|| "I d-d-d-did,
sir, but it were a sound like a shout to me."
"Oh, it were - I mean, it was - were it. Well, anyhow,
what the hell did you shout?"
"I d-d-d-don't rightly know, sir. I just give a shout,
"Yes, but a shout like what?"
"Like you when you'm whispering, sir."
The C.S.M. slowly turned the colour of a rich, ripe plum
and buried his face in his big strong hands. It was a sight
to shake the strongest, and Pte. Blank's eyes snapped shut
in silent prayer. In fact, a chance intruder might have
imagined they were praying for each other. But it was strength
the C.S.M. was indenting. And Pte. Blank was applying for
an immediate and miraculous transfer to the 13thNorth Staffords.
After what seemed an eternity, the
| C.S.M. raised what
he imagined was a replica of a worn and kindly face to say
: "Now me lad, let's be friends. A soldier's best pal
is his Company Sergeant Major, no matter what others may tell
you. I'm only here to help you, s'welp me, I am. Tell me,
if you can, just when did you shout? Was it before or after
you shot? Or was it before, during, or after your shiver?
In plain English, tell me, did you shiver, shout and shoot,
or shout, shiver and shoot, or shoot, shout and shiver?"
"It were between the shush-shush-shot and the shush-shiver,
sir. Or maybe it were before or after one or t'other."
"Oh, it were, was it!" bellowed the C.S.M. "Take
him away, Sergeant! Take him away and hide him from the
O.C. and me for a fortnight in case we both busts something.
And listen to me, me lad, if you ever come before me again
for having a bang at a bull, see that you bring a yard of
beefsteak with you. You'll be needing it - and we can always
eat it afterwards."