The Man Who Scoffed
Who wrote "The Mad Hatter," "The Traditions of the Honorable Algernon," etc.
Arthur Beverly Baxter
DENNIS MONTAGUE emerged from his bath, glowing and ta1kative. A luxurious deep blue dressing gown was wrapped about his form, the color in it accentuating the grey-blue of his eyes and his light brown hair. His valet stood beside his bed, on which reposed a complete and expensive set of garments suitable for a gentleman bent on spending the evening out.
“Ah, Sylvester, that’s right. We poor devils of men must look as well as the abominable fashions will permit. What is the time?”
“Gone past seven, sir.”
“Dear me—I shall be late. I am always late, Sylvester. It partly accounts for my extraordinary popularity—a hostess is so relieved to see me by the time I turn up at her dinner party that, for years afterwards, she always associates my face with pleasant sensations. Any mail, Sylvester?”
His servant crossed to the table on wmch there reposed a half dozen letters. N MThese came in this afternoon, sir.” “Read them to me while I dress.” “READ them, Mr. Montague?” The valet’9 face was a study in respectful expostulation.
“Is the idea so preposterous, my dear fellow? I believe that most people write letters with the idea of having them read.”
The decorous Sylvester sighed and broke the seal of the first letter.
“ ‘I would beg to remind you,’ ” he read, “ ‘that your account—’ ” a Montague made a deprecatory gesture. “How polite these tradesmen are,” he said. “I shall expect one, 9ome day, to enclose forget-me-nots. The next letter?” Sylvester solemnly opened a diminutive envelope.
“ ‘Mrs. W. De-Ponsy Harris requests the pleasure—’ ”
“Another request! What is it—a tea or dance?”
“A dinner, sir.”
“Good—I shall go. Mrs. Harris is the worst hostess in the city, but she keeps the best cook. Proceed,”
'T' HE worthy Sylvfeçter took from the table a delicately scented letter that breathed its delightful suggestion of romance to his grateful nostrils, whereupon he promptly blushed a deep unlovely tomato-like red.
“It starts,” 9aid he, “ ‘My Dearest Love—’ ”
His master glanced at him.
“Don’t blush,” he said. “The grand passion is nothing to be ashamed of.” He carefully adjusted his tie. “What is the young lady’s name?”
“Ah, yes, poor little Myrtle. What a pity a woman clings to a romance when it is dead. There is something morbid in women that makes them do it. It is like embracing a corpse.”
“Shall I read it, sir?”
“No—no—don’t bother. I know what’s in it. On the third page she declares that she hates me, and on the fifth page she denies it. Myrtle runs so deucedly to form.”
A look of relief crossed the rotund countenance of Mr. Sylvester as he took up the last letter.
“It’s from a society for educating the poor, sir.”
“Tear it up. What we need is a society for educating the rich.”
Completely dressed, he turned about and struck an attitude.
“It is my intention some day," he said, with grandiloquent airiness, “ to found a ‘Conservatoire Universale,’ where philanthropists. will be taught charity, ministers of the gospel w’ill gain humility, musicians will learn to feel and newspaper writers will take up the elements of language. Heavens! Such a scope as I would have! Stick your head out the window and see if a taxi is waiting."
Sylvester raised the window and surveyed the street below’.
“It’s there, sir,” he said, drawing his head in.
“Then I shall leave you. Mrs. LeRoy is giving a dinner party this evening, and she invariably has guests who listen charmingly. Good night, Sylvester.”
“Good night, sir.”
When he was gone, William Sylvester scratched his thinly covered head. He then shrugged his shoulders and followed these actions by pouring out a glass of sherry. He took a sip.
