Saint's Progress eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 367 pages of information about Saint's Progress.
where he had seen it; he called out:  “Now, boys!” His head was over the top, his body over; he was conscious of someone falling, and two men neck and neck beside him.  Not to try and run, not to break out of a walk; to go steady, and yet keep ahead!  D—­n these holes!  A bullet tore through his sleeve, grazing his arm—­a red-hot sensation, like the touch of an iron.  A British shell from close over his head burst sixty yards ahead; he stumbled, fell flat, picked himself up.  Three ahead of him now!  He walked faster, and drew alongside.  Two of them fell.  ‘What luck!’ he thought; and gripping his rifle harder, pitched headlong into a declivity.  Dead bodies lay there!  The first German trench line, and nothing alive in it, nothing to clean up, nothing of it left!  He stopped, getting his wind; watching the men panting and stumbling in.  The roar of the guns was louder than ever again, barraging the second line.  So far, good!  And here was his captain!

“Ready, boys?  On, then!”

This time he moved more slowly still, over terrible going, all holes and hummocks.  Half consciously he took cover all he could.  The air was alive with the whistle from machine-gun fire storming across zigzag fashion-alive it was with bullets, dust, and smoke.  ’How shall I tell her?’ he thought.  There would be nothing to tell but just a sort of jagged brown sensation.  He kept his eyes steadily before him, not wanting to seethe men falling, not wanting anything to divert him from getting there.  He felt the faint fanning of the passing bullets.  The second line must be close now.  Why didn’t that barrage lift?  Was this new dodge of firing till the last second going to do them in?  Another hundred yards and he would be bang into it.  He flung himself flat and waited; looking at his wrist-watch he noted that his arm was soaked with blood.  He thought:  ’A wound!  Now I shall go home.  Thank God!  Oh, Noel!’ The passing bullets whirled above him; he could hear them even through the screech and thunder of the shell-fire.  ‘The beastly things!’ he thought:  A voice beside him gasped out: 

“It’s lifted, sir.”

He called:  “Come on, boys!” and went forward, stooping.  A bullet struck his rifle.  The shock made him stagger and sent an electric shock spinning up his arm.  ‘Luck again!’ he thought.  ’Now for it!  I haven’t seen a German yet!’ He leaped forward, spun round, flung up his arms, and fell on his back, shot through and through....

The position was consolidated, as they say, and in the darkness stretcher-bearers were out over the half-mile.  Like will-o’-the-wisps, with their shaded lanterns, they moved, hour after hour, slowly quartering the black honeycomb which lay behind the new British line.  Now and then in the light of some star-shell their figures were disclosed, bending and raising the forms of the wounded, or wielding pick and shovel.


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Saint's Progress from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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