It cut a new six inches readily, another foot slowly and then with jolts and misfires and loud imprecations from the gardener, it gave up again. "You," judged Mrs Dinkman, "don't know how to cut grass." The gardener wiped his sweaty forehead with the inside of his wrist. "You you should have a law against you," he answered bitterly and inadequately.
The Stokes gun will fire one hundred twelve-pound shells in three minutes, if no time is lost with misfires. It takes two men to work the gun and one to hand up ammunition. I sent three men down the trench to be ready in case of need and the other two helped me.
Misfires are often due to the fact that the bolt handle was not fully pressed down. Sometimes in pulling the trigger the soldier raises the bolt handle without knowing it. Unless otherwise ordered, arms will be unloaded before being taken to quarters or tents, or as soon as the men using them are relieved from duty. Keep the working parts oiled.
The first two stopped and left it trilling along by itself, catching occasionally like a motor-car engine that misfires, until it, too, stuttered into silence. "Some poor devils being killed, I suppose," you think to yourself, "suppose they've seen a patrol out in front of the lines, or a party digging in the open somewhere behind the trenches."
Forster attributes the constant misfires to the bad quality of the flints supplied by the Government, and says that English flints had a very unsatisfactory reputation on the Continent.
"But one proviso," I said, "just one. The opportunity must be the real thing. Our first attempt to escape must succeed, because if it misfires, we won't get a second chance, and Captain Nemo will never forgive us." "That's also well put," the Canadian replied. "But your proviso applies to any escape attempt, whether it happens in two years or two days.
There have been misfires and so on. It won't take long to try this wagon, anyhow. They're anxious to send up a robot ship from the Shed and these have to be tested first. Give me ten minutes." He heard the Chief grumbling to himself. But one tested space wagon was better than none. The airlock doors opened. Huge round valves swung wide. Bright, remote, swarming stars filled the opening.
Just as my mind was clearing again I became aware that someone was striking matches. I distinctly heard the scrape of one along the top of the box, and I fancied I saw a tiny phosphorescent glow such as a match makes when it misfires, but in that I may have been mistaken.