“ ’Eavens!” he said aloud, “ ’ow *e do talk.”
x F) ENNIS MONTAGUE was twentyeight years of age, and had an income which made consistent toil unnecessary. To be true, he wrote for one or two magazines and dabbled with law in a desultory manner, having been called to the bar some four years previous. But he remained an utter stranger to work, and loved luxury with the sensuous delight of an Eastern houri. The present was delightful and the future was simply the present carried on. When, on this particular evening, however, his taxi stopped at the home of Mrs. LeRoy, it left him at the place where his whole life was to be ' altered in a single evening.
After his usual apologies for tardiness, he led Mrs. LeRoy in to dinner and in five minutes his wit and repartee were dominating the entire party. Whether or not his brain was gold, Montague always glittered, and people love things that glitter.
After dinner they danced. Mrs. LeRoy was not a gifted hostess, but she acted on the principle that food, wine and music— providing the food and wine were high class and the music was not—would make any evening a success. Few of her guests disagreed with her—their feet and tongues were light and they danced and talked
without self-consciousness or mental effort.
It was nearly twelve o’clock when Dennis Montague led Vera Dalton into a moonlit recess of the conservatory.
“What a night,” he said, a9 they stood together surveying the silver glints of the moonlight upon the lawn outside. The girl was silent,.but a lifting cloud caused a ray of light to mingle with her hair. Montague turned towards her, his eyes brilliant and his face flushed.
He took her hands in his and drew her towards him.
“Don’t,” she said, quietly.
“Women always say ‘don’t’,’’ he replied. “I súpose they like to have a preliminary tête-a-tête with their conscience before they commit an indiscretion.”
“But I mean it, Dennis.”
“All women mean it, Vera.”
“Please let go of my hands.”
“If you pay the price.”
“And you call yourself a gentlemandon’t you?”
“I have a valet and three addresses.” The girl bit her lip and then looked uuickly up as though she would read into his very soul.
“Why,” she said, hesitatingly. “Why do you want to kiss me?”
“The eternal question, my dear. It has trapped more men into proposals than all the wiles of a generation of fond mothers.”
“But you don’t love me,” she said, .^earchingly, questioningly, utterly ignoring his flippant sarcasm.
“On süch a night as this.” he answered, “who could help but love you?”
The girl tried to free herself, but hi> grip held her. *
“Dennis—I mean it:—I shall call for help.”
“I did not want to come here, Dennis,” she said slowly, hesitatingly. “I fought against it. I—I.had to come.”
A light of conquest leaped into hi.eyes. This was a charming surrender. He drew her to him with a swift encircling movement of his arms.
“I have admitted, Dennis Montague,” she said, breathlessly, “that I came here because you fascinated me. It’s true, you have always fascinated me—but I tell you that down in my heart I loathe you, detect you. for the coward that you are.”
ONT AGUE drew back as though fired upon by a masked battery. * “In all the years I’ve known you,” she went on, furiously, as though fearing that her courage would leave her before the finish, “you have done nothing that was not selfish, mean and cowardly— above everything else, cowardly. Look at
the girls you have known-” Montague
interrupted her with a furious gesture, but she went on—“more than a dozen I could name have given you the depth and sw’eetness of their first love, inspired by
you, called forth by you. Do you realize what a woman's heart is and what she gives with it? And you— you are too cowardly to .face marriage, too cowardly to love with your own heart — too selfish to leave women’s hearts alone."
Montague took a cigarette case from his pocket.
“May I smoke?" he said, coolly.
“You are a coward about your profession as well," she hurried on, ignoring his interruption. “Your mother, I know, had great dreams for you. She planned/worked, sacrificed for you. Yet you* are too much of a coward to face competition with what you choose to call ‘the little legal minds of the city.’ ’’
“And thirdly?" he said, lighting a cigarette.
“Yes, thirdly," she said desperately, although his easy nonchalance was fast undermining her courage. “You are not in the army: Yet no
one could say that Dennis Montague is not fit. I can only presume like every one else, that you are afraid.’’
“And lastly?” He was still calm, although keener eyes than hers would have noticed a dark ominous flush under his eyes.
