The Search (Chapter 1, page 2 of 6)

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Chapter 1

The second lieutenant sat back sullenly with a deep red streaking his cheeks.

"You're no angel yourself, Bob, see?" went on the first lieutenant lying back in his seat in satisfied triumph, "and I'm going to marry Ruth Macdonald next week and get a ten days' leave! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!"

There ensued a long and pregnant silence. One glance at the second lieutenant showed that he was most effectually silenced.

The front door of the car slammed open and shut, and a tall slim officer with touches of silver about the edges of his dark hair, and a look of command in his keen eyes came crisply down the aisle. The two young lieutenants sat up with a jerk, and an undertone of oaths, and prepared to salute as he passed them. The captain gave them a quick searching glance as he saluted and went on to the next car.

The two jerked out salutes and settled back uneasily.

"That man gives me a pain!" said Harry Wainwright preparing to soothe his ruffled spirits by a fresh cigarette.

"He thinks he's so doggone good himself that he has to pry into other people's business and get them in wrong. It beats me how he ever got to be a captain--a prim old fossil like him!"

"It might puzzle some people to know how you got your commission, Harry. You're no fossil, of course, but you're no angel, either, and there are some things in your career that aren't exactly laid down in military manuals."

"Oh, my uncle Henry looked after my commission. It was a cinch! He thinks the sun rises and sets in me, and he had no idea how he perjured himself when he put me through. Why, I've got some of the biggest men in the country for my backers, and wouldn't they lie awake at night if they knew! Oh Boy! I thought I'd croak when I read some of those recommendations, they fairly gushed with praise. You'd have died laughing, Bob, if you had read them. They had such adjectives as 'estimable, moral, active, efficient,' and one went so far as to say that I was equally distinguished in college in scholarship and athletics! Some stretch of imagination, eh, what?"

The two laughed loudly over this.

"And the best of it is," continued the first lieutenant, "the poor boob believed it was all true!"

"But your college records, Harry, how could they get around those? Or didn't they look you up?"

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