15 “THE O-PIP”
YES MOTHER, YOU CAN TELL ’EM.
Everything was still and quiet in the battery office. Nothing stirred. Not even an officer, and for once the telephone had buzzed off. The O.C. was studiously engaging a map with the Captain at his right hand. The sergt.-major had neglected his detail, and was reading; “Ten Days' Leave in Paris.” The orderly-sergt. was hanging limply in a chair, having endeavoured for more than an hour to add up the number of shells used in the last shoot. A telephonist sat at the switch-board writing a letter to Mother, telling about his first night in.
Occasionally the office had been visited by a breath of fresh air. But even then it had to squeeze in the back door when the gas curtain was up. This time a strange, odd and annoying breath of air wafted into the office.
“Phew! Smell that,” shouted the orderly-sergt., as he sprang to his feet.
“Gas!” cried the telephonist, and groped for his respirator, which he had mislaid.
“Go on with you,” said the sergt.-major, without looking up from his book. “It says here that he blew the gas out!”
For a few seconds everyone but the S.-M. was sniffing.
“Ten days' leave would go good in Paris,” commented the S.-M. as he closed his book. “Ye gods, what a smell. I’ll bet a dollar its a dead Heinie.”
“Smells that way to me,” said the Captain, sniffingly.
“Quite right,” put in the O.C.
A pilgrimage in search of the dead Hun was arranged, and with respirators as a safeguard, and flashlights, the party' advanced. When near the seat of the trouble the aroma (to be polite) was too heavy, and the crusaders wended their way' back, convinced that somewhere in close proximity there lay, dead asleep, a Heine.
“Better get a fatigue party and dig it out,'” ordered the O.C.
The fatigue party arrived in due course, and with picks and shovels upturned the grave. When the last shovelful was thrown away the air was rising as high and fast as the price of sugar.
A sack lay uncovered, and a gunner volunteered to bring it forth. This was Heine!
“Take it outside and open it,” ordered the S.-M.
The order was executed smartly.
Everyone was expecting to get a souvenir—a tin helmet or a button. Something any way.
When the sack was opened, lo and behold there was nothing but the remains of what once had been a healthy pig.