Smithy and The Hun - Edgar Wallace - ebook

Smithy and The Hun ebook

Edgar Wallace

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This collection of stories from every-day life in the British military, centered around the characters of „Smithy” and „Nobby”. Edgar Wallace, who is also famous for his own stories of colonial life – the Sanders stories – was principally a writer of crime and detective fiction. He was one of the most popular and prolific authors of his era. However, he was well aware that the irrepressible spirit of Kipling’s famous rankers would live on, and he wrote his own tales of ordinary British soldiers. Edgar Wallace’s „Smithy” stories enter the First World War, not much mud and bullets or the horror of the trenches, instead it’s Nobby’s schemes and delightfully silly comic description of life with the Kaiser.

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Liczba stron: 147

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Contents

I. THE MILITARY ANARCHIST

II. THE HEROICS OF PRIVATE PARKER

III. AT MONS

IV. SMITHY ON NEWS

V. ON THE LAWYER IN WAR

VI. VON KLUCK’S NEPHEW, GINGER

VII. ON MEANING WELL

VIII. THE PERSEVERING SOLDIER

IX. A DAY WITH THE CROWN PRINCE

X. NOBBY AND THE LAMB

XI. SMITHY AND THE MISSING ZEP’LINK

XII. ON THE GERMAN FLEET

XIII. On W.O. Genius

XIV. ON RECRUITING

XV. THE STRATEGIST

XVI. SMITHY SURVEYS THE LAND

XVII. LIEUTENANT X

XVIII. THE LETTER-WRITER

XIX. THE WEATHER PROPHET

XX. THE INTERPRETER

XXI. NOBBY IN ROMANTIC VEIN

I. THE MILITARY ANARCHIST

“THE worst of being a mug,” said Private Smith, “is that you usually look it. That ain’t my point of view, an’ it’s not original, bein’ the idea of one of the grandest lawyers that ever went into the Army. This chap’s name was Grassy, and he joined our battalion owin’ to some trouble he’d had with his girl.

“Offen and offen he’s told me an’ Nobby the story.

“‘It was like this,’ he sez. ‘Me an’ Miss So-an’-so was engaged, an’ one night me an’ her met at So-an’-so’s. I happened to remark so-an’-so, and she up an’ said so-an’-so, an’ finished up by tellin’ me that I was so-an’-so so-an’-so.

“‘After them illuminatin’ remarks of yourn,’ sez Nobby admirin’ly, ‘I can’t see what else you could have done,’ he sez. ‘Naturally, after a lady has said so-an’-so to you, there’s nothin’ left to do but so-an’-so. What’s your opinion, Smithy?’

“‘So-an’-so,’ I sez.

“Grassy never spoke out plain in his life. He was one of those fellers who was always scared of committin’ himself, an’ was always, so to speak, on his guard against givin’ evidence against himself. One day on parade he made the drill instructor very wild.

“‘When I say “Right turn,” what do I mean?’ sez the sergeant.

“‘I shouldn’t like to say,’ sez Grassy–‘not,’ he sez, ‘in the presence of witnesses!’

“That was his game–he was a born lawyer.

“‘It’s in me blood,’ he told me an’ Nobby one day in the canteen. ‘I can no more help it than a cat can help likin’ canaries. Me father was a nusher in a court, an’, so to speak, I’ve imbibed the taste for lawyerin’.’

“‘Is it hard to learn?’ sez Nobby.

“Grassy shook his head.

“‘It would be to you,’ he sez, ‘but it comes natural to me. It’s like this,’ he sez. ‘Suppose Richard Doe owes five pound to John Roe, an’ Richard Doe has give John Roe security for the said amount with a contingency an’ Richard Roe can’t pay on or about the appointed day, what does John Doe do?’

“‘Is that lor?’ sez Nobby, very impressed.

“‘That’s lor,’ sez Grassy. ‘Now I’ll try you with another. A. promises B. a house on condition that C. pays B. what B. owes A.–do you foller me?’

“‘No,’ sez Nobby. ‘But don’t let that stop you.’

“When Grassy was pinched by the provost-sergeant for breakin’ out of barracks an’ brought before the colonel he got ten days’ C.B.

“‘Pardon me, sir,’ sez Grassy; ‘on a question of lor–I’d like to point out that the police-sergeant had his badge on the wrong arm, which, in a manner of speakin’, invalidates the aforesaid conviction,’ he sez.

“The colonel leans back in his chair, sort of weary.

“‘Will you take my punishment or be tried by court-martial?’ he sez.

“‘On a point of lor,’ sez Grassy, ‘an’ in view of the famous precedent of the King v. Cassidy, I’ll be tried by court-martial, where,’ he sez, ‘the wells of justice, sir, will be untainted by the prejudice of caste.’

“So Grassy was tried by court-martial, consistin’ of the adjutant, a young lieutenant who was scared of the adjutant and did what he was told, and a chap of the Rifle Brigade, who spent most of the time examinin’ the probable starters an’ jockeys what he’d got hid in the Manual of Military Law; an’ the end of it was that Grassy got fourteen days’ cells. He came out of cells a confirmed anarchist.

