corps. Do you understand what I mean now?"
he asked in a quiet voice.

"Ay, sergint," was the humble response from all.

"Squad—Dismiss," and off they trooped to the barrack-room with the
spirit of duty and honour in their souls. That’s how Sergeant Cursem
drilled the Glesca Mileeshy. And that is how he earned his Victoria
Cross.



CHAPTER IV.
DISCUSSING THE OFFICERS.


"_Ginger_!"

"Ay, Spud."

"Whut’s a colonel?"

"Oh, he’s the heid bummer o’ the Mileeshy. The man that curses everybody
on parade."

"Yon fat man wi’ the red nose an’ the medals?"

"Ay."

"Whut did he get his medals for?"

"Slicing beef-steaks aff the niggers in Egypt. D’ye ken his nickname?"

"Na."

"It’s ’Corkleg.’ He’s only got wan leg. A nigger chowed it aff in the
Soudan."

"Whut dis he work at when the Mileeshy’s no ’up’?"

"He shoots phaisants an’ kills rabbits."

"Ay, an’ whut’s yon gless in his ee fur?"

"Tae see if yer buttons are clean, an’ they’re nae fleas on yer bonnet."

"An’, Ginger, wha’s yon wee man wi’ the rid hair an’ pinted neb?"

"That’s the ’Dandy Major.’ He can scoff a bottle tae his brekfist. He’s
awfu’ fond o’ actresses. They ca’ him ’Dandy Dick.’ He wis in the
Regulars, but he got chucked oot for hittin’ the colonel on the nose."

"Whut aboot?"

"A wumin, of coorse,—weemin an’ wine is whut they chaps live for."

"Then there’s Captain Hardup—wha’s he?"

"He’s a professional Mileeshiman, wan o’ thae chaps that mak’s a leevin’
oot o’ the Mileeshy. He’s a ranker. Rankers ken owre much. There’s
naethin’ like a real toff for an officer. They’ve got the bluid, an’ the
men ay follow them in action. Hae ye seen oor captain yet, Spud?"

"Na."

"Weel, he’s the real Mackay. His auld man’s a Duke. He wears corsets,
an’ pits pooder on his face, and speaks in a hawhaw wey, but he’s a guid
yin. He’s ay got a hauf-quid to gie the lads a drink. D’ye ken——"

"Whut?"

"He knocked a man oot last camp. Dirty Bob, a daft piper, wis a bit fu’,
and said he wid lay the captain oot.

"’How dare you?’ ses the captain.

"’Ay, I wid dare,’ says Dirty Bob.

"’Take that, you beastly fellow,’ ses the captain, stretchin’ him oot
like a deid yin. An’ that’s no’ the end o’t. Next mornin’ he sent for
Bob. Ses he, ’There’s a half-sovereign to you—see and behave yourself in
future.’ Bob’s the best sodger in the company noo. Thae toffs ken hoo
tae haun’le men."

"Whut wey are these officers no’ in the Regulars, Ginger?"

"They’re like us—they hinna got muckle brains. The Mileeshy’s for
orphans, unemployed, an’ daft folk. But it’s the back door tae the Army.
If ye can get yer brains an’ chest measurement up in the Mileeshy,
they’ll tak’ ye intae the Regulars."

"An’ whut are the Non-Commeesioned Officers for?" inquired Spud, still
anxious to learn.

"Tae dae a’ the dirty work. Ye see, we’re a’ supposed to be like
cuddies—broad backs an’ saft heids. The Non-Coms. are peyed tae whup us
on—see?"

"Then hoo d’ye get stripes?"

"Some chaps get made lance-corporal for bein’ smert; ithers get it for
giein’ the colour-sergint ten bob. An’ some get the stripe for makin’ up
tae the officer."

"But that’s no richt, Ginger?"

"Naethin’s richt in the sodgers. Ye’re no’ supposed tae think. If ye
think owre much they’ll pit ye in the nick for insubordination. That’s
whut they ca’ Disceeplin. If ye waant tae get on in the Mileeshy, kid
ye’re daft, an’ gie the salaam tae everybody. That’s hoo tae get a staff
job."



CHAPTER V.
CANTEEN YARNS.


_The_ unwritten laws of the Glesca Mileeshy were as rigid as the
etiquette of the Brigade of Guards. The most important was that which
compelled recruits to "stand their hand," or, in plain English, give
free drinks all round. This to the cultured instinct may seem a somewhat
coarse enactment, but to an old Militia hand, possessed of an Indian
thirst, it was all-important and always demanded. The recruit’s first
pay-day was usually selected for this purpose. Pay-day in the Militia, I
may say, is just a sort of Dante’s Inferno in miniature. And in the
times of Spud Tamson the weekly pay amounted to one shilling per day.
This would not keep a millionaire in matches, but it was sufficient to
lure to the barracks’ gate the official and unofficial wives of this
regiment, as well as to rouse in the breasts of their noble lovers
dreams of foaming ale and nights of song and story.

Just as German students have their beer clubs and drinking bouts, so did
this regiment possess its boosing schools and captains. This was a weird
system. Each company had a school, and on pay-day every man paid so much
to the captain. The captain divided this money over the days of the
week, and thus ensured that all had liquid refreshment till the next
pay-day came round. The captain, of course, had other duties. He chaired
all meetings in the canteen, maintained law and order, and, more
important, he secured patrons possessed of unlimited cash and willing
hearts. The recruit, of course, was the most important. A youngster
deemed it an honour to sup with those veterans of "Models" and wars, and
for the privilege was content to disgorge. Spud was therefore inveigled
into one of these schools, and in true Tamson style called for "pints o’
the best." For this act he was made the guest of the evening, and so
long as his pay lasted the old guard were content to listen to his
blethers with all the deference born of thirst and cunning.

The canteen was, of course, under discipline and regulations. A corporal
stood at the door to officially measure the pints of ale that trickled
down the Militiamen’s necks. As soon as a man’s head wobbled, and his
eyes rolled in a stupid and vacant style, he was seized by the scruff of
the neck and given the order of the boot. If he objected, he was marched
to the "clink" under escort. This was religiously adhered to in the
Glesca Mileeshy for the first hour, but as the clock went round, the
very thirsty corporals of this regiment sent duty and regulations to
Hong-Kong, and sat down to partake of the feast given free because of
their superior rank.

Picture the scene, then,—a long, low room, packed with boozing schools,
and badly lit with evil-smelling oil-lamps. Round the tables were seated
some of the biggest rogues and many of the biggest-hearted souls in
creation. In one corner, the corporal sat blind to all the world; while
in the opposite part of the canteen Spud Tamson was seated amidst his
new-found friends listening to the tales of woe and war.

"Speakin’ aboot funny things," said Rab M’Ginty, "I mind when we were
oot at the War on ootpost duty. It wis a rotten job—naethin’ but hard
chuck an’ bully beef. An’ every nicht the enemy used tae open fire. We
got fed up wi’ this, an’ thocht oot a scheme tae save us bother. D’ye
ken what we did?’

"Na," said the others.

"Weel, we got a’ the auld tin cans an’ auld dugs we could get oor haunds
on. We tied the tin cans tae the barbed wire and every ten yerds we
fixed a dug up on a chain."

"Whut fur?" asked Tamson.

"Tae rattle an’ bark when the enemy wis comin’. Man, it wis a great
thing! And when on duty we could get tae sleep; for the dugs barked when
they heard the least soond. But wan nicht we got a terrible fricht. Ye
see it wis gey daurk and aboot midnicht, a’ the tin cans an’ dugs
commenced tae rattle an’ bark. Then I heard something cherging up and
doon the wires. So I let bang! That started it. In five meenits the hale
army o’ ten thoosan’ men were firing. But the cans kept rattlin’ an’ the
dugs barkin’. I wis shiverin’ wi’ fricht. Tae mak’ things worse, there
was a terrible braying—an eerie noise in front o’ us. We couldnae stop
it. Some said it wis auld Kruger’s ghost, others said it wis the Deevil
himsel’; but, man, it wis awfu’. For twa hoors we fired ten thoosand
roonds o’ ammuneeshin but that didnae end it."

"Whut wis it?" queried the anxious and interested Spud.

"Wait," said Rab. "We kept on firing till the dawn came. An’ then we saw
them—dizens o’ them lyin’ deid."

"The enemy?" some one asked.

"Na! Donkeys."

"Donkeys! Hoo wis that?"

"Ye see, a’ the transport cuddies got loose an’ wandered. They got mixed
up wi’ the wires an’ that wis the cause o’ the bother. Jist fancy, ten
thoosan’ roonds tae kill three dizen cuddies."

"Did ye get the V.C.?" queried Tamson.

"V.C.! Nae fear. I got ten days in the nick for openin’ fire on His
Majesty’s cuddies."

"Ach, sure an’ I’ve a better yarn than that," said Paddy Doolan.

"Tell it," ordered the captain.

"It was out in India when I was in the ould Dublin Fusiliers. We were at
a place nicknamed ’Holipore,’ that’s where the Holy Fathers pour
medicine down the niggers’ necks, an’ beer down the sodgers’. The affair
happened at night. I was on sentry-go, and about twelve I was startled
to see a mad fakir wid fire in his eyes and a sword in his fingers
advancing on me.

"’Halt!’ ses I, shiverin’ in my pants. But he never stopped. On he
marched.

"’Be jabers, if yes don’t halt I’ll riddle ye,’ I roared. That didn’t
halt him. I rammed a cartridge in and tried to fire, but divil a bit
could I fire. It was jammed, or I was drammed. And then he stopped.

"’Great Sahib,’ he said.

"’Yis,’ ses I, all shakin’.

"’I am the Chief Priest of the Temple of Skulls. I bless you and annoint
you one of my beloved and a son of the faithful. And I command you to
ground your arms.’

"’I can’t—I’ll get the "nick" from the sargint.’

"’Great Sahib, obey, or I shall cut out thy heart and eyes.’

"I dropped my gun like a hot Connemara spud.

"’Sahib, double march and follow me.’ Off went the mad fellow into the
jungle. I galloped after him. The tigers were roarin’, elephants
trumpeting and hyenas crying like ould cats. But they fled from the
sight of the ould fakir. I was puffin’ an’ blowin’ like a roarin’
race-horse, and sweatin’ like a pig, when he cried, ’Halt, O Sahib of
the great white race.’

"’Not so much of the Sahib,’ ses I, ’but give me a drink.’

"’There is no refreshment in the Temple of Skulls. Your blood shall be
the refreshment for our Gods. Watch, O Sahib.’ And before I could cough
the ground opened up before me showing a stair made out of bones.

"’Enter,’ said he, like a bloomin’ ould butler. Down I went into the
devil’s hole. It was a temple lit up with oil. The walls were made of
skulls, and the floors had carpets made out of Highlanders’ kilts,
fusiliers’ trousers, artillerymen’s pants, and cavalrymen’s dongarees.
Holy Moses! I shivered like a cat on the tiles. As I got in, a dozen mad
fellows commenced to play their pumpkin drums, and sing—"

    "’Death to the Sahib,
    His blood for our Gods,
    Death to the Sahib,
    His bones for our rods;
    Death to the Sahib,
    And then he shall know
    The secrets of Rahib
    The High Priest below.’

"’Ye dirty ould spalpeen,’ ses I, knockin’ daylight out of the fellow
who’d introduced me to this Madame Tussaud’s. But he dodged, and pulling
a string, I was enveloped in blue flames, and then tied to an altar in
front of the Holy Water."

"Have a drink, Paddy." interjected the captain at this point, to the
disgust of the fascinated Spud and spell-bound Militiamen.

Paddy quaffed a pint from the foaming tankard, then resumed: "Yes, they
got out their scimitors—knives like the master-cook cuts the rations up
with. But before slicing the beef-steaks off me the High Priest offered
up a prayer ’for the soul of Sahib Paddy Doolan, of the Dublin
Fusiliers, who was to be sliced, fried, and eaten on the altar of Rahib,
the High Priest of the Twopenny Tube in the Jungle of Tigers and
Panthers.’ Next, they did a can-can—a sort of Highland fling—round me.

"’Stop,’ ses I, ’I’ll never get drunk again,’ but they just sung—"

    "’Death to the Sahib,
    His blood for our Gods.’

"Finally, they sharpened their ould ham knives, and with a wild, wild
yell, stuck every one into my ould hairy chest. And then I woke up—in
hospital."

"In hospital?" queried the amazed Spud.

"Yes, I was in the D.T.’s (delirium tremens)."

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the crowd in a rollicking way, for Paddy Doolan
was the champion liar in the corps. But his story was sufficient to drag
another drink out of the green-eyed Spud, and that was the main point so
far as Doolan and his pals were concerned.

"It’s your turn now, ’Dominie,’" said the captain to a grizzled old
red-nosed warrior, who had seen better days.

"What do you want?"

"Tell us about Algy—some of them haven’t heard that yarn."

"Well," said the Dominie, lighting up his old cutty-pipe, "Algy was a
gent who listed in my first ’crush’—the Perthshire Kilties. He arrived
one night at Fort George with a cabful of luggage, a bicycle, a box of
sardines and prunes, and a big printed roll showing how he descended
from Willie the Conqueror—that’s the chap who led the Normans."

"D’ye mean the Mormons?" interjected Spud.

"No, you fathead. However, Algy rang the bell. When the sergeant opened
the gate he saluted, for he thought this was some new officer.

"’I’m a recruit, sergeant,’ said Algy.

"’What’s yer name?’ asked the sergeant.

"’Algy de Verepot—I’ve been "plucked" at Sandhurst, and I want to get a
commission through the ranks.’"

"’You’ll be lucky if you get your dinner; but come tae the
sergeant-major,’ said he, pointing out the sergeant-major’s quarters.
The sergeant-major gave Algy a welcome, and told his colour-sergeant to
coddle and be kind to him.

"In his room he hung up his pedigree, threw around his public-school
blazers and badges, and dropped here and there some family notepaper
with a handsome crest on it. Every soldier loves a real live toff, so
all the boys gave him a hand with his kit, and acted generally as his
lackeys.

"’Don’t bother about paying me, colour-sergeant,’ he said one day. ’I’ve
plenty of money. Keep it and give the boys a drink.’ This charmed the
company, and he was made a hero. He also ordered superfine clothing, and
many other odds and ends, from the Master Tailor and outside tradesmen.
’Just send on the bills,’ was his aristocratic command. They were
delighted, for the whole garrison was full of the romance of this peer’s
nephew in the ranks. And the girls—didn’t they rush him! Even the
officers’ daughters went crazy about him. In his private’s uniform he
used to walk them out to tea. You see they pitied him, and thought he
was getting thin on bully beef, toad-in-the-hole, and dead-cat stew. And
then the colonel’s wife met him. He used to tell her of his fiancée,
Lady Gwendoline, and the great times he had with Lord Noddy at his
Highland shootings. The dear lady became interested, and even got the
length of walking round the ramparts arm-in-arm. Didn’t we envy him, for
she was a beauty. And they say she kissed the old colonel one night and
said, ’Now, dear, you must be kind to that boy and get him his
commission.’

"’Certainly! Certainly!’ answered the old chap.

"In this way, you see, he got into the hearts of all. And he was as keen
as mustard. He used to slope arms and salute in front of the mirror, and
’paid’ a man well to clean his kit. At night, too, he used to go to the
adjutant’s room and get books on drill. The adjutant told him
everything.—How the regiment was worked; the keeping of the books, the
filing of records, and the recording of the cash in the orderly-room
safe.

"’Then the adjutant keeps all the regimental pay in the safe?’ he asked
of him one night.

"’Oh yes, there are the keys,’ replied the captain casually.

"Shortly after this Algy received a wire saying, ’Can you come for
grouse-shooting on the Twelfth.—Lord Noddy.’ He rushed to the colonel
and presented it, at the same time asking for leave.

"’Well, it’s unusual, my lad, but seeing who you are, you can go for
seven days.’ And away went Algy with all his luggage. He got a cheer
from the boys as he went through the gate, for he was the idol of all.
The seven days passed, but on the eighth no Algy appeared.

"’Private Algy de Verepot absent, sir,’ was the report on the morning
parade. It startled everybody. It was the talk of the garrison, and
caused grief among the ladies in town. Had he been killed! Had he
deserted! What had happened! These were the topics of the day. Algy’s
disappearance caused more commotion than the coronation of a king. And
then some strange things were discovered.

"£300 had been stolen from the adjutant’s safe.

"A sergeant had lost his false teeth.

"Algy’s servant missed all his furlough money.

"The colonel’s wife had given Algy a cheque for £50.

"Five officers had lent him a fiver.

"And a barmaid from the town was missing. ’It can’t be Algy who has done
this!’ said the regiment.

"’It was Algy,’ telegraphed the police from London, for he was arrested
there, and got five years’ penal servitude.

"Now, who do you think Algy was?"

"Tell us," cried Spud.

"Algy was the biggest crook in London. He was proved to be the man who
stole King Edward’s dressing-bag at Euston Station."

Just as Dominie had completed this yarn, the whole canteen was startled
with the shout, "Who’s a liar?"

"You are—you stole ma pint o’ beer—ye thocht I wis drunk."

"Awa’ an’ bile yer heid," said the aggressor, a tramp piper, whose
doublet was well soaked with ale.

Bang! went the fist of the aggrieved private on the piper’s nose. In a
second the place was turned topsy-turvy. All joined in the fight. Lamps
were smashed, tables crashed on the floor, glasses hurled across the
room, and all the windows cracked. For ten minutes a deadly battle was
waged in the inky darkness. And then some one shouted, "Scoot, boys,
scoot—here’s the picket coming." And they did scoot. Some jumped through
the windows, others hustled through the doors, and then half-staggering
and running they reached their barrack-rooms, where, like true
Militiamen, they tumbled quietly into bed.

Next morning the Glesca Mileeshy paraded with black eyes and battered
noses. As this was the usual thing after pay-day, the colonel simply
smiled, and gave the order, "Form fours—right—double march." While they
were galloping round the square, this commander remarked, "D—— rascals,
but d—— good soldiers."

"Yes, sir," replied the adjutant.



CHAPTER VI.
THE GARRISON LIGHTWEIGHT.


_Spud_, having experienced the usual ragging affairs, was now a
full-fledged confidant of the older hands. And being of a mischievous
turn of mind, he seized every opportunity to play tricks on his
unsuspecting comrades. These ragging affairs were great or small
according to the mental and physical fitness of the unfortunates. A
powerful recruit was let down easily, for obvious reasons. A weakling or
"saftie" had "to go through the mill" in an unorthodox way. Beefy
M’Fadyen was of the latter kind. Like all of us, he had a pet delusion.
His was, that Nature had destined him for a bantam lightweight. As a
matter of fact, Beefy couldn’t knock a herring off a plate. Still, that
did not prevent him from coddling his puny biceps and tackling all the
penny automatic punch-balls in the ice-cream shops of the garrison. He
devoured boxing literature by the yard, and would slide down the chimney
of the Sporting Club to get a free peep at the cracks of the noble art.
Naturally, this tickled the funny side of all, especially Spud, who
casually inquired of him one day if he could be his trainer.

"Of coorse," said Beefy.

"What d’ye usually train on?"

"Weel, I’ve had tae get fit on fish suppers, ice-cream, and woodbines."

"And have you boxed ony champions?"

"Oh ay—Wee Broon o’ the Coocaddens, and Pud Webster o’ the Gallowgate."

"But they’re schule laddies. Hooever, that disnae maitter. I’ll get ye
in training tae box Curly Broon, the ex-champion o’ the Garrison."

"Richt ye are."

"But mind ye, Beefy," said Spud solemnly, "you’ve tae dae whut I tell
ye."

"Certainly."

"Noo, the first thing you’ve got tae dae is tae haund owre yer piy on
piy-days."

"Whut fur?"

"Tae get beef-steaks, kippers, an’ four ale—that’s the stuff tae get yer
muscles up."

This and other arrangements were duly completed. In the evening it was
publicly announced that Beefy was in training to fight the champion
named. The training was somewhat rigorous. After five gallops round the
barrack square, Spud applied a hose-pipe to the body of his man. Then
coarse towels were used, and now and again Beefy’s limbs were scoured
with dripping and bath-brick. As he was a little weak in the joints, a
touch of blacking was painted round "tae keep oot the cauld." Minor
contests were got up in the meantime, and in all these it was arranged
to let Beefy have the knock-out blow. This whetted his ardour, and when
he was informed that a belt and thirty shillings was to be the prize at
the great contest, he became doubly keen.

One Wednesday afternoon, when the officers were having a lawn-tennis
party on the green, Spud called his man into the training quarters.
There he daubed the usual blacking on his knee and ankle joints, rubbed
ham fat on the remainder of his body; next dressed him up in a comic
harrier kit, decorated with a skull and cross-bones.

"Noo, Beefy, d’ye see yon green whaur the ladies an’ officers are haein’
tea an’ tennis?"

"Ay."

"Weel, ye’ve tae gallop roon’ that twenty times wife-beating stoppin’."

"Richt ye are, Spud."

"Ready?"

"Ay."

"Go." Off went the poor, unsuspecting mortal. As soon as he started, a
hundred waiting heads popped out of the windows to see the fun. Meantime
Beefy had reached the green, and, true to his trust, commenced to gallop
round. The colonel’s wife spotted him first. The awful apparition sent
her pale. Mrs M’Haddie, the Provost’s wife, let out a shriek, but nearly
all the young ladies and subalterns burst into peals of laughter.
Colonel Corkleg, however, fumed and cursed like Marlborough’s troops in
Flanders.

"Stop——"

"Who——"

"What——"

"Why——" shrieked the old commander, as he pursued Beefy round the green.

Beefy, however, simply grinned in an inane manner and kept on. He was in
training for the garrison belt. That, to him, was a very serious affair,
and he did not intend to allow any interference—even from Colonel
Corkleg. But he had yet to reckon with the adjutant. That officer
ordered the bugler to sound the Fall in, at the same time letting loose
a couple of bulldogs. The result was that in three minutes half the
Glesca Mileeshy were in swift pursuit of the light-footed Beefy. He
dodged, then led them round the barrack square, to the secret delight of
Spud and his mischief-makers. Then came the end. With a deathlike gasp
he fell into the arms of Sergeant-Major Fireworks.

"What do you mean?" yelled this monument of army rations.

"I’m trainin’."

"Training?"

"Ay, trainin’ for the garrison belt."

"Put him in the guardroom, corporal," roared the sergeant-major, and off
went poor Beefy to the cells.

Next morning the whole story came out at the orderly-room, and Beefy
M’Fadyen was awarded fourteen days Confined to Barracks.

This did not postpone the fight. Oh no. Beefy’s delusion was a permanent
affair, and he would fight his rival by hook or by crook. Arrangements,
however, had to be made secretly. The key of the gymnasium was quietly
appropriated on the night of the tussle, and after dark the whole
regiment trooped in.

"Gentlemen," said Spud Tamson, "allow me to introduce Beefy M’Fadyen,
the Champion Bantam Weight o’ the Glesca Mileeshy. He has been trained
on woodbines, fish suppers, ice-cream, haddies, an’ Dublin stout, and
turns the scale at 9 st. 10 lb. He’s a beauty. His muscles are like
corks, and his wind as soond as the wind in bellows—walk up."

Beefy entered the ring, shook hands with Curly Broon, then sparred. All
laughter was duly suppressed at a wink from Spud, for his man had to be
impressed with the seriousness of the business. Beefy commenced by
hopping round like a cat on a hot plate, delivering natty little blows
at his opponent’s chest. Curly accepted all without any pretence of
defence. This roused the hopes of Beefy higher still, and of course he
was cheered to his task.

"Go on, Beefy."

"Give him a thick ear."

"Under the belt."

"That’s it—slip it across him."

These were some of the remarks. To be brief, in the tenth round, he
delivered a severe blow under Curly’s chin. With a well-feigned grunt
and a hopeless sigh, Curly collapsed like a pack of cards. There was a
rousing cheer, and Spud gladly held out his hand to the victor.

Producing a big leather belt made out of old straps and studded with
various cap and collar badges, Spud fixed this round the champion’s
waist. Another member presented a tin medal neatly fixed on some old red
serge. Then all let out three lusty cheers.

"Noo, Beefy, you’ve got tae step intae the officers’ mess for your
prize-money—jist as ye are. The colonel’ll gie ye the money at the
table." Unsuspecting, Beefy glibly complied, while Spud and his friends
took post in the darkest corners to watch the affair.

The officers were having dinner at the time, in fact they had just
arrived at that part where the band plays the National Anthem, and the
subaltern of the day proposes the toast of—

    "Gentlemen—The King!"

when in burst Beefy M’Fadyen all perspiring and somewhat bruised—a
perfect nightmare in his boxing attire. All the young officers burst out
laughing, but the colonel roared, "Silence, gentlemen!" Then, turning to
Beefy, he said—"How dare you enter the officers’ mess? What do you mean,
sir?"

"I waant my prize-money."

"What money—you fool?"

"Ma thirty bob for knockin’ oot Curly Broon."

"Who sent you here?"

"Spud Tamson."

"Well—get out."

"Nae fear—I waant ma thirty bob. You’ll no frichten me," said Beefy,
sitting down on a chair.

"You—you—you—insubordinate scoundrel. How—how—dare you!" shouted the old
colonel, getting red at the neck.

"Keep your hair on, auld cock," said Beefy.

"Send for the guard, adjutant."

In a few minutes an escort appeared, and Beefy, the vaunted champion,
was seized and carried forcibly to the guardroom. All that was heard as
he was hustled away was, "I waant ma thirty bob."

Spud Tamson got fourteen days cells for this little trick, and poor
Beefy received a paper stating, "You are discharged from His Majesty’s
Service as unlikely to become an efficient soldier."

"What dis that mean, Spud?" said Beefy, showing him the paper as he was
leaving.

"It jist means that _you’re_ daft."

"Weel, Spud, I’m no’ sae green as I’m cabbage-lookin’. Ta-ta." And this
was true, for next day nearly every man in the Glesca Mileeshy had lost
his spare shirts, socks, and boots.

"Jings, he’s no’ sae daft efter a’," was Spud’s final comment on the
departed boxer.



CHAPTER VII.
A LECTURE.


_It_ was Lord Wolseley, I think, who discovered that the ordinary
soldier had really got brains. When this startling discovery was made,
the General Staff realised that lectures were necessary, so that the
headpieces of the troops might be of greater use in war. Lectures were
accordingly devised, and these consisted of various military topics.
Everything—from the cutting of the soldiers’ corns to the washing of
army babies—was noted down. Company officers were entrusted with this
important duty. Many performed the work in an interesting way, others
made a hash of it. This was due to their profusion—or lack—of brain
power. And of the Militia—well, the War Office did not expect too much.
It was therefore interesting to listen to Captain Coronet tackling this
job.

"Men," he would say, "I want to talk to you about Active Service; first
of all, Tamson, just explain the exact meaning of the word ’enemy.’"

"The Germans," answered Spud promptly.

"Well—not exactly. Of course I know they’re beastly people—beer drinkers
and sausage guzzlers. Still, that doesn’t say that the word ’enemy’
means that race in particular. What is your opinion, M’Whiskey?"

"Niggers, sir."

"Not necessarily; the enemy may be white or black. But the meaning is
simply this, any force opposed to——"

"The Mileeshy," interjected some one.

"Well, have it that way if you care. Now, M’Ginty, what is the first
thing expected of a soldier in the field?"

"The salute, sir."

"No—Instant Obedience. And what is the next thing, M’Haggis?"

"He should waash his feet."

"That’s important, certainly, otherwise your feet will become
objectionable. Now, the second thing is Courage; and the third, Doolan?"

"Head erect an’ thumbs in line with the seam of the troose, sir," said
Doolan, glibly repeating some of the Drill Instructor’s patter.

"I’m afraid you couldn’t keep your head erect, et cetera, if the enemy
was potting bullets into that beery corporation of yours. The third
thing is Endurance. What does that mean, Tamson?"

"The Prudential, sir."

"Prudential! What the d—— is that?"

"Threepence a week—insurin’ your life—ye ken fine, a’ you toffs are
insured."

"Don’t be so beastly familyah, my man——"

"Haw—haw," mimicked some one in the back seat.

"Look here, you pudding-faced fellow," said the captain, adjusting his
monocle, "I’ll kick your posterior if I have any more nonsense—I will."

Having settled that little affair, the captain proceeded. "Active
Service, men, is different to sham fights. At manœuvres at home you get
your beef, bread, and extras; on active service it’s biscuits, bully
beef, and——"

"Sudden daith," cheeped a wag.

"Yes. You’re liable to get a fifteen-pound shell into your little Mary
any day. Do you think a man could live after getting a shell there,
Callaghan?"

"Depends on his chist measurement, sur."

"I’m afraid he wouldn’t have any chest after that. He would be——"

"Irish stew."

"Exactly."

"Now, what is the first thing you do when you see the enemy?"

"Take his name an’ address, sir," said a sheepish-looking recruit who
had been chucked out of the Police Force.

"Oh! I’m afraid he would have your life while you were doing that. No,
my lad—get under cover, and then——"

"Knock his lights out."

"That’s the sort of answer I want. But how would you knock him out?"

"Below the belt, sir," cheeped Tamson.

"Look here, Tamson, this isn’t a bally boxing-school. And don’t be so
flippant. What you have got to do, men, is Shoot—and Shoot well. And
what I next want to know is, what happens after a force has concentrated
a severe rifle-fire on an enemy’s position for a considerable time?"

"Stick yer bayonets in their guts," answered M’Whiskey.

"That’s how Carlyle would put it, and that’s just exactly what you have
got to do. But when advancing to the Charge, what does the attacking
party do?"

