But now that the German gunners knew the British line had advanced and held the captured trench, they pelted it, the open ground behind it, and the trench that had been the British front line, with a storm of shell-fire. The rifle-fire was hotter, too, and the rallied defense was pouring in whistling stream of bullets. But the captured trench, which it will be remembered was a recaptured British one, ran back and joined up with the British lines. It was possible therefore to bring up plenty of ammunition, sandbags, and reinforcements, and by now the defense had been sufficiently made good to have every prospect of resisting any counter-attack and of withstanding the bombardment to which it was being subjected. But the heavy fire drove the stretcher-bearers off the open ground, while there still remained some dead and wounded to be brought in.
Everton had missed Halliday, and his anxious inquiries failed to find him or any word of him, until at last one man said he believed Halliday had been dropped in the rush on the first trench. Everton stood up and peered back over the ground behind them. Thirty yards away he saw a man lying prone and busily at work with his trenching-tool, endeavoring to build up a scanty cover. Everton shouted at the pitch of his voice, “Halliday!” The digging figure paused, lifted the trenching-tool and waved it, and then fell to work again. Everton pressed along the crowded trench to the sergeant.
“Sergeant,” he said breathlessly, “Halliday’s lying out there wounded, he’s a good pal o’ mine and I’d like to fetch him in.”
The Sergeant was rather doubtful. He made Everton point out the digging figure, and was calculating the distance from the nearest point of the trench, and the bullets that drummed between.
“It’s almost a cert you get hit,” he said, “even if you crawl out. He’s got a bit of cover and he’s making more, fast. I think—”
A voice behind interrupted, and Everton and the Sergeant turned to find the Captain looking up at them.
“What’s this?” he repeated, and the Sergeant explained the position.
“Go ahead!” said the Captain. “Get him in if you can, and good luck to you.”
Everton wanted no more. Two minutes later he was out of the trench and racing back across the open.
“Come on, Halliday,” he said. “I’ll give you a hoist in. Where are you hit?”
“Leg and arm,” said Halliday briefly; and then, rather ungraciously, “You’re a fool to be out here; but I suppose now you’re here, you might as well give me a hand in.”
But he spoke differently after Everton had given him a hand, had lifted him and carried him, and so brought him back to the trench and lowered him into waiting hands. His wounds were bandaged and, before he was carried off, he spoke to Everton.
“Good-by, Toffee,” he said and held out his left hand, “I owe you a heap. And look here—–” He hesitated a moment and then spoke in tones so low that Everton had to bend over the stretcher to hear him. “My leg’s smashed bad, and I’m done for the Front and the old Hotwaters. I wouldn’t like it to get about—I don’t want the others to think—to know about me feeling—well, like I told you back there before the charge.”