Macgregor tried and let out a little yelp.
‘Na, ye canna. Ye’ll jist ha’e to get on ma back.’
‘Wullie, gang yersel’——’
‘Obey yer corporal!’
‘Ye’re no a corp——’
‘If they dinna mak’ me a corporal for this, I’ll quit the service! Onyway, I’m no gaun wi’oot ye. Same time, I canna guarantee no to tak’ ye to the German lines. But we maun risk that. Ye’ll ha’e to leave yer rifle, but keep on the dish-cover till I gi’e ye the word. . . . Noo then! Nae hurry. I’ll ha’e to creep the first part o’ the journey. Are ye ready? Weel, here’s luck to the twa o’ us!’
There is no authentic description of that horrible
Willie’s, which is unprintable.
It was performed literally by inches. More than once Willie collapsed, groaning, under his burden. Macgregor, racked as he was, shed tears for his friend’s sake. Time had no significance except as a measure of suspense and torture. But Willie held on, directed by some instinct, it seemed, over that awful shell-fragment-studded mire, round the verges of shell-formed craters, past dead and wounded waiting for succour—on, on, till the very guns seemed to have grown weary, and the rain ceased, and the air grew chillier as with dread of what the dawn should disclose, and the blackness was diluted to grey.
‘Drap the —— dish-cover,’ croaked Willie, and halted for a minute’s rest.
Then on again. But at long last Willie muttered: ’I think it’s oor trench. If I’m wrang, fareweel to Argyle Street! I’ll ha’e to risk gi’ein’ them a hail in case some silly blighter lets fly in this rotten licht. Slip doon, Mac—nae hurry—nae use hurtin’ yersel’ for naething. I’ll maybe ha’e to hurt ye in a meenute. . . . N’ for it!’ He lifted up his voice. ’Hullo, Glesca Hielanders!’
It seemed an age until—
‘Right oh!’ came a cheerful response.
‘Hurray!’ yelled Willie, and rose stiffly to his feet.
Then with a final effort, he gave Macgregor the ‘fireman’s lift,’ and staggered and stumbled, amid shots from the other side, into safety.
NO HERO, YET HAPPY
Christina was arranging the counter for the day’s business when the postman brought her a letter in a green envelope with the imprint ‘On Active Service’. Her heart leapt only to falter as her eyes took in the unfamiliar writing. Then under the ‘Certificate’ on the left-hand side she perceived the signature—’W. Thomson.’ Something dreadful must have happened! She sat down and gazed at the envelope, fingering it stupidly. At last she pulled herself together and opened it. The letter was dirty, ill-written, badly spelt; but so are many of the finest-spirited letters of these days.