"Makes a hellifa noise, sir."

"Certainly, but it’s not necessary to use these Gallowgate adjectives.
Adjectives are all right when you’re thrusting the sausages inside a
German’s stomach. In fact, the more you curse and yell when charging the
enemy, the greater will be the effect of the charge."

"What’s an adjective, sir?" inquired some one.

"An adjective’s a d—— nasty expression—a swear word."

"But hoo d’ye no’ let us sweer at a lectur’ an’ tell us tae sweer at a
Cherge?" piped in Spud Tamson.

"My dear fellow, you’re a positive bore. But I will tell you—in peace
time a soldier is expected to be a gentleman; in active service he’s got
to be a lunatic. That’s the A B C of it all. To continue, though—what do
you do after the Charge is over?"

"Search the deid men’s pooches," chirrupped a Coocaddens lad.

"A natural thing for you—for all of you. You’re all pickpockets, I
hear."

"No me," said Spud.

"What are you?"

"Rag and bone merchant."

"Beastly job—no wonder you want a wash. That by the way. After a Charge
you have to assist in routing the enemy. And then——"

"The canteen opens, sir," said an old hand with a grin.

"Well, as the canteen is open now, and I have got a couple of spare
half-crowns, you had better fall out."

"You’re a guid yin, sir," said Spud with a familiar wink.

"Get out and don’t be so beastly familyah," concluded the captain,
adjusting his monocle, stretching his tunic, then marching out like an
advertisement for corsets and hair-wash.



CHAPTER VIII.
ANNUAL TRAINING.


_The_ annual training of the Glesca Mileeshy was an event of importance.
It cleared the Models and allowed the local policemen an opportunity for
holidays. To the gallant Militiamen the training meant six weeks’ pay, a
bounty, his shirts, and a pair of boots. The shirts and boots were
important items, for many arrived shirtless and almost bootless. As the
average Militiaman had no permanent place of abode, he was summoned to
camp by a proclamation in big type, which was pasted on the kirk,
police, and public-house doors. This notice was hardly necessary. The
men enjoyed the training, and were always pleased when the date came
round. They journeyed to their headquarters in various ways. Some
cheerfully hoofed it; others rode in their tinker’s carts; but the
majority went by train. When they arrived in Blacktoon, they found a
hearty welcome prepared by the local publicans. Tons of bread and cheese
were cut and ready; fresh barrels turned on; and hauf mutchkins piled up
behind the counter ready for the fray. There was a wild rush for these
bars, and above the din nought could be heard but the clamouring for "a
gill and a pint."

"Hello, M’Greegor, whaur hae ye been a’ this time?"

"In Barlinnie."

"Whut fur?"

"Takin’ the len’ o’ anither chap’s watch. But what hae ye been daein’
yersel’, Wull?"

"The same auld job."

"Naethin’?"

"Na, I’m in the umbrella trade, ye ken, an’ the wife’s on the road wi’
me. She sells laces, an’ mooches the grub. Man, it’s the best thing I
ever did, when I got mairret. There’s naething like a wife tae work for
ye, lad."

This is a sample of the greetings exchanged over the foaming ale. When
all had sufficient, and were more or less groggy about the legs, they
sallied out into the streets _en route_ for the barracks. Of course the
town was prepared. The Chief Constable had a "Guard of Honour" right to
the barracks gate, while the Parish Minister had quietly lectured the
old maids and young maids to be indoors on that occasion. The more timid
shopkeepers "baured the windows and door," but all the bairns turned out
to see the fun. Up the streets they leisurely ambled, some mumbling on
the way—

    "Soon we’ll be married
    Never more to part,
    For little Annie Rooney
    She is my sweetheart."

Others warbled—

    "I’m fu’ the noo, I’m absolutely fu’,
    But I adore the country I was born in.
      My name is Jock M’Craw,
      An’ I dinnae care a straw,
    For I’ve something in the bottle for the mornin’."

But the majority sang—

    "We’re soldiers of the King, my lads,
    Who’ve been, my lads, who’ve seen, my lads,
    The fights for Britain’s Glory, lads,
    When we’ve had to show them what we mean;
    And when they ask us how it’s done,
    We proudly point to every one—
    Yes, we proudly point to every one
    Of Britain’s soldiers of the King."

And in this stirring tune all eventually joined, formed into a rough
formation, and tramped nobly through the barracks gate and on to the
square. Colonel Corkleg’s eyes moistened with emotion as he saw them
come in. If they were rough dogs, he knew them to be faithful, and he
lived for the day when he would lead them into action once more. They
were immediately formed into companies, given out their kits, and told
to change—but not in the barracks rooms. Oh no, that was never
permitted, for the plain reason "that their own clothes could ’walk.’"
They changed in the open, which necessitated the drawing of the blinds
in the married quarters.

All were thankful to discard their unsanitary rags, and feel the comfort
of good shirts, uniforms, and boots. The better suits of clothing were
packed away, but many of the more tattered and torn had to be destroyed.
This outfitting occupied most of the day. At 5 _P.M._ the bugle sounded
"Fall in." The parade, of course, was unsteady, nearly every man being
fu’. But when old Colonel Corkleg yelled, "Glesca Mileeshy—’Shun," there
was a lull and a steadiness which displayed the soldier born.

"All present, sir," reported the adjutant.

"Form fours—right—by the left—quick march." Off they stepped to "The
Cock o’ the North," played by the pipers, and followed by "Stop your
ticklin’, Jock," drummed out by the band. As they marched through the
gates, there was a rousing cheer from the ladies in shawls, who quickly
spotted their particular "lovers." These women yelled out a parting
jest, and the glib reminder, "Send me a quid oot o’ yer bounty."

"Mebbe," was the reply of all, for Militiamen are absent-minded beggars.

Discipline works wonders. By the time the regiment had reached Bogmoor
Camp all were thoroughly sober and obedient. Strange to relate, they
found themselves camped side by side with the Perth Mileeshy, a
notorious body, recruited from the marmalade and jute-making town of
Dundee. These regiments were deadly rivals, and the reason was not far
to seek. In the Grand Manœuvres held ten years previous to the camp
mentioned, the Perth Mileeshy had mutinied and robbed the Glesca
Mileeshy canteen. This terrible breach of courtesy was never forgotten,
and anger was always stirred when both corps were deep in their cups.
The trouble commenced again on this, the first night in camp. And all
through an old Glesca hand, who remembered that the Perth Mileeshy had
broken the square in the Soudan Campaign. This daring gent stalked into
the Perthshire’s canteen.

"What d’ye waant?" asked the waiter, somewhat surlily.

"Ceevility first, and then a pint o’ broken squares."

"Chuck him oot! Chuck him oot," shouted a dozen enraged Perthshire
hands.

"Gie’s that pint," said the Glesca man quite coolly, and after his first
mouthful he turned to the "enemy" and remarked, "You couldna chuck your
denner oot." This was a challenge quickly accepted. In a flash he was
seized and surrounded. But his shouts brought a rallying crowd of the
Glesca Mileeshy, and then the battle commenced. Skin, hair, and blood
went flying. Men hooched, punched, cursed, and yelled. Burly tramps and
burglars laid out their terrific blows on the heads and faces of the
puny "Dundee Jam Sodgers," as they were called. In ten minutes the once
peaceful canteen resembled a shambles. Tables were destroyed, and the
stores of bread, cheese, cigarettes, and beer stolen or scattered
around. The fight, originally confined to a hundred men, eventually
developed into a tussle between eight hundred. Discipline for the moment
was useless. Officers and Non-Coms. were simply swept aside, and though
Colonel Corkleg had a scowl on his face, he had a smile in his heart—his
men were winning, and he hated the Perth Mileeshy like poison.
Nevertheless matters looked black, and something had to be done. This
was Spud Tamson’s opportunity for fame and lance-corporal. Rushing up to
the colonel he saluted and said, "Wull I turn the hose pipe on them,
sur?"

"Good idea, my lad. Yes, put it on, full steam ahead."

Spud rushed to the water-stand, fixed up the hose, then running it out
he let go. Swish went the cold battering fluid into the angry,
struggling mob. Militiamen hate water as much as they do soap. And
Spud’s terrible shower-bath was too much. They broke and fled, the water
and blood trickling down their faces and clothes and damping the stolen
goods in their pockets. Just as they dispersed the "Fall in" sounded.
All doubled on parade, where the roll was called, and the seething
excited mass reduced to silence and order.

"Parade—’Shun," yelled Colonel Corkleg. They sprang up like the Guards’
Brigade.

"Every man will empty his pockets of the stolen goods. Then the
companies will march in succession off parade."

There was a titter and then a chuckle as the sergeants went round and
ordered the looters to lay out their wares on the ground in front. Tins
of paste, blacking, polish, cheese, cakes, cigars, cigarettes,
buttonhooks, lemonade, &c., were quickly disgorged. When finished each
company marched off. When the last one had left the ground the old
colonel quietly chuckled as he looked along the sixteen lines of stolen
goods.

"D—— rascals, but d—— good soldiers," he muttered. Then, turning to the
sergeant-major, he ordered him to return the wares to the much-battered
canteen of the Perth Mileeshy.

Next day in the regimental order there appeared: "Promotions—Private
Spud Tamson, promoted Lance-Corporal for meritorious conduct."



CHAPTER IX.
LAUGHTER AND LOVE.


"_Paw_!"

"Ay, wumin," answered Tamson senior, turning from his task of blowing up
his old balloons.

"Spud’s comin’ hame on week-end pass, an’, d’ye ken——"

"Whut?"

"He’s been made an officer."

"Ye’re haverin’."

"I’m no’! Listen," said she, digging a letter out of her old leather
purse and reading aloud—

                                  ――――

"_Dear Mither_,—I’m weel. I hop’ you fayther an’ the dug’s weel. I’ve
been made a heid yin here. The Kurnel made me a Lance-Korperal for
distingwishet kondukt. I expect to get made a genral in aboot a month.
I’m kumin’ hame on pass for a week-end. Love tae a’—an’ the dug.

    "_Spud_.

"_P.S._—Hoo’s ma lass. Tell her I’ll staun her a slider an’ fish supper
when I kum."

                                  ――――

"That bates a’," said Tamson, adjusting his specs. "I kent the sodger
bluid o’ the Tamson wid mak’ a man o’ him."

"He gets his brains onywey frae the McSkelpie’s," retorted Mrs Tamson, a
little offended.

"Awa’ wi’ ye, wumin. The McSkelpies are a’ loonies."

"Anither word an’ I’ll leave the hoose! Dinnae insult ma family. They’ve
ay worn hats on Sunday, an’ that’s mair than the Tamsons could ever
dae," concluded Mrs Tamson, as she kicked the cat half into the fire.

"Weel, we’ll no’ fecht aboot it. You’re the best o’ the bunch, an’ no’ a
bad-lookin’ lass," old Tamson crooned in a softer tone, for he was a
born diplomat.

"Thenk ye," she replied a little tartly, but inside she was real
pleased, for she was only a woman after all.

"An’ I say, wife, we’ll need tae hae a spree for Spud comin’ hame. Hoo’s
the funds?"

"Weel, I’ve twa shullin’s, but we can get five mair on your Sunday
breeks an’ that auld knock o’ oors."

"The very thing. Awa’ the noo an’ see," ordered Tamson.

Mrs Tamson wrapped the Sunday trousers and eight-day alarm clock in her
apron, then blithely stepped down the stairs on a visit to "Uncle." _En
route_ she announced to all in the close that Spud had been made an
officer in the Mileeshy, and expected to be a general in a month.

"You’ll be haein’ a spree," inquired Mrs M’Fatty, the last to hear the
news, and one who shrewdly guessed the meaning of the parcel under Mrs
Tamson’s apron.

"Ay. He’ll be hame the nicht. I think I’ll get some table beer, iron
brew, finnin haddies, gingerbreid, an’ cookies. It’ll be a chinge tae
the laddie efter eatin’ biscuits an’ bully beef. But Ta-ta the noo," and
off she went to the pawnshop. There, the goods which had been regularly
pawned once a week for twenty years, were again handed over in return
for cash. All the necessary goods were next secured, after which the
happy housekeeper returned to her attic in the Gallowgate.

"You’ve been decoratin’," she said with a smile as she entered and saw
how the ingenious Tamson had made an arch of Welcome out of coloured
rags and streamers of variegated hues from all the coloured paper
delivered from the middens.

"Jist that, wumin," he answered, tacking up "Welcome Home" above the
mantelpiece, which completed the general scheme.

"We’ll be prood, prood folks the nicht, missus," Tamson mused as he
slipped his arm round her waist and gave her a peck on the washed
portion of her face.

"It’s a gless o’ beer you’re efter, ma man—ye ken fine hoo tae get roon’
us puir weemin."

"Maybe ay, maybe no’, but I’ll no’ refuse it."

Meantime Spud Tamson, attired in his best, and with ten shillings in his
pocket, was being hurled swiftly from Bogmoor Camp to Glasgow in the
train. Just before he was due at the Central Station the melodeon and
mouth-organ band of the Murder Close Brigade tramped on to the platform
playing "The March of the Cameron Men." A large crowd of girl followers
were also present, and in the centre of these smiling hussies was Mary
Ann, her chubby face suffused with delight and expectancy. This was the
proudest moment of her life, for was she not the chosen lass of
Lance-Corporal Spud Tamson of the Glesca Mileeshy?

"Here’s the train. Here’s the train," somebody yelled.

"Form up," ordered the Chief of the Gallowgate Brigade. A rough line was
formed, the melodeons and mouth-organs in front, and, as the train
steamed in, these blaring instruments bellowed forth "The Cock o’ the
North," while the others let loose a deafening cheer to Spud Tamson, who
was hanging out of the carriage with a face like Sunny Jim.

"Mary!"

"Spud!"

There was a wild embrace, which lasted longer than the time allowed by
the official programme. Other greetings were then given. Next the band
formed up, with Spud and his girl in the centre, the remainder following
behind, and off they stepped out of the Central Station to yells and
hoochs and the tune of "The Old Brigade." Traffic had to be suspended at
various points in Argyle Street till the laughing throng marched past.
As they neared the Gallowgate they received a stirring welcome. And from
out of his father’s window Spud observed a string of balloons with
"Welcome" painted on their sides.

The echo of the cheering and the band had completely upset the
equilibrium of Maw Tamson. She dropped the finnin haddies among the
cookies, and mixed table beer with the lemonade. Even the cold-blooded
Tamson was roused. He was hanging over the window waving an old red
shirt, and shouting, "Hooray! Hooray!" The mongrel "dug" was doing a
sort of gaby glide along the waxcloth, while the cat skipped over the
floor in a joyful tango style.

"He’s comin’! He’s comin’!" shouted Mrs Tamson at last, at the same time
wiping her large red lips with her rough brown apron. Just then the door
burst open, and Spud, Mary Ann, and the whole crowd entered.

"Ma son! ma son!" said the excited old lady, grasping the fragile form
of her offspring into her great arms. Her kisses almost lifted the skin
off her hero’s face. Indeed, she only released him on his shouting,
"You’re chokin’ me, Maw." Tamson senior next tendered a hearty welcome.
These formalities over, the company were invited to take seats and be
merry. Of course there was a crush. But Mary Ann was given a place of
honour at the miniature table, while the remainder were accommodated on
the jawbox, dresser, the bed, fender, and coal-bunker.

"Ye’ll jist need tae tak’ pot-luck," was Mrs Tamson’s opening address,
as she dispensed a bit of potted heid, finnin haddie, gingerbread, a
cookie, and a glass of liquid refreshment all round.

"Help yersel’, Mary," said Spud to his chosen one, at the same time
pressing her foot underneath the table.

"The’ll be a waddin’ here next, Mrs Tamson," piped in shrewd Mrs
M’Fatty.

"It’s anither free feed ye’re efter, I’m thinkin’," retorted Spud, with
a wink at his beaming Maw. "Onywey, I’ll no’ get mairret till I’m a
gen’ral."

After supper there was a general entertainment. Paw Tamson danced the
Fling and the Hornpipe, just as he used to do at the Hielanmen’s Corner;
Maw sang—

    "Spud, he is ma daurlin’, ma daurlin’,
    Spud, he is ma daurlin’,
    An’ a braw Chevalier."

This was followed by solos on the melodeon and mouth-organ, and then
came the dance. The old attic fairly shivered with the rattle of the
feet. Indeed, Paw Tamson sat breathlessly waiting for the surging floor
to crash through to the neighbours below. An equally startling thing
occurred. In the middle of a barn dance, all gave a thrilling jump and a
hooch. This loosened the clothes-pulley on the roof of the house below.
Down it went with a crash, tearing the clock, pictures, and dish-racks
with it, as well as striking the bald and withered head of Paw Grumpie,
a hereditary foe of the Tamsons.

"Thae d—— balloon an’ candy keelies," he groaned, at the same time
seizing the poker and rushing upstairs. With a kick he smashed in a
panel of the door, then flinging it open, he dashed in, followed by all
the Grumpie clan. In a minute a joyful party was turned into a regular
vendetta. Pokers, brooms, dishes, mats, and haddie bones were freely
used, and it was only the cry of "Polis" which ended this startling
combat. As the Tamson party heard the echo of the bobbies’ feet, they
fled to their various buts and bens, leaving Spud and Mary Ann to sweep
up the wreckage, and renew in private their tender endearments.

"Guid nicht, Mary," said he at the close, later on, giving her one more
kiss.

"Guid nicht, Spud, an’ ye’ll see me the morn?"

"Oh ay."

"An’ you’ll aye be true tae me?"

"True as daith," he said, gripping her firmly by the hand. Giving her
another kiss and a wave of his hand, he shouted, "Ta-ta," and made for
bed.

Mary Ann’s sleep that night was one long rosy dream. She lived in a land
of love, and the hero of it all was this gallant Lance-Corporal of the
Glesca Mileeshy. She longed for the coming day, to renew the hours of
bliss; but, alas! that never came. For her early slumbers were shaken by
the newsboys’ cry of "War—Troops for the Front." Her first thoughts were
of Spud, and she flew to his abode, but all she saw was Mrs Tamson, as
pale as death, and sitting with a tear-stained telegram in her hand.

"Spud’s awa’—read that," said she to Mary, with a sob. The girl gripped
it feverishly, then saw—

    "Lance-Corporal _Spud Tamson_ Regiment for Active Service Rejoin
    immediately.

        _Adjutant_."

"God help me!" shrieked the girl, swooning away on the floor, for the
poor can love perhaps more truly than the rich.



CHAPTER X.
MOBILISATION.


_When_ Spud arrived at Bogmoor Camp he found the regiment in an excited
but jovial mood. They were going to war. War, to militiamen, meant
bounties, blood, and loot. Though these men were, in many ways, the
scrapings of humanity, they had those rugged, almost brutal qualities
essential in war. Like bulldogs, they could bite, and once having
nibbled an enemy, they could hang on till the end. Of course the
regiment was not up to war strength in officers or men. That deficiency,
however, was being attended to. Hundreds of men had been already wired
for. These were known as the Militia Reserve, or "The Royal Standbacks,"
to quote the barrack-room wags. All day they came trooping in; some from
the open road, others from the Model, a few quite recently from the
jail. They all looked like villains in their muddy rags, but once in
khaki, many had the appearance of real good Guardsmen. Naturally, there
were many reunions, and these had to be sealed in beer. The canteen
quickly became a Tower of Babel, wreathed in thick tobacco smoke, and
permeated with the nauseating breath of the merry Falstaffs, who
incessantly called for the proverbial pint. Discipline was not exacted
on this, the first day. It was useless to expect it; the officers knew
the calibre of their men.

While the men were thus celebrating the "Great Day," and discussing how
they would dispose of Kaiser Bill, the officers were also arriving from
many corners of the land. Some came post-haste from the grouse moors;
others had hurried from Piccadilly; a few had been dug out of ruined
castles, where they represented a poor but splendid nobility. Of course
there were new hands. These gentlemen came from the O.T.C., in official
language, The Officers’ Training Corps. This is an organisation devised
by a great War Minister to create heroes out of Carnegie’s pet children
at our universities. In theory, a perfect system: in practice, at times
disappointing. There being no compulsion, the more robust students had
shunned the Corps, leaving its ranks open to a few keen, and a greater
number of the health culture species, who recognised that a
drill-sergeant might improve their chest measurement and digestion.
Still it was a scheme acquired in the Lager-laden garrisons of Germany,
and we Britishers, perforce, had accepted it as the hall-mark of German
military efficiency. However, Second Lieutenants Briefs, Coals, and
Grain were detached to this Militia regiment and duly arrived. Briefs,
who was studying for the law, arrived in a greatcoat, with an umbrella
above his military accoutrements to keep off the rain. As this umbrella
trick was the particular prerogative of the late Duke of Cambridge,
Briefs was immediately arrested by his brother subalterns for being
"Improperly dressed," and forced to pay drinks all round. Drinks all
round are very expensive in His Majesty’s Service. He never erred again.
Second Lieutenant Coals was vomited out of one of his father’s pits. He
was as black as the devil’s waistcoat, and as big as a bullock. He
didn’t know much about form fours, but he could kill a pit pony with a
punch and chuck a man over his head. "A useful man," the colonel
whispered to the adjutant, and then in a louder tone remarked, "Put Mr
Coals in No. 3 Company." This company, by the way, had its records in
the poaching and wife-beating annals of every Parish Council. Coals was
therefore in a sphere where his hulking personality would be useful.

Second Lieutenant Grain had the smell of horses about him. He was
studying for medicine, but he knew more about his father’s Clydesdales.
Indeed, when he arrived, his boots had the scent of the stable, and his
coat a few stray wisps of straw sticking around. A rough but likely
looking chap. The colonel saw this, and after looking him up and down
remarked, "You’ll be transport officer. Here are some warrants—go out
anywhere, everywhere, for two days. Commandeer 107 horses, and mind—no
crocks."

"Very good, sir," replied Grain, disappearing with the transport
sergeant. He returned two days later with 107 thoroughbred hunters,
Clydesdales, and roadsters. The colonel gasped when he saw them on the
square, and promptly stood the subaltern a drink.

"Useful man, that Grain," he said to the adjutant that night. "The
O.T.C. has been kind to us, if they’ve been unkind to other regiments.
Get him gazetted lieutenant."

This was one instance of the work of mobilisation. And mobilisation, I
can assure you, is enough to send men to the grave. Think of gathering
1200 men, then fitting them out for war. Trousers came from Pimlico,
buttons from Birmingham, thread from Timbuctoo, jackets from the
sewing-rooms of the Hebrews, while rifles came in instalments from
Woolwich, Stirling, Ashanti, and Lahore. Shovels were found in the
ironmongers next the barracks; shirts were collared in the nearest
emporium; plates, basins, knives, forks, and spoons were found in the
fish and chip bazaars of the town. "Buy locally," was the order from the
C.O.O.—(the Chief Ordnance Officer)—a very important personage, whose
duty is to supply everything, from siege guns to bed pans. Imagine the
worry! The Quartermaster took heart disease and died; the
Quartermaster-Sergeant got drunk and was reduced, and so the work
devolved upon a faithful corporal and a few intelligent aides. But the
work went on, for Colonel Corkleg was a soldier. He might easily have
given Napoleon points in organisation for war.

Accommodation was also difficult. No more tents could be had. Twenty men
were therefore crammed into these little canvas homes. To avoid a plague
and prevent bloodshed, the colonel ordered all men to place their socks
outside the tents. If you know the Militia you will understand. But even
tents have their limits. The newer arrivals had to be billeted in the
homes of the citizens near by. These Weary Willies lolled in their
feather beds like princes. It was a hustling time. The colonel cursed
from reveille till tattoo. Still, in seven days he had the job done, and
wired to the War Office—"Ready."

Back came the reply, "Proceed at once to Mudtown, for Coast Defence."

"Coast Defence!" muttered the old colonel, purple with rage. "Coast
Defence!...!...?..."

His after-remarks cannot be printed, for he was a true soldier. He
wanted to see Red Blood—not the billets of a seaside town. He could
handle his men in a battle like a boy playing "bools," but billets, he
knew, meant worry, trouble, and crime. Still, orders were orders, and he
at once obeyed. In three hours the regiment stood in marching order, and
to the tune of "Hielan’ Laddie" blithely marched to the train. It was
followed by thousands—wives, sweethearts, mothers, and friends. There
were tears, cheers, and jeers.

"Here’s a scone, Jimmy, keep up yer heirt," said an old budie, throwing
a tartan-coloured scone to her son.

"Hie, you!" shouted a woman in a shawl to a roguish-looking private with
an amorous leer in his eye.

"Me!" he answered mockingly.

"Ay, you—ye hinnae paid for yer wean—ye low rascal. But I’ll pit the
polis on ye—ye’ll no diddle me."

"Yer haverin’; awa’ an’ waash yer een;" and on marched the careless
prodigal to the train.

"Haw, look at oor Jock—he’s the only man in step," yelled the admirer of
Jock Broon, a fifteen-stone corporal, whose belt was too small and tied
with string.

"Is that oor Tam?" queried a half-blind woman, as a rakish-looking youth
went by.

"He’s thin enough for a pull through," interjected a friend of Tam’s.

"An’ there’s Puddin’ Johnson—he’s awfu’ like a barrel."

"I weesh I wis a barrel—I’m awfu’ dry," answered the man concerned.

Behind this valiant stepped Lance-Corporal Spud Tamson, his chest puffed
out like a bantam and his calves well stuffed with cotton wool. He was
an important person, for he marched in the supernumerary rank. Dignity
was part of his job. Still, he had time to wink at the lassies as he
went by. Close to the station he sighted his fond parent somewhat elated
with the thoughts of war, and aided by the cheapest gin. He would show
him something.

"Left—right—left—March by the right," yelled Spud, as his section
struggled and rolled up to the waiting train.

"Guid, Spud! Guid! You’ve the bluid o’ the Tamsons. Man, I’m prood o’
ye." Spud winked and passed on.

After the halt was given, entraining commenced. Now, it is a rule in the
service that when a regiment entrains every door and every bar of the
station has to be guarded to prevent the rush for liquid refreshments.
Colonel Corkleg had duly provided for this, and smiled grimly as he
quickly entrained his men. Nearly all had been settled in their
carriages when he was startled by a queer sound from the other side of
the line. He went to the end of the train and looked across. "Well, I’m
d——," he muttered. This is what had happened. As quickly as the bold
Militiamen had been ushered into their compartments, the more daring
quietly opened the doors on the other side of the train, jumped down on
to the rails and clambering on to the platform rushed the refreshment
bar. The colonel saw hundreds struggling and fighting for "a gill and a
pint" round three demented waitresses. It was an awkward moment, but
Colonel Corkleg had experienced many in his life. For such moments he
had one really trusty man. This was Sergeant Bludgeon, the
provost-sergeant, an ex-champion wrestler and hammer-thrower. He had
muscles like boxing-gloves, and he never struck a man without
dislocating his framework. His stick was the most powerful thing in the
regiment. It had quelled many mutinies. Thus was it called in again.
Sergeant Bludgeon knew what was in the colonel’s brain, for he stood
twitching his murderous-looking stick in anticipation of orders.

"Sergeant Bludgeon—clear ’em out," the colonel ordered.

Bludgeon was across the line in a flash. Like a cyclone he fell on to
the stragglers in rear. Half pushing and pitching, he dumped a dozen
back on to the rails, then with a superhuman jerk he burst into the bar.
His great stick whirled in the air and fell with a terrific clash on to
the marble slab. There was a fearful clattering of pots, glasses, and
money, as the startled men jumped back; next came a click of heels as
Bludgeon thundered, "’Shun." Every man stood as still and erect as Roman
sentinels.

"About turn." They whipped round like men of the Guards.

"Double march," finally roared the provost-sergeant as they scampered
out of the bar. In three minutes every man was back in the train.

"All correct, sir," said Sergeant Bludgeon grimly, a few minutes later,
to the colonel, who had quietly observed the scene.

"Any casualties?" queried the colonel with a grin, as he looked at the
sergeant’s stick.

"None, sir,—this time."

"Thank you, sergeant," concluded the colonel, ordering the train to go.
As it slipped out amidst the deafening cheers, he turned and remarked to
the adjutant—

"Useful man, that!—useful man!"

"Yes, sir," replied the adjutant.

The journey to Mudtown was a long one—sufficiently long to allow some of
the inebriates time to soak into their bodies a few "hauf mutchkins" and
some bottles of Bass. This refreshment, with the heat and roll of the
train, quickly let loose the lung-power of the crowd. They sang, danced,
and yelled with a devilish delight, and at times threatened disaster to
every window and every N.C.O. in the carriages. Poor Spud Tamson
shivered in his corner. He was in charge of eight tough-looking pirates,
who knew neither fear nor pain. Fortunately they regarded Spud’s stripe
as a necessary evil, and eventually left him alone. And so pandemonium
reigned till Mudtown came in sight. The fame of the Glesca Mileeshy had
travelled before them. There was no civic welcome. The Provost had
locked his chain and robes of office up in his safe; while his nervous
citizens sat fearfully in their little suburban homes. In every manse
the minister prayed for guidance in the coming trials; while every
mother gathered her daughters round and told them that, on no account,
must they go out at nights. They became still more alarmed when the news
trickled round that the regiment was to be billeted in church halls,
picture houses, and other public buildings near. It was monstrous, they
argued. How dare the War Office do such a thing? They would protest.
Poor ignorant souls, they did not know their danger. They never realised
the perils of invasion; nor the fact that they had in their midst the
toughest and finest bunch of fighters in the British Army. Drunkards and
devils, may be, but soldiers to a man. Meantime, the tradesmen of
Mudtown beamed with delight. They had no use or time for the men as men,
but they were delighted with the prospect of a boom in trade. And, of
course, the publicans were careful to hoist the Union Jack above their
barrels, and put out the sign, "All Soldiers Welcome Here."