“And lastly,” she said, unconsciously repeating his formula, “you ’ scoff at everything that is good and pure, sneering at religion and drawing yourself aside from your fellow creatures ás though they were loathsome. Yet I say to you, Dennis, that there is not a man in the slums whose soul isn’t far, far richer than yours.
It is only a coward, afraid to face the real things, who scoffs at life.”
XX^ EAK from the effort she had Yv made her voice trembled into silence and a cold sweat broke out on her brow and the palms of her hands. “Will you smoke, Vera?”
“No, thanks," she answered faintly.
“Do-—it would soothe you."
"No, I thank you.” She repressed a sudden desire to fly from the conservatory. She had become suddenly afraid of the cool, smiling figure before her.
“As far as girls are concerned^ he said quietly, replacing the cigarette casé in his pocket, “just as long as they qngle for us with every artifice of dress and rouge and coquetry—so long will they catch us and the consequences. As for the law which my mother planned for me, I regret that my father left me the instincts of a gentleman not an attorney. I am not boring you?”
“No, no, go on.”
“As for the army—I don’t happen to be interested in the war. I disapprove of the crudeness of our Canadian civilization. I disapprove of England’s lack of the artistic. I disapprove of German militarism—and Scotch bagpipes, Swiss cheese, Chinese laundries and American politics. Why should I fight for one w’hen 1 disapprove of them all? As for my fellow man—I dislike the ordinary man of the streets because he does not think, read nor bath often enough. I am not hostile to him, I merely ignore him. I am not a coward at all, my dear Vera—I am merely an artist in a world of artisans."
With a graceful movement he offered his arm to her.
“Let us returp to the dancing,” he said.
With a frightened, inquiring glance she took his arm and without a word they left the conservatory. At the door of the ballroom they paused and she laid a timid hand on his arm. It^wiH ever be a mystery to men how womeiKcan love and despise the same object.
“Dennis,” she said, “will you try and forget what I said?" Her courage had gone, fled before his coolness and the fascination he held for her, though she had striven with all her womanhood to free herself from it.
“I wish to Heaven I could,” he said gr.imly.
rI 'HE morning sunshine invaded the rooms of Dennis Montague with pervading cheeriness. It was nearing the end of April and a hundred birds sang of the wonders they had seen during the winter, of arid Africa, of the witcheries of the Nile where they had seen Pygmies
at war with the butterflies and the] had heard the great god Memnon rais i his mighty shout to greet the dawn pf day.
Oblivious to the sunshine and rerything but his thoughts, Montague.b y in bed the following morning and soug it to wrestle with the truth he had haan the night before. It was impossible to dismiss the things from his mind. His I rain throbbed with resentment, questioning, searching her words — striving to convince himself that her charge of cowardice was the vituperativeness of an i nrequited love. But it was useless. He c ould explain her actions, dissect her motives, applaud his own poise, but he could not eliminate the feeling of personal ná isea which clung to him as though he had suddenly sickened of his whole nature.
A knock at the docpinterrupted tfie thread of his thoughts and his valet entered with a tray of breakfast thing«.
“Good morning, sir.” Sylvester caref ully arranged the tray on a little table be ride
the bed. “It’s a beautiful morning, sir, and I see by the paper that the 'Uns are giving the Canadians a rough time of it what with gas and what not.”
His master gazed listlessly at the breakfast things.
“Sylvester,” he said quietly, “for years you have ministered to my body. 'What can you do for a soul that is starving?”
The valet beamed reassuringly.
“That’s h'alright, sir.” He rubbed his hands in genial encouragement. “A Bromo-Seltzer will fix you up.” A large and varied experience as a servant to young gentlemen, had inured him to morning-after repentances.
The sound of a military band approaching drove Sylvester to the window.
“ 'Ow look,” he cried, his natural decorum suddenly dispelled by the inspiring sounds of the music, “there must be blooming near a thousand of ’em. Seems like ’ome it does when the guards used to do London in all their swankin’ regimentals.”
