It was here that the episode ended so far as Macalister was concerned, and his relations with the German officer thereafter were of the purely official nature of a prisoner’s guard. There were some other indignities, but in these Macalister had no hand. They were probably due to the circulation of the tale Macalister had told and demonstrated, and were altogether above and beyond anything that usually happens to a German prisoner. They need not be detailed, but apparently the most serious of them was the removal of a portion of the black mud which masked the German’s face, so as to leave a diamond-shaped patch, of staring cleanness over one eye, after the style of a music-hall star known to fame as the White-eyed Kaffir; the ripping of a small portion of that garment which permitted of the extraction of a dangling shirt into a ridiculous wagging tail about a foot and a half long, and a pressing invitation, accompanied by a hint from the bayonet point, to give an exposition of the goose-step at the head of the other prisoners whenever they and their escort were passing a sufficient number of troops to form a properly appreciative audience. Probably a Cockney-born Highlander was responsible for these pleasantries, as he certainly was for the explanation he gave to curious inquirers.
“He’s mad,” he explained. “Mad as a coot; thinks he’s the devil, and insists on wagging his little tail. I have to keep him marching with his hands up this way, because he might try to grab my rifle. Now, it’s no use you gritting your teeth and mumbling German swear words, cherrybim. Keep your ’ands well up, and proceed with the goose-step.”
But with all this Macalister had nothing to do. When he had returned as nearly as he could the exact sufferings he had endured, he was quite satisfied to let the matter drop. “I suppose,” he said reflectively, when the officer had gone, after giving him orders to see the prisoner back, “as that finishes this play, we’ll just need to treat ma lad here like an ordinary preesoner. Has ony o’ ye got a wee bit biscuit an’ bully beef an’ a mouthful o’ water t’ gie the puir shiverin’ crater!”
A BENEVOLENT NEUTRAL
" ... the enemy temporarily gained a footing in a portion of our trench, but in our counter-attack we retook this and a part of enemy trench beyond.”—Extract from official despatch.
A wet night, a greasy road, and a side-slipping motor-bike provided the means of an introduction between Second Lieutenant Courtenay of the 1st Footsloggers and Sergeant Willard K. Rawbon of the Mechanical Transport branch of the A.S.C. The Mechanical Transport as a rule extend a bland contempt to motor-cycles running on the road, ignoring all their frantic toots of entreaty for room to pass, and leaving them to scrape as best they may along the narrow margin between a deep and muddy ditch and the undeviating wheels of a Juggernaut Mechanical Transport lorry. But a broken-down motor-cycle meets with a very different reception. It invariably excites some feeling compounded apparently of compassion and professional interest to the cycle, and an unlimited hospitality to the stranded cyclist.