Page:O Henry Prize Stories of 1924.djvu/184

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“And the limeys and the frogs at Haifa.”

“And the frogs and the wops at Smyrna.”

“Don’t forget the limeys and the wops at Leghorn, neither. They piled the stiffs up on the pier.”

For a quarter of an hour they reviewed the clashes between sailors of the Allied nations in various ports since the Armistice.

“The war to end war,” said somebody in a pause. Catcalls and hoots of derision.

“I’ve been bummin’ round the wurruld, man and bhoy, for twenty-foive years and I never seen the loike of the hate.”

“What? You ain’t felt the spiritual uplift? Why, I’m ashamed of you, Paddy! You’re just awful coarse.”

Then Wally broke into a song the dough-boys composed on the Rhine:

“When the next war comes around,
In the front ranks I’ll be found.
I’ll rush in again pell-mell.
Yes, I will—like hell, like hell!”

They roared the chorus, oblivious of prowling patrols.

“Well, let’s get back to the ship,” Red proposed. “Might as well take our medicine now as later.”

“I’m a-going to see the Parthenon,” said the gob with Hardtack.

“All right, we’ll all go. Maybe if we can show tickets to the Acropolis the Old Man’ll take our word for it that we wasn’t mixed up in the row.”

“What? With a face like that?” exclaimed Red. “Fat chance!”

The other mournfully admitted that the Old Man was not likely to fall for such a story, but they decided to go along with Hardtack and Wally anyway.

It was growing late when they left the coffee shop and they wandered a considerable distance hunting for cabs. Once they thought. they glimpsed a patrol and ran up a dark alley. As they emerged from it into the street again a swelling murmur arrested them.

“What’s that?”

The murmur grew to a babel of sounds. It was drawing nearer.