A BATTALION swung past in steady rhythmical tread to the stirring strains of the Welsh hymn of freedom, “Men of Harlech”—a splendid body of men with chests expanded, arms swinging freely and their whole bearing one of vigorous, unconquerable manhood. The last man passed and the music ceased as suddenly as it had come. The birds' resumed their chorus and William Sylvester reinvested himself in his imperturbable masque of deference. Languidly Montague tose from his bed and lit a cigarette.
“Our civilization,” he said quietly, “need not pride itself on raising those men. Men have ahfays been brave since there were men. Tie terrible failure of our times is that it has produced men like me—a coward.”
The valet scratched his head.
“You ain’t a coward, sir,” he ventured. “Lor’ bless me—I’ve seen you ride a buckin’ mare that-”
His master turned on him with a vehemence that his valet had never before seen in him.
“I tell you I am a coward,” he said fiercely. “Don’t I know that my place is with those men? In that battalion that passed there are married men with families, there are only sons of widows, there are brothers, sweethearts—who is there to care if I go? My death would not cause a single tear and yet I stay, not that I am afraid of bullets or death, but because I know I shall have discomforts, privations, work, and because I shall have to sleep beside men who are filthy, unclean, and because I shall grow filthy too. I detest it, I abhor it and yet I stand aside and let others go.”
“You—you are a gentleman, sir.”
“A gentleman!” He burst into a rasping laugh. “My own definition last night was *a man with a valet and three addresses.’ What a fool I was! No, I am not a gentleman—I’ve never been one. The greatest gentleman of all time was a carpenter—that is the truth\I have to burn into my soul.” ;
A PERPLEXED and troubled look spread over the vastness of Mr. Sylvester’s countenance. This was a new phenomenon to him. He was frankly puzzled and reached for the breakfast tray with a melancholy slowness of movement
that quite inadequately expressed his inward perturbation.
A cool shower and a shave having failed to dispel the brooding mood that had fallen on him, Montague hastily dressed himself, telling his servant he would not return before dinner. Clothed in an immaculate grey suit, with a velours fedora and walking stick, he strode into the street, a handsome, striking figure of a man whose lithe athletic figure spoke of vigorous strength, a strength devoted to sporting activities, but a stranger to toil.
HIS walk, unplanned as it was, drew him towards the centre of the city. He mechanically avoided the streets that were crowded and. like a bit of flotsam on the ocean’s surface, was guided and buffeted until, turning down a quiet side street, he emerged upon the corner of a huge stone building. He glanced up to realize that it was the Armouries, and was about to change his course when a recruiting sergeant, noticing his hesitation, stepped up to him.
“Beg pardon,” he said, “but was you lookin’ to sign up?”
“Sign up?” Montague repeated the words automatically.
“Sure—sign up ^ith the Brindle’s Battalion.”
“The Brindle’s Battalion?”
“Come off that parrot stuff,” growled Sergeant Saunders.
Montague shook himself together.
“I beg your pardon,” he said, stiffly. The sergeant shuffled uneasily.
“Say, don’t be so damned polite,” he said not ill-naturedly. “I’m here to get recruits. We’re a tough bunch, we’re a rough bunch, but we’re men. Our boys ain’t strong on polish or eddication, and they’re no boozeless, anti-cigarette crowd, but they’re straight, ánd they’re game, and they're men.”
“They’re men,’’ repeated Montague, dazed by a dizziness that seemed to wrap himself and the sergeant in an enveloping mist.
“That’s what I said,” reiterated Sergeant Saunders, mentally noting that he would make Montague drop his sing-song if he ever got the opportunity.
“What do you say, old scout?” Montague glanced up. “Will you take me?” he said.