A bugle-call in Mudtown Station was the signal to get out of the train.
The men rolled, jumped, and staggered down. The more merry chorused—

    "I’m fu’ the noo, I’m absolutely fu’,
    But I adore the country I was born in.
      My name is Jock M’Craw,
      But I dinnae care a straw,
    For I’ve something in the bottle for the mornin’."

"Silence," roared the mountainous Sergeant-Major Fireworks. His voice
made the station tremble, and the men gave a perceptible shiver as they
fell into the ranks. Sergeant-Majors are wonderful men.

"Form fours—right," ordered the colonel, and into the town stepped the
famous corps of Militiamen. They staggered bravely on till the halt was
given in a sort of square. There the billeting officer met them, and
issued the accommodation orders. The regiment then divided to the
various halls and billets in the town. Spud Tamson found himself and his
company in an old church, and, strange to say, he was allotted the
pulpit as his doss. This was hardly in keeping with his theology, but
such is the fortune of war. Another company was shoved into an old
picture house, the platform of which was promptly captured as a
rendezvous for card-playing and clog dancing. Barns, stables, and old
manor-houses accommodated the remaining companies. Flower gardens were
immediately converted into cook-houses; wash-houses became
colour-sergeants’ parlours, and old closets were cornered as the special
quarters of such important people as the cooks and pioneers. A disused
backyard with a tarpaulin over was transformed into the quartermaster’s
stores. This quickly became a centre of curiosity. Citizens were much
interested and amused to observe ration parties coming out from this
place, their loaves of bread in somewhat doubtful blankets, and great
chunks of juicy red beef in their horny hands. Hunger, however, is "good
sauce, while plain feeding means high thinking,"—so the philosophers
say. Colonel Corkleg sometimes disagreed about the high thinking. In
fact, he believed that the issue of one pound of beef per man was
designed to give soldiers a primitive lust for blood.

It is easy to imagine the difficulties of training, organising, and
disciplining a battalion in billets. It is like trying to make
alligators out of snakes. Men get into all sorts of corners when they
ought to be on parade. Visitors are also a nuisance. Maiden ladies will
insist on entering to read the New Testament while the men are careering
round in their somewhat spare night attire. Deputations frequently
arrive with shortbread and liquid refreshments for their pals just as
the colonel is making his inspection. And the night-birds find the
windows a convenient exit into the darkness where they may pursue the
antics of the owl. Can you wonder, then, that the officers felt
depressed? Still, difficulties are made to be conquered, and Colonel
Corkleg determined to conquer them. Sergeant-Major Fireworks and
Sergeant Bludgeon would see to that.

Meantime the regiment, like the civil population of the country, was
most excited about the German advance. Belgium was to be invaded, Paris
taken, next London, and then—Mudtown. So there was really a chance of
seeing service in their own native land. That was a solace to the
bloodthirsty warriors. During many of these discussions in the billets
some wag incidentally remarked that Mudtown was crammed full of German
waiters.

"Germans! Whaur?" queried the patriotic Spud.

"In a’ the hotels," replied the informer, Micky Cameron by name.

"They’re spies," declared Spud, who had read all the penny horribles in
his days.

"Ay, ’yin o’ them gied me a pint, an’ asked me hoo mony men were in the
regiment."

"I tell’t ye," declared our heroic lance-corporal, who then declared his
intention of leading an attack on the German waiters.

"A’m wi’ ye," declared Micky Cameron.

"An’ me."

"An’ me."

"An’ me," shouted many others all over the room. That settled the
attack, and made Lance-Corporal Spud Tamson conjure up visions of fame
and promotion by his daring night raids on the hotels. A conference was
next called to discuss details.

"Should we shoot them?" asked Micky.

"Na, that’ll mak’ owre much noise," interjected Spud.

"I’ve an awfu’ guid razor," remarked Beefy M’Lean, as he thumbed a
murderous-looking blade. Other methods were suggested, such as
pole-axing, hanging, and tying them up in barbed wire. But the cautious
spirit, engendered by Tamson’s stripe, ruled all these murderous designs
out of order.

"Let’s mak’ them a’ prisoners an’ march them to the colonel." This was
finally agreed to, and the party sallied out to tackle the first
hotel—namely, The Grand, where twenty waiters were employed.

"Whaur are ye gaun?" a sentry asked.

"Active Service," chirped Micky Cameron, giving him a wink.

On arriving at the hotel they tackled the back door. A patriotic
kitchen-maid told them that the waiters were upstairs in their bedrooms.

"But there’s wan," she remarked, pointing to a portly Teuton carrying a
salver into the dining-room.

"Charge!" ordered Tamson. The wild, murderous crew tore like Dervishes
through the hall. Poor Otto von Onions was so startled that he dropped
his dish of choice grilled steak. Then, realising his danger, he lifted
a carving-knife and edged towards the stairs. Kismet was with him.
Tamson’s army halted to pick up and sample the steaks. This was a golden
chance for Otto. He turned and dashed up the stairs.

"Come on, lads," ordered Spud. His men followed with the half-chewed
steaks sticking out of their mouths. Up the stairs they panted and
yelled, alarming all the guests into a state of hysterics. Old ladies
shrieked in terror, while the younger women swooned away on the various
landings. At last Otto von Onions was brought to bay. Spud’s army found
him, knife in hand, at his bedroom door.

"Stops, or I vill kill yous all. I am a naturalusized ceetezan."

"A what?" queried Micky.

"A Breeteesh subjects. I haf Scotteesh wifes and cheeldrens."

"Oh, you’ve more than wan wife, eh?" asked Spud.

"No! No! One wifes."

"You’re a spy," roared Micky, advancing under the cover of a broom.

"I keel you! I keel you!" shrieked the foreigner.

"Awa’ an’ kill yer granny," roared the intrepid Militiaman, striking him
with the broom and wresting the knife right out of his hand.

"No keel me—no keel me—kind shentlemans. I give you
moneys—wheesky—ceegars."

"Noo, you’re talkin’," said Spud. "Oot wi’ it." From his trunk the
terrified Teuton disgorged his gold, his fine Havannas, and a bottle of
Special Scotch. This loot was quickly collared and lodged in various
pockets.

"An’ noo tell me whaur these ither Germans stay?" asked Tamson.

"Away! They mobilised. Gone Shermanys."

"When?"

"To-nights. Ten train. They Shermans. I, Breeteesh subjects," he
declared again.

"All right, old cock, we’ll let you off," concluded the valiant
lance-corporal, looking at the clock, which had just turned 9.30 _P.M._
Turning to his men, he said, "Look here, boys, we’ve time tae capture
them deevils. Come on—aff tae the station." And down the stairs they
walloped like a lot of schoolboys. The terrified visitors gave a sigh of
relief as they went out through the great hall door, while poor Otto von
Onions sat down and cried.

"This way, lads," yelled Spud, as they thundered into the Mudtown
Station. There they saw a mongrel gang of heavily-built Germans waiting
for the train. A Consular official with a ponderous umbrella was in
charge. He had them marshalled in a rough sort of group. Some had still
their tail-coats on, others had napkins round their necks, while a few
showed their bare heels over the tops of their shoes. A villainous
crowd; more ready to use the stiletto than their fists. All were eagerly
discussing the great Day, and how long it would take them to invade our
country, when they were startled by the terrific yell of Spud Tamson’s
men.

Charge! was the order of the day. In a second a peaceful station was
turned into a bear garden. Kicks, shrieks, and yells rent the air. Human
beings rocked to and fro, and tumbled over the luggage littered over the
platform.

"I protest, in the name of the Kaiser," said the Consular gent with the
umbrella.

"Tak’ that, in the name o’ the King," said Spud, delivering a terrific
punch on the German’s bulbous nose. Blood burst all over his ponderous
paunch, but he was game, and pluckily tackled Spud with his umbrella.
One whack over his enemy’s head smashed the whole framework.

"Made in Germany," yelled Spud, giving him one full on the waist-line.
He staggered and fell into a writhing mass of Germans and Militiamen.
Micky Cameron was seen furiously belting a stout little German, with one
hand; with the other he was rapidly relieving him of his watch, money,
and trinkets, including a few silver napkin rings which the waiter had
"borrowed" as a present for the Kaiser. Beefy Duncan found a fiendish
delight in flattening the nose of Adolph Squarehead, the late boots of
The Grand; while they nobly strived to tap blood and gather as much loot
as possible in the struggle. It was a titanic conflict. Blood, skin, and
hair were flying like snowflakes. Faces resembled lumps of beefsteak
instead of respectable features. And although the Militia were
outnumbered, they struggled bravely on. At last there was a cry of
"Surrender." The Germans shrieked for mercy, while the stationmaster
vainly implored for peace. An armistice was granted, during which the
enemy gathered up their false teeth, collars, and other displaced
apparel.

"Fall in now," ordered Lance-Corporal Tamson, as he wiped his bleeding
nose.

"Quick march," and out of the station marched the escort with their
captures. Hundreds had gathered and followed the convoy along. Spud
headed straight for the Officers’ Mess. There was no halt on arriving at
the door. He marched them into the anteroom, where Colonel Corkleg and
his officers were enjoying an evening smoke. All were startled at the
sight of the twenty bleeding and battered Germans as well as the
rowdy-looking escort. Before they had recovered, the whole lot was in
the room, and Spud Tamson standing to attention at their head.

"What the devil do you mean, corporal?" roared the colonel.

"Twenty prisoners, sir. They’re a’ spies. We captured them at the
station."

"In the name of the Kaiser, I protest——"

"Haud yer tongue—I’m speakin’," said the corporal to the Consular
gentleman. But the colonel had realised that this assault on these
Germans was a breach of the Convention. It was awkward, and although he
had no love for the enemy he knew that International law permitted their
being mobilised and shipped to their country. The colonel felt an inward
pride as he surveyed the bleeding captures, but he had to assume the
mask of duty. Turning to the adjutant he said, "Place this corporal and
all of our men in the guardroom; I will see them to-morrow." Turning to
the Germans, the colonel remarked in his best official tone, "I’m sorry,
gentlemen, that you should have been assaulted. It is all through the
ignorance of my men, as you see——"

"In the name of the Kaiser, I pro——"

"Very well," interjected the colonel, "you may lodge that protest when
we arrive in Berlin. Now, you may go," he said, pointing to the door.

Gladly they tripped to the station. Another train conveyed these
battered Teutons to the Port of Hull, where they found a steamer for
Lagerland.

Of course there was a Court of Inquiry, the result of which was a
Regimental Court-Martial for Spud and his pals. Diplomatic reasons
demanded punishment, and Colonel Corkleg had to comply.

That day was a memorable one in the annals of this corps, for inside the
Reading Room the bandaged Militiamen stood before their judges. After a
pile of evidence had been read and the usual formalities finished,
Colonel Corkleg asked, "Do you all plead guilty?"

"Yes, sir," was the firm response.

"Well, Lance-Corporal Tamson, I sentence you to be reduced, and fourteen
days’ field imprisonment with hard labour. The remainder are sentenced
to seven days’ field imprisonment."

"March them out, sergeant-major," ordered the adjutant. Without a
tremble, they turned about and tramped from the room.

"Useful man, that Tamson," the colonel remarked, with a twinkle in his
eye.

"Yes, sir," replied the adjutant, who, by the way, was a perfect
military machine, knowing everything from the strength of a regiment to
the number of grain seeds per diem allowed to a transport horse.



CHAPTER XI.
OFFICERS AND BILLETS.


_If_ the officers of His Majesty’s Service have a wonderful innings in
the piping times of peace, they have a very rough outing in the time of
war. It is not all beer and skittles, for, in addition to facing death,
they have to pay for the privilege of doing the same. The sword and
revolver with which they kill the Huns is purchased out of their
pockets. The few shillings per diem which they receive will not even pay
for their food and drinks. This system has many disadvantages for the
poor but keen soldier. It has practically denied thousands the right to
make the Army a profession, and has turned many educated N.C.O.’s out
into the world to become somewhat fierce antagonists of a system largely
founded on privilege and caste. But things are improving. And, in
passing, it is only fair to observe that the men produced by the old
system were really of the ruling caste—leaders and fighters, and
gentlemen with very few exceptions. It is true they purchased text-books
and never read them, yet it is equally true that, in war, they have
seldom failed, and have even managed to outdo such skilful tacticians
and strategists as the Germans. The Militia, of course, was never so
efficient as the Regular Army. That could not be expected. The officers
were mainly men of means who had served in the Regular Army; others were
county gentlemen with a passion for rank and arms; some the well-to-do
sons of ambitious business men; while the more junior officers were
cadets of poor but good families, who used the Militia as a back door to
the Army. And in this time of war the vacancies were largely filled by
the wonderful children of the O.T.C. An occasional ranker with a
corpulent quartermaster gave such a gathering a democratic leavening,
which did no harm. This, then, was the sort of stuff which composed the
regiment under review. All had fighting instincts, and every man
believed that it was "the thing to do." They felt it a pleasure to
serve, and deemed it an honour to die. There was no vulgar bragging
about what they would do with the Germans. Indeed, they had chivalry
enough to accord the Germans admiration for their work. War was no
picnic to them. If they had slacked it in the past, they bucked into
their job with a thoroughness which did them credit. In brief, they
represented a few of the willing thousands who have always been eager to
die for the Britain which, unfortunately, left them and their men in the
lurch when saddled with poverty and old age. A materialist has termed
such men the "Fools of Imperialism." Thank God, materialists are in the
minority. Such "fools" have secured to us a mighty heritage. Men of this
breed have stuck to the flag in the freezing Antarctic and in the
sun-baked East. We know little of them, and in the times of peace care
less. Yet when the drums of war are rolling hard, we turn and yell for
their arms and aid. How brutally selfish; how horribly weird! Let us
hope the war will teach us to honour and care for such men, when these
awful days are past.

Now let us review these gentlemen and their billet. First, there was old
Colonel Corkleg. He was a tough old dog, with a red nose and cork stump,
the relic of a grim struggle with Dervishes. He could neck the best part
of a bottle of Scotch at a sitting, yet, next morning, he would be found
in his cold tub before parade. Spick and span as a dandy, erect as a
Guardsman, as strict as Wellington, yet every inch a gentleman. The men
loved him because he gave them a square deal. And he knew his job. True,
he could curse like Marlborough’s men in Flanders, but you cannot drill
Militiamen without a wide vocabulary of oaths. The more original the
better. To these heroic scallywags, it was the hall-mark of soldierly
efficiency. But Colonel Corkleg could do more than curse. He could drill
and manœuvre his men "on the top of a barrel," as the old sergeant-major
used to say. When he shouted "’Shun" they shivered; when he roared out
"double" they ran like hares. And he was not afraid. Men loved to tell
of how he had killed a dozen niggers in a skirmish, and captured a
cannibal king with only a smile and a walking-stick. You will therefore
realise that Colonel Corkleg was a good fellow; you will also understand
how every man felt confidence in his leadership. Confidence in a
colonel, let me tell you, is worth everything in a fight.

The second in command was "The Dandy Major," a rollicking squire who
owned broad acres and big cellars. A bit of a Beau Brummell, too. He was
measured for his socks, pyjamas, and ties. There was a touch about his
waist-line which suggested the "Nut," and a look in his eye which was
deadly. The subalterns said that he had kissed everything human, from a
Geisha girl to an Eskimo. He had done everything from killing a tiger to
sticking a Hun, and had crowned his career with the capture of a famous
beauty of the land.

Major Tartan was the junior major. He was chief of a clan possessing
numerous castles and miles of heather. He looked a ghillie, and was very
proud of his calves. These never required the Sassenach stuffing of
cotton wool. And in his bedroom he hung a painted scroll of his lineage.
That was his weakness. He could recite his descent from Macdonald
M’Tartan, who ran away with the wife of Dugald M’Phail, once chief of
the thieves on Benmore. He loved the kilt and he lived in it. It greatly
distressed him to think that his regiment had the awful trews. But this
owner of Highland homes and grouse moors hadn’t a bean to call his own.
Everything was mortgaged, even his kilt, and that was a sore strait for
a true Highland gentleman. So he lived in a cottage on the shore of a
lonely loch. There he read the ’Spectator,’ drank Scotch, and cursed the
Government, as every Tory is expected to do. Yet he was as proud as
Cæsar. He was content to accept the little dole left when his lawyers
paid the interests on his heavily mortgaged bonds. He was glad of this
war. It gave him something to do. And he had the dour, grim, hacking
qualities which always distinguish the Highland soldier. If he was as
surly as a Highland bull, he was also as kind as a little child. His
last shilling had often gone into the beer-pot of a scheming Militiaman.
Militiamen, I can assure you, are like Chinamen—as deep as the seas and
as canny as the snakes. They can squeeze blood out of a stone, and so
this kind old major was frequently their prey.

The most interesting senior captain was Captain Coronet. A splendid
fellow, but annoyingly clean. He washed himself six times per day. His
shirts were spotless, and his clothes were aided by corsets. Captain
Coronet had the waist-line of a lady, and the smooth creamed complexion
of a girl. His features were regularly massaged, and he always prided
himself on his pinky-coloured nails. Through the ages his family had
fought like devils for God and Duty. Their tombs could be found in
Flanders, Egypt, and burning Hindostan. Naturally he was rich. Tons of
gold lay to hand, and he lavishly sent it round. An awfully good fellow,
as an Oxford grad. would say. Soldiering was his game. He cursed the
passing of the Feudal System and the rise of commerce. Killing was the
family job. Leading was his special prerogative. Naturally he scorned
the man in trade, and only had time for men of his caste. Haughty as a
Prussian to all who would ape his own, yet as generous as a monk to the
poor beggars in the ranks. He loved good deeds, and did them without
offence. When he gave a thousand guineas he did not inform the Press. A
civilian would sum him up as a snob; a soldier would call him a man, and
would follow him to the gates of death. True, Captain Coronet had the
little faults of his kind, but these were mainly affected and
superficial—simply a pose, which hid a real white man. When you scratch
the skin of such a type you will find a courage and grit which simply
staggers. If you know the Army you will understand. He was called the
chocolate soldier for many a day, till once a man was drowning in a
tidal river before the eyes of the whole regiment. No one ventured to
the rescue except Coronet. He plunged in, rescued his man after a
thrilling struggle, and calmly brought him up to the bank. All he ever
said about it was that "it was beastly wet."

Another interesting gent was Captain Hardup. He was a professional
Militiaman, and therefore a mystery. His pedigree was uncertain; his
schooling vague; while his cheques were frequently marked "overdrawn."
But he had the necessary qualifications to keep up appearances—that is
to say, he had a knickerbocker suit, a club address, and a mess kit,
which, by the way, had the appearance of having passed through the hands
of grenadiers, fusiliers, light infantry, and other branches of the
service. In the times of peace he collared a living, for about four and
a half months of the year, by training with various militia corps. For
this he received a captain’s pay, which was supplemented by his winnings
at bridge and an occasional cheque for taking a richer fellow’s turn of
duty. The county men tolerated him, regarding him as a necessary evil,
and, at times, a useful friend. What Captain Hardup did when the Militia
"broke down" was wrapped in a cloud. Some said he canvassed for
insurance; others averred that he travelled for beer; while a few
suggested that he ran baby incubators at country fairs. Nevertheless,
Hardup was a man of experience. He knew his job, and could even tell
when a Militiaman had no feet in his socks. To Colonel Corkleg he was
invaluable, for he could twist a company outside in.

The subalterns, of course, were equally interesting; they always are.
These youthful officers are the life of a regiment. Invariably they are
splendid sportsmen. To the outside world they present a haughty air,
which generally merits for them the title of snobs. But this is an
unfair characterisation. The air of supreme importance which they adopt
is really the result of old army training, which compels an officer to
hide his virtues and his failings under a mask of chilling hauteur.
Scrape that, and you will always find a generous heart and a kindly
soul. It is in the mess that you realise this. There, they are all big
bouncing boys, full of innocent fun and youthful candour. To them a
spade is a spade. If a brother officer is really a prig and abuses his
men, these youths will take it out of his skin. A broken bed and a
broken head is the penalty of unpopularity. Tar and feathers is the
punishment of the cad. Drinks all round is usually the verdict when a
subaltern forgets his manners and commits a smaller sin. The mess is the
school for courage, honour, and truth. In the British officers’ anteroom
you will find the foundations of that splendid chivalry which has given
us fame. Isolated cases to the contrary usually mean that the colonel is
an idiot, and the adjutant a fool. But these are rare, and when found
the War Office has a blunt style of treatment. A German officer has
shown us, in the pages of ’Life in a Garrison Town,’ how things are in
the Army of the Kaiser. You will not find these things in the Army of
our King. This statement can also be applied to the Militia and
Territorials.

And this was the type in Colonel Corkleg’s corps. Jim Longlegs, the
senior sub, was cox of the Cambridge boat. His nose had been flattened
while learning the noble art of self-defence. He could tear a pack of
cards with his hands, and crack an iron bar over his knee. He was
clean-limbed and alert, good at a spree, and if he did like a
whisky-and-soda, he could drink it as Luther did, in the manner of a
gentleman.

Cocky Dan was an impish sprite from a public school. He was five feet of
delightful impudence and daring. His nose was always stuck in the Maxim
gun. This tricky machine was his hobby and his job. When he rode
alongside of it on his piebald charger he resembled a beaming boy scout
with the all-round cords. Cocky Dan was a name that suited him. And then
there was Willie Winkie, the sausage merchant’s son, who tried so hard
to be a gentleman. He would have been a perfect gentleman if he hadn’t
worried too much about ’Etiquette for Officers,’ and that other social
handbook, ’Manners made Easy.’ Billy Isaacs was hampered by his name.
Not that he was a Jew, but, as he said himself, one of his female
ancestors had got mixed up in a money-lending affair with a Hebrew, who
was financing her fads in silks, port, and rouge. To save the family
pewter and the old manorial brick bungalow, she married the man, and
thus hampered a decent fellow with a hooked proboscis and an ikey name.
Still, he was a devil at finance, and almost sent the colour-sergeant
insane when he balanced a halfpenny out in his pay-sheet. Then there was
Gerald Hay Du Patti Brown, who made the dickens of a row about some of
his people coming over with William the Conqueror. This carried him far
till Second Lieutenant Briefs discovered in the Doomsday Book that his
ancestor was a pioneer-sergeant in the army which landed at Hastings in
1066. Still, he was a good fellow, and always willing to stand a port
the day before the month’s pay was due. Brown’s boon companion was Giddy
Greens, a husky youth intimate with the musical comedy stars. He had
only a hundred a year, and was always dodging the Jews. His suits were
easily the best, for the reason that he changed his tailor monthly and
always burnt their bills. But there, one might rave for ever about the
subalterns of this famous corps.

Now, the billets in which they were lodged at Mudtown was hardly in
keeping with their tastes. It was a musty manor, with a touch of age and
a scent of dead cats. Dirt was rampant and barrenness profound. Where
the pictures once hung they found great holes, while through the windows
came sparrows, bats, and rain. The floor was rotten, indeed Colonel
Corkleg lost his artificial stump in a mouldy corner of his room. There
wasn’t a bath. All had to wash themselves in biscuit tins, and wipe
their faces on a greasy roller towel. As to the kitchen, only a single
fire remained to cook soup, fish, entrees, and sweets. These had to be
served up on one old kitchen table.

"This is——" muttered the colonel.

"Yes, sir," replied the adjutant.

Still, it was war time, so things had to be devised. Tables were made
out of floor boarding and salmon boxes; beds were created out of
blankets, ancient and modern. These were sewn together in the form of
sleeping bags. Candles were used for illumination; while other
necessaries were begged, borrowed, or stolen from patrons and friends.
But all the worry or discomfort did not upset the usual cheerfulness of
the subs. Life to them was one continual round of joy. They danced till
their legs burst through the floors, and sang so loud that the senior
major vigorously protested. Guest-nights were occasionally held, when
fellow-officers in other corps arrived to sample their good things.
Tinned sardines, ration beef, Irish stew, slippery jellies, and musty
macaroni were served on the one plate, liquid refreshments were gladly
drunk out of bowls and collapsible mugs. After these sumptuous repasts
the senior sub, Jim Longlegs, put his juniors through the "Modulator."
This is a performance which the priggish youth hates like prussic acid,
but one much enjoyed by all true sportsmen. In the course of this
ceremony, a sub may be ordered to stand on his head, sing "Annie Laurie"
in that position, and afterwards endeavour to swallow a Scotch. A
somewhat ignoble performance to the uninitiated, but underneath all
these foolish pranks there is a deep reasoning, and that is the teaching
of youth a respect for authority and a prompt obedience to orders.
Anteroom court martials were also held in the billets of Mudtown. At
these tribunals all delinquents were bluntly catechised for their sins.
For instance, Cocky Dan was charged with "irregular conduct, unable to
control his horse, riding through a ham merchant’s window and sitting in
a basket of rotten eggs." This conduct was deemed unbecoming to an
officer and a gentleman, so Cocky Dan received a formal sentence of
"drinks all round, and to sleep three nights without his pyjamas." Being
winter, this sentence will be well understood. Du Patti Brown was also
arraigned on a charge of "unauthorised swank—blowing his horn about his
Norman pedigree, having a double-barrelled and plebian name, and
attempting to enter his name in Burke’s Peerage." This was deemed a
fraud. His sentence was "a cold tub in full regimentals, and afterwards
drinking two quarts of ice-cold water." Billy Isaacs was charged with
"Jewish tendencies, in that he in the billets of Mudtown did order a
fatigue party from his company to search for the sum of one penny which
he had lost on parade." Sentence of death was passed, but this was
remitted on the understanding that Billy Isaacs would lend every
subaltern a "fiver" till next pay-day.

There _were_ nights when the wine was rich and merriment strong. On
these occasions the spirit of mischief and devilry became rampant. One
of these famous nights was the celebration of Captain Coronet’s
receiving what he described as another "beastly legacy of fifty thousand
from an old aunt, who had cheated her heirs for ninety-five years." The
flowing bowl went round. Colonel Corkleg, with "The Dandy Major" and
Major Tartan, like true sportsmen, helped to consume a few quarts of
champagne vintage. Their red faces and beaming eyes told all that they
had reached that stage which demands, for a senior, immediate retirement
from the scene of action, so as not to prejudice good order and military
discipline. In the privacy of their rooms they supped more wine, damned
the Kaiser and the Radicals, and figured out their actual part in the
triumphal march through the Unter der Linden. Meantime, the gay young
bloods danced and hooched to their hearts’ delight. Choruses, of course,
were popular, and many of those songs so dear to all of our public
schools echoed out into the still Mudtown night. And then the Tempter
came into Jim Longlegs’ brain.

"Let’s rag the captains," he whispered round.

"Right ho," all cried. Now this is a violation of the unwritten law. A
captain in the service is a little tin god. He must not be ragged by his
juniors. But the spirit of mischief abounded. Armed with mops, brooms,
hose pipes, and minus their caps and jackets, they rushed the captains’
rooms. Danger had been scented. As they entered the sacred sanctum they
were received with well-directed douches from buckets of water. This
soaked them to the skin, and for a moment checked the general advance.

"Charge!" ordered the senior sub. An order is an order, so they promptly
obeyed. There was a merry scrum. Jim Longlegs seized the nearest man and
promptly commenced to give this somewhat portly person a half-nelson and
a duck in a basin. Heavens! when he looked at his antagonist’s face he
found it was that of Major Tartan, who had been visiting the captains’
rooms. He was nonplussed for a moment, for a major is like the prophet
Allah, one of the Holy of Holies. To even touch a hair of his head is
more irreligious than the tearing out of the precious eyes of a
Brahmin’s god. But the major was a sport. The temporary astonishment of
the senior sub was used by him to the best advantage. With a great
effort he encircled Longlegs’ waist, and heaved him with a terrible
crash to the floor. The lamp was smashed and the revellers found
themselves in darkness. This lessened the fear of the consequences. Beds
were lifted and crashed around. Basins were emptied out over the
blankets. Brooms smashed through the windows, while many of the captains
and subs had their shirts torn from their backs. And then the whistle
blew "Retire." The subs retired singing "Rule, Britannia," and yelling

      "Glory, Glory, Halleujah,
      Glory, Glory, Halleujah,
      Glory, Glory, Halleujah,
    We’ve wrecked the Captains’ Home."

It was in the after-discussion of the night’s escapade that Cocky Dan
dared Jim Longlegs to sneak into the C.O.’s room and collar the
colonel’s cork leg, which always lay by the side of his bed.

"Done," said the senior sub before he realised his venture. But it had
to go on. His pluck was at stake. There was a tense silence as he crept
out of the room in his stocking soles. Quietly he opened the colonel’s
door and slipped inside. The old gentleman lay on his bed asleep. Jim
crept forward and stealthily picked up the colonel’s cork limb. He
smiled grimly as he turned towards the door. Cocky Dan would have to
yield him that fiver after all. But just as he touched the handle there
was a rustle on the bed and then a terrible roar—

"Damn you, Mr Longlegs—how dare you?...?...?" cursed the colonel, who
slept lightly, due to his years of living amongst the Dervishes and
Afridis.

"I’m—I’m—I’m sor——"

"Put that leg down—get out, you scamp. Report to me in the morning."

