Action Front eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 245 pages of information about Action Front.
stations and on bus-tops with incongruous rifles on Saturday afternoons.  Actually, it is not correct to include these living figures in his vague idea of war.  They had to him no connection with anything outside normal peaceful life, stirred his thoughts to war no more than seeing a gasbracket would wake him to imaginings of a coalmine or a pit explosion.  His slight conceptions of war, then, were a mere matter of print and books and pictures, and the first months of this present war were exactly the same, no more and no less—­newspaper paragraphs and photos and drawings in the weeklies hanging on the bookstalls.  He read about the Retreat and the Advance, skimmed the prophets’ forecasts, gulped the communiques with interest a good deal fainter than he read the accounts of the football matches or a boxing bout.  He expected “our side” to win of course, and was quite patriotic; was in fact a “supporter” of the British Army in exactly the sense of being a “supporter” or “follower” of Tottenham Hotspurs or Kent County.  Any thoughts that he might shoulder a rifle and fight Germans would at that time, if it had entered his head, have seemed just as ridiculous as a thought that he should play in the Final at the Crystal Palace or step into the ring to fight Carpentier.  It took a long time to move him from this attitude of aloofness.  Recruiting posters failed utterly to touch him.  He looked at them, criticized them, even discussed their “goodness” or drawing power on recruits with complete detachment and without the vaguest idea that they were addressed to him.  He bought Allies’ flag-buttons, and subscribed with his fellow-employees to a Red Cross Fund, and joined them again in sending some sixpences to a newspaper Smokes Gift Fund; he always most scrupulously stood up and uncovered to “God Save the King,” and clapped and encored vociferously any patriotic songs or sentiments from the stage.  He thought he was doing his full duty as a loyal Briton, and even—­this was when he promised a regular sixpence a week to the Smokes Fund—­going perhaps a little beyond it.  First hints and suggestions that he should enlist he treated as an excellent jest, and when at last they became too frequent and pointed for that, and began to come from complete strangers, he became justly indignant at such “impudence” and “interference,” and began long explainings to people he knew, that he wasn’t the one to be bullied into anything, that fighting wasn’t “his line,” that he “had no liking for soldiering,” that he would have gone like a shot, but had his own good and adequate reasons for not doing so.

There is no need to tell of the stages by which he arrived at the conclusion that he must enlist:  from the first dawning wonder at such a possibility, through qualms of doubt and fear and spasms of hope and—­almost—­courage, to a dull apathy of resignation.  No need to tell either the particular circumstances that “conscripted” him at last, because although his name is not real

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Action Front from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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