“Will we take you?” A broad, brown hand grasped Montague’s arm and he found himself being led into a room in the Armouries, where he discovered that his full name was Dennis Oliver Montague, that he was twenty-eight years of age, that he was an Anglican, and that his Uncle Charles was his next of kin. He further found that he was the property of His Majesty, King George the Fifth for thé duration of the war and six nrionths after, “so ’elp me, and shove ’im into the Medico, glad you signed up, my lad, you’ll never regret it, we’ve got a man’s job for you, and—close that bleeding door, Nokes —alright, NEXT!”
With whirlwind rapidity'he stripped for the doctor, who pronounced him an excellent example of cannon fodder, and, still dazed, he put on his clothes and emerged into the open air—a red band about his arm, prolaiming to the world that he was now Pte. D. O. Montague, of the Brindle’s Battalion, C.E.F. He gasped —shrugged his shoulders — then went home.
Sergeant Skimps surveyed the squad of recruits with the eye of a man who has
seen recruits for twenty years and is impervious to any emotion on the subject.
“You’re soldiers now,” he began, his dialect strongly reminiscent of Bow Bells, “you’re in the service now, so, kiss me ’Arry, ¡get yer ’air cut, all of yer. We don’t g6Yn for Paderooskies in the harmy. Then ’old yer ’eads h’up and put yer chests h’out h’as though you was somebody. You ain’t, but don’t go to tellin’ no one.^ (A gentle murmur greeted this sally). H’always respeck yer h’officers and non-commissioned h’officers, and don't go to slapping the Colonel on the back and h’offering ’im a cigar. You’re h’in the h’army—that bloke on the h’end spit out that there tobacco—g’wan!—a filthy ’abit on parade and it’ll get C B for yer. Where did you ’ail from h’any’ow—a nice specimen, 1 don’t think—chewing when a sawgeant’s talkink to yer. Now, then, fall in —h’another ’arf h’our’s drill.”
FOR five hours that day. Sergeant Skimps alternately talked and his weary squad turned, marched, and wheeled about the gravel parade ground. Weary to the point of exhaustion, already deaf to the interminable harangue of Sergt. Skimps, the hour of four-thirty found Montague with his first day in the army finished. He had only one desire—to seek his apartment, to feel the cool shower upon his body and to lounge in languid repose in his dressing gown, soothed by the inevitable cigarettes. He broke away from the little group, but was hailed by a ruddyfaced little Englander, who had made various overtures to him during the day.
“Going up?” said the other, his accent proclaiming British birth, tempered by ten years of Canadian citizenship.
“Yes,” said Montague, “but I am in a hurry.”
“Right O, I’m with you.” Ele swung along beside Montague. “This is the life,” he said cheerily.
“What?” asked Montague.
^ “Soldierings—a dollar ten a dsy, short hours and no work—what, ho!”
“Do you mean to say you like it?” asked Montague, wishing his companion’s clothes reeked a little less of his recent, exertions.
“Why not like it?” said Pte. Waller. “We’re in it, ain’t we?”
“I suppose so,” said the other shortly. Pte. Waller rubbed his hands together. “He’s a sergeant what is a sergeant, ain’t he?”
“Do you mean that strutting bounder who drilled us to-day?”
“Lordee, don’t let him hear you say that.” The little man went pale at the thought. “Say, if you don’t like him, just wait until you see Sergeant-major ’Awkins.” Even a Cockney of ten years Canadian citizenship loses his h’s when excited. Montague began to wince under it and he wished a dozen times that his companion would hold his tongue and give him a chance to think, to separate the varied experiences of the day and to edit his thoughts. He shrugged his shoulders and acknowledged the greeting of Mrs. Merryweather from a huge motor car. Waller’s eyes bulged.
“I say, you know some swells, don’t you? What was you, a chauffer?”
Montague considered. “No, I was a jester, a sort of social buffoon.”
Waller considered. “Something in the plumbing line?” he ventured.
Continued on page 75
The Man Who
Continued, from page 22.