The senior sub placed the leg down again, in the most shamefaced manner.
He was sorry he had been caught. He had meant no disrespect, for the
colonel was a lovable old gentleman at heart. But he had violated a
sacred rule, and he guessed what the morning would bring forth. When he
arrived back in the subs’ rooms his fellow-officers went pale with
terror and quickly scampered to bed.

"I think we ought to report this ragging business to the colonel," said
a supercilious senior to old Major Tartan next morning.

"What?"

"Report it to the colonel!"

"Don’t be an ass," said old Tartan, stumping out of the room. He had
been a true subaltern in his day.

The colonel, however, ordered the adjutant to bring Mr Longlegs in.

"Well," commenced the old gentleman in his best official manner.

"I—I—I’m very sorry, sir."

"Should think you would be! Damned impertinence, sir. How dare you? How
dare you? Never heard of such a thing in my life. Good mind to cashier
you."

"Really, I’m very sorry——"

"Hold your tongue, sir."

Then he harangued him in the best style of Judge Hawkins for a quarter
of an hour, after which the senior sub felt like a little grease spot
instead of a man.

"Now you can go, sir; don’t let it happen again—understand!"

"Yes, sir," said Longlegs, saluting and marching out.

As the door shut, the colonel, with a subdued twinkle in his eye,
remarked—"Useful man that, eh?"

"Yes, sir," replied the adjutant.



CHAPTER XII.
THE GENERAL STAFF.


_The_ General Staff is improving. Red Tape is being killed; common-sense
is beginning to triumph. It took exactly two hundred and fifty years for
our General Staff to realise that soldiers cannot be expected to
skirmish in busbies, or entrench a position in crimson tunics and
skin-tight trews. This admission, you will agree, is evidence of
awakening, so the British public need not be alarmed. Years ago,
generals received their rank through the influence of their wives, or
somebody else’s wife. Now, a general is expected to have the brains of
Wellington and the sauce of the Kaiser. He is promoted for his
efficiency, not for his glass eye or double-barrelled name. Indeed, it
is only a brave man who would be a general, for he is supposed to know
everything, from the weight of a soldier’s socks to the number of men
that can be killed by a shrapnel shell. And he is the generator of all
schemes for the training of His Majesty’s men. When the G.O.C. speaks,
all are expected to show that they have a wholesome fear and awe of this
almighty personage. The correct reply to a general, on all occasions, is
"Yes, sir." Woe unto the man who would dispute the theories of the
G.O.C., for "Death or such less punishment" lies in the hollow of his
hand. A general who is keen of C.B.’s, knighthoods, and a baton, is
always careful in the selection of his Staff. Up till fifteen years ago
the young bloods of Mayfair were chosen because of their lineage, cash,
and ability to ride a hunter at a five-barred gate. Now, a general seeks
for an aide who can work twenty-three hours out of twenty-four, and
possessed of all the knowledge that the Staff College can bestow. It is
pleasant to note that many clever aspirants can be found, and that is
the reason for the success of our arms to-day. If Wellington had had men
of this type, he, like Hannibal and Napoleon, might also have conquered
the Alps. But Wellington had to deal with aides who were simply British
gentlemen with a passion for fox-hunting and a primitive thirst for
blood. The modern Staff officer can secure the maximum of efficiency
with the minimum of friction. He can inspire the training of a thousand
muddling amateurs, and in six months can procure veterans of the type
that conquered at Waterloo. Nothing is too much for him. He can make
transports out of mud barges; bridges from milk carts; impregnable
redoubts from biscuit-boxes, rubble, mud, and sand. In the midst of a
most crushing reverse, he will collar a thousand retreating men, stick
them in hen-houses, mills, and churchyards, and thus delay the advance
of several army corps. He is tireless, persistent, sometimes dogmatic,
but ever tactful and cheerful. Haking has instilled into him that
soldiers are mainly human, and, in certain instances, fools, hence his
ever cheerful charm, his pertinacity and human understanding. Of course
there are a few of the old Peninsular type still left on the Staff. When
you find them, Heaven help you! Their skulls are as shallow as the
aborigines, and their tongues as cutting as a circular saw. They swear
by The King’s Regulations, and meet every problem by a precise reference
to para so-and-so, section something, of the supplement to His Majesty’s
manuals of military muddles and laws. They terrify the simpleton by the
fierceness of their dogmas, and ruthlessly crush the intellectual by
thundering adjectives and cries of—insubordination and arrest.
Thoroughly honest, thoroughly patriotic, but equally incompetent. They
are tolerated for the simple reason that a shell or the age limit will
eventually pass them out.

Now, in the Division to which the Glesca Mileeshy belonged there was a
G.O.C. of the modern school. He was as big as a Cossack, and as cute as
an Oxford Don. Common-sense was his theme; regulations he abhorred. He
cursed everything which savoured of stupid obedience and ignorant
obstinacy. Yet he had the faculty of humour, and in the midst of a
fierce castigation would soothe ruffled pride and vain dignity by a
funny yet kindly touch. This G.O.C. was nicknamed "Sunny Jim." Somehow
his parents had missed the way to the Peerage and ’Who’s Who?’ Still,
his worthy folks had produced an abnormal and interesting type. In a
kindly family atmosphere "Sunny Jim" imbibed the true belief that love
is the only philosophy to secure happiness and success. In a good public
school this genius developed his amazing brain, and at the same time
hardened his strong arms. Tin soldiers was his early game. Boy soldiers
followed next. He armed his little army with mops, brooms, and carving
knives, and, playing on an old frying-pan, marched them out to war. This
was the beginning of great things. And from these boyish battles "Sunny
Jim" moved into Sandhurst. And in Sandhurst "Sunny Jim" learned the more
noble idealism of arms and the bedrock of those things which can be
summed up as the chivalry of war. When he joined his regiment he created
a stir. He was unorthodox. For example, he upset the tradition of three
hundred years by ordering a sentry to stand under a verandah out of the
wet; while he shocked his brother officers by eating an apple on the
line of march. "It isn’t conventional," his captain remarked. "Oh, hang
convention!" was his tart reply. And so he progressed, upsetting all of
the portly seniors, who declared that the Army was going to the dogs.
While these old gentlemen went off to shoot grouse, "Sunny Jim" went
forth to every sort of man-hunting expedition. His sword within ten
years had been inside the paunch of many Dervishes, Afridis, hillmen,
and negroes. His breast of ribbons told all the tale of days of hardship
and of daring. In every scrap he was always "Sunny Jim." That was why he
got the charge of the famous "Mixed Division." It was very mixed—twenty
thousand gentlemen and scallywags, with little knowledge of war, but a
terrible thirst for blood. Jim had to train them.

"Get them fit," he ordered.

"How, sir?" said the A.A.G.

"Make them charge mountains with fixed bayonets for a month."

"But there’s no mountains nearer than fifteen miles, sir."

"March them out to them—good for them!"

"They’ll probably kick, sir."

"Then we’ll have them shot." And so the Mixed Division tramped,
manœuvred, and charged. It lowered each man’s weight, and made him wring
his shirt after the day’s darg was done. The older soldiers cursed and
growled; the younger men whined and often fell out.

"Too stiff, eh?" inquired "Sunny Jim" one day of a perspiring Tommy.

"A wee bit, sir," said the man with a wan smile.

"It’s example these men want. I’ll show them. Here, you," he shouted to
a young subaltern in charge of an infant company.

"Yes, sir."

"Hand over your company to me."

"Very good, sir."

The company was awed. They had only heard of "Sunny Jim." Now, there he
stood in his gold-braided cap and ribboned chest—a perfect type of
soldier.

"’Shun," he roared. They shivered, for the voice told them that Jim was
very much alive.

"Advance." They trekked behind him over the manœuvring area. The whole
regiment stopped to look on.

"Extend," was his next command.

They went out in a sleepy way.

"Come back! Come back!" he roared. They doubled back half startled.

"Now, look here, you young rascals, I’m fifty, and about fifteen stone.
I’ve been through five wars and fifteen battles. I’ve been wounded twice
and half starved in all my Army life, but if I couldn’t double better
than that I would desert and go home." Then in his thundering voice he
bellowed, "Extend," once more. Out they ran like whippets.

"That’s the way, my lads, and that’s the way you’ll run when the bullets
are cracking round your ears. Now, advance."

Off they went again.

"Down—at the enemy in front—at five hundred—fire."

They flopped down in an awkward manner.

"Well! Well!" muttered the general. "Get up! Get up!" All rose in a
shamefaced way.

"Now, watch me," and off he went at the double; next he flopped on to
the muddy ground. It was mighty quick, but then "Sunny Jim" had done
this many times to save his skin. All the while the men marvelled at
this wonderful general doing such things when he might have ridden his
horse and cursed them in the orthodox way. But they gladly followed his
lead; ran, lay down, and opened fire.

"Rapid fire," he yelled above the din. The reply was a feeble thing to a
trained ear.

"Oh dear! Oh dear! What the ...? ...." he roared, using the most choice
and original adjectives. "It’s fifteen rounds a minute I want, and
fifteen rounds I’m going to have. Give me your rifle," he yelled to a
shivering youth. Lying down, he quickly opened fire, while an
aide-de-camp timed his shooting with a watch.

"How many?" he inquired when closing his bolt after firing the last
round.

"Just fifteen, sir, to the minute."

"There! And these young scamps take about half an hour. Now, my lads,
ready once more."

"Rapid fire!" The response was good, almost perfect.

The old general smiled grimly as he muttered—

"They’re getting on."

In this way he conducted the fight to the point of assault. This, of
course, was the critical stage of the whole manœuvres. But before
proceeding he gave another address.

"Look here, my boys. This is where you’ve got to frighten the devil out
of the enemy, and charge like Hell. When you charge, open your mouth and
yell like a mad Dervish. Keep yelling till you get at them, and then
plug your bayonet home with a mighty thrust. As you pull it out give it
a pleasant twist. Every twist helps to end the war. Are you ready?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, charge!" and off went "Sunny Jim" at their head yelling like a
mad fakir. They gleefully followed and charged as they never had before.
At the conclusion he formed them up, remarking, "Well, how did you like
that?"

"Fine, sir," was the quick response.

"All right, lads; that’s the way I want it done—good day to you."

"Good day, sir," answered the company, as proud as Punch.

There was no more growling in the Mixed Division, for the general had
shown them that he could do their job.



CHAPTER XIII.
TRAINING FOR WAR.


_The_ soldier of to-day is a very different person to the one of fifty
years ago. In the past, all that was asked of a Tommy was clean buttons,
a padded chest, and handling of arms. To-day, the soldier is equal to
the officer of Wellington’s time. His brain is a well-packed
encyclopedia on everything from minor tactics to sanitary duties in war.
In the past, he was a machine—a splendid machine; now he is an
individualist, one trained to use his science in such a way that he
feels that upon his conduct the fate of a battle depends. Many stripes
have been lost, and many hearts broken, in the achievement of this
necessary standard; but, thank Heaven, common-sense has come to stay. It
is now practically impossible for an officer to hide his inefficiency
under a mask of haughty reserve. Modern tactics demand that he shall
teach his men the alphabet of military affairs, as well as those
side-issues which count so much in the making of a soldier. Mental
superiority and physical efficiency are the only qualities which can
inspire loyalty, discipline, and confidence. Of course, the strain is
hard, especially upon an officer. Too hard, perhaps, when one thinks of
the niggardly pay and the chance of losing one’s life in the tender and
more useful years. Nevertheless, it is mighty interesting and equally
amusing. Imagine a corps like the Glesca Mileeshy suddenly mobilised and
ordered to train and become fit within three months. Fortunately Colonel
Corkleg was a resourceful and a clever man. He commenced at the
bottom—that is, on the square. It is there that obedience and discipline
are developed and perfected. When a regiment can march and drill like
the Guards’ Brigade, there is no fear for its conduct in the sternest
battle. This was the colonel’s reasoning, and all agreed that he was
correct. Each company then went out to march and drill. Let us study a
sample. This was Captain Coronet’s company. His colour-sergeant, known
as Fiery Dick, was a regular terror. This valiant was supported by
Sergeants Maloney, O’Dooley, M’Sappy, and Greegor. Very tough gents, I
assure you. If they lacked a knowledge of the three R’s and perfection
in the King’s English, they could bash their sections about in the most
vigorous style. The preliminary address of Fiery Dick was interesting.

"Look ’ere, you funny bundles of humanity, you’ve got to drill like
soldiers, not like fishermen. And when I says ’’Shun,’ I means ’’Shun.’
None of your hankey-pankey tricks, such as wiping your wet noses on your
sleeve, or keeking round the corner for a smell of the canteen. Stand
erect, head still, eyes to your front, and puff out your chest. Keep
your thumbs in line with the seam of your trousers, not inside of the
next man’s pocket. Remember, pickpocketing’s not allowed in His
Majesty’s Service. If you want a bob, I’ll lend you one—and charge you
interest. Now—’Shun!" This evidently was not perfect. "Here, O’Riley,
don’t squint at me like that. That’s dumb insolence. Won’t have it. None
of your moonlighter tricks here."

"To the divil wid ye," muttered O’Riley, who was a bit of a hard case.

"Take his name, Sergeant Maloney. I’ll teach him not to talk back in the
ranks. Squad—’Shun!" There was now a stillness that pleased the
professional eye.

"Not bad for Militiamen. Now we’ll try the slope. Look slippy! Chuck it
about. It won’t bite you. And don’t wobble your head like a looney in
the asylum. Squad—Slope. Macsausage, wait for the last word—you’re too
slippy—expect you’ve been a bookie in civil life, always slipping the
cops. Stand still, Private Rednose. Squad—Slope—arms!" There was a weird
attempt at precision. Weird is the word, for Fiery Dick immediately
bellowed, "As you were." They tumbled back to the order again. "You for
soldiers—you’re like a lot of monkeys gettin’ up a pole. But I’ll teach
you—Double march." Off they galloped round the square, to the grim
delight of Dick, who heaved his chest with martial pride, and followed
their antics with his eyes. "Double," he roared, as they slacked a
little. "Who told you to crawl like worms? Hi, M’Ginty, you’re rolling
like a bloomin’ old fishwife. O’Riley, I’ll get a stretcher for you, you
lazy spud-eating Paddy."

"Ach, to H—— wid you," shouted back O’Riley.

"Halt!" roared Dick, aflame with military wrath. "What do you mean,
talking back to a Non-Commissioned Officer?"

"Yis couldn’t drill my ould cat," leered O’Riley in a fearless way.

"What—you—— How dare——"

"Aisy, sargint, or, be jabers, you’ll burst."

"Sergeant Maloney, march him to the clink. Skilly and cells will teach
him."

"Thank yis, sargint—I’ll get a sleep in the clink," chirped O’Riley as
he was marched away.

"Double march," roared Dick to the remainder again. When he had almost
pumped the last breath out of their bodies he gave the halt, then—"Stand
at ease."

"Wipe your sweat off, and then we’ll try the slope again." Gladly they
mopped their brows. When finished, the old sergeant ordered,
"Slope—arms." Every rifle went bang on to the shoulder with a precision
that was truly amazing.

"That’s the way. You can do it when you like. Now, Present—arms." This
had its faults.

"Keep your stomachs in—it’s corsets you want. And grip your guns. They
ain’t dynamite. Just think it’s a beer pot. No laughing, Muldoon, or
I’ll clap you in with O’Riley."

"I couldn’t help——"

"Silence! Who ever heard of talking in the ranks? Company—Slope—arms. By
the right—Quick march."

"By the right! By the right! Don’t wobble like ducks in a mud-pond. Hold
your heads up—swing your arms—stick out your measly chests, and march.
Steady now! About—turn. One—two—three—four—Step out—you’re not at
O’Riley’s funeral yet. Right—form. Come round like one man. Keep back,
Tamson, it’s not dinner-time yet."

"I weesh it wis," whispered Tamson.

"Squad—Halt! Stand at—ease," concluded Fiery Dick. "Now you section
commanders march off your sections. Slip it across them. If they look
sideways, double them till their wind-bags burst."

The sergeants gladly complied, for they were itching to emulate the
style of their worthy "Flag," as the colour-sergeant is known in the
Service. When sufficiently apart, the din commenced.

"Left—right—left—haud up yer heids—oot wi’ yer chists—eyes aff the grun,
there’s nae money there," piped Sergeant Greegor, the sprightly
commander of No. 1 section. His colleagues followed suit, much to the
amusement of Captain Coronet and his Subs (Lieutenants Greens and
Briefs), who quietly observed all from a corner of the drill-ground.
This section drill went on for a week. At the conclusion, the company
commander and his subalterns fell to and instructed them in company
drill. The methods of these gentlemen were of the polite order. Their
adjectives had not the strong flavour of Fiery Dick’s. Indeed, their
treatment was much too ladylike in the opinion of the sergeants.
However, these trusty henchmen kept the scallywags in order. If they
stumbled, mumbled, or jumbled when on parade, a quiet dig with a boot
mended matters.

Having polished the eight companies into shape and order, Colonel
Corkleg and his adjutant decided on battalion drill. Battallion drill
under such a colonel was a treat. He was a martinet, and could drill a
regiment like a Guardsman.

"Battalion reported present, sir," announced the adjutant on the first
parade.

"Thank you," said the colonel, clearing his throat, and viewing a
thousand expectant souls.

"Battalion—what’s all the moving now? When I say ’Battalion,’ every man
should stand still and wait for the next word of command. Who’s that
moving about on the right of Number Eight? Sergeant-Major."

"Yes, sir."

"Take the name of the fat, red-headed man—third from the right of Number
Eight. Give him marked drill. That will teach him."

"Battalion—’Shun. Slope—arms. By the right, quick—march." Any man who
quivered an eyelid or turned his eyes the eighth of an inch was promptly
collared and marked for drill. Up and down they went, neither looking to
the left nor to the right, as if in terror of their lives. The bailies
of a hundred towns, with all the men in blue, had tried to quell and
train this same material, but it had been left to Colonel Corkleg to
instil into them that orders were orders. Discipline—discipline, and
obedience, the holy watchword of His Majesty’s men. From a sullen,
slovenly, careless gang of devil-may-care cut-throats and vagabonds, he
whacked them into a regiment of steady, proud, and sterling men. And he
did not hesitate to curse them. He knew his men. There was not a sense
of cruelty or spite in Colonel Corkleg’s soul. He was a gentleman, but
he knew that these men were the victims of environment. In their dreary
crime-and drink-sodden homes they had learned to emulate the
law-breaker, to idolise the criminal, and applaud the football god.
Their philosophy was material—necessarily so: for poverty made them
steal; environment sent them out to seek the heat of the ale-house and
the shelter of the jail. Brutes, some people would call them. But they
had never seen these men dying on the sands of Egypt or on the plains of
Hindostan. Colonel Corkleg had. While he cursed them in his stern way,
that was simply because these men knew no other tongue. In his heart he
loved them as his own children. They had stuck to him in many a bloody
combat. He knew this same type would stick to him again. Yes, and the
men loved him, too. They were shrewd. A cruel world had given them a
keen perception. One look at a man and they knew him to be friend or
foe. Many a time old Corkleg had met them on the open road and stopped
his high-stepping mare to give them a lift and the price of their doss.
Often had Colonel Corkleg amazed his guests at his country-seat by
hauling a dirty old blackguard off the highway and introducing him as
"one of his boys."

Having steadied them up at drill, the regiment was then initiated into
the wonders of modern war. First came musketry. Musketry was never good
in the British Army till the War Office made a soldier shoot for his
pay. This truly brilliant thought made Thomas Atkins spot the bull as he
never did before. Those who hitherto spent their lives in tasting ale
realised that during musketry they had to study abstinence and do with a
pint a day—a great sacrifice on the part of such men. Next they
discovered the difference between the line of sight and the trajectory.
This kept them low—dead on at six o’clock. The ribbons on their caps, or
the fluttering flags on the range, gave all the tip of the wind; while
the wonders of the wind-gauge aided in getting the bullets into the best
billets every time. All of these theories were amply explained by the
N.C.O.’s, who had learned the latest crazes from "The madmen of Hythe."
Those queer professors of the art of shooting went to bed with their
rifles. They wallowed in cartridges, and prayed for new ideas to get the
British Army bulls. And to the horror of all thirsty privates they
invented green-and khaki-coloured targets at which the soldier had to
pop to qualify for his pay. Standing, kneeling, lying, and sitting, the
Tommy was expected to hit the khaki specks on the landscape. Rapid fire
was another theme, while grouping, and cones of fire, they argued, were
the theories to win a modern war. Very excellent, but, at first,
annoying to those who had been used to firing volleys and keeping their
cartridges still till they saw "the whites of the enemy’s eyes." Yet, in
time, all realised that the madmen of Hythe were right, and so the
British Army has become the finest shooting force in the world.

Of course, the best-regulated systems are liable to fraud. Spud Tamson
proved that. While marking at the butts, under the officer of the day,
he found that a pencil pushed sharply through the target resembled the
puncture of a bullet. Now this was a great discovery. It meant salvation
to many of his pals who were third-class shots. It also indicated to
Tamson the road to a lucrative income by charging so much per head for
every bull that he secured by the aid of his pencil. Naturally there
were risks, but Tamson was willing to take them. To ensure success, he
squared his orderly sergeant to get him the job of permanent marker at
the butts. Having accomplished that, Spud intimated to many hopeless
aspirants for first-class shot that he could pull them through, and thus
secure them the threepence a day which is the reward for musketry
efficiency. He put dozens through his hands; indeed, he was so zealous
that not a third-class shot was found in many of the companies.

"This is really marvellous shooting, sir," said the A.A.G. to the G.O.C.
one day during this regiment’s course. "Not a third-class shot, so far."

"Don’t believe it. There’s something wrong there," quickly observed the
general, who knew the rifle upside down. "I’ll test this regiment
to-day," he concluded, putting on his cap and making for the range.
There he found a company doing great things at the game. Bull after bull
was going up to the delight of all, especially Colonel Corkleg, who was
proud of his men’s achievement.

"Here, my lad," said the G.O.C. to a blind-looking man firing at a
target, "give me your rifle." Lying down, the general fired two shots.

"What’s that?" he inquired casually.

"Two bulls, sir," answered the colonel.

"Bulls, eh?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well—blow the cease fire."

This was sounded, and the general ran up to the butts. There he found
the zealous Tamson "pasting up."

"Show me the last two shots on number one target," ordered the general.

"Here they are, sir," replied the cool and resourceful rascal.

"Umph! Not much of a bullet went in there."

"Oh yes, sir, that’s right enough. I saw them spit on."

"Well, lend me your pencil for a minute, my lad."

Out came Tamson’s pencil, which he handed to the general.

"Now, look here, young man—I fired the last two shots at number one
target, but I fired them in the air. They went miles from here—somewhere
in the sky."

"It’s gey funny, sir."

"Not so very funny, either," replied the G.O.C., "especially when I look
at your pencil. It’s the exact circumference of a bullet, and a little
paste on each side shows that you have been sticking it through the
target."

"No’ me, sir! No’ me, sir!"

"Oh no—it was your pencil. Put him in the guardroom, colonel, and all of
your companies must fire over again with neutral officers in the butts.
Good-day." And off stamped the G.O.C. with a grim smile in his eyes. He
knew Tommy Atkins, and had caught many a regiment before. In the next
shooting many "marksmen" suddenly fell to the status of third-class
shots. Thus was a Bisley standard foiled. Tamson got seven days’ cells
without the proverbial option. But he didn’t mind. He was thirty
shillings to the good. Colonel Corkleg’s opinion cannot be printed.

Having performed the necessary musketry course, all hands were initiated
into skirmishing and the need of taking cover. Skirmishing, as you are
aware, was invented to dodge the unpleasant effects of "Black Marias,"
"Coal Boxes," and whizzing volleys of death in tabloid form. This new
formation gives all the sporting chance of getting through a war and
winning a medal and a wife. As for taking cover, that undignified game
has robbed war of much of its chivalry, compelling the most austere
martinet to hide behind a blade of grass. This sort of thing would not
have pleased the army of Wellington. Imagine the Iron Duke’s Guards,
clad in the glories of red and gold, hiding in a mud-hole, or crawling
along a ditch, like a lot of boy scouts. These gentlemen would have
declared that the Army was going to the dogs. Speaking of dogs, the
soldier of to-day is very much of a dog. He is expected to scent,
crouch, crawl, and spring on his prey. The closer he gets to mother
earth the better his chance of getting a bite. Of course, such a
proceeding is very annoying to one with the girth of Falstaff or Bailie
Nicol Jarvie. And it was a very difficult matter to get these gallants
to understand the tricks of the weasel. The sudden flop on to mother
earth at first dislocated the internal bag of tricks. Crawling, too, was
bad for their tender knees. Nor did they realise that the effect of
posing with their nether regions like humps of khaki meant an unpleasant
wound. Think, then, of the difficulties. Imagine training one thousand
men into crawling monkeys. You can picture the scene. How weird! How
funny! But it had to be done. As the drill-book says, "You must see
without being seen, and take advantage of all cover." Thus did the
Glesca Mileeshy wriggle and crawl. Darwin would have been delighted. The
sight would have convinced him that man _did_ come from the crawling and
clambering apes of the forest.

A week of this business fitted them for a more interesting stage—namely,
"Artillery Formations," or, in other words, the tactical disposition of
men to avoid the effects of artillery fire. The modern shrapnel shell
has a forward throw of about 200 yards and a lateral spread of 50 yards.
This necessitates the breaking of a company into four little groups. Two
groups or sections are in the front line, about 50 yards apart; two in
the rear line with about 200 yards between them and the first line, and
about 50 yards between sections. The four sections then move forward in
a sort of diamond formation. This really prevents a gunner getting the
correct range, and even if he does get a hit he can only blot out one of
the sections. The sporting chance of life, you will observe, is there
for all. Quite a cunning device of our General Staff; presenting to
every man the opportunity of glory and the chance (sometimes meagre) of
getting home to one’s own fireside.

Artillery formation was at first a weird business to the old soldiers
accustomed to the straight business and marching with their whiskers in
line. The idea of manœuvring in a lot of disordered groups distinctly
upset their precise barrack-square drill. It didn’t look well, and that
seemed a weak point in the scheme. However, as the G.O.C. remarked,
"They would be glad of it when the Kaiser had his guns going at them."
But we must get on. Well, on reaching, say, seven hundred yards, all
were impressed with the need of urgently and rapidly extending to avoid
the rude effect of the enemy’s rifle-fire. An enemy has little respect
for football-like crowds advancing to the attack. Their machine-guns
usually squirt out lead injections at a furious rate, with the most
startling results, hence the open order at the range indicated. It is
here, too, that the soldier must get behind a blade of grass or a jam
tin, anything likely to stop the bullet from putting him on the roll of
honour. From a vantage point, all are expected to create as many German
widows as they possibly can. Quite a murderous job, but delightfully
thrilling to the man who has the hereditary thirst for blood. In such a
phase, the third-class shot is of little account. The marksman, however,
has the time of his life. He can inoculate the brain or the little Mary
of his foe at will. Indeed, he can play nasty tricks with the angles of
the square-headed Teuton. If such is the case at seven and six hundred
yards, imagine the deadliness of matters at five, four, and lesser
ranges.

Mistakes will happen in field-firing practices, as officers know to
their sorrow. Many rifle-ranges are used as grazing grounds for cattle
and sheep. These quadrupeds, as you are aware, have very bad manners.
They persist in getting in front of the targets just as a company is
opening out a deadly volley. Officers under such circumstances are
always careful to cease fire and clear the offenders away. But on one
occasion at the Mudtown range the officers happened to be having a
little refreshment in the range-keeper’s hut. During this interval a
flock of prize sheep happened to stroll along in front of the khaki
figures. Just then Sergeant Maloney bellowed out—"At the enemy in
front—at four hundred—rapid fire."

"Z—r—r—r—p," rattled the volley—not at the targets. The devil had
tempted the noble Militiamen to pot the sheep in front. Fifty fell,
others screamed and ran blindly about with bullets in their skin.

"Cease fire!" roared Sergeant Maloney, but too late! The damage had been
done. "What the ...?..."

Then the officers arrived. More ...? ...?...?...

Next the farmer, and still more ...? ...?...?...

Finally the colonel!...?...!...!...?...!

Sergeant Maloney was placed under arrest, and every man was marched back
to the guardroom. This little incident cost the small sum of two hundred
pounds. The officers gladly paid—for the honour of the regiment. But the
affair was chronicled deep in regimental memories, especially in the
canteen, where the culprits received a certain amount of hero-worship.
"It wis d—— guid," as Tamson often remarked.

Another interesting phase of modern training is scouting. Each battalion
has about twenty men trained for this job. The toughs of a battalion
make the best scouts. They will face anything, from a mad bull to a
German Division. Life to them is cheap. They glory in slitting an
enemy’s throat and getting back with sound news. Naturally the training
of such gentlemen in peace times is troublesome. They _will_ get lost.
Any colonel will tell you that at manœuvres he sees his scouts at the
beginning of an attack, seldom during or after the mimic battles,
especially in a district where inns and hospitable old ladies abound.
For example, in one great fight on the Hills of Mudtown, Colonel Corkleg
was determined to win the day. Information of the enemy’s whereabouts
was, of course, absolutely essential for victory. For this he hailed his
worthy band of scouts. Spud Tamson was one. They were told to double out
a mile or so ahead and get in touch. As soon as they located the enemy,
all were instructed to retire at once with their reports. Gleefully they
marched away. Their intentions were good, but, alas! Colonel Corkleg was
opposed by a colonel of a Territorial Corps who had studied well the
temperament of the Militiamen against him. This alert Terrier instructed
his scout officer to bag the enemy’s scouts at all costs, and see that
they were well treated.

