**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


by [?]

After that morning he lived in my pocket, sometimes sniffing at an empty pipe, sometimes trying to read letters from Mistress which joined him every day. We had gone North to a more gentlemanly part of the line, and his duties took but little of his time, so that anything novel, like a pair of pliers or an order from the Director of Army Signals, was always welcome. To begin with he took up rather more than his fair share of the pocket, but he rapidly thinned down. Alas! in the rigours of the campaign he also lost his voice; and his little black collar, his only kit, disappeared.

Then, just when we seemed settled for the winter, we were ordered South again. Common knew what that meant, a busy time for him. We moved down slowly, and he sampled billet after billet, but we arrived at last and sat down to wait for the day.

And then he began to get nervous. Always he was present when the operations were discussed; he had seen all the maps; he knew exactly what was expected of us. And he didn’t like it.

“It’s more than a fellow can do,” he said; “at least to be certain of. I can blow away the shells in front and the shells from the right, but if Master’s map is correct we’re going to get enfiladed from the left as well, and one can’t be everywhere. This wants thinking about.”

So he dived head downwards into the deepest recesses of my pocket and abandoned himself to thought. A little later he came up with a smile….

Next morning I stayed in bed and the doctor came. Common looked over his shoulder as he read the thermometer.

“A hundred and four,” said Common. “Golly! I hope I haven’t over-done it.”

He came with me to the clearing station.

“I only just blowed a germ at him,” he said wistfully–“one I found in his pocket. I only just blowed it at him.”

We went down to the base hospital together; we went back to England. And in the hospital in England Common suddenly saw his mistress again.

“I’ve brought him back, Missis,” he said. “Here he is. Have I done well?”

* * * * *

He sits now in a little basket lined with flannel, a hero returned from the War. Round his neck he wears the regimental colours, and on his chest will be sewn whatever medal is given to those who have served faithfully on the Western Front. Seated in your comfortable club, my very dear sir, or in your delightful drawing-room, madam, you smile pityingly….

Or perhaps you don’t.