"Not exactly.” answered Montague, and muttered, ‘‘Duration of the war—and six months after—with plebs like this!” “I’m a carpenter by trade,” vouchsafed Pte. W’aller, and then emitted a shout of delight. “I say,” he cried, “blime if it ain’t the missus!”
IN a few moments they reached a little ' English woman, net much more than a girl, who was guiding a baby carriage containing a chubby little youngster of
seme two years of age.
“’Ello, Bill,” she said, “’Ow’s the ; h’army?”
“Great.” said her husband, “but meet my pal, Pte. Montague—Pte. Montague meet my old woman.”
“Glad to know any friend of Bill’s,” said Mrs. Waller warmly.
Montague bowed. “Thank you,” he said, gravely, “you are giving up a lot in letting your husband go to the war.”
The girl pouted. “ 'E would go.”
“You said I had to, Emily.”
“But you wanted to go, Bill.”
“Of course, but I said—”
“I know—about the biby, but—”
“There you go again. Didn’t you say * I must?”
“Oh, well. Mr. Montague.” The little woman looked frankly into the latter’s grey-blue unreadable eyes. “The biby’s a boy and when he grows up I cawn’t say to ’im, * ’Arry, your father was a slackerV Now can I, Mr. Montague?”
He made no answer, but a thoughtful look crept into the hard, unsmiling eyes.
“Come and have a bite of supper, pard.” Pte. W’aller rubbed his hands together at the prospect.
“No-no, thanks,” said Montague, hastily. He was longing for privacy and the solace that comes with solitude. “Some other night, perhaps, when we have our uniforms.”
“Good enough!” cried the cheery little man. “Then we’ll do Queen street together and show the girls—what, ho——oh, no.” i Montague raised his hat. “Good evening.” he said.
“So long,” said Pte. Waller. “See you in the morning.”
WHEN they were alone the husband turned to his young wife with an ! air of pride. “What do you think of my pal?” he asked, with an air of proprietorI ship. ~ „
; “G’wan,” said Emily disdainfully, “ E ain’t your pal.”
“He is too.”
“ ’E ain’t!” She tossed her head. “Don’t I know one when I sees one; me, the daughter of a footman in Lady Swankbourne’s? ’E your pal! ’E bloomin’ well ain’t—’e’s a GENTLEMAN!”
Far up the street Montague was striding towards his home, wondering if any one had seen him with the Wallers, or had heard the ubiquitous little Cockney call him pard. Good Heavens, what would his friends say, or, for that matter, how could he face Sylvester if he had been seen by that polite scion of servitude?
It was late in October when Miss Vera Dalton returning from her self-imposed task of helping in the Military Convales-
cent Home, found a letter from France awaiting her. She broke the seal and at the first word the blood left her cheeks tand then returned to leave them glowing. The letter was from Dennis Montague, and was postmarked with the heading which will cast its unique spell over us and our children for years to come — "Somewhere in France.”
"Somewhere in France.”
"My Dear (îlrl.— In a couple of honra are going over the parapet to reach the (»er man lines or gain oblivion or worse. All around me the men I have worked with, slept with, fought with, are writing to *>r thinking of some loved one at home. I d;> mu know whether the love you on«e felt for me has died or not. but it was once strong enough to hurt me as no one had ever done before—to tear my 'soul out to where 1 could see Its rottenness with my own eyes. I could not live with myself after that, and as you must have heard, for I believe It was a drawing-room jest for some time, I joined a battalion composed almost entirely of men from the factories, work shops and streets.
"It was partly a spirit of bravado made me do it and pactly a desire to wrestle with Truth. I cannot say how hard it was at flr»t to culture their company, their incessant meaningless profanity. I hated every one. To salute an ofTieer on the street caused tie such humiliation that I thought of desertion a dozen times. From my eontempt of m> feilt w-soldiers to an understanding of their nobility has been a hard, cruel road to travel, but 1 have travelled it. and I think that somewhere on the road there is a cross whereon my Pride was crucified. Vera, my prayer Is no longer that of the Pharisee, but of the Publican. I was offered a commission:
I was urged to join the signallers or the machine gun section, because I would find men more after my own stamp there, but I refu»eil -the memory of your words made me «uL k with the men 1 started with.