"I understand, sir," replied his alert intelligence officer. This smart
young subaltern marched off his merry men towards the enemy. He did not
worry about using his glasses or sending his men ahead to crawl through
hedges and drain-pipes. No, he simply marched them to the village, which
lay in the centre of the manœuvre area. There was only one inn. In that
hostelry he was sure to find the opposing Buffalo Bills.

"Steady," he cried, as they drew near. Creeping forward, he peered
through a corner of a window. Yes, there they were, sitting round a
table and enjoying four ale of an appetising kind. There was another
attraction—a buxom wench of eighteen, who had singled out Spud Tamson as
the object of her jests and affection. This bold young man was leering
into her eyes with a persistency akin to the style of Don Juan.

"Good!" muttered the subaltern as he crept back again to his waiting
men.

"Sergeant."

"Yes, sir," answered the subaltern’s henchman.

"Here’s five shillings. Take half the men and get inside there. Pay for
all they want and keep them merry. Whatever you do, see that they are
well entertained for two hours."

"Very good, sir," replied the non-com., boldly stepping towards the
door. The officer then crept away with the remaining scouts. In twenty
minutes he located Colonel Corkleg’s Corps in quarter column behind a
hill, with only half a company thrown out as an observation post. The
colonel was waiting for his scouts before he set out to annihilate
"those bally amateurs," as he termed the Territorials. While he was
fretting, fuming, and cursing the overdue scouts, the gallant subaltern
was busily pedalling back on a borrowed bicycle with his report.

"Well," said the Territorial colonel, as his chief scout arrived.

"I’ve bagged all their scouts, sir, and we can decimate the whole
regiment."

"Good," said the C.O., avoiding unnecessary inquiries in anticipation of
future trouble with headquarters.

"You can double the regiment, sir, to within five hundred yards of the
enemy. One company might engage their observation post; the remainder
might make a detour with our Maxim guns and annihilate the regiment."

"Right—lead the way," ordered the colonel, signalling the advance.
Quickly they covered the ground. In half an hour they arrived at the
point to deploy. Leaving a company to engage the enemy in front, the
others circled round, then moved into long skirmishing lines. Down on
their knees they went, and up the hill all quietly crawled to bag the
Glesca Mileeshy.

"Where _are_ those scouts?" said Colonel Corkleg in a furious manner.

"_Can’t_ understand, sir—most annoying," replied the adjutant.

"It’s worse—it’s _damned_ annoying," raved the colonel, looking at his
watch. "But we can’t wait. We had better move out to——"

"Bang!" interjected a shot in his rear. Next there was a fierce volley
of blank on three sides of his position, while away to the front he
heard the volleys of his defending outposts. The startling onslaught
frightened his charger, which reared and flung him to mother earth. The
crack of the enemy’s Maxims and the terrible crash of their musketry
threw the regiment, for the moment, into a state of panic and alarm.

"Good Lord!—they’ve trapped us," roared the angry colonel, as he was
helped to his feet.

"Yes, sir," replied the adjutant.

"Extend—extend," ordered the now alert veteran, in an endeavour to save
his regiment. Alas! he was too late. Like one man the whole seven
companies of Territorials fixed their bayonets and charged down on to
the surprised Militiamen. It was, indeed, a glorious victory—one which
startled the Brigadier, who happened to ride on to the scene.

"You’ve been scuppered, Corkleg," said the general, with a dry grin.

"Yes, sir," was the tart reply of the disconsolate C.O.

"Well—you’re out of action. But why were you caught napping?"

"Waiting for my scouts, sir."

"Ah, Corkleg," interjected the Brigadier, "I thought you knew better.
Scouts are the only privileged absentees at this game. Have a look in
the nearest public-house," concluded the Brigadier as he rode away, well
pleased with the work of "those d—— amateurs," as Colonel Corkleg had
termed the enemy. By the way, this defeated colonel _did_ look for his
missing men. With his adjutant he rode towards the village. As they
neared the inn, sounds of revelry rent the air. A cracked piano was
playing "Tipperary," while many fuddled voices mumbled out the words of
this popular air. "Tipperary" was followed by a general shout of—

    "Oh, we won’t go home till morning,
    We won’t go home till morning,
    We won’t go home till mor-n-n-ing,
      And so say all of us."

"’Shun!" roared the adjutant, as he led the way into the tap-room.

Spud Tamson disengaged his arm from the barmaid’s neck and jumped, or,
rather, staggered to attention with his pals.

"What are you men doing here?"

"We’re scouts," answered all, with one accord.

"And who are you?" inquired the colonel of the Territorial’s sergeant
and his party.

"Scouts, sir."

Corkleg stamped out and rode home like the Kaiser in a rage. For the
next ten days the scouts of the Glesca Mileeshy were under the care of
Sergeant Bludgeon, the police sergeant. His total prohibition campaign
made them thirsty, but not wiser, men.

Any chapter on training must also refer to night operations, generally
called Night Attacks. These operations are never popular in times of
training. They interfere with social engagements. The finest dinners
have to be refused, and the most amorous engagements cancelled. These
attacks in real war are simply organised nightmares to shorten the life
of the enemy. They are difficult, and only successful under the most
favourable conditions. Mistakes always happen. And, to an officer, such
sorties are anxious affairs. Think of leading a company, every man of
which has a bayonet as keen as a razor edge. Remember that every bayonet
is carried at the "Charge." If there is a sudden halt in the course of
the advance, the officer’s anatomy generally acts as a sort of buffer
for the nearest blade. Indeed, it is safe to assert that the reason for
an officer’s quick and gallant advance in the assault is not his thirst
for death ahead, but his fear of death from some careless fellow behind.
To prevent such accidents, the officers of the Glesca Mileeshy always
carried coats, canteens, and a general emporium on their backs. These
articles were most useful as a shield in case of accidents.

Talking was barred and smoking absolutely prohibited. The red glow of
one cigarette on a night job is enough to give a whole Division away.
This had to be deeply impressed on the brains of these gallants. They
did their best to comply—a severe test to the garrulous gentry who also
believed in "thick black." Subdued excitement was always characteristic
of these affairs. The chirping of a bird, the rustle of leaves and
creaking of trees, were signs of "the enemy."

Preliminary night attacks were done on the Mudtown Common—a great
expanse which had been gifted by a king to the sweethearts of all ages.
The loneliness and darkness of this area may be imagined. This place, by
the way, was the rendezvous of the Territorials at dusk. In all of its
dark corners these gay Lotharios told the old, old tale. The Militia
knew this, and, still bitter with the poison of their great defeat,
determined to have revenge. It was to be accomplished on a night attack.

"We’ll get oor ain back the nicht," said Spud Tamson on hearing the
orders given for night operations.

"How?" asked Micky Cameron.

"The Terriers are no’ trainin’ the nicht. They’ll be a’ owre the place.
We’ll capture them an’ their weemin and bring them in tae the colonel."
This great plot was quietly sent round. When the regiment paraded, all
were thrilled with the prospect of fun ahead. Of course the officers
knew nothing about it. That would have spoiled the game.

"Gentlemen," said the colonel to his group of officers, "we shall
imagine an enemy at the other end of the Common. Our plan is to make a
simple reconnaissance from this, our outpost line. Two companies will go
out, the remainder will stay here. The enemy which is represented by the
Mudshire Militia will also have strong patrols in front. Elude or
capture them, but do something useful."

"Very good, sir," replied the officers concerned, moving off. These
officers split up their companies into strong patrols and sent them out
as arranged. The darkness swallowed them up almost instantly. For half
an hour there was a tense silence, broken only by an occasional patter
of feet, as a scout returned with the necessary false news from the
various patrols to keep the officers at ease while the comedy went on in
the darkness. Then the trouble began. Shouts and screams rent the wintry
air and carried far, while here and there a thud or scuffling noise made
the expectant colonel and his staff prick up their ears.

"What the devil is wrong?" said Corkleg anxiously.

"There’s women there, that is evident from the screaming," ventured
Coronet.

"It seems to me your patrols have gone woman hunting instead of man
hunting."

"Well—eh—yes."

"Send another patrol out and see what’s on, and stop that awful din,"
ordered the irate C.O.

Another patrol went forth, but to no purpose. The screaming and
scuffling continued, to the annoyance of the officers and the secret
delight of the men. To understand it better, let us picture the scene.
In each dark corner, and beneath every great oak tree, was a loving
couple. These youthful warriors and their girls were lost to the world.
What mattered the Germans? What mattered the waiting sergeants who were
calling the roll in the billets beyond? They loved and were beloved. And
so into each servant and shop-girl’s ear they poured those words which
have thrilled all women since the advent of Eve. So lost were they in
this fairyland that none heard the crawling patrols of the Glesca
Mileeshy. The real enemy mattered little to these warriors. It was the
Terriers’ blood they desired. Into each nook and up to each tree went
these rascals. Just as each pair were renewing their bonds of affection
in a long—long—kiss there was a general shout of "Hands up" all over the
Mudtown Common.

"Oh!" shrieked the girls.

"Get out," roared the Terriers.

"Hands up," persisted the Militiamen, presenting their glittering
bayonets in a manner distressful to the anatomy of the men. This
menacing attitude, with the fierce expression on the tough faces of the
aggressors, sent nearly all the ladies into tears and hysterics. But all
the tears and shrieks were of little avail. They were prisoners, and, as
such, would be presented to the powers that be. They cursed and
struggled, but the rifle slings and bootlaces of their captors
eventually subdued all resistance. Pitiful they looked; more pitiful
were the girls who followed their captured braves, with handkerchiefs to
their eyes.

This, then, was the awful din which Colonel Corkleg had heard. Louder it
grew as the returning warriors neared the zone of flashing torchlights,
which now indicated the end of the operations and the position of the
outpost lines.

"In the name of Heaven, what is this?" ejaculated the C.O. on seeing one
patrol emerging into the light with four battered Terriers and their
weeping lovers.

"Prisoners, sir," was a Tommy’s blunt reply.

"What—more of them?" he again remarked as a great big sergeant was
carried in, all gagged and bound. This was the scout-sergeant who had
played his part so well in the old village inn. The colonel recognised
the N.C.O., and inwardly chuckled.

"Still more, sir," ventured the adjutant, as four more patrols came
forward with the battered remnants of the Territorial Force.

"But these men are not the enemy," insisted the colonel in his official
tone.

"Na, sir, but they _were_ the enemy the ither day. We’re piyin’ them
back," chirped Micky Cameron.

"Ay! an’ here’s an officer," gleefully yelled a brave then coming into
the light.

"A what?" queried the now startled colonel.

"An officer, sir," said Spud Tamson, saluting proudly as he presented
the form of a young subaltern who had been having a quiet stroll with
the daughter of the Brigadier.

"I protest, sir. It is an insult to me and my regiment."

"Yes, positively disgusting," pouted a very charming maid of seventeen,
with a haughty flush on her cheek.

"We didnae protest the ither day when you made us fu’ in the pub,"
chirped Spud, almost sticking his nose into the young scout-officer’s
face.

"Silence!" roared Colonel Corkleg.

Addressing the officer, he said, "I apologise for this rude interference
with your very pleasant mission. I can well understand your
indignation," at the same time casting a roguish glance at the pretty
girl.

"Oh, it’s all right, sir," replied the subaltern, saluting and marching
off.

A similar apology was tendered to all the other captured swains when
they were allowed to depart. "Fall in" was then sounded, and all marched
merrily home. In the officers’ mess that night the laughter was loud and
long, for their men had squared the defeat of the previous day. Even the
colonel let himself go, and laughed till his old artificial leg rattled
on the floor with glee.

"Useful men, eh," he concluded.

"Yes, sir," replied the adjutant.



CHAPTER XIV.
ALL ABOUT SPIES.


_Giddy_ Greens, to whom you have already been introduced, was a queer
fellow. He was a mixture of Beau Brummel, Cæsar, and Don Juan—one who
dressed well, fought well, and kissed gloriously, as a flapper would
say. He was also a student, and certainly a daring adventurer. His fine
complexion, well-groomed figure, and air of blasé indifference, gave to
all the idea that he was simply a delightful idiot who hunted women and
tippled good wine. But Giddy Greens was something like that hero in ’The
Scarlet Pimpernel’—a man who had his strength and ambition under a mask
of genial imbecility. He knew English literature upside down, and
delighted to rave about the glories of Shakespeare, Milton, and
Stevenson. A traveller too, for Giddy Greens had toured the whole world
on a ten-pound note. He had done everything from cattle-ranching to that
of a super in a third-class Musical Comedy. To women he was ever a hero.
His magnetic personality was of a forceful yet charming kind.

Still Greens was a very serious man. Imperialism was his dream;
patriotism his ideal and pride. He lived for Britain. In all his
wanderings he preached for the flag. In these ramblings, too, he
observed things, noted them down, and then startled his friends by his
discoveries. The Germans he loathed, and the Germans he had followed
from John o’ Groats to Timbuctoo. He had dogged German travellers and
spies from Tilbury Docks through Egypt, Ceylon, Australasia, Canada, and
Japan. Like Sherlock Holmes, he followed quick, yet silent. At the
outpost of Empire he had seen the evil work of Prussian hands. It was
Greens who discovered "The League of the Fatherland"—that is, a German
semi-official and social organisation within the British Empire. He
found that it was bossed by their Consuls, and he found nearly all
Vice-Consuls to be officers—and spies. He had written to the press and
revealed these things, but the luxurious-living public only laughed.
They had no time; they had engagements for music halls, football, and
golf. The awful dangers, however, stirred this zealot on. He kept at the
Teutons’ heels and learned more things. These were revealed one night at
mess when Greens had declared that the bombardment of Sandtown-on-Sea
was the fruitful work of spies.

"Explain, Greens," shouted one of the subalterns.

"Well, I’ll tell you. I first discovered the Germans at work on the
North-east Coast. Every German waiter, schoolmaster, and tradesman in
all the towns from Peterhead to Dundee I found to be spies. They were in
"The League of the Fatherland." All were registered by the Consul. In
the event of invasion every man would have a part in the job. In the
times of peace they studied the coast, the tides, the location of ships
and troops, the position of guns, everything, in fact, which would be of
use. These things were reported in writing to their Consuls, or
verbally, when the League met at the many German clubs and gatherings. I
pointed this out.

"In what way?" asked an anxious sub.

"A story which appeared in ’The Daily Owl.’ In that romance I let them
know what was going on. Yes, I frightened the lackadaisical bounders
into a panic. Lunan Bay I pointed out as a landing-place. The coast near
St. Andrews I also emphasised as a jumping-off shore, while Dundee was
proved to be without a gun or boat to defend it; in fact, the whole
coast displayed a general invitation to the Germans to come and shoot."

"What happened?"

"Some official big-wig stopped the story."

"Why?"

"It showed every weakness up, but——"

"What?"

"They got to work. Dundee got a submarine base; Montrose got aeroplanes;
Fife was scheduled out for guns, troops, and trenches; Cromarty was
seized and fortified; and Rosyth works pushed on."

"You finished then, I suppose?"

"No fear. I went out to the Dominion of Canada to see how things were
going."

"And what did you find?"

"A German traveller in every train representing subsidised goods to cut
out our British trade. A German club in every town for the general
entertainment of spies. German women who were willing to sell their
souls to gain the secrets of State, and fools in Canada like our own
fools at home, who laughed at it all, who gave trade to these Germans,
who toyed with the women designed to lure and rob them of their
heritage. Worse, in every coast town on the Atlantic and Pacific there
were the same German waiters, the same rascally Consuls, the same old
League of the Fatherland. These men knew and had told the War Gods of
Berlin that the forts of Halifax, Quebec, and Esquimalt were almost
obsolete; that their guns were somewhat ancient; and that the Canadian
Militia system was inadequate, loosely organised, and unfit to provide
an auxiliary force for a sudden mobilisation to aid our Expeditionary
Force at home."

"Prove it," interjected Lieutenant Longlegs.

"Read Bernhardi’s book. He got his information from these spies in the
Dominion of Canada."

"Well, what did you do?"

"I spoke to the man then at the helm of military matters. I emphasised
the dangers, and asked him what he was going to do. ’Young man,’ said
he, ’we’ve enough to do. We’ve got a mighty fine country to develop and
people. We can’t be pioneers and soldiers too. And we can’t get men in
this country to soldier for a shilling a day.’"

"What did you say to that?"

"I simply said that there was some truth in his statements, but I also
pointed out that Canada, like America, was getting dollar mad.
Materialism, I argued, was beginning to be their all in all. Success had
made them a little selfish, and I showed him that up till then they had
contributed little in the way of ships to guard the Pacific against the
coming peril, and aid our merchant destroyers in the time of war. Of
course he got angry. Canadians don’t like the truth. That was proved by
General Fearless, who chucked up his job there rather than command such
a system."

"But, you’ll agree, they’re playing the game now."

"Certainly, and they’ll fight the Germans like devils; but my point is
this, that if they had had their Pacific Fleet thoroughly organised, we
might have been able to avoid disasters and have shortened the war. And,
of course, it is only fair to say that their new Defence Minister is
nobly trying to remedy the horrible slackness of the past. But politics
are the curse of Canada. Politics have retarded Canadian defence.
However, things will be better there after this war."

"Are the Australians the same?"

"Not quite. They have done more for true Imperial defence than any other
dominion. They have got national service. Every man is a soldier. And,
mark you, it was a Labour Government that introduced national service
into Australia. Now, that’s a wonderful thing, when you consider that
Australians used to abhor discipline and stake their all on pleasure.
But these labour men realised the growing yellow peril. Again they had
plumped for a white Australia, and so they determined to defend a worthy
ideal. I grant you that their Fleet is somewhat small, that the
armaments of Sydney defences and other harbours need much attention. But
they can’t do everything in a day. They have only a population of five
million to work on, and a great country to develop. What they have done
is wonderful, and they deserve the greatest credit."

"Then, have the Germans been working there too?"

"Yes. Australia was permeated with the German system of espionage. Their
commercial Huns have collared the metal market there. The North German
Lloyd Company have been trying for years to cut out the Orient Line and
the P. and O. And, in Sydney itself, I have heard the German Vice-Consul
drink to ’The Day,’ and curse the Empire which kept his country out of
the sun. The Australians, like the Canadians and ourselves, were too
busy with other things to hunt out these tools of the Kaiser. However,
they have now got the order of the boot."

"Do your remarks apply to New Zealand?" inquired a sub.

"New Zealand," continued Greens, "is a land of patriots. The New
Zealanders call it God’s country. That is a good name. It flows with
milk and honey, and its people have not forgotten how to love. Their
temperate climate has preserved all the nobility of our northern
temperament, while the general prosperity of the land has eliminated
almost every trace of the misery and poverty so characteristic of Great
Britain. The beauty of New Zealand is that it is small. Bill Jones of
Auckland in the North Island knows Tom Brown in Invercargill (South
Island). When Lizzie Smith of Wellington gets married, every townsman
and cockey in both islands wires his congratulations. A New Zealand lady
can give you the pedigree of every known family in the little Dominion.
And every one knew Dick Seddon, just as well as they know Bill Massey,
the present Premier of the Dominion. A Governor-General in New Zealand
is compelled to be ’At Home’ to all—and a good thing too."

"What about defence?"

"Splendid! Their defence system is the same as that in Australia. Every
man carries a gun; better still, every one is delighted to carry his
gun. Their mounted men are wonderful, and they possess some of the
finest field artillery in our Imperial Army. One great mistake they made
was the installation of the German Telfunkin system of Wireless. They
were too honest, perhaps, to realise the full significance of such a
decision. And like Australians, Canadians, and Britishers, they have
been foolish enough to be courteous to the parasites who represented the
evil materialism of Kaiser Bill."

"You haven’t said anything about the women?"

"Oh, charming!" interjected Greens, with a smile which suggested many
hours of delight with the ladies of the North and South Island. "And my
advice is this—if you want a real fine girl for a wife and chum, marry a
New Zealander."

"Cheer oh!" chirped Coronet, inviting all to drink to the girls of
Maoriland.

"At the same time, Greens, don’t you think that our Secret Service is
just as good as the Germans?"

"Well—it’s quite good. And its great merit is that it never speaks.
While the Germans openly vaunt their wonderful system, our men apply
themselves quietly and sternly to their task. Such a service includes
men of the most chivalrous and daring kind; it also numbers some of the
queer folks. You see they are not officially recognised. If nabbed in
the act, they must pay the price. While a thoroughly patriotic service,
it is, unfortunately, one which we can never honour in a truly public
way. There are skeletons ’neath the soil in all parts of Germany of many
noble fellows who have died for the Cause. In German fortresses you can
see others who foretold the war, who helped to place our Expeditionary
Force in the right spot to meet the great hordes who tried to capture
Paris. The work of these men has been accomplished throughout a period
when public opinion denied Germany’s intentions and refused to affirm
the theories of such splendid prophets as the late Lord Roberts. Think
of the mental tortures of such patriots. Picture their agony and grief
when viewing the careless throng. How cruel! How maddening it must have
been! Yet each went on ploughing a lonely and dangerous furrow over the
fields of German espionage and defence. You talk about bravery under
shrapnel and in face of the bayonets of Huns! But it takes a brave heart
to do that job. And, mark you, if Germans are good at the game, the
French are as good, and the Russians infinitely better. It may be a
sound policy for us to allow the cocksure German spy to buy the faked
maps, plans, and news, and to stop the same from going through the post.
But public opinion ought to be more firm on the question of naturalised
Germans and their families. These are the men who have grown wealthy in
our midst, who have married our women, who have been honoured by the
greatest of our institutions; yet, all the while, their homes and
offices have been the centre of intrigue for the downfall of this land
of ours. The real German spy, who is unnaturalised, and risks his life,
deserves as much credit as the brave men of the Prussian Guard. But the
low swine who would sever the hand that has fed them are the ones we
should hound out of our country."

"But I say, Greens," interrupted Captain Coronet, "don’t you think we
have frightened these bounders?"

"No. They are still working. And they even cover their sins by sending
their sons into the commissioned and other ranks of our forces. Many of
these boys fight gallantly for us, while their dirty old fathers are
playing a double game. I admit we must be generous. A German must remain
a German. He is entitled to his patriotism. Still, that is no argument
for our stupidity. Our land, our homes, our liberty, and our women are
dear to us. By heavens! we have got the finest heritage of all the
nations. It’s worth fighting for; yes, worth dying for."

"Good old Greens," echoed the thrilled subalterns. Then Longlegs started
him off again by the sceptical inquiry—

"Look here, Greens, can you prove what you say? If you can catch a real
live spy in Mudtown within the next month, I’ll stand champagne all
round."

"Done," said Greens, with an emphasis which startled all. "But, I say,
it’s two _A.M._ We’ve been talking for hours. We’d better go to bed.
Good-night."

"Good-night, Greens," answered his fellow-officers, remaining a little
behind to discuss the wonderful phase of his character which Greens had
so well revealed.

"Longlegs," said Coronet, as he turned into his sleeping bags, "you’ve
lost your bet. Greens will keep his word."

"Good luck to him," replied the long subaltern as he also went off into
the arms of Morpheus.

                                  ――――

For many nights Greens was absent from dinner. This did not surprise
those in the know. He was spy-hunting. Though the military and police
had terrified many of the fraternity, Greens knew that he would at least
catch one. So he lounged carelessly through the streets, casually
glancing at every face. Unlike the average policeman, he did not search
for the square head, flaxen hair, and soft-footed Teuton. He could tell
by their eyes. Strange as this may seem, any Intelligence Officer will
substantiate the same. The spy has that peculiar glint of cunning, with
a touch of the haunted and hunted, and the shifty movements which always
suggest a base intent. Such a keen student of espionage found little
difficulty in locating his man. Nevertheless he waited almost a
fortnight before he got his chance, and then it came almost
unexpectedly. While lounging carelessly in a public place, he was amazed
to hear a man using German gutturals behind. This person was inquiring
of his friend, in a somewhat casual style, as to the number of troops in
the town, where they were located, and what was their job in the event
of any attack. Listening intently, he discovered a keen German brain
analysing all the replies of the honest and simple-minded citizen.
Through a mirror the observant officer studied the face of the spy.
Strong, almost English, with firm set lines and a chin suggesting
courage of a bull-dog kind. An excellent type for such a mission. His
flaxen hair and a slight student cut on the lip were the only outward
signs of his race. His English, to an ordinary man, would have passed
unobserved, but Greens detected the thick guttural now and again, as
well as a furtive glance towards his own person. This German agent was
unaware of the keen scrutiny which he was being subjected to through the
mirror. Nor did he imagine that the officer who paid his bill and went
out would confront him again with his escort of soldiers.

"Who is he?" asked Greens of the proprietor.

"A German, sir."

"Thank you, I’ll be back in a minute," and off went the spy hunter to
the nearest billet.

There he collared an escort, and marched to the place again. The German
was just going out.

"Excuse me, aren’t you a German?"

"Yes, sir. Here is my passport, signed by the Foreign Secretary, also my
birth certificate," replied the Teuton, pulling out the bonds of safety
which a sleepy officialdom gives to the enemies of our country.

"Naturalised?"

"Yes, certainly; my mother and friends are knitting socks for the
troops," he answered testily.

"You seem to be interested in our troops here?"

"Everybody is—it’s natural at a time like this."

"Perhaps," said Greens, stroking his chin and sizing up his man in case
of emergency.

"What are you doing here?"

"I’m an agent for iron goods."

"The name of your firm?"

"——, London."

"That’s an alien firm."

"A naturalised German. You don’t deny us the right to live?"

"No, but I deny you the right to spy."

"You are insolent, and you will be asked to prove your words," said the
German in a threatening way.

"Keep cool! Now, look here, this passport shows that you were in Germany
at the time of mobilisation. It also shows that you were in France at
the time that the advance was made on Paris. Can you explain?"

"Of course, I was on business for my firm."

"The Secret Service, eh?"

"No, sir; again you insult me."

"Very well; quick march."

"I refuse."

"Take him off," ordered Greens sternly to the escort.

"Uh!" was the fierce exclamation of the baffled Teuton, stepping on with
his guards. He was quickly placed under lock and key. In his bag Greens
found correspondence in code, envelopes from a famous "firm" which
always paid well for information, as well as a heap of notes and gold. A
simple citizen and the ordinary policeman would have passed this man as
innocent, but Greens found a clever Intelligence Officer who labelled
this German as an Inspector of the Espionage System. He travelled around
for his iron goods. He also called on his local "friends," and paid good
cash for "services rendered," as many receipts in his possession showed.
In a few words, Greens proved his contention that this man, like
thousands more, was a spy, immune from arrest because of
naturalisation,—a scrap of paper which ought to be ruthlessly burned and
disregarded when found on any of German birth or origin. There was a
smile on Greens’ face as he entered the mess-room that evening.

"Why that smile?" inquired Longlegs.

"The smile means champagne. Your spy is in the garrison guard-room, and
to-morrow, no doubt, will find him interned for many a long day."

"Cheer ho," yelled the subs, gathering round to hear the spy-hunting
exploit. That was the last spy caught in Mudtown. The German Secret
Service labelled it "Dangerous." If every policeman was as alert as
Greens, all of these naturalised scoundrels would be under lock and key
to-day.



CHAPTER XV.
A COMPANY OFFICER’S WORRIES.


_Uneasy_ lies the head that wears a captain’s crown, for the lot of a
company officer is like that of a policeman—not a very happy one. He is
not only captain of 120 souls, but father, jailor, pastor, and
moneylender. His day is a day of toil and worry. It is only a strong man
who can hold a company within bounds and at the same time retain their
love and respect. A captain must necessarily be a gentleman. I do not
mean by that that he must have his name on the scroll of peers, but
rather the possession of honour, with a great sense of justice and
infinite tact. The company officer is the man who has helped to win many
battles. Quebec, Waterloo, and Mons were successes because the company
officer loved his men and the men loved their company officer. Germans
cannot understand how British soldiers fight and die so gloriously
without that brutal discipline so characteristic of Teuton arms. When
Germans are captured, it is always noted how the officers refuse to
sympathise with their men in their shame and defeat. They stand aloof
and scorn the men who have braved so much for the Fatherland. They seem
to loathe the men, who have really done remarkably well in view of the
overpowering opposition of the Allies. To a Britisher this is
disgusting, for the Britisher realises that Love rules this whole world.
"Look after the men," said Colonel Corkleg, "and when you’re in a tight
corner they’ll look after you." That was why no officer of his regiment
ever tasted food till the men had been fed; why many an officer carried
a sick man’s rifle and pack on a weary march; why they bribed everybody
and anybody in the Quartermaster’s stores for extra bread, extra beef,
spare boots, shirts, and socks. In the officers’ mess no one dared to
allude to his men in scornful tones. The subalterns themselves deemed
this an offence which merited a cold bath in full regimentals and drinks
all round. But there, it is the company officer we have to specially
deal with at the moment.

An efficient company officer must know every man’s name and understand
each man’s temperament. More important, he must be able to handle each
man’s moods, to instil into him the best and kill the worst. There are
men that he must curse, and curse loud and long; there are others he
must only coax and wheedle like an obstinate beauty in a ballroom. When
there is mutiny, unhappiness, and discontent, never blame the men; blame
the officer. He doesn’t know his job, and should get the boot. A
well-disciplined company means a happy company. To a casual observer,
the average company officer may seem an idle person who issues orders
then disappears. Not at all. Every day he finds a thousand problems. For
example, Captain Coronet was one day met at the corner of the billet by
Private Micky Malone, who carried a black-bordered envelope in his hand.

"Beg pardon, sor, can I spake?"

"Well, Malone."

"My ould father’s dead, sor—can I get a wake-end pass?"

