“But there won’t be any ‘blighter’ to-day–there couldn’t be!” He bent, that very tall young officer, nearer to Olive’s ear, the nineteen-year-old girlish ear under the Torch Bearer’s hat. “Nobody knows how I have been looking forward to this day, Olive, this spring day, when you girls would visit me in camp before I went over! I’m sorry that your father, Colonel Deering, and your aunt chose to pay a visit to Headquarters, Brigade Headquarters, instead–instead of coming on 长沙桑拿信息 here to inspect the fireworks in Gas Valley.”
“Fireworks never to be forgotten!” murmured Olive, coloring a little as the luck of this longed-for holiday coined itself into a silver bar in the eager eyes bent upon her, matching the luck of those other silver shoulder-bars for which the young Plattsburg graduate had “plugged” so hard.
“Father has an old friend who is Captain of Headquarters Troop, but we’ll find him again later,” she said, suddenly rather breathless from the moving conviction that when the youth–for he was little more–beside her faced the poisoned horror-waves of the real Gas Valley “over there,” when he crouched, sleepless, in a cold and muddy trench-bay or led his men over the top, she, for him, would be beyond all others–even more than the brown-eyed sister to whom his glance roved now–the girl behind the lines, beyond the ocean, typifying America the Beautiful, standing for all he would die, smiling, to defend.
It may be that the prospect unrolled itself vaguely before the young soldier’s mind, for, as he straightened himself again, training his keen gaze once more upon the smoke-cloud, thickened with poison-waves, he was humming unconsciously, involuntarily, lines of a crude camp-song:
“Only one more kit-inspection,
Only one more dress-parade,
Only one more stifling stand-to–bleeding stand-to,
And the U. S. will be saved!”
“Stifling stand-to! Well, I guess the men down there in the trenches are having that now, ‘gooing’ up their masks–their chlorine-foolers–in that popping, heated cloud,” gasped his sister, racy little Sesooā, turning from a certain “kit-inspection” which she was holding upon the toilet and general get-up of another visitor to Camp Evens, not attached to her girlish party.
“Um-m! Isn’t that muff of hers pretty, the–the ‘spiffiest’ thing!” appraised Sara in silent soliloquy, the springy elasticity in herself causing her to rebound more readily than did her companions from the shock of seeing a gas attack launched; at her core there was a gay flame–a buoyant “pep”–which refused to succumb even to Inferno, with its yellow acres of sulphur smoke, its deadly waves of chlorine gas, its tormenting “tear stuff.”
“Humph! Rather late for a muff, though, seeing it’s April. We’ve discarded ours,” reflected further the self-constituted inspector of “kit,” otherwise clothing and equipment, upon the skirts of the military training-camp, as she shot a firefly glance towards the sky, more like July than April–flecked with lamb-like fleeces nestling in an arch of blue. “But then one may be forgiven for holding on to a thing like that! Adds the last touch of style to her costume! I wonder how many birds gave up their lives to make that muff: all dove-gray breast-feathers–tiny feathers–and the fashionable turban which goes with it.
“Her tailored suit is perfect, too; almost puts Olive’s new jersey one in the shade,” was the next random comment after a few seconds of absorption in the noise and novelty of the near-by attack, the monster fire-crackers, snapping, bursting, momentarily flowering in the yellow field of smoke. “And her gray cloth blouse with that soft, swathing collar around the throat, high under her ears!… Some officer’s wife most likely! Wonder what age she might be–thirty–thirty-two? For all her style she isn’t quite thoroughbred-looking like Olive–our Blue Heron,” shooting a sidelong glance at the pale, emotional face under the velvet hat adorned with the delicately embroidered logs and flame. “And she’s not in the same class at all for beauty; judging by the profile, that young woman could dispense with a little of her cheek-bone and chin. But–but what a wonderfully smooth pink skin; looks as if it had just been massaged–was massaged every day! Her skirt’s a trifle long; I suppose her feet aren’t pretty; that would be in keeping with her shoulders, for they’re rather broad–looks as if she played basket-ball and hockey. Athletic type, I guess. Her hair’s much the color of mine, but those silver threads in the mat over the ears–they–they add distinction; almost wish I were turning gray! What!”
The critic caught her breath, for the lone visitor, perhaps feeling the scrutiny, turned and boldly looked at her–looked through her, felt the Camp Fire Girl–with a glance as cool as an Arctic snow-blink. Bluish eyes–this stranger had, the gray-blue of salt ice, that…. Were they trying to infuse a little warmth into the ice-blink?
Sesooā’s confused thoughts–rather abashed–never knew. For she hastily turned from this kit-inspection in which she had been furtively indulging, to seek refuge in the smoke-cloud.
And it was at that very moment that she heard a strange, hoarse exclamation from her soldier brother. At that very moment, too, she, together with her Camp Fire Sisters, felt as if the ground, now steady, rocked once more violently, sickeningly, under their feet.
What was happening upon the near edge of that dense sulphur-cloud, to leeward?
Its yellow muzzle was lifting.
Silently, stealthily, it was opening its poisoned mouth–and giving forth!
CHAPTER II THE MINUTE-GIRL
Up the brown sod-steps, from the yellow-veiled trenches, out over the lumpy, skirting sand-bags, out into the withered 长沙桑拿全套场子 vegetation of Gas Valley, stumbled three figures! Masked
figures they were, goggle-eyed, grotesque, with white beaks of tubing which, curving downward from those brown face-masks, pecked in the satchels upon their own breasts!
Forth from the cloud they came, goblin figures, with horrid green spots upon their khaki blouses where the deadly chlorine had preyed on their metal buttons.
And before the petrified girlish gaze one–the middle one–rocked and pitched, like a corroded ship at sea, pitching to windward!
“Oh, somebody is injured–poisoned–g-gassed!”
Sesooā heard Olive’s cry, which pitched like the advancing figure, and forgot completely the informal “kit-inspection” to which she had been subjecting the buxom young woman of the skin and shoulders, who carried a feather muff under the April sky.
“Yes! Some one 长沙桑拿会所价格行情 has got it–was muddle-headed–did not get his mask on quickly
enough. Or else something was wrong with his ‘chlorine-fooler.’”
Now it was her brother’s voice, that of the boy-officer, and she realized–hot-hearted little sister–what it would mean to him that, on this day of all days, it should be that:
“The gas came down and caught the blighter slow.”