"I have found them crude, uneducated, unambitious, but true as steel, and asking no tietter reward for their heroism than that their 'Missus and kiddies’ will be looked after at home. I tell you. Vera. tt\at when the war j-* over we shall have to realize that it is not only the consumptive and the Imbecile that deserves care and thought. There i« i grandeur and manhood In the ordinary unlovely. unkempt man of the streets that oni ivilirjttIon has failed to bring out. but w hb h war lias done. So much has war given us. so much has peace failed to give.
"Life has become a riddle to me. still fa«Minting but fascinatingly puzzling. Perhap» I shall find the answer in No Man’s Land.
“Good-bye, dear girl—I dhn’t think from the tone of my letter that I have forgotten how to smile (this is where real humor is found, for humor was alw-ays a twin to tragedy). Rnt 1 am forgetting how to scoff.
1 suppose, though, that I haven’t changed bevond recognition for I believe behind my back T am called ‘The Duke.’
Like my comrades. T have written to a loved one at home.
"I trust Vera that it ¡« au revoir.
I» (>. Montague, Pte. N«.
Rrlndle’s Rpttalinn. F.F..F
«E' OUR MINUTES!” Lieut. Gray, the -T youngest of the Brindle subalterns, stood, watch in hand, his back to the parapet. A half dozen rifles spat at the German trench opposite. The attack was to be a surprise without preliminary artillery fire. • .
“THREE MINUTES!” There was a slight catch in the subaltern’s voice as he watched the ominous course of the hand of his watch ticking off the seconds. A signaller looked up from his phone. “0. C. wants to know if everything’s ready.” “TWO MINUTES! Has every man his gas helmet, water bottle, iron ration? Right. Tell the O. C. everything’s O.K.” “ONE MINUTE!” Every man crouched for the spring—there was a mumbled prayer—a curse—a laugh—Montague
took a deep, quivering breath and his trembling hand felt for the bayonet stud to see that it was firm.
“COME ON, BRINDLES, GIVE ’EM HELL!” Subaltern Gray leaped to the parapet, stood silhouhetted a moment against the dull, cloudy sky, and, without a wórd, fell back into the trench, a corpse. Cursing, shouting, laughing, the men scrambled over the breastworks and were met by a torrent of machine gun fire that swept through their ranks with pitiless accuracy.
“Something’s wrong!” yelled Major Watson from the centre. “They knew we were coming.” And he whirled around twice and dropped in his tracks. Montague leaped forward with a hoarse inarticulate sl\out when he felt a blow on his arm as though it had been struck by a red hot iron. He fell, but rose immediately, madly excited, muttering words that meant nothing. The charge had stopped half way and all about him his comrades stood irresolute, desperate, unable to advance, determined not to retreat.
“Come on,” shrieked Captain Greenshields, the adjutant, “for God’s sake!” And he fell, choking, vomiting blood, with* a bullet in his throat.
\\T ITHOUT an officer left, the men * * looked wildly about, the bullets spitting about them and taking their steady, merciless toll. With a great surging feeling of ecstasy, Montague staggered to the front.
“Steady, the Brindles!” he yelled, hoarsely. “Shake out the line to the left— cold steel, Brindles—CHARGE!”
“Follow the Duke!” roared a dozer, voices, and they hurled themselves forward.
They hacked their way into the trench, but their triumph was short-lived. Things had gone badly on the left and the signal to retire flashed along the line. With horrible blaspheming, the Brindles gave up their trench and started back for their own line. When he was half way across a ballet in the shoulder and another in the thigh, struck Montague, and he sank to the ground, unconscious.