"Your father?" queried the captain, who knew his man.

"Yes, sor, he died wid consumption o’ the bowels."

"But look here, Malone, your father died last year, for I remember
giving you a pass and lending you a pound to go to the funeral."

"That was the wife’s father."

"How _many_ fathers _have_ you got?"

"Wan, sor."

"But look here, Malone, you’ve had about a dozen grandfathers, fathers,
mothers, sisters, and wives who have died since mobilisation. You’re a
bit of a liar—eh?"

"Ach, sure, sor, ye know I’m dacent. I’ve only been in the guardhouse
twice this month."

"But why do you tell lies, Malone?"

"Well, sor, to tell ye the truth, Widow Riley’s havin’ a dance for the
bhoys. She’s a bit swate on me, an’ she’s asked me through."

"That’s a different story. Why didn’t you tell me that at first?"

"Sure, sor, I only told the truth once in me life, an’ the ould judge
sentenced me to thirty days."

"Well, you can have a pass—but, by the way, let me see that letter."

Malone hesitated, then handed the captain the black-bordered epistle.
This the company officer carefully perused. A smile crept over his face
as he remarked—"Look here, Malone, this is the same letter that Cameron,
M’Haggis, and Muldoon showed me when they wanted leave for a funeral."

"Yis, sor."

"You pass this round, I suppose?"

"Yis, sor."

"Well, you won’t pass it round any more, understand!" said the captain,
tearing it up.

"Yis, sor," replied Malone, saluting smartly, and marching off to report
to his cronies how the captain had collared this general service
document.

Just as Captain Coronet reached the foot of the stairs he was met by
Private Sneaky, a weedish-looking gent.

"Well?"

"I waant tae mak’ a complaint, sir."

"What about?"

"Private M’Ginty punched me for naethin’ at a’, an’ gied me a black
e’e."

"I see; well, come with me," said the captain, entering the billet and
calling for M’Ginty.

"Look here, M’Ginty, this man complains that you struck him without
cause."

"Well, sir, he’s a greedy yin. He’s pinched wan o’ the recruit’s dinner
every day for a week, so I jist punched him on the nose."

"Quite right, M’Ginty. If you get him at it again, knock his head off,
and break every bone in his body. Get out, you scoundrel." Off tailed
the little rascal, for in all regiments you will find a few
undesirables.

"Private M’Nab wishes to see you, sir," then remarked the
colour-sergeant.

"What is it, M’Nab," inquired the captain kindly, for M’Nab was a good
soldier.

"The wife’s bad, sir, an’ the wee boy’s got consumption. The doctor says
they’re tae get steak, eggs, an’ beef-tea, but I canna’ dae that on a
shillin’ a day."

"I’m sorry to hear that, M’Nab—very sorry. But look here, I’ll write to
the doctor to-day and tell him to buy everything that they need. Will
that keep your mind easy?"

"Thenk ye, sir. It’s awfu’ guid o’ ye."

"And it’s very good of you, M’Nab, one with all your responsibilities,
to serve your country. That’s why I do it."

"I’ll no’ forget you, sir," concluded M’Nab with a lump in his throat,
as he saluted and marched away.

"Here’s a letter from Private Smith’s mother, sir. She says he hasn’t
sent any money for a month, sir, and when he was on pass he got drunk,
smashed up the crockery, and pawned the old woman’s bedclothes."

"Call him up."

"What’s this you have been doing?"

"Nothing, sir," was the insolent reply.

"Do you call insulting and robbing your mother, nothing? You’re a low
rascal. Now, look here, I’m sending your mother two pounds to-day to
keep her going. But I’m going to stop it out of your pay. Charity would
be wasted on a man like you. And if I were not an officer I would give
you a sound thrashing."

"I’m sorry, sir,—I’ll no’ dae it again."

"You had better not—fall out."

"Private O’Toole has lost his eye, sir," remarked the colour-sergeant.

"What!" exclaimed the amazed captain.

"His eye, sir."

"Is he in hospital?"

"No, sir."

"Why not? He must be in agony. How did it happen?"

"It’s a false one, sir," chirped in O’Toole with a grin.

"Ah!" laughed the captain, "I never knew that before."

"I used tae hae a guid wan, sir, but I lost it. The wife gied me yin oot
o’ a doll’s e’e. It didnae look weel, but it wis guid enough."

"How did you lose that one?"

"I left it on the bed tae watch ma hauf loaf. When I came back it wis
awa’."

"Well, I’ll buy you a new one. Still, I don’t see how you can shoot at
the Germans."

"If I cannae shoot, sir, I can feel them wi’ the bayonet. Nelson had
only wan e’e, sir."

"All right, O’Toole."

"Thank you, sir."

"What’s next, colour-sergeant?"

"The meat is short. All the men are complaining, but the cook says the
weight’s there."

"Umph! Is the cook married?"

"No, sir; but I believe he is well in with a widow in the town."

"Well, colour-sergeant, you know what widows are, and you know what
cooks are. Put a policeman on to watch him. You’ll probably find him
carrying all the choice steaks out at night. If you nab him, I’ll deal
with him."

"Then, sir, a lot of the blankets are being stolen."

"Heavens! This life is full of troubles. What is the cause?"

"Women, sir! Women! Root of all evil, sir."

"Well, I’ll see the colonel about that."

(Next day Sergeant Bludgeon and his policemen raided the haunts of every
Mary Ann in Mudtown. Two hundred blankets were found—and collared.)

"Some of the boots have gone amissing. These devils would steal the
sugar out of your tea, sir. I’m nearly balmy, sir. They pawn them for
beer, sir."

"Well, I’m——!" ejaculated Coronet. "What are we to do?"

"Make them march in their bare feet, sir. That will teach them. They’ll
soon find another pair—without paying for them. You’re too kind-hearted,
sir. They put it on to you."

"I suppose they do; in fact, I know they do. But there! they can fight
like Trojans. And that is a great consolation, should we ever get in a
fix. Now, is there any more correspondence?"

"Just one letter, sir. And a queer one, too. Here it is," said the
colour-sergeant, handing over a dirty, grease-marked epistle.

                                  ――――

    _Dear Officer_,—

I’m in grate pane, my Sweethart Privit Spud Tamson in your Kumpany is
gaun wi’ ither weemin. He hisnae ritten me for a fortnicht. And a lad on
Pass tell’t me that he wis flirtin’ an’ kissin’ ither lasses (servants
in big hooses). He promist tae mairry me owre a year ago, an’ I’ve been
savin’ up. It’s jist awfu’. If he disnae stop it, I’ll droon masel’ in
the Clyde. Wull ye tell him that, kind sir. I’ll no’ forget ye, and I’ll
send ye a pair o’ hame-made socks at Ne’erday.

    I Am,
    Yours Respeckfully,
    _Mary Ann_.

"The limit, sir, eh?"

"Worse than that. Call that man up."

"Yes, sir," said Tamson, unprepared for the revelations concerning his
infidelity.

"Listen," said the captain, in his most solemn tones. Then he read the
amazing document, during which Private Spud Tamson grew red, then white,
red again, and finally finished up in a sort of purple, apoplectic hue.

"Very serious, Tamson. I’m afraid you are a cabbage-hearted youth. And
you seem to have been having the time of your life below stairs."

"The lassie’s bletherin’, sir. I wis jist gettin’ a feed. A’ the cooks
are kind tae the sodgers."

"Cupboard love, I suppose?"

"Na, beefsteak, sir."

"I’m afraid you’ll be landed in for a breach of promise case. Pretty
serious that, Tamson."

"I’ll square her a’ richt, sir."

"How?"

"Buy her a new shawl on piy-day."

"It’s not a shawl your Mary Ann wants. It’s love. Do you know what that
means?"

"Fine, sir."

"What is it?"

"Oh, kissin’."

"Anything else?"

"Gettin’ mairret, sir."

"And——"

"Sausage and eggs for breakfast."

"That’s stomach love, Tamson; but there, I expect your heart’s all
right. See and write that girl a letter. She’s pretty bad."

"All right, sir—ay——"

"What?"

"Can you lend me a shullin’ tae buy a stamp, sir?"

"Yes—when you bring the letter."

Thus was Tamson reminded of the obligations of the past. His lapse had
only been of a temporary kind. He had simply been enjoying himself in
the kitchens of the mighty suburbanites of Mudtown. The much-blotted and
effusive epistle which he penned was generously marked with crosses, and
in each corner was placed a crude-looking heart with the shaft of Cupid
piercing through.

Such are the worries of a company officer.



CHAPTER XVI.
NEW YEAR’S EVE.


_The_ end of the year is always a merry—and a critical—time in a
Scottish regiment. Since the invention of whisky and haggis, New Year
has become the season of high feeding and hard drinking. Even the Free
Kirker deems it his duty to carry a hauf-mutchkin and a cake. And in the
Army it has long been the custom to almost abandon discipline and allow
officers and men to enjoy themselves in a thoroughly hearty way. But on
this New Year’s Eve there were circumstances which compelled Colonel
Corkleg to adopt stern measures so as to keep his men in hand. The first
and most important was the activity of the Teutons. These alert students
of human nature knew the value of landing in Scotland. They also
understood the tippling temperament of the average Scot at this period.
And as they had every ship and Zeppelin ready to disturb the orgies of
the Scottish nation, it was essential to be spruce, sober, and alert.
Every officer realised this, but every Tommy entirely disagreed. They
would spend their Ne’erday, come what may. Colonel Corkleg and his
fellow-chiefs decided to counteract their schemes of revelry. Passes
were barred after 9.30 _P.M._ Every road was picketed. Every
public-house within a radius of three miles had almost a regiment on
duty at the door. All mounted men were turned into policemen, while all
N.C.O.’s were duly warned to abstain from the evils of the national
fire-water. Each company officer harangued his men about the wine which
stingeth like a serpent and biteth like an adder. And Sergeant-Major
Fireworks, with his crony, Sergeant Bludgeon, suddenly became pious and
abstemious—in anticipation of events. The final stratagem, however,
staggered all. No man was to be paid on this—the great day.
Lamentations, groans, and curses were heard on all sides when this order
went round. It almost smashed the ingenious scheming of thirsty
gentlemen who knew every shebeen in Mudtown. Nevertheless they sallied
forth, determined to get hospitality—or demand it—from their many pals
and patrons. Down the muddy road they tramped, singing—

    "We’ve had no pay,
    We’ve had no pay,
    We’ve had no pay,
      No b——y pay to-day."

And drink they found. Those that did not secure it, managed to collar a
draught of methylated spirits—a time-honoured beverage amongst penurious
Scots. Having had their fill, they sauntered towards the Cross to bring
the New Year in. The pickets, however, requested or shoved them back to
billets without ceremony. And, amazing to relate, on the roll being
called, only ten were absent. When "lights out" went, there was a prompt
response, which surprised the officers. These unsuspecting gentlemen,
believing that the usual revelries would not occur, departed to their
beds to rave about the splendid discipline of the regiment.
Sergeant-Major Fireworks and Sergeant Bludgeon knew better. The
deathlike stillness they gauged to be a deep game.

"Don’t trust them, major?"

"No; I’m too old a soldier for that. They’ve got something on—I bet.
Let’s have a walk round."

Quietly they slipped round the billets of the regiment.

"Here, Bludgeon—what’s that?" said the S.M. peering through the
darkness.

"It’s a long pole, and the blighters are sliding down it."

"A pole!"

"Yes. Listen."

One by one, over a hundred men slid down the long pole from the window
to a quiet field. There they were gathering prior to a general advance
on Mudtown Mission Hall, where a hundred mill-girls had pledged to bring
the New Year in and kiss them under the mistletoe. It was an awkward
situation—doubly awkward because of their discontent about pay and the
lures of the buxom wenches beyond. Once women enter into such problems
the difficulties are manifold. A thousand men with fixed bayonets would
not stop this contingent. Something unusual and extraordinary had to be
done. For once, Sergeant Bludgeon knew that his immortal stick was
useless. Yet he knew there was only one road to the Mission. This
climbed up a hill through a deep sort of gully. The head of that gully
must be held at all costs.

"I’ve got the idea, major," whispered the provost-sergeant.

"What?"

"Weesht! This way," and off scampered the wardens of military
discipline. On arriving at the guard-room, Sergeant Bludgeon ’phoned to
the local Fire Brigade. In a few words he explained his needs, and
requested that the great steam fire-engine should be rushed at once to
the head of the Mudtown road. There the firemaster was ordered to clear
for action and wait for orders.

"That will do them, major," said Bludgeon with a sardonic grin, as he
replaced the ’phone and led his superior quietly by a circuitous route
to the scene of the coming action. The fire-engine was waiting behind a
great hedge. Three powerful nozzles lay ready for drenching deeds.
Quietly Bludgeon detailed his orders; the firemen gladly concurred. Just
as the final points had been explained there was heard a low mumbling of
voices and soft patter of feet.

"The blighters have got their boots off," whispered Bludgeon.
"But—listen!"

"We’ve fairly bate them this time," said the apparent leader.

"Ay! Auld Bludgeon ’ill get a fricht in the mornin’."

"Man, we’ll hae a fine time. Thae weemin ’ill hae plenty o’ hard stuff
an’ shortbread."

"If you get there!" muttered Fireworks under his breath, as he espied
the column of crawling and creeping revellers.

"Ready?" whispered Bludgeon.

"Yes," answered the firemaster.

"Fire!"

The three great nozzles sent forth gigantic waves of freezing water. The
leading men were knocked down and almost petrified with the amazing
deluge. Those behind were also drenched and chilled to the bone.

"God! It’s the Germans," said a silly youth, as he turned and fled. But
the harder cases cursed and charged up towards the foaming nozzles. The
firemaster simply increased the water-power and down they went like
ninepins, rolling and cursing in the most awful manner. Still, they were
all as game as bantams, and cunningly clambered up the banks to make a
flank attack. Here another surprise awaited them, for on reaching the
top they heard a voice yell out, "Rapid fire". Twenty rifles spat out
their lurid, flashing lights. The crash was terrific and terrified many.
They rolled and fell back into the foaming lane of water.

"Are ye kill’t?" one asked.

"Na, that’s only blank ammunition. Charge!" yelled the leader, leading
the way up the bank in an angry and determined style. Soaked as they
were, they meant to conquer. It was an awkward moment, and Bludgeon
thought that his great scheme was about to fail. Up over the bank came
the half-drenched army. But just as they got up to make a final
onslaught, Bludgeon rose from behind the hedge. He lifted his big stick
in the air, at the same time yelled, "Fix bayonets—charge!"

"Heevens! It’s Bludgeon. He’ll kill us," yelled a timid soul.

The name of Bludgeon—not the bayonets—was enough. All turned and fell,
or scrambled into the now surging stream of water and dashed for home.

"That’s one little lot settled," chirped the Napoleonic
provost-sergeant, as he listened to the yells of the fast retiring mob.
Turning to the firemaster, he thanked him for his services, and,
accompanied by Fireworks, made for the main billets of the regiment. But
if he had nobly killed the raid on the Mission Hall, he and the
sergeant-major had still to reckon with the devotees of Bacchus now
running riot in the great rooms in which they lived. This place, so
peaceful at "Lights out," was now alive with lights, laughter, and
singing. You see, the hour was twelve, and, in accordance with custom,
the Glesca Mileeshy were acting up to all traditions.

"Expected that?" said Fireworks, pausing to listen to the awful din.

"Yes," said Bludgeon, gripping his stick in a way that boded ill for the
revellers beyond. Through the great doors they quietly slipped, and, in
a flash, were inside the rooms of the men. What a sight! Five hundred
men, dressed something like Adam in the Garden of Eden, doing
cake-walks, Highland flings, and Irish jigs. Some also chirped the "Wee
Deoch-an-Doris," while others glibly sang—

    "Oh, it’s nice tae get up in the mornin’,
    But it’s better tae lie in yer bed."

In another room Bludgeon saw Tamson at the head of a procession of
worthies. Round his attenuated shanks was a tattered blanket, on his
head a dixey lid, in his right hand a mop, and in the other a bottle,
which, alas, was empty. His entourage was dressed in similar style. This
procession was accompanied by mouth-organs and melodeons, playing "The
Lament of Lochaber," which signified the general wail of the unpaid
habitués of the barrack-room. Round and round they went, knocking here
and there, and occasionally throwing a more peaceful soul out of his bed
and through the window to the green below. Next came a sword-dance by
Mickey Cameron, after that a fling by the general company, followed by
"The Floo’ers o’ Edinburgh," and other well-known barn dances. The
entertainment was more pleasant than annoying. Indeed it was so orderly
that Bludgeon and Fireworks thought it better to leave them alone. But
in the midst of their revelry another company decided to pay a fraternal
call. They arrived beating a march on ration tins and old canteens.
Unfortunately, they decided to take charge of Tamson’s party, and
generally boss the show.

"Here," said Tamson, "this is oor pitch—clear!"

"Awa’ an’ bile yer heid," replied a bulbous-nosed private, giving him a
push.

"Wha are ye pushin’?"

"You!"

That was enough. Tamson hit out. His friends followed suit. In two
minutes the room was a bear-garden. Brooms, pokers, shovels, rifles, and
other hefty weapons were being wielded with cool indifference as to the
result. Blood, hair, and skin were flying like snowflakes. The lights
were smashed, and darkness reigned. Still the fight went on in the inky
night. It was serious, so Bludgeon set to with his stick and voice to
quell the awful din. This was useless. The fight had got beyond control.

"It’s hopeless, sergeant-major. We can’t stop this Donnybrook."

"Pretty bad, certainly, but it’s got to be stopped."

"Why not sound the alarm?"

"Yes; the very thing," answered Fireworks, dashing out for a bugler. In
a few minutes the shrill call of the bugle pierced through the din.

"It’s the alarm," a voice yelled.

"Yes—Fall-in!" shrieked Tamson.

The din ceased, and the combatants fled to their rifles, packs, and
ammunition-pouches. By the aid of matches and candles they dressed,
flung on their equipment, grasped their rifles and dashed breathlessly
on to the parade-ground. In twenty minutes every man was present and
ready for action—a tribute to the discipline and zeal of the corps.

"Well, sergeant-major—what’s up?" asked the adjutant on arriving at the
muster-place.

"A free fight, sir. Only way to quell it."

"What’s that?" interjected the colonel, who, at that moment, made his
bow.

"A free fight—skin and hair all round. Had to sound the alarm, sir. Only
way—absolutely, sir——"

"When did you sound it?"

"Twenty minutes ago, sir."

"Twenty minutes! That’s good business!"

"Yes, sir."

"Why were they fighting—too much beer?"

"The want of it."

"Well—I suppose some concession has to be made," he muttered, walking to
the head of the column.

"Battalion—’Shun!"

All sprang up like Guardsmen.

"Look here, men, I don’t mind you making a butcher’s shop of a German’s
face, but I object to your doing that with your own. They are not too
pretty at the best of times. If you make them worse you’ll frighten
every woman in Mudtown. However, you have turned out remarkably quick.
And as you are not required on a Hun-hunting expedition, I propose—on
this special occasion—to march you all to the canteen and give you a
pint of beer. But, mark you, if I hear a word from you after you go to
bed again, I’ll have the canteen closed for a month, and feed you on
salt herrings, just to tickle your thirst and teach you forbearance.
Understand?"

"Yes, sir," roared a thousand voices.

"Parade—dismiss." As each company went by they gave old Corkleg a smart
salute, and sang, "For he’s a jolly good fellow."

Bludgeon got a bottle of Scotch, a box of cigars, and a new blackthorn
cudgel, "for services rendered," as the colonel tersely put it, when
handing over the gifts.

"Thank you, sir," said Bludgeon.

"Welcome! Welcome! And when we all meet down below, Bludgeon, I’ll have
you appointed provost-sergeant to Old Nick."



CHAPTER XVII.
WAR.


_The_ preceding chapters have given you the fun of the game, but do not
imagine the training of this corps was fun—and nothing more. The Glesca
Mileeshy spent many weary days and nights preparing for war. Every
weakness was found and ruthlessly eradicated. Every loafer and weed was
booted out. At the end of their training, one and all were as tough as
tinkers, and fit to shoot the tail of a sparrow at 500 yards. Better
still, every man was out to conquer and to kill. Colonel Corkleg was
proud of them, and he deserved to be, for, as old "Sunny Jim," the
G.O.C., had said, "They were the pride of the Mixed Division." Imagine
their bearing and think of their cheers on being ordered to move. Of
course, the Kirk-session of Mudtown made no protest about their
departure. The regiment mustered 1020 strong, and on their backs was
piled everything, from a shovel to a beer bottle. A thrill of pride ran
up the backbone of every officer as they viewed the throng, while old
Colonel Corkleg felt the strings of emotion pulling at his old heart.
Keen he was to fight and win; keen even to die at the cannon’s mouth.
But he knew the cost of war, and realised that ere the game was done
many of his gallants would bite the dust, thus adding to the roll of the
widows and fatherless. However, duty was a stern call. He received the
adjutant’s report of "All present" with the same stiff air which marked
his attitude on all parades.

"Battalion—’Shun! Advance in fours from the right of companies—Number
one leading."

"Quick march," ordered the leading commander. The band struck up "The
Girl I Left Behind Me," and with many a laugh and cheer the heroes
stepped to war. If you have never known this great experience you will
never understand. But a soldier knows it well. It is the greatest moment
in his life. His pride is dominant, his step jaunty and gay, and his
whole body permeated with an electric-like thrill peculiar to his kind.
And there is a look in a woman’s eye which is a fine reward. Soldiers,
on such occasions, rouse all that is great in a woman’s soul. She feels
she is gazing at men. She realises that such men guard her from the
brutalities of the Huns; she knows the children of her blood will not be
bayoneted like the babes of Liége and Namur. Deep in her heart there is
also sympathy and love, for women have a keen perception. Though she
never lives in the tented field, she fully understands the horrors of it
all. To one who has a lover in the van it is more trying still. Even the
poorest are capable of great devotion. To see the object of their
affection march to the field is a proud, yet a heart-gripping affair. If
many of these men were scallywags, they were delightful scallywags, if
one may use the term. And in their own way they could express that love
which is mightier than the sword. Words will, therefore, hardly depict
the sadness of parting. Thousands of fathers, mothers, and sweethearts
had gathered to see their heroes off. No rudeness; no mock hilarity was
seen. Even the men grew somewhat sad at leaving their all in all. As
they swung through the station in their sections of fours, women burst
into tears, some even swooned away.

"God bless you, laddie!" said an old woman, falling on the neck of her
son. He kindly unlinked the withered arms and marched silently on.
Another woman seized her husband in the frenzy of grief and despair;
while many a young girl clutched the hand of her lover for the last time
on earth. Even the officers’ wives could not restrain their feelings.
Caste and education could not stem the tears of sorrow for their own.
Beautiful women in beautiful clothes stood sobbing by the carriage
doors. Tearful partings were seen in the quiet corners of the great
station. Even Spud Tamson was curiously white and still as he stood by
the side of his own Mary Ann.

"You’ll no’ forget me?" pleaded the distracted girl.

"Na, Mary, I’ll no’ forget ye," was the soft reply.

Then the great bell rang, after which a bugle sounded "Advance." A
rattle of carriage doors, a shriek of the engine’s whistle, and off
steamed the great express. Some one led a strong Hurrah! and a band
played out a cheerful Good-bye. Handkerchiefs were waved and kind words
echoed far. Grief, for a moment, subsided, and patriotism sprang to its
heights. All gladly cheered their heroes off to war.

When the regiment arrived at Southampton they marvelled at the
organisation of the Embarkation Staff. A place for everything and
everything in its place. System paramount; disorganisation cursed and
banned as soon as it reared its head. The clockwork precision was
amazing, and the catching of the tides as ingenious as the sardine
packing of troops on the great transport ships. Even a place was
reserved for "the tears of the Marys and Lizzies," as an unromantic
skipper remarked. In two days the Mixed Division was embarked. In five
days it was landed all complete. Of course, it caused a stir in gay
Boulogne. Twenty thousand husky Scots in kilts and breeks amused and
amazed the excitable folks of France. The ladies threw flowers to the
gay commanders; the maids cast kisses to the men. The Glesca Mileeshy,
however, got more than flowers and kisses, thanks to a very cute
Bandmaster, who made his bandsmen play "The Marseillaise" till their
cheeks almost burst. The regiment lilted the air in grand style, thus
earning many a good flagon of real red wine.

Their first billets on the outskirts was also the scene of L’Entente
Cordiale. Gay little girls came out in scores to see their khaki gods.
Every billet had a swarm of unconventional flappers, who smoked the
Tommies’ Woodbines with gusto, and donned their coats and caps, to the
amusement of the crowd. The Glesca Mileeshy had never seen such figures,
such lips, such eyes. Their women at home had not approached them with
such polished ease and frankness. These charming souls even put out
their lips to receive all the greetings that came their way. Naturally,
all were delighted, with the exception of the colonel and Sergeant
Bludgeon.

"There’s going to be trouble here, Bludgeon," remarked the colonel on
the second day.

"Yes, sir, I expect anything from abduction to murder," answered the
sergeant, handling his great stick in a sinister way. For once Bludgeon
was wrong. When parades were done, the whole regiment swarmed into town,
and soon were in the toils of women and wine. Even the wizened and
bald-headed old veterans were rejuvenated. They sipped the champagne
with gusto, and danced the gay Can-can like the belles of the Russian
Ballet. Every café had its patrons. Tommies and "Frenchies" vied with
each other in "Tipperary," "A Wee Deoch-an-Doris," and other popular
airs. Never had the citizens seen such gay sports and fine soldiers. Yet
all played the game to a man—no riotous drunkenness, no absentees. If
all enjoyed themselves, they also remembered that they were at war, and
in a few days would be ’midst the horrors of the same. When they parted
there were many tears and lots of cheers, and, of course, all decided to
return again. Alas! they little reckoned on the grim days ahead.

Their first job was burying the dead and clearing up the battlefields of
the weeks before. Parties went out to gather up the stiffened corpses of
all nations. In places, too, they found human bodies torn, shattered,
and disfigured. It was a gruesome job, still the apprenticeship was
sound. The more irresponsible at once realised the seriousness of the
game; the older men perceived that this was different to the wars they
had seen before. The dead occasionally found in heaps showed the cruel
power of the modern shell; the great craters made in the ground also
illustrated the disastrous impact of those huge missiles from the German
guns. Blood-stained accoutrements, broken guns and rifles, dead and
wounded horses, trenches which had become cemeteries, dug-outs
transformed into catacombs, revealed what they were up against. It was
the science of fifty years exploited by the most cruel, clever, and
cunning disciples of Mars. And all the while there passed through their
ranks the motor transport with loads of wounded and dying men.
Prisoners, too, came in batches. Great strong men they were, some
stricken with hunger and cruel hardships, others dumb with the sense of
humiliation and despair. Over their heads the regiment frequently noted
the airships of their own army and the enemy. A bomb occasionally fell
in their ranks, forming a useful introduction to the game beyond. It
taught them how to run, how to take cover, and how to hit the
petrol-tank of such impudent offenders. They also acquired at first hand
a knowledge of our Allied arms. Little Belgians, they realised, were
poor at the pomp and flashwork of war, but sound at the game of killing
and holding men. The French, they saw, had all the _élan_ of their
fathers, but less of their stomach and nerve. They needed victories to
inspire them, and the sight of the khaki troops to remind them that war
is only for the patient and the strong. These early days created a sense
of comradeship with their Allies. The ever-generous heart of the French
and Belgians inspired a mutual feeling of love and respect. This, they
all felt, would hold them in the days to come.

Having served this apprenticeship, and learned that the men who wore red
breeks were French, and those with porter’s bonnets Belgians, they
marched forward into the great battle-line in Flanders. What
devastation! What ruthless savagery! Churches, hospitals, cottages, in
ruins. Women and children homeless and fatherless, and cursing the
barbarous Huns. And still more processions of prisoners, wounded and
dying. Death on all sides, blood everywhere. Horror upon horror, allied
with hardship, pain, and sorrow. Tough as this regiment was, the sights
saddened and made them wise. This was war. And they were plunged into
the midst of all in less than a day. It was their job to relieve a
regiment of regulars, who had been fighting since Mons. This corps was
stuck in trenches a hundred yards from the enemy’s lines. Snipers had
thinned the officers’ ranks; repeated assaults had killed and worn out
the N.C.O.’s and men. To relieve them was a problem, for the area behind
their trenches was a shell-swept zone. But it had to be done. The safest
time was at night, so when dusk had come they cautiously went forward.
Sometimes they ran, at other points they had to creep and crawl. For a
while all seemed well, but aerial scouts had told their tale. Just as
the regiment reached the trenches, all were startled with the lurid
flashing of great star-shells in the sky. This lit up the whole area and
showed the lines of men advancing into the trenches.

Crack! went a Mauser rifle. This was a signal for hundreds more. More
star-shells went up, and then the Maxim guns of the enemy opened a
deadly fire.

"Double to the trenches!" roared a staff officer, who was the guide. In
a few minutes the whole were jumping into the long water-logged
fortresses. Many were left behind wounded and dying, but the danger
ahead was too great to study these casualties. Volley after volley came
across the narrow zone. The hits were now few, for sighting was
impossible. To the crouching men, who had just been baptised, the affair
was somewhat awe-inspiring. Many a man shivered, just as nearly all
brave men shiver in their first fight. The moans of the wounded men who
lay behind did not help matters. Worse, however, was yet to come. The
Germans, somehow, feared a night attack. Determined to check this, they
sallied out on a counter-assault. Across the hundred-yard zone they ran,
cursed, yelled, and stumbled. It was an anxious moment, for the
star-shells only lit the ground in a dim way. Colonel Corkleg, however,
was equal to the hour.

