"CAN IT BE THE END! PRIVATE Wynn, the charge against you is a serious one, what have you to say ? The new young Colonel looked into the eyes of the prisoner. Nothing, sir." Will you take my punishment or go to a Court Martial ? Whilst comparing their impressions of the new Colonel the previous evening, the men in Wynn's billet had agreed that he was a strict disciplinarian- a cruel bloke." Court Martial, sir." The Colonel's voice softened. My boy, I will ask you once again- Your punishment, sir." "Private Wynn, your Conduct Sheet is a strange one. Enlisted in August, 1914, you served in England for twelve months with a good character; came out, kept a clean sheet for eleven-twelve-thirteen months. Since then your Conduct Sheet has been nothing but a chapter of crimes. Your Company Commander gives you a bad character. However, your eyes tell me you are no rascal, and I am going to give you a chance. Let it be the end of the chapter. Admonished Accused, escort and witnesses, right turn Quick march said the Sergeant-Major, and the Colonel and Adjutant were left alone. When did Private Wynn get his first leave? The Adjutant turned up the Leave Roster. "September, 1916, sir." Ah I thought so. Poor fellow," said the Colonel, and the Adjutant wondered what he meant. That afternoon "A" Company was preparing for the trenches. The inspection parade was over the Com- pany standing at ease. Sergeant-Major, I want a tough crowd for No. 3 post this time, the best you've got," said the Captain. "Very good, sir. Corporal Meredith-double-you are No. 3 front line post, pick your men-three Lewis Gunners and three Riflemen. Get along, lad; don't make a day of it The Corporal faced the Company and called out six names. Six proud men fell in at the double behind him. Private Wynn was the first and proudest of the six. Ten minutes later the Company marched off by posts, No. 3 leading. Some looked at the leading post with admiration, some with envy, and the seven men marched cheerily along, laughing and talking as they went. Often had they been in tight corners. They would go anywhere, do anything, face anybody-together. A band two or three miles away started playing Till the Boys Come Home," and it was taken up by the Com- pany on the march. They all sang, all save Private Wynn, who turned to Corporal Meredith and said I can't stick that song "You are a strange mixture, Wynn, you were always singing it once." Yes, I know, when I first came out, but after singing it for a year I went home and found that the home fire had gone out. Since then you have been my only friend, except the Colonel. Isn't he a brick, Meredith ? At last," thought Meredith, I understand the change in Wynn." They left the road, marched across a field and got on to the trench boards. The singing ceased. Cigarettes were thrown away. Quietly they walked to the post along the winding communication trench. Seven tired men welcomed them and talked of a hostile raid they had re- pulsed two nights before. Stores were checked, duties were handed over and then came the whispered Good night! Good luck Once every two hours the officer of the watch visited them. About midnight the Colonel came round and said they must be specially alert; he expected trouble about half-past three. It was a long, long night of waiting. The little group of men knew that the raid when it came would not be war, where skill and strength avail a man anything, but a mere massacre. Wynn was great. It's what we volunteered to do, boys," said he, after a long silence, about two o'clock, and by God, we'll do it There can be no greater contrast than the deathly silence of the front line and the sudden outburst of trench mortars and guns, louder than the loudest thunder. For ten minutes, six Minnies were in the air at the same time, but before the first had fallen Meredith had sent up the Red S.O.S. Rocket, and Wynn had said Give me the Lewis Gun." It was all they could do. The barrage lifted; shadows were seen approaching; the Lewis Gun opened out; three magazines were fired. The raid was repulsed. The guns ceased fire and silence reigned again, more deathly than before. Meredith called out: "Wynn?" There was no reply. He shouted "Boys?" There was still no reply. Where were they all ? The smell of cordite was suffocating. The sense of his utter loneliness turned Meredith cold. He crept over two shell holes, found what had been a trench board track leading to the reserve line, ran along it for fifty yards, turned back, picked up a rifle, loaded, and said aloud Corporal Meredith, you nearly left your post; you are on sentry be on the alert. It's what you volunteered to do do it." Would the day never dawn ? thought the lonely watch- man of the night, as he looked eastward. "Halt! Who goes there?" Your Colonel, my boy. Is all well ? No, Sir, I'm on sentry, the only one left." Together they searched the broken ground. There s Wynn," said the Corporal as they looked at a figure leaning against the parapet, apparently firing the Lewis Gun. "Wynn?" Yes, his finger was still pressing the trigger, but he was beyond their call. Ah murmured the Colonel, that's the beginning of the new chapter." Gordon.