It is given to few to see their hopes and aspirations realised so beautifully and quickly; as in a dream he listened to the hideous cachinnations that floated up through the slabs of the trench-board. A continuous booming noise as of a bittern calling to its young was varied with heavy grunts and occasional blows of a heavy bludgeon on metal.
Now that the place had been cleared out, the opening was covered during the day by a trench-board carefully stolen from the nearest R.E. dump; while the members of the platoon assiduously collected old tin and china utensils, both great and small, which were thrown into the cavity and arranged tastefully by the stage-manager.
At night the trench-board was removed, and after careful weighting with two dud shells, a piece of rail, and the stalk of a sixty-pound trench-mortar bomb, it was placed on edge beside the hole. It was so arranged that it leaned slightly inwards, and was only kept from falling by a cord which passed in front of it and which was attached to two screw pickets one on each side.
A glorious full moon shone down upon the scene as, an hour afterwards, the trench-board was removed and the entrance opened. An "up-and-over" or trench-ladder was lowered into the dug-out, and the excited onlookers waited to vet the catch. At last the ladder shook, as the first of the prisoners prepared to ascend.
"My dear old boy," remarked the proud inventor vaguely, "it generally opens 'pon my soul, it does." He turned his torch on to the reluctant trench-board and examined it through his eyeglass. "By Jove! that's it, dear old son, there's the trouble. The dud shell has slipped forward and got wedged in the rafters. How doocid funny what?" "What is doocid funny, you blithering ass?"