"Out men and at them!" he roared from a point somewhere in the darkened
region. There was a loud clatter as his gallants leapt out of their
trenches. A second to fix their bayonets, then passing through the
little avenues in the barbed wire they quickly formed and charged.

"Give them Hell, lads!" roared Coronet. And then there was a crash of
bodies and of steel. The sickening plug of bayonets into flesh was heard
all along the line. Still, these Bavarian men were game. They took their
punishment and nobly tried to wrest the laurels of this night affair.
But they were up against the toughest lot of men in the whole line. The
impact was terrific, the onslaught fierce and frightful. They felt the
backward push of those determined Militiamen. Their counter-assault was
useless, so, with a yell, they turned and fled. The victors pursued
them, routed them out of their own trenches, captured two Maxim guns and
smashed them, and after denuding the knapsacks of their fleeing enemy,
returned across the darkened zone into their own lines.

"Well done, colonel," whispered the staff officer to Corkleg. "Your men
are the right stuff," he concluded, as he disappeared into the night _en
route_ for headquarters of the Brigade.

Next morning the regiment counted the cost and the gains. In front of
their own lines lay a hundred Germans dead; side by side lay fifty of
their own; while in the rear of the trenches more dead were found.

"Not bad for a first night," said Greens, peeping out.

"Hardly a comedy," replied Coronet, bandaging up a wounded hand.

"No, melodrama, with full effects. Corkleg’s a sound actor manager. But,
I say, how can we get those dead men buried? They’ll soon smell like
polecats."

"Not during the day. It isn’t safe," remarked the captain, putting his
cap up out of the trench on top of a stick. Crack! went a bullet.

"A bull!" shouted the owner, drawing it down and surveying a battered
cap badge.

"Sniper, eh?"

"Yes, Greens, a top-hole one at that. We’ll need to be careful." The
men, however, enjoyed the sport. Spud Tamson and his friends delighted
in putting up empty jam-tins on the end of sticks. In a second there was
the usual crack, and down came the tin with a bullet-hole through it.
When an unfortunate sentry popped his head up too far, he generally met
the same fate, and was immediately struck off the strength of the
regiment. In some cases the men signalled such hits by putting up a
white piece of cardboard, meaning a bull’s-eye to the sniper. These
German snipers were also sportsmen. Each time a Tommy inoculated the
square head of a Teuton with a dose of lead, they also signalled a hit.
In this way the troops managed to keep a musketry record. Of course, all
sorts of tricks were employed. One section placed a row of turnips with
Balaclava hats and Glengarrys on them at the edge of the trench. At once
there was a terrible fusilade, and for half an hour each sniper had a
go. Indeed, the refusal of these turnips to become casualties so annoyed
the opposing Germans that they all commenced to pop at them. While their
whole attention was thus concentrated, a small body of marksmen under
Lieutenant Greens suddenly popped out of a sap-head. They placed steel
plates for protection in front of them. All then took a deliberate aim
at the enemy. In three minutes they shot twelve men through the head,
and would have got more but for the sudden attack of a Maxim gun. This
was rather unpleasant, so Greens and his merry men flopped down into
their burrow again.

There were three kinds of trenches in which the men were placed. The
first line nearest the enemy was long and as deep as the holes in a
graveyard. No head-cover was allowed, and luxuries were barred. For
forty-eight hours all danced, cursed, snored, or shivered according to
the thermometer and the fulness (or emptiness) of the stomach. When one
grew tired of being a mole and absorbing the germs of rheumatism,
pneumonia, and enteric, he simply put up his head and got a free
discharge from an obliging sniper.

A communicating trench led to the supporting trenches. There was also a
telephone to inform the Brigadier when the first line had been sent to
heaven and more living targets required. Trunk calls to Oxford Street
and Piccadilly, of course, were barred—an annoying restriction. In these
supporting trenches, however, a man could manage to scrape a hole in the
earth and there lie down. This was not exactly a comfortable experience,
especially for those who slept with mouths open. Worms, snails, and
other messy slugs would persist in dropping right into the gullets of
the sleeping innocents. Only Frenchmen who had eaten frogs could enjoy
such delicacies.

From the supporting trenches another communicating line led to the
reserve trenches. These trenches were the last word in cunning, comfort,
and luxury. They were literally dug-outs or caves, where officers and
men improvised everything, from biscuit tins to toilet paper, in the
making of underground homes to while away the weary days. Bridge and nap
was played—not for money, but full tins of jam, which a beneficent
commissariat showers upon all British soldiers to keep off scurvy and
other Whitechapel diseases. Nights were made merry by liberal issues of
rum, and hope was inspired by the regular arrival of love epistles
through the F.P.O. Replies to these communications had to be vague and
somewhat guarded, for the colonel censored all officers’ letters, while
the officers acted similarly with the correspondence of the rank and
file. Parcels of tucker cheered the somewhat plain fare, and bundles of
New Testaments from anxious maiden ladies taught many that their former
deeds would eventually make them stokers down under. When things became
too monotonous, the German artillery plunked a few Jack Johnsons over.
This employed all hands on burial services and writing letters of
sympathy to the widows and orphans.

The most wonderful person in this system was the transport officer,
Lieutenant Grain. He had an army of enlisted ostlers, carters, and
jockeys to bring up the rations from the rear. This had to be done over
quagmires and along serpent-like roads which were packed with
Hammersmith omnibuses, field guns, motor-cars, and hare-brained motor
cyclists. Worse, his job had to be done at night. It was enough to try
the will and nerves of Hannibal. But Grain did it every time. It was his
boast that the regiment had fresh bread, fresh meat, cigarettes and
tobacco every night—a great accomplishment. Fancy delivering cans of hot
tea and dixeys of good stew to the front trenches at midnight! This had
never been done in any previous campaign. No wonder some men wrote home
saying that they were "still well, but overfed."

This life in the trenches levelled all distinctions, and revealed all
that was good and bad. The skunk came forth in all his shady colours;
the loyal and patient soul quickly won the affection of all. Discipline
was difficult, especially when rain and frost gripped the flesh and
bones. Cold feet in the first line of trenches is more demoralising than
a thousand shells. Men object to being killed on a frosty morning. It is
very uncomfortable, and certainly unromantic. They feel it better to die
on the greensward with the sun lighting up the scene and the birds
twittering out a grand amen. But war is never waged to suit the
convenience of all. It is a battle for the fittest. The strong must
survive and the weakest die. And war in the trenches is the most awful
strain on officers and men. Perhaps it is worst for an officer. He
suffers just the same hardships; worse, he has the anxiety of
responsibility. Men seldom understand this. While they may sleep the
officer has to be awake, ever watchful for the assault and ever jealous
of the honour of his regiment and his name. Only men who have been
thoroughly disciplined can stand such a strain. The amateur at this game
is usually a nuisance, and better at home.

The disadvantage of trench-fighting is that it robs even the best
soldiers of their dash and initiative. Men who have been stuck in
trenches for months get out of condition, and, at times, fail to seize
opportunities to strengthen and consolidate their lines. Perhaps that
was the reason for the deliberate progression of the Allied Army. Each
week a certain forward movement had to be done, even if this only
amounted to a few yards. Saps were made underneath the enemy’s barbed
wire, explosions levelled these obstructions low, then with a rush our
men would have a go to capture another of the German trenches. This work
provided scope for all. Variety was frequently afforded in village
fighting—the toughest job in war. The most interesting was a fight for a
little house which commanded a short bridge and road over a Belgian
canal. It was important to gain this point. Half a battalion of the
Glesca Mileeshy, under Major Tartan, was ordered out to the job. The
house itself was loopholed and sandbagged. There were two machine guns
inside as well as fifty snipers. Outside there was a circular redoubt,
manned by three hundred more. The whole place was thoroughly protected
by barbed wire and other tricky lures.

"It will cost us a lot of men, major," said Colonel Corkleg; "but the
Brigadier says it must be done."

"Yes, and we’ll do it, sir," replied Tartan, with a decision in his
words which was inspiring.

"Very well, Tartan, I leave it to you—you know your job."

Tartan’s attack was preceded by a terrific bombardment by our artillery.
But these shells did not dislodge the enemy. They stuck gamely to their
job, and opened a fierce fusilade on the three skirmishing lines, which
moved forward after the bombardment.

Captain Hardup had the first line. He took his men forward inch by inch.
Trees, walls, holes, fence-posts, all sorts of cover were used by the
men. Now and again a groan and curse was heard as men fell back wounded
or dead.

"Come on, lads!" roared Lieutenant Longlegs, who was Hardup’s subaltern.
They gallantly replied and pushed forward to within one hundred yards of
the barbed wire entanglements. Matters were serious here, and casualties
heavy. Ten men were knocked out in twenty minutes.

"Sergeant Brown, have a go with your cutters."

"Right, sir," said the sturdy little fellow, crawling forward. He
wriggled like a snake right up to the wires. Click! went his cutters
through one strand, click! through another, and up went his arm to get a
strand higher up. All the while he was under a terrible fire. Just as he
cut the third strand a bullet struck his arm. It fell limp and
shattered. With wonderful fortitude he adjusted his body and cut the
fourth strand with his other hand. Zip! sang a bullet again. It went
right through his head. He rolled over dead.

Lieutenant Longlegs saw it all, and looked round for another man. But he
had no need to shout. A young lance-corporal jumped over a wall and
crawled up to the wires. Seizing the dead man’s cutters he coolly
commenced to cut right and left. Bullets whizzed around,—they even
passed through his cap and clothes,—but still he went on, making a great
gap in the strands of wires. He was succeeding splendidly when a bullet
struck the wire-cutters, smashed them, and pierced his right hand. At
once he lay low, tore out his field dressing, bandaged his hand, then
commenced to crawl back to his lines. He got half-way when a bullet
struck him in the spine. A weird yell told all of his fate.

"By God," muttered Longlegs, "that’s too brave a lad to leave out
there." He jumped over the wall, and, heedless of the fire, ran forward,
picked up his man and brought him into the shelter of his line. A great
cheer went up as he returned. Longlegs had asserted his pluck.

This success at cutting the wires inspired many more to go forward. In
three hours five good gaps had been made, and the way paved for a final
assault. Meantime Major Tartan had arrived in the firing line with the
reserves. He opened a fierce fusilade and accounted for almost a hundred
of the enemy. Having done all that was possible at that point he passed
the word along, "Prepare to charge." Bayonets were fixed, and every eye
centred on the tough figure of the old Highland Chief. Like a deer he
rose, and, raising his arm, shouted, "Up, lads, and at them." What a
din! Four hundred gallants running, yelling, cursing, and panting.
Through the gaps in the wire they rushed, leaving many on the way.
Things were going well till a bullet struck the old major in a vital
part. He fell mortally wounded. The sight checked the whole advance. His
eyes saw the pause.

"Go on, men—give them it—never mind——" and he rolled back dead. Hardup
and Longlegs now called them on. With a mighty rush they scaled the
great redoubt and leapt down into the ranks of the Germans. Some of the
Teutons fought gamely; others cowered back, listless and powerless, an
awful fear and awe in their eyes. The sight chilled the men, but a
bloodthirsty old sergeant shouted, "Remember the Belgian atrocities,
boys." That was enough. They bayoneted every man on the spot. During
this bloody combat the machine guns and snipers in the house were
pumping out volleys of death.

"Take the house now, men," roared Hardup.

"By God, we’ll soon do that," answered Muldoon, the worst character in
the regiment. Running forward to the walls this powerful man got near
the mouth of a Maxim gun projecting through the wall. With a terrible
swipe he smashed the end of the tube, breaking his butt at the job.
Another man did the same for the other gun, while the remainder of the
men made for the doors. A check happened here. The doors were barred and
the enemy firing furiously from within.

"Smash it in," ordered Hardup, standing near. Three men sprang forward.
First they smashed the protruding rifle barrels and then they tackled
the doors. In ten minutes great holes were made. Captain Hardup was the
first man through. Longlegs followed at his heels. The captain pinned a
great big German with his bayonet, but another of the enemy stuck the
gallant officer right through the chest. Longlegs had just got in when
he saw his captain fall. Jumping forward he clubbed the man’s brains
out. The remaining Germans cleared up a stair to the next floor. This
gave a breathing space and time to get more men through. When enough had
been collected Longlegs led the way. Another barred door was found.
Willing hands quickly ended this, and into a room Longlegs and his men
dashed. The enemy stood at the end of the room with bayonets fixed.

"Come on, lads—wipe them out." Forward they went. There was a terrific
tussle for five minutes. Longlegs had the muscle of his arm torn away
with a bayonet, while three of his men were killed on the spot; but
every German was bayoneted to death. Longlegs had his arm hastily
bandaged. "Come on," he shouted again, and up to the top flat they
rushed to end their job. There they found a German officer and a host of
men inside a loft. The door of the place was also barred. But this was
easily smashed, and into the den the gallants rushed. As they went an
old sergeant pushed Longlegs back out of danger.

"What’s wrong?" he inquired angrily.

"I’m in charge o’ this lot, sir. You’re owre braw a fechter tae get
kill’t."

"Nonsense, sergeant."

"Nae nonsense aboot it, sir. Staund there," kindly insisted the old
non-com., who saw that Longlegs would soon faint from loss of blood.
Meantime the din inside the room was deafening. Squeals, groans, and
curses rent the air. It was a battle to the death. The officer fought
like a Trojan for his life, but, in the end, he was bayoneted to death.
Half of the enemy were killed, the other half surrendered or jumped
through the windows, smashing their legs on the hard stones below.

"We’ve won, sir," reported the sergeant, rushing out of the shambles to
where the pale-faced officer was standing at the top of the stair.

"Good!" said the subaltern, tumbling in a heap from loss of blood. At
that moment a thundering cheer was heard outside the house. It was the
colonel and the other half of the battalion, who had been sent up in
support. The job, however, had been well done. Old Corkleg was met at
the door by the faithful sergeant.

"We’ve done it, sir," said he, saluting.

"Yes," said the colonel gravely, as he looked at his dead and wounded
men. Then looking up, he remarked, "Where is Major Tartan?"

"Killed, sir."

"And Captain Hardup?"

"Inside, sir, badly wounded."

"What about Mr. Longlegs?"

"He’s lying upstairs wounded too."

"Any other casualties?"

"Two other officers wounded, sir, and I think we’ve lost over a hundred
men."

"Sad—very sad, and some of the best," said the old colonel, turning away
to hide the moisture in his eyes.

"Well done, Corkleg," said the Brigadier, walking up to the scene.

"Yes. Our men have done well, but our casualties have been awful."

"Still, Corkleg, your men have captured the key to the whole German
lines here. They will have to retire for almost a mile now. Good
business! Good business! Terrible scamps, these men of yours, but heroes
every time. Let me have any recommendations."

Hardup and Longlegs got the D.S.O., the old sergeant and wire-cutting
corporal received the Distinguished Conduct Medals, while every paper in
Britain wrote columns about the gallantry of the Glesca Mileeshy.

"Useful men! Useful men!" said Corkleg, on reading the appreciation in
’The Times’ a few days later.

"Yes, sir," replied the adjutant.



CHAPTER XVIII.
THE POWER OF BREAD.


_Roadways_ are the mainsprings of an army. They are more precious than
jewels. When captured they have to be jealously guarded. For this
purpose the drill-book says you must have examination posts. These posts
are simply clearing-houses for the liars and laggards of war. It is an
important job, and usually given to important men. As the Glesca
Mileeshy were the most important gentlemen in the Mixed Division, it
fell to them to guard the main highway which led through their lines
right into the heart of General Von Burstem’s camp. Captain Coronet’s
company, on this occasion, supplied the guard, consisting of Sergeant
Killem, Privates Tamson, Muldoon, and Cameron. This observant detachment
was posted in a little hut at the cross-roads. The point commanded
communication and regulated the flow of spies, patrols, and supplies.
Every waggon, motor, officer, and man had to be halted, examined, and
passed by the man on sentry-go. The job suited the temperament of Spud
Tamson, for he had all the craving for novelty and sensation. He
swaggered up and down the beaten path with the air of a new-born
subaltern. Nothing escaped him, and as night came he grew still more
alert.

"Halt—who goes there?" he challenged out.

"A Gordon!" was the reply.

"Pass, Gordon—all’s well."

"Halt—who goes there?" he shouted again.

"Black Watch Picket."

"Pass, Black Watch—all’s well."

"Halt—who goes there?" went his challenge once more.

"Wot the ’ell’s it got to do with you?" piped some one in the dark.

"Pass, Canadian—all’s well," was the apt retort, which in itself
reflects the unruly but otherwise splendid man from the Golden West.

For a time there was silence, during which Tamson puffed the smoke out
of his dirty old cutty-pipe. Between puffs he mused on the mud and
hunger of war, and occasionally switched his fancy back to where his own
Mary Ann would be sitting in anxious dread. During this sort of
meandering he was roused by the flashing lights of a powerful motor-car.
On it came, right up to the barbed wire gate which Spud was guarding.
Gripping his rifle in no uncertain fashion, he came down to the charge
and bellowed out, "Halt—who goes there?"

"Staff officer, you fool—open the gate," said a muffled voice from the
front of the car.

"Step oot and gie the countersign," ordered Spud.

"—— you—open the gate. I’ll report you to your colonel."

"Report yer granny—gae me the countersign," persisted Spud, his whole
cunning roused by the well-muffled face of this staff officer.

The officer jumped from the car. As he did so the alert sentry noted his
hand behind his back. Something was wrong.

"Stand and gie the countersign."

The officer whipped the hidden hand round. A revolver banged in the
stilly air. The aim, however, had been turned by a cunning parry,
followed by a dexterous thrust by the nimble Spud. He had pinned his
aggressor right through the breast. The man fell with a groan. As he
tumbled, Sergeant Killem and the guard dashed out. One glance, and the
sergeant staggered a little. "God! Tamson—it’s a staff officer. You’ve
kill’t him."

"A spy, ye mean," said the cool sentry, putting his foot on the dying
man’s chest, and with a jerk withdrawing his bayonet.

"A spy!"

"Ay—see the revolver! He tried tae shoot me."

"That’s queer, man," ejaculated Sergeant Killem, bending down. Lifting
the red-banded cap off the wounded man’s head and unwinding the muffler,
he was startled to see a face clearly German, with the usual student
scar. Opening a British warm jacket, the sergeant also found a
close-fitting tunic worn by the German officers.

"You’re richt, Tamson. By Heaven! he’s got a cheek," muttered Killem, as
he extracted a large six-inch map, a note-book, a woman’s photo, and
other things from the dying man’s pocket. When this search had been
completed they lifted the almost dead German into the guardroom. Spud
now tore out his own field dressing and tried to stanch the mortal
wound, while the sergeant rang the telephone bell in the Divisional
Headquarters.

"Well?" replied an aide-de-camp.

"I’m the sergint on the examination post. A sentry has jist shot a spy
in a motor-caur. He’s dying in the hut."

"Let him die," was the blunt reply. "And I say, sergeant?"

"Yes, sir."

"Search the man and his car. Keep everything till the Intelligence
Officer arrives."

"Very good, sir," said Sergeant Killem, hanging up the ’phone. A further
search revealed many things. Papers showed the amazing daring and skill
of this spy. The strength, guns, morale, and distribution of the Allied
Arms was almost perfect. In the garb of a staff officer he had been
everywhere—an easy thing when one remembers the mighty salaams and
reverential awe which the "Brass Hats" receive from the respectful Tommy
Atkins.

"This is his last trip, onywiy," said the sergeant, casually picking up
the woman’s photo which the spy had carried in his pocket. Spud came
forward to view it.

"That’s an actress," remarked Tamson.

"Ay. English at that."

"It’s the Principal Boy in that big London panto," exclaimed Spud, who
knew the name of every actress, boxer, and racehorse.

"Man, you’re richt; but listen——"

"A motor-caur! That’ll be the officer," said Spud.

A few minutes afterwards the car stopped at the door, and a major of the
Intelligence Staff came in.

"Here he is, sir," said the sergeant, showing him the wounded German in
the corner of the hut.

"Good Lord! it’s Von Darem!" muttered the startled officer.

"Wha, sir?" inquired Killem.

"Oh, the late Military Attaché in London," was the off-hand reply of the
officer.

"Here’s his papers."

"Thanks," said the major, walking to the lamp. Opening out the
note-book, he quickly read the contents. He was as fascinated as he was
surprised.

"Well, sergeant, this _is_ a good night’s work. Who caught him?"

"Me, sir," chirped Spud, clicking his heels and giving a smart salute.

"You know your job. I’ll see the General about you. You ought to be a
sergeant. Good-night all."

"Good-night, sir."

Next morning Private Spud Tamson had a paragraph of praise in Divisional
Orders, and at night the colonel of the Glesca Mileeshy informed him
that he was pleased to promote him to sergeant. The examining guard had
brought Spud Tamson fame. A few days later the newly-promoted sergeant
was also given the job of taking out a standing night patrol towards the
enemy’s lines. For this purpose he was allowed to select his men.
Muldoon and Micky Cameron were, of course, in the band. It was a
dangerous job, yet Spud was not alarmed. It suited his nature and
whetted his ardour for the all-precious D.C.M.

’The Field Training Manual’ has it that patrols are primarily intended
for reconnaissance, not fighting,—in other words, to see without being
seen. Spud remembered this. He was also aware that the German
commissariat was badly managed. Perhaps that accounted for his stuffing
of bread and meat into the haversacks of his party. The men were also
ordered to keep their tongues and rifles from barking, and when the
enemy was spotted—to lie down. Having duly impressed his little band
with these instructions, he gave the order to march. Away they went,
Spud at the head. Like cats, they stalked on the metalled roadway for
almost a mile.

"Halt!" whispered Spud on nearing a long line of trees which he knew
were occupied by the outposts of the enemy. Then all lay down. For a
time they could see nothing in the darkness, but gradually their eyes
grew accustomed to things. A crunching of feet told its own tale of
sentry-go, and a few minutes later the patrol discerned two men at the
edge of the wood.

"Micky, you come wi’ me," said Spud to his old friend Cameron. "You
others stiy here. If you think we’re gettin’ done in, come owre an’ len’
a haund. But mind, nae shootin’—the bayonet, every time."

"Right ho, Spud," was the willing response as the sergeant and Micky
crawled away on their hands and knees. For twenty minutes they wriggled
like snakes. Luck and the shadows favoured them. They finished up fifty
yards from the German sentries.

"Here, Spud," whispered Micky, "this is sudden daith for us."

"Are ye feart, ye puddin heid."

"Na, I’m no’ feart, but are we no’ daft?"

"Blethers! Noo, look here, Micky, get yer haversack haundy, an’ mind the
breid."

"What’s that for?"

"Catchin’ them."

"Catchin’ them?" queried Micky.

"Ay, jist like catchin’ canaries. But, listen, when thae chaps turn
their backs, mak’ a jump for it. Nae killin’, though. Haunds up, and
then gie them a lump o’ breid."

"Breid?"

"Dae whit yer tell’t. I’m fed up wi’ yer questions. If yer feart, awa’
hame." This sharp retort ended Micky’s fears. For the next ten minutes
they lay watching their prey. Then came their chance. The two sentries
met and turned their backs to have a chat. With a light bounding step,
Spud and Micky reached their men. The startled sentries turned and then
jumped for their rifles, which were leaning against a tree. Too late,
though. A glistening bayonet and a low command, "Haunds up," ended their
service in the German Army. Both held their hands up in terror,
expecting a sudden despatch to the heavenly land, at the same time
tearfully muttering, "Don’t hurt me—Don’t hurt me," for, like nearly all
Germans, they spoke English well.

"Here," said Spud to his man, handing a lump of bread and a sausage. The
man grabbed it like a hungry wolf. His comrade did the same with Micky’s
peace-offering. This bait reduced them to a state of friendliness and
civility. Indeed, the attitude of Spud and Micky amazed them. They had
been told that the British Army were murderers and barbarians. When they
had finished their simple repast, Spud casually inquired—

"Whaur’s yer picket?"

"Back there," said one, pointing to the end of the wood.

"Hoo strong?"

"About a hundred."

"Any Maxims?"

"Two."

"Whaur are they?"

"At that end," said the German, showing Spud a sort of earthwork at
their end of the wood, about six hundred yards away.

"Many men there?"

"Plenty."

"All right, come wi’ me."

The Germans hesitated.

"Step oot," said Spud, fingering his trigger in a determined way.

"Well, don’t kill us."

"Na, we’ll no’ kill ye. But mind, keep quiet as ye go," he ordered,
pushing his prisoners ahead. The victors followed, carrying the rifles
of the enemy. But they were not to get off scot-free. The clumsy Germans
made a fearful din, rousing their compatriots some distance away. This
and the rising moon told the now vigilant Teutons that something was
wrong. A searchlight was flashed across the danger zone. Spud and his
men were spotted.

"Double," he roared, giving the Germans a prick with his bayonet, but
the crash of rifles and then the patter of feet told the daring sergeant
that he was pursued.

Zip! went a bullet past his ear. Zip! went another, striking Micky in
the leg and smashing a bone. He tumbled with a groan.

"Here, you German waiters—lift him," ordered Spud. The prisoners
hesitated, but the stern look in the sergeant’s face, as well as the
danger of death from the rifles of their own friends, made them grab the
wounded man and carry him on. A five minutes’ run brought them to the
spot where Spud’s reserves were handy.

"Halt!" challenged Muldoon, jumping out of a hole.

"It’s me, Pat—haud on here. Stop these scallywags that’s chasing us up.
Gie them a dose o’ Rapid. They’ll think they’re up against a hunner
men."

"Roight, sargint," replied Muldoon, assuming command of the reserves.

Spud with his unwilling bearers ran on, glad to be out of the danger
zone. A few minutes afterwards, the German patrol, which had followed
them, came panting and stumbling towards Muldoon’s little army.

Z-r-r-p! crashed a volley. Cries of amazement and shrieks of pain rent
the air.

Z-r-r-p! rattled another, and still another. The enemy fled in disorder
towards their startled friends. Muldoon sent more volleys into the
retreating host, and then retired about a hundred yards. Crash went his
rifles again. The Germans were thoroughly checked and their whole line
surprised.

"Back, bhoys, for the love of Saint Patrick," ordered Muldoon, leading
his three men at a trot down the long winding road. They quickly pulled
up on Spud and his burdened prisoners, and in half an hour were marching
in triumph through their own lines.

"Two prisoners, sir," said Spud, jumping into Colonel Corkleg’s dug-out.

"Oh! How did you get them, Tamson?"

"Wi’ a bit o’ breid, sir."

"Bread!"

"Ay, sir. Ye could catch a regiment wi’ a twa-pun’ loaf."

"Well, that’s the limit. Where did you learn that?"

"The Gallowgate, sir."

"Ah! Tell me how you did it."

Spud quickly told of his adventure, and also imparted the useful
information he had received.

"That’s good, sergeant. Do you think we could capture the redoubt and
the guns?"

"Ay, sir—easy."

"How?"

"A night attack, sir."

"Sound, very sound, sergeant. I’ll put your captain on to it. Thank you,
Tamson."

Spud saluted and jumped out. His company gave him a warm welcome on
entering their dug-outs; indeed, Captain Coronet called him in for a tot
of service rum. After this warm beverage had been devoured, Spud
elaborated his own ideas about the capturing of the enemy’s Maxims. The
captain listened attentively and then dismissed him to have a rest
preparatory to the projected assault.

The night affair was arranged by the colonel during the day. Captain
Coronet was to make the attack, supported by another company. The whole
thing was to be led by the now famous sergeant. It was a daring
adventure; but if successful it was worth the risk. Machine guns are
annoying at all times. These would be better out of the way. The
position, too, was desirable. Its capture would allow the Mixed Division
an opportunity to clear the wood of objectionable snipers.

At dusk Coronet and his men sallied out. Spud headed the column, and
from front to rear all were guided by a great, long rope held by each
man so as to ensure direction and avoid straggling. At first they
marched, but on nearing the enemy’s line all fell on their knees and
commenced to crawl. This was continued for half an hour, when a
whispered "Halt!" made them lie low.

"It’s owre there, sir," said Spud, pointing in the direction of the
redoubt.

"Not much to be seen, Tamson," remarked the captain, placing his monocle
in his eye.

"Listen, sir."

Both lay still, and eventually analysed the many sounds. Some men were
coughing, others appeared to be singing, while here and there "All’s
well" rang out in German. During this wait for the light of dawn the
company was surprised by the tramp of a small patrol. On they came
straight towards Coronet’s men. It was an anxious moment for all. To
fire would have been madness, revealing the whole plan. The captain held
his breath, uncertain how to act. It was one of those awkward incidents
for which no remedy can be found in infantry training, new or revised.
Captain Coronet could handle a division in a war game and win many a
brilliant battle on regimental staff rides, but this situation was
beyond him, and like a simple British gentleman he whipped out his
sword.

"Na, sir, no’ that," whispered Tamson. The flush which suffused
Coronet’s cheek could not be seen in the dark. Spud Tamson had presumed
to override the officer class. For a second the captain almost lost his
temper. Another second’s reflection, however, told him that this
sergeant from the slums was right.

"Let them come right up, sir, then grab their legs, drap them, and choke
them."

"Very sound—tell the men what’s on," commanded the captain, well pleased
to have found a solution to the problem. A few more minutes brought
three figures within view of the attackers’ eyes. They tramped and
stumbled forward right into the waiting men. The captain, Tamson, and
Sergeant Killem grabbed the legs of the Germans, and with a jerk heaved
the surprised men to the ground. Only one shout was heard, for, like a
flash, strong hands pounced on to their throats. A spluttering and low
choking broke the stillness of the night.