“One night he came into the canteen, flushed an’ happy, as Mr. Garvis, the celebrated poet, sez, an’ beckoned me an’ Nobby aside.

“‘Comrades,’ he sez, highly mysterious, ‘I’ve news to impart. We’re goin’ to abolish war.’

“‘That’s a very serious thing to do,’ sez Nobby. “‘What’s to become of B Company?’

“‘Us an’ the Rochester branch,’ sez Grassy, takin’ no notice of Nobby’s remark, ‘have passed a resolution an’ we’re actin’ with the Paris an’ the Russian an’ German branches. War,’ sez Grassy, ‘is a thing of the past. The moment it’s declared me an’ 40,000,000 others are goin’ on strike. We’re goin’ to down tools,’ he sez.

“‘In that case,’ sez Nobby, ‘I’m sorry for you, Grassy, because it means you are goin’ to sacrifice your jaw.’

“Grassy’s best pal was a feller named Cheevie. It’s difficult to describe Cheevie. He was one of those chaps who looked as though somebody had covered his face with glue and then dipped it in hair. If it was possible to unshave yourself you’d always look like Cheevie. He was a great feller on liberty an’ freedom. His idea of liberty was that if a man didn’t want to pay his debts hisself nobody had the right to make him. Him and Grassy used to talk by the hour about the Brotherhood of Man, an’ how we’d all be a gran’ family party if it wasn’t for tyrants.

“‘Do you know what my idea of a tyrant is?’ sez Cheevie, very fierce.

“‘Yes,’ sez Nobby. ‘He’s any feller who makes you wash your neck.’

“But it was on the subject of war that Grassy and Cheevie was most talkative.

“‘War,’ sez Grassy–‘horrid war! Raisin’ your hydrant head an’ squirtin’ venom down the grooves of time!’

“‘Oh, crool war!’ sez Cheevie. ‘Never again wilt thy mantle be drawn from the sheath of madness an’ flown on the masthead of civilisation’s pinnacle.’

“Then one day people began to talk about war with Germany. It came all of a sudden, an’ the excitement amongst the peace-lovin’ infantry was immense.

“‘I don’t believe there’s goin’ to be any war,’ sez Grassy; ‘but, anyway, at the first outbreak we’ve made our plans. We’re sendin’ out 1,000,000 four-page leaflets in English, French, German, Russian, Spanish, Italian, an’ Irish,’ he sez, ‘work will immediately stop, factories will cease to fact, an’ collieries will coll no more; but I don’t think there’ll be any war.’

“That night his pal Cheevie came up to see him in the canteen.

“‘What will you do, comrade,’ he sez, ‘if this accursed war breaks out?’

“‘There ain’t goin’ to be a war,’ sez Grassy.

“‘But suppose there is–you will lay down your arms?’

“‘Naturally, comrade,’ sez Grassy.

An’ refuse to slay your brothers in Germany?’ sez Cheevie.

“‘Trust me,’ sez Grassy. ‘But there ain’t goin’ to be any war.’

“But one afternoon the news came to barracks. War was as good as certain, an’ then the crownin’ news of all that the reserves was to be called to the colours an’ the Anchesters were warned for active service.

“It was one of them holy an’ joyous moments when everybody shook han’s with anybody. Provost-corporals shook han’s with fellers they’d pinched in the town; even D Company was on speakin’ terms with A Company, an’ the quarter-master-sergeant was civil to the orderly man.

“Cheevie came into barracks in a state of great excitement. He met me on the square.

“‘Where is Comrade Grassy?’ he sez. ‘Is he under arrest for holdin’ them beautiful opinions? Is he in the han’s of British military-ism for his true, patriotic action in layin’ down his arms? Tell me the worst,’ he sez, ‘an’ the world shall know.’

“‘He’s in the canteen,’ I sez.

“‘Ah!’ sez Cheevie. ‘He’s thinkin’ things out.’

“‘No,’ I sez. ‘He’s drinkin’ things in.’

“I followed Cheevie to the canteen. There was ole Grassy, talkin’ nineteen to the dozen.

“‘Comrade,’ sez Cheevie, seizin’ him by the hand, ‘the blow has fallen, the die is cast away; to your own self be true, as dear old Comrade Shakespeare sez, an’ it follers you can’t find fault with any other man.’

“‘Halloa, Cheevie!’ sez Grassy, very cold.

“‘Comrade–say, comrade,’ sez Cheevie, most earnest, ‘what are you goin’ to do?’

“‘What am I goin’ to do?’ sez Grassy, amazed. ‘Why, I’m goin’ on active service,’ he sez, very loud, ‘accordin’ to the lor.’

“‘But, comrade,’ sez Cheevie, very agitated, ‘you ain’t going to kill your brother German!’

“Grassy glared at him.

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