When he awoke the moonlight wa» streaming over the stricken field. He bit his lip to keep from crying out at the sudden spasm of pain in his shoulder, and »then something he saw almost stopped the beating of his heart. A figure was slowly crawling towards him, inch by inch, but steadily, ominously coming nearer with every moment. His left arm was helples» and he tried to reach for his bayonet b\ turning over.
“Pard—are you dead?”
Never did sounds of sweetest music faii more gratefully on human ears than the words uttered by Pte. Waller on the night of October 16, 1916, on No Man’s Land. Somewhere in France.
“Thank God !” cried Montague, his voice weak and quivering. “Waller—old-
“Damn!” muttered Pte. Waller. The Germans, with customary fiendishnes.»-. were searching the ground with rifle fire to prevent any attempt at rescues. “Are you hurt much—Pard?”
"I’m used up pretty bad," Montague answered weakly, and with incorrect Eng lish. Things change in No Man’s Land
“I’m the third as has come after you." whispered Waller; “Sykes and Thompaoi got theirs.”
“Coming—for me?” Montague’s voice trailed off in to a querulous sob.
“Sure—those of us as got back shook
hands on it that we’d get the Duke back
dead or alive.”
MONTAGUE tried to speak, but only two scalding tears slowly trickled down his cheeks. He was weak from loss of blood and he was learning a bitter lesson in the moonlight on the stricken field.
“I’ll hoist you up as easy as I can,” whispered Pte. Waller, eagerly, “and I’ll sort of crawl, and if they spot us—I’ll let you down as easy as I can. Come on, Pard.”
Fifty yards—that was all—but fifty yards of unspeakable agony. The blood flowed again from his wounds and matted over Waller’s hair. A dozen times he would have fainted, but he grit his teeth, and crawling, grasping, falling, Waller took him to the edge of the trench. And there a bullet caught the little man, and he dropped.
“Good-bye, Pard,” he said. So died Pte. W. Waller, of His Majesty’s Canadian Expeditionary Force.
A LMOST a year later, a one-armed man was walking along a quiet street in the northern suburbs of a great Canadian city. He paused at a pretty little cottage that nestled in a well-kept garden, to speak to a young woman whose black dress was mute testimony to her tragic bereavement.
“ ’Ow can I ever thank you, Mr. Montague,” she said, “for giving me this cottage and going guardian to little ’Arry? And your wife, too, is that kind and beautiful that after she comes here—and she is in and out nearly h’every day—I feel as if an angel had been ’ere. Well, if here ain’t little ’Arry, with his face all dirty.” A sturdy little urchin stumbled forward and in some way the one-armed man hoisted him to his shoulder.
“Hello, Pard,” said Montague.
The little chap chuckled and pulled at his hat.
“I often wonders,” said the little mother, “why you always calls ’im Pard. Bill used to call you his pard, but I knew all along you wasn’t. You was a gentleman, Mr. Montague.”
“Mrs. Waller,” said Montague, and his voice was very low and soft. “I lay one night, wounded and dying on No Man’s Land. Your husband came for me and he called me ‘pard,’ and he died Tor me. Perhaps you may understand a little of— what it means to me now—”
Tears, bitter tears, the heritage of war. Mrs. Waller wept silently, and Montague’s eyes looked past the garden, past the countryside and aaw neither trees nor houses, but a strip of land guarded by wire entanglements — and two lines of trenches where men . lived, and laughed, and'learned, and died.
pMFTEEN minutes later the same oneA armed man stood at a-gate that gave entrance to a splendid lawn. It was his home and as he stood for a moment drinking in the calm and peace of Nature at sundown, a girl emerged from the house and came towards him with outstretched hands.
Wonderfully happy, maimed, but filled with deep content, Dennis Montague, the Man Who Had Scoffed, went forward to meet his wife, who had had the courage to hurt the thing she loved. And the deepening rays of the setting sun spread a golden carpet for them to walk upon.