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THE SACRIFICE

by DONAL HAMILTON HAINES

THERE was one flat cap above a jutting rock three hundred yards away at which Jenks had been shooting fruitlessly for half an hour. Thirty-two times he had fired, he discovered by an examination of the empty loops in his cartridge-belt, and six times he had been rewarded by seeing the flat cap disappear. But always it reappeared in the same place, and always a bullet zummed through the air above Jenks' head or whanged, into the ground to one side or the other of him.

He felt a deepening animosity against the wearer of that flat cap. This unknown might have the grace to get in the way of one of Jenks' bullets, or send one of his own into Jenks' vitals! That at least would put an abrupt end to this endless lining of sights and pulling of trigger. At the present rate it could result only in Jenks' running out of cartridges and being forced to crawl back uncomfortably to where there might be more. Three months' enlightening experience had convinced Jenks that extra ammunition was always hard to find when it was most to be desired. He did not go out of his way to lay this up against the gigantic system of which he formed a part, but accepted it as. another galling fact in a chain of unpleasant realities which went to make tip an unsatisfactory universe.

"Why don't you tick your hat up on the end of your bayonet and see if you can't make that chap break cover?" suggested a mild voice in Jenks' ear.

The private looked around to see a man in drab clothes, a slouch hat and spiral puttees lying prone on the earth behind him. He recognized him as one of the war-correspondents whom the army was kept busy chasing away from the front, where they could really see things and so write authentic reports of what was going on.

"Well, in the first place," Jenks answered argumentatively, "I don't want that hat shot full of holes. It's a good hat, and now and then it rains in this country!"

After saying which he sniffed in high disdain and proceeded to follow the other's advice, employing a chance stick instead of his bayonet for the purpose. The stratagem succeeded. The first indications of success were so violent that the war-correspondent curled up his long legs and hugged the ground closer. For the owner of the flat cap rattled a magazine full of shots through the air around Jenks' hat, then, failing to hit it, he rose to his full height for a better shot, sent the hat skimming through the air, and got one of the .30 caliber, nickel-jacketed bullets from Jenks' rifle squarely in the pit of the stomach. Jenks and the journalist witnessed the fall of the man in lie flat cap with quiet enthusiasm.

"Through the middle, I 'low!" announced Jenks.

"Very pretty!" complimented the drab-clad man, and they relapsed into silence.

THERE might have been other flat caps sticking above the gray rocks for Jenks to shoot at, but he was in no mood to hunt for them. He laid the rifle to one side, wet his finger and laid it on the barrel, which sizzled sharply. Jenks swore, waved his blistered finger and opened the breech to let the air through the barrel more freely.

"Thirty round...

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