"Don’t kill them—tie them up," whispered the commander. Some mufflers
were quickly produced, and with the aid of rifle-slings, rope, and spare
equipment straps, the German patrol was bound and gagged.

"I wonder if they heard that beggar shout?" whispered the captain.

"Na, sir. Ye wid hae soon heard the bullets if they had."

"I’m glad—it’s getting light," said the captain, looking up to the sky.

"Ay, sir,—yonder’s the gun pits," said Tamson, pointing to a redoubt
about two hundred and fifty yards away.

"Pretty tough job, Tamson," mused the captain, studying closely the
flanking trenches and some objectionable barbed wire.

"The barbed wire’s no’ very high, sir."

"High enough for trouble."

"If they tak’ aff their coats an’ fling them owre the wire it’ll no hurt
them sae much."

"Good idea,—tell them to carry their coats in their hands, and get
ready."

Tamson turned and whispered the order. In a few minutes the whole
company was eager for the fray.

"Prepare to charge," whispered the captain, putting his monocle into his
eye. Leaving his sword on the ground he picked up one of the German
rifles and jumped to his feet. The company followed suit, and with a
thundering cheer charged forward towards the German lines.

A sentry outside the barbed wire dropped his rifle and ran towards a
little gateway in the entanglements. Unhooking some loose strands he
dashed through, followed by Coronet, who pinned him with his bayonet in
the back. About twenty more squeezed through this gap. The remainder
flung their coats across the wires and floundered over into the German
trenches. Then the butchery began. Half-sleeping Germans found
themselves face to face with cursing, yelling scions of the Glesca
Mileeshy. These old toughs from the "Model" plugged, stabbed, jabbed,
hacked, and butted the life out of the defenders in the flanking
trenches. Those who tried to escape by jumping out were clubbed to
death. Coronet and Spud were everywhere, and, like others, quickly
covered themselves with German blood. Things went well till a Maxim gun
started its nonsense. A clever gunner opened a traversing fire on the
daring band.

"Lie down, men," roared Coronet. They obeyed, but not before twenty men
had been killed or wounded. It was an anxious moment for the company
commander. The check was serious, and, like a true British officer, he
looked round for his sergeant. He saw Tamson at the far end of a trench
coolly aiming at the German gunner.

Bang! went Spud’s rifle. He missed. Muttering an oath, he quickly fired
again. The man dropped back dead. Another sprang to his seat, but before
he could touch the handles Spud despatched him to the Happy Land. This
was good, but not altogether useful, for a host of Germans were sallying
out of their dug-outs and rushing to avenge their dead.

"Rapid fire!" roared the captain.

Click! click! went the bolts, and next a fearful crash, but our musketry
cannot always stem a wild German rush. Remembering he had a company in
support, Coronet signalled them up. Recollecting, too, that he had read
somewhere in Haking’s text-book on company training that an assault
should be met by a counter-assault, he ordered his men to charge.

"I’ll see tae the guns, sir," shouted Spud to his captain above the din.

"Right, sergeant," answered Coronet, looking back.

"This way for the Gallowgate, lads," was Tamson’s order to a few of his
cronies. They followed at his heels, and dashed towards the first gun. A
young German officer met Tamson with his sword. The Teuton made a
furious swipe at his red-coloured head.

"Missed it, young fellow me lad," shouted Tamson, parrying. Still the
point hooked an ounce of good flesh out of the sergeant’s arm.

"Got ye," yelled Spud, lunging forward with his bayonet. The officer
writhed in a horrible way at the other end of his rifle. With difficulty
he disengaged, but rather late, for a powerful Teuton made a terrible
blow with his butt. Tamson was struck on the side of the head and
stunned. He fell to the ground. Pat Muldoon saw it all and jumped
forward to guard him from further injury. Standing astride over his
prostrate form this great Irishman faced all odds. He wielded his rifle
in the same easy manner as he had formerly handled his pick. An Irishman
in a fight is a sight for the gods. He is a mixture of the dervish and
the devil. And a strange charm hung over the life of this son of Erin.
Man after man he felled like a woodman cutting pine. As the neighbouring
gun team had no desire to earn such a hurried despatch, they bolted to a
more safe and pleasant region in the dim beyond.

Meantime, Captain Coronet had been getting on with his job. His
counter-attack crushed the first impact of the German host, but at a
terrible cost. Seventy men had bitten the dust, while he himself had
been prodded like a prize pig with German bayonets. Fortunately none of
his gashes were serious. Still, he and his men were about worn out when
a thundering cheer told them that the supporting company had arrived.
Into the fray dashed the eager avengers. Their enthusiasm turned the
tide. Away ran the Germans; the position was won.

Out of the shambles rose Spud Tamson, somewhat dazed with the blow.

"Cheer up, ould pal,—are yis better?" queried Muldoon.

"What wis it?" asked Tamson.

"Begorra, it’s the stars ye’ve been seein’."

"Three star brandy wisnae in it, Pat. It’s worse than the D.T.’s."

"Never mind, me bhoy, we’ve got their ould bullet engines," said Pat,
pointing to the machine guns with the gun team lying round. "But I say,
Spud, have a nip."

"Sure, Pat, whaur is it?"

"Here," he said, drawing a beautiful silver brandy-flask out of his
pocket.

"Whaur did ye get this?"

"In that German officer’s pocket."

"Man, it’s the rale thing. Did ye get onything else?"

"I did that,—a purse of gould German quids."

"I get hauf o’ that. It wis me that kill’t him."

"Roight, we’ll share it out by-and-by."

"Nae fear. Hauf it the noo."

"Why?"

"A bird in the haun’s worth twa in the bush."

"That’s what the ould judge said when he gave me thirty days for
stealin’ Mike Docherty’s pigs," concluded Pat, as he ruefully parted
with half of his bag of gold.

Spud also got his D.C.M.



CHAPTER XIX.
AN IMPERIAL AFFAIR.


"_I see_ Sergeant Tamson is in divisional orders to-day," said Colonel
Corkleg to Lieutenant Greens during breakfast in the dug-out.

"What for, sir?"

"Oh, his leading of that attack the other night. He’s been awarded the
Distinguished Conduct Medal. Useful man. Useful man."

"Yes, sir. Isn’t it wonderful how a man like that, born in the slums,
has all the instinct of a leader, as well as the pluck of a dozen
ordinary men."

"They’re all the same, Greens," said the colonel, laying down his knife.
"You know, I have always commanded that type of man. In peace times you
find him convicted daily for drunkenness, absence, insolence, and a
hundred other things, yet in war he is always a hero."

"I think, sir, the reason of that is that they are nearer to the brute
creation, and better able to stand the shocks of war."

"Well—yes. Those fancy corps composed of gilded youths haven’t much
stomach for a long campaign. They’re bothered with brains. They think
too much. A man who thinks deeply isn’t much use in the ranks. An
officer can do the thinking, the man must go to the cannon’s mouth
without asking the reason why. It wouldn’t do to have three million
generals in an army."

"Another point, sir, that I have often thought of; that is, how these
men from the slums have always fought Britain’s battles. Up till a few
years ago it could be said that Britain’s battles were won by
aristocrats and paupers."

"I never thought of that, Greens, but it’s quite true, only the word
’pauper’ might be interpreted in a broader sense. What I mean is, that
the very poor—honest poor in many cases—have always been in the ranks.
There are many reasons. First, since the feudal days, it has been their
lot to serve. Traditions have been passed down, even into such a place
as the Gallowgate. And tradition, as you know, is a wonderful
incentive."

"But hasn’t poverty got something to do with it, sir?"

"Yes. Forty per cent enlist for the thrills of the business, another
forty per cent come in because of an empty stomach; the remainder have
probably been inspired to clear from their haunts through an energetic
policeman or an unfortunate affair of the heart. Still, poverty’s no
crime, and a Don Juan is usually a gallant soldier. And, after all,
every one is a volunteer."

"True. And yet I think this class of man will eventually pass out, sir.
Look at the hovels they live in,—the awful lives they’re compelled to
lead. That, in time, will debilitate this class. Worse than that, I’m
afraid that Socialism is rapidly spreading. In fifty years these men
from the backlands of our cities will be anarchists and
revolutionaries."

"You’re wrong, Greens. These men are instinctively conservative; they
will remain conservative to the end. Every Britisher is at heart a Tory.
Look at Blatchford and Lloyd George. They used to wave the red flag, but
now they’re ranting Imperialists—quite on a par with Salisbury or
Kipling. It’s in the blood, my boy. They can’t help it. Mark you,
Greens, I’m not arguing that there is no discontent in the slums. That
is partly the fault of the ruling caste, and partly the result of our
industrial system. We have been much too selfish in the past, and these
great factories are sweating the life-blood out of our city people. I
wish to God we could get them back to the land. The old, old days were
best. Then a man was ’passing rich with forty pounds a year.’"

"I’m afraid, sir, that ’back to the land’ is only a play term—nothing
more."

"In our country—certainly. But we have a solution in our oversea
dominions. Why, I have seen boys from the slums of our country sent to
Canada, New Zealand, and Australia; now they are prosperous farmers. If
we cannot save our men in the ranks from the pauper’s roll, I certainly
think we ought to get at their children. It is our duty. Their blood has
sealed the bonds of Empire. Let us give their children a share of the
Empire’s treasure. If we don’t, Greens, disease, as you say, will kill
these people, and then the vulgar rich will have to work their own mills
and defend their money-bags."

These Colonials in our Division are certainly an excellent advertisement
for the Colonies. If their discipline is weak, their physique and pluck
leave nothing to be desired. It makes one feel awfully proud to see them
doing their bit. And the sight must annoy the Kaiser very much."

"Ah, yes," said the old colonel with a fine gleam in his eyes, "we have
the right to feel proud. These men represent the finest Empire the world
has ever seen. No wonder they fight well. They’ve got something worth
fighting for. Of course, you know the Colonies well."

"Yes, sir. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are fine countries. And I
can understand why these men find discipline irksome. They are pioneers.
Every man has had to cut his way. They have pushed the plough and the
cash-desk over the prairies and on to the hills. They have sustained
civilisation and culture at the point of their rifles. Indians, Maoris,
and aborigines have been overawed by them and gathered into their
keeping. It’s really wonderful what these young nations have done. Do
you know, colonel, I believe our colonial cousins will eventually become
so powerful that no hostile Alliance will be able to tackle us."

"Yes; but, hello, who’s this?" concluded the colonel, as a figure
darkened the doorway of the dug-out. It was the brigade-major.

"Good-morning, Jones—anything on?"

"Good-morning, sir, I’ve got some trouble for you," remarked the major
with a dry smile.

"Oh!"

"The Kaiser’s got another brain storm. He has decided to lunch with the
gay madames of Calais. Our Division is, of course, in the way, and the
Brigade in particular, so there’s going to be some fun."

"When?"

"Soon, sir. Our aeroplanes and agents report a great concentration
behind the enemy’s lines. As we hold them on the most likely line of
advance, you may expect to be in the affair."

"Well, Jones, it’s a case of us making our wills. We hold the key of our
whole line. Their fury will be spent on that."

"Yes, sir; and the brigadier wishes you to hold on at all costs. He will
reinforce you if things go badly. He said that he was glad you were
there."

"Old toughs for a hard road, eh, Jones. Now—any more orders?"

"Only one more, that is, to double your sentries and reinforce your
firing-line trench. If you can make any obstacles or entanglement tricks
in front of your line, the brigadier will be very glad."

"I’ll see to that."

"Thank you, sir, good-morning."

"Good-morning, Jones," and out jumped the brigade-major in continuance
of his task. When he had gone, the colonel sent for his company
commanders. The situation was explained, and all were instructed to
strengthen the line, erect more entanglements, and use every means in
their power to embarrass the enemy’s advance. Nothing, of course, could
be done during the day. The enemy was only three hundred yards distant
from the first line of trenches. But for the next three nights all were
busy. Fifty yards in front of their trenches deep pits were dug. The
earth was removed, and over the deep gaps thin sticks were laid or
wedged into the sides. Green sods, which had been carefully cut, were
neatly laid across the sticks, so as to disguise the pits and resemble
the general lay of the ground. Behind these death-traps low barbed wire
entanglements were fixed. Some loose brushwood and other green stuff
aided in the disguise of these lures. Finally, the higher entanglements
were strengthened in such a way as to make the complete scheme a
death-making obstacle of no mean order. Many of the trenches were also
screened by a few dummy earthworks to draw the enemy’s fire, and thus
minimise the casualty roll. Every man was given 250 rounds, all rifles
thoroughly cleaned, bayonets grimly sharpened to a razor-like standard,
and sentries doubled. These preparations were continued all along the
line. Behind, in the reserve area, reinforcements were prepared at a
central point to enable the G.O.C. to throw them forward where required.

These arrangements, of course, were an indication to the rank and file
that something was on. That was all they knew, for in this war the
Allies had learned the need of secrecy and the folly of allowing war
correspondents to publish the orders of the day. This system is wise,
though annoying to the soldier and civilian with an inquiring turn of
mind. It makes the soldier feel like a chessman on a board—a mere atom
to be moved forward to death, or back into cover at the will of the
master-hand. It is the German system, and a splendid one, for published
orders and war correspondents are the curse of an army. South Africa
proved that. Intelligence agents of the Boers used to cable back the
illuminating paragraphs which had been sent by "Our Special
Correspondent." The new system naturally upsets the podgy club critics,
who like to direct the affairs of Britain from behind the cover of
roast-beef and whisky. "K," however, is a master-hand in dealing with
this type. He knows his job, and he has the will to overrule the clubman
and the crowing cocks at our parish pumps. But we must get on with the
killing business.

Meantime the Germans had not been idle. With that vigour and
thoroughness so characteristic of the nation, they prepared for "The
Day"—another of the _THE’S_, of course. Victory was certain, for the
Kaiser had invoked the aid of his God. In a general proclamation
sprinkled with oaths, imbecile pleas, and biblical embellishments, he
called on his generals and army to charge for the Fatherland. He would
be with them—miles to the rear, of course—and he would stand waiting
with thousands of iron crosses to plaster round his soldiers’ chests.
God was to be on the side of his big battalions.

The plan on this occasion was the old one—dense masses of men. Line
after line of conscripts to be thrown to death and destruction. But the
preliminary bombardment was a thing which they also relied on. This
commenced at the dawn of a cold and drizzling day. The boom of the first
shell roused "Sunny Jim" and the Staff of the Mixed Division. A tinkle
of a telephone bell stirred the British gunners to action. Observers
cunningly concealed in some haystacks in the forward part of the line
immediately ’phoned back the range of the German batteries. The crash of
our shells ’midst the guns of the enemy was a fitting reply. The range
was accurate and the toll a deadly one. However, these German gunners
have a wonderful pluck and persistency. Their observers saw many guns,
new trenches, and here and there fields dotted with turbans, caps, and
badly concealed guns in the Allied lines. Eagerly they worked out their
range tables, and crash went their guns again. One great line of
trenches with Indian turbans and Tommies’ caps peeping over was
bombarded with three hundred powerful shells. The parapets were wrecked,
trenches burst, and great craters made in the surrounding fields. Deadly
gunnery and deadly havoc. No wonder Krupp’s hirelings gained the iron
cross. The exposed guns were crushed to smithereens, and the gunners
near knocked down like dollies in a fair. This made the German observers
glad. To them the battle promised well. But one of the German observers,
stationed in an old windmill, received sudden marching orders through
the agency of a powerful British shell.

"Sunny Jim" was pleased to allow the "hits" of the German batteries. His
unorthodox methods had proved supreme. With his wonderful cunning he had
prepared those long and exposed lines of dummy trenches, dotted with
turbans and caps. The "guns" which they had smashed were simply trees
resting on the wheels of old farm carts. The "gunners" killed had been
made out of old khaki suits filled with straw. True, the Germans had
registered some good hits on the real trenches and live men, while here
and there a gun had been knocked out of action. Yet the stagecraft of
this clever G.O.C. had lessened the casualty roll and drawn the enemy’s
fire away from the hives of our warriors. Britons are not so stupid as
they seem. As for our guns, they were a match for Krupp’s newest and
latest. The Mixed Division was armed with weapons of a powerful range
and a deadly type. There was no useless aiming or extravagant shooting.
Almost every shell burst near a breech block and mangled its defenders.
For six hours they pumped death and destruction into the gun-pits,
trenches, and masses of grey-coated Germans waiting for the assault.
This was very annoying to Kaiser Bill, sitting in his three-ply
armour-plated travelling booth. But it did not alter his decision.
"Forward" was his order after the bombardment. As he himself was excused
the honour of advancing, he made certain of the fulfilment of his
commands.

There was an air of death and stillness in those British lines towards
which the deep ranks of the Germans marched. The gunners must have done
well. A spirit of victory filled them: more eagerly they marched to
Calais—the Kaiser’s dream. But the reckoning was to come. Deep in their
burrows lay thousands of expectant British warriors. Every magazine was
charged, and every sentry coolly watching the stern advance of the
German host. Nearer, still nearer they came. At last they reached the
deadly zone—300 yards.

"Rapid fire," roared Colonel Corkleg, and every other commander in that
great, long line. The crash was terrific, the surprise amazing, and the
shrieks of death and pain alarming. The great line paused in terror, but
only for a moment. On they came again, the living jumping over the dead.
Do not call them cowards. They can fight and die. They faced their
punishment nobly. Maxims and rifles poured death into line after line;
still on they came. With a devilish delight the Glesca Mileeshy watched
their advance.

"They’re near Bannockburn noo," said Spud to his pals as the enemy ran
towards the pits.

"They’re in! They’re in!" he yelled as the first line tumbled down into
the death-traps. Hundreds floundered to an awful end in front of the
British lines. The cries of the struggling mass were even heard above
the din of shooting. The next line paused in horror, and many tried to
run, but the officers’ swords and revolvers drove on the men in rear and
shoved still more into the chambers of horror. At last they were filled,
and over the mangled and moaning men the others charged to the trenches.

"Rapid fire!" ordered Spud, and every other section commander all along
the line. The response was startling. Worse, something caught the feet
of the first line. It was the low entanglements. The running men were
thrown forward on to the jagging stakes and piercing wire. Again the
advance was stemmed, and again the British maxims and rifles exacted a
frightful toll. To the sensitive soul such a sight is awful and
sickening. Brutality is triumphant, and war shown in all its hellish
aspects. There is little culture in the business. It is simply the awful
expression of Hate. Nevertheless, such men as the Glesca Mileeshy viewed
almost calmly the scene. They even joked and laughed as they sent their
bullets into the reeling masses of men.

"They’re comin’ again—Rapid fire," commanded Spud to his men once more.
The weight of numbers had pushed the living over the maimed. They
clambered across their bodies towards the high entanglements. A crisis
was near, and every man in the Glesca Mileeshy fixed his bayonet, then
opened fire again. Dead men paved the way to the higher entanglements.

Click! Click! Click! went the enemy’s wire-cutters all along the line.
Some even tore themselves over or through the barbed wire. They had
reached their goal.

"Gae them H——, boys," roared Spud above the din. There was no need to
command. Out of the trenches leaped the front line of the Glesca
Mileeshy. The slaughter was fierce. Blood spurted everywhere. Germans
and British struggled like Dervishes for the mastery. Screams were mixed
with curses, moans drowned in the awful din. Germans hate our British
bayonets; in fact they loathe cold steel at any time. Seldom will they
face such music, but this attack had been driven on. To turn meant death
from the bayonets behind; even if they had escaped from the crush a
German officer’s revolver would have quickly ended their flight. Brave
as they are, when equal in numbers against our arms the British assert
their superiority with natural ease. The Glesca Mileeshy, like their
co-partners, had centuries of tradition behind them. Germans, after all,
are young at the game of war.

Colonel Corkleg viewed the awful struggle from the supporting trenches.
The condition of affairs was uninspiring. He saw more and more grey
masses of the enemy surging forward to swell the attacking line.

"Good God!" he exclaimed, as two great columns burst through on the
right and left of his line. He also noticed that the regiments on his
flanks were retiring. Was it panic? Were they complying with previous
orders? He did not know. All he knew was that his regiment had been told
to hold on at all costs. He would do so, for, like a true soldier, he
had a firm sense of duty and a belief in his general. As it was useless
to waste more men in his front line, he signalled to them to retire
through the communication trench.

"Retire, man by man," ordered Lieutenant Greens, waiting with Spud to
see all the men through. Perhaps the action of the officer and sergeant
was unnecessarily cautious and daring; yet it is typical of the British
officer and N.C.O. Quickly the men jumped down into the communication
trench and ran on to the supports. Nearly all had gone, when Spud was
alarmed to hear some one say—

"Sergint—Spud—for the love of God, don’t lave me—I’m done in, bhoy."
Spud turned from his act of bayoneting a German to see poor Muldoon
lying half mangled across the parapet.

"Get hold of him, sergeant—I’ll keep the devils off," roared Greens,
smiting the attackers with the butt-end of a rifle. Spud jumped forward
and grabbed the heavy form of his faithful chum. He staggered with the
weight, but, with a superhuman effort, half carried and dragged the
wounded man along the deep communicating trench. Colonel Corkleg and his
men had seen it all. They even stopped for a second to cheer. As Spud
dropped his load he turned to look for his officer. He saw him
surrounded by half a dozen wild Bavarians.

"Come on, three o’ ye," he shouted to the nearest men. They clattered
down the trench behind his nimble form. Into the surging mob they
dashed, gashing and hacking as they went. Poor old Greens had fallen. He
seemed almost dead as Spud jumped and pulled him out from beneath the
attackers’ feet.

"Haud them for a meenit," roared Spud, "and I’ll get him back."

"Richt ye are," was the willing response of the three stalwarts. Nobly
they tackled their men, but, alas! two were killed in the _mêlée_; the
third man had to flee with a terrible bayonet wound in his chest. Spud
pulled the lieutenant under cover of the supporting trench, and then
handed him and the other wounded men over to the stretcher-bearers.

"Things look bad," mused Colonel Corkleg, viewing the surging horde of
yelling Bavarians, who were now advancing again. He knew he was in a
tight hole; he was also aware that the eyes of his men were on him. That
is the Tommie’s way. In danger he looks to his officer. If the officer
is still the same cool gentleman who has kindly but firmly guided him in
the other affairs of peace and war—all’s well. But—if there is a sense
of despair, a touch of pallor, a command given out in a nervous way,
then that wonderful confidence which wins all battles dies out in a
flash. Corkleg knew the working of the soldier’s mind. This was an
occasion to preserve to the last the air of ease and the sense of hope.
Between puffs of a cigarette he calmly issued his orders, directed the
fire, and occasionally cursed a slacker who fiddled with his bolt.

"Thank Heaven for our Maxims," he remarked to the adjutant, as he
watched Cocky Dan and his gunners sending death and disorder into the
German ranks. Then jumping over the dead bodies of some of his gallant
men, he entered a little dug-out where the telephone was. Turning the
handle, he waited. A faint tinkle quickly echoed through the din.

"Hello—is that the brigadier?"

"Yes."

"We’re in a tight fix here, sir. We’ve lost the first line of trenches.
The regiments on my right and left have gone. It looks as if we’re going
to be scuppered."

"Hold on, for God’s sake, colonel. Yours is the key of the whole line.
They must not get it. We’ll reinforce you soon. Good-bye."

"I hope to God you will," he muttered, dropping the ’phone. He was not
afraid of slaughter, but he was certainly afraid of the enemy capturing
this, the pivot of the defence. The colonel, of course, was not aware of
the higher policy which had placed him there, for even commanding
officers are seldom informed of the inner secrets of attack and defence.
In this case the G.O.C. knew the strength of the enemy and fully
estimated the deadly weight of their numbers. Brave as his men were, it
was impossible for them to repel this great attack in its early stages.
Nor would it have been wise to do so. He knew the enemy could break the
line. It was, therefore, essential to work out his defence in such a way
that he might avoid needless casualties, gain time, inflict a frightful
slaughter, and then drive home the counter-attack—the soundest maxim of
war. The point held by the Glesca Mileesha, however, could not even be
temporarily surrendered. It was on a knoll commanding the flat country
round. If captured by the enemy it would have been an easy matter for
them to gallop forward their light field batteries under cover of this
hill, and then render to the attacking German infantry a weighty
co-operation which would have been fatal to the British general’s plan.
That was why this regiment was there, and the presence of this regiment
gave their general the assurance that they would hold out while he
attempted a venture thrust upon him by the will and numbers of the
enemy. Colonel Corkleg, of course, may have divined this thought of the
G.O.C., but he had not been informed of the fact. He had been given a
definite order—"To hold out till the last," and in the British Army
orders are always obeyed. The orders to the colonels of the regiments on
his immediate right and left were to promptly retire when the enemy
reached the first line of their trenches. On arriving at two little
knolls covering the ground which they had surrendered, they were
instructed to immediately reform behind them. There they would find
sixteen Maxim guns and fresh troops to aid them. That was all they knew.
But behind a great earthwork screen, some five hundred yards to the rear
of this second line, the Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and
Gurkhas lay under cover, ready, if need be, to repulse a serious
reverse, but really destined to carry out the counter-assault.

Now, imagine the scene. The Glesca Mileeshy fighting like Trojans
against the helmeted hordes who tried to envelop and crush them. Their
trenches were filled with blood, and hundreds lay maimed and dead. Round
their flanks swept rank after rank of the Germans, in vigorous pursuit
of the little sections of retiring regiments who fired a few rounds,
then ran on to the next bit of cover, where they repeated the same
performance with a coolness truly wonderful and inspiring. Their volleys
were deadly enough, but feeble against such a mighty deluge of men.
Still, they lured them on, then finally disappeared behind the flanks of
their second line of defence. Meantime, the German reserves had arrived.
Inspired by the success of their first lines, they pressed bravely
forward to finish their job, leaving the Glesca Mileeshy almost
encircled by their friends.

Z-r-r-p—Z-r-r-p—Z-r-r-p spat the machine-gun batteries behind the little
knolls. This was accompanied by a terrific explosion of land mines,
which burst beneath the feet of the enemy, as well as the rapid fire of
the infantry and the crashing bombs from five aeroplanes above. Hundreds
were blown lifeless and mutilated into the air, hundreds more were
riddled with the traversing fire of the Maxim guns, while many were
caught with the well-aimed musketry of the eager Tommies. The great host
reeled with the blow. Death and fumes, the smoke and noise, stupefied
them all. They were like lost sheep in a wilderness. Indeed, the enemy
had reached that mental state when a counter-attack will always win.

"Double forward the reserves, and, when ready, charge," was the order
flashed from the G.O.C. of the Mixed Division. Out of the earth rose the
Indians and Colonials—brothers in arms. Their advance was covered by the
men and Maxims on the knolls in front of them. Gleefully they
ran—Indians mixed with Canadians, New Zealanders, and Australians. They
reached the second line of defence and lay down for a breath.

"Fix bayonets—prepare to charge," was the next order flashed along the
line. The clicking of the steel rings on the bayonet standards was a
cheerful sound to all.

"Charge!" A wild hurrah was heard from seven thousand men. Seven
thousand bayonets gleamed in the now sparkling sun. And down like an
avalanche swept the sons of Empire. Words can never depict a charge. It
is wild, almost insane, yet glorious. There is a thrill of pride in the
veins that kills all fear and makes even the fattest and laziest envious
of the fleet-footed subalterns, who always lead the way. And this was an
Imperial charge—a charge of willing volunteers, who loved the
Motherland.

The stupefied Germans were horror-struck. Seven thousand fresh and lusty
warriors struck terror into their hearts. And those bayonets! Well, who
wouldn’t run! They fled like hares on a frosty morning, pursued by the
yelling and stabbing multitude. The slow-footed fell in hundreds. But on
pressed the Mixed Division. Over their original line they charged to a
great and glorious victory. The counter-attack had won the day.

Just as the battle ended, "Sunny Jim" dashed up in his motor-car. News
of the victory had cheered him, but he was anxious to learn the fate of
the Glesca Mileeshy. As the car neared Colonel Corkleg’s position, he
was received with a cheer from a hundred men.

"Good God, colonel—is that all that’s left to you?" said the general
quietly, looking on the living, then at the piled-up dead.

"Yes, sir," said Corkleg, with a catch in his voice, as he tried to
salute. The strain and an awful bayonet wound in the shoulder had
drained much of his blood. He collapsed at the general’s feet.

"Never mind me, doctor," he whispered in a weak voice to the surgeon who
had jumped to his side. "Look after Sergeant Tamson."

"Who, sir?"

"The man who saved me," said the colonel, trying to point to the
prostrate form of Spud, who lay almost lifeless on the top of some dead
Germans. Then closing his eyes he swooned away, muttering, "Useful
man—useful man."

Spud Tamson was found living, yet seriously wounded. He had been
bayoneted in the chest while gallantly rescuing his colonel from a band
of lusty Bavarians.

"Save him if you can, for he has earned the V.C.," said the adjutant to
the doctor as Spud was lifted into the motor ambulance.

"Oh, he’ll live all right," was the cheerful reply as the motor started
on its way. And live he did. The whole Empire cried "Well done," and all
the world wondered at this hero from the slums.



A CONVENTIONAL FINISH.
EXTRACT FROM THE PRESS.


_Marriages_.—At the residence of Colonel Corkleg, C.B., by the Rev.
Father Murphy, Sergeant Spud Tamson, V.C., The Glesca Mileeshy, to Mary
Ann M’Ginnes, daughter of Patrick M’Ginnes, The Gallowgate, Glasgow.

                                THE END.
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