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All that day we rode through animals, no human beings exopen country. It's only round cept ourselves. Not a sound; tropical rivers and valleys that for only nature and the nomad the dense bush lies thick. With inhabit the prairies, flitting from perhaps a copse here and there, place to place. You see neither, savannah lands are clear, wide, but you sense both. A presence open spaces, but in this neigh- seems to dominate these farbourhood with a thick alluvial flung plains. Man may own covering. The geology thus the land, or even what is lay hidden. Nothing but a beneath it, but as a great physical or magnetic survey philosopher said, no one owns would have revealed the under- the landscape, and in these lying strata, and we hadn't silent nights I flung my mind either the instruments or the open to its influence. It's no facilities to undertake it, so use just to see the landscape we wandered on, hoping for a as the trippers do, and defile rock prominence, or what geol- it with their litter. You must ogists term a piece of solid feel it. It must, as it were, pass geology, to give us the clue to through you, pervade you, dishidden structures. Alas! there pel those irritating trivialities was nothing to be seen. of the troubled traveller and soothe you, then sleep will not flirt with you and tease your tired senses. It will not approach you as a faun, but spring like a tiger upon you, snap! and you'll be gone into a blissful oblivion until the morning star and the trumpet call of dawn!

At night we chose a spot right open to the four winds of heaven. There were only a few trees on the whole of that rolling plain. We didn't want any more. We just slung our hammocks up in the glorious breeze and drank in the balmy air. Not a mosquito!


(To be concluded.)



THERE is a certain prejudice against rogues in fiction, except when given their proper values -that is, we are told, when used to point a moral; but in this tale there is no moral, except perhaps that the greatest rogue acquired the largest share of the loot, which, contrary to the accepted precepts of good fiction-sound healthy stuff is often true to life. But this is not fiction.

The four men sitting round a barrel in the old weatherworn barn, half store, half stable, of a farm in Seine-etOise, were rogues; but that in no way prevented them from being, in their way, very good fellows. After all, a rogue may be anything from a vagrant and dishonest person to a sly fellow or wag-the word, the dictionary maintains, may also be used as a term of endearment -so you can have it any way you like.

But as this is no more an essay on rogues than fiction, we will get on with the four sly fellows, who, besides sitting round a barrel, were in fact using it as a card tablethe game was Manille, the French soldiers' equivalent of Bridge. The regiment was at rest, and the subject of discussion, in the intervals of a not


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Bourget, a Frenchman, originally of the south before Morocco claimed him after a peccadillo in his native town, was the first to pierce the mist : 'One might sell one of those dirty beasts," was his contribution to the discussion, pointing to the company mules kicking the flies off at the other end of the barn.

"And get six months in the disciplinary section for one's trouble without any wine,” grumbled Santoni.

They were typical of the Legion-that is, the Legion of Moroccan days: hard bitten enough, natives of four different corners of the globe, they had, by a process of evolution, become stamped with the same mark. They talked the same language-jargon of the Legion, half French, half slang,-had

the same tastes in wine, and afterwards at night," ventured the same moral code. Santoni.

The latter was peculiar unto themselves. They would fight like the devil when they had to, drink like the deuce when they could; would stand by each other up to a point, and had a weird kind of loyalty to the regiment. All had done years in Morocco-some in durance vile-before coming to France. None of them would say, few dared ask, why the Legion had claimed them. What, after all, was the Legion for, if they could not forget!

Bourget, a short little man, who would have been fat if this life had not made him do so much walking, with a black, almost Moorish, beard, persisted with his idea

"I know a farmer who wants some animals. He would buy if we told him they were captured from the enemy. He asked a copin (a pal) whether there weren't any old brutes about. He said he had none left, and couldn't even take his roots to market at Neuilly."

"The Piston would find out at once who had done it if any of his mules went," said Demironda, who, with more youth and less of Morocco in his blood, still had a healthy fear of Captain Léon de Faure, the said piston.

"Par Di, I have an idea,' said Bourget, who knew the ways of the French. "But it would mean telling Sergeant Petticon, and he owes me money already which I shall never see again," he added reflectively, taking a badly rolled cigarette from his lower lip, where it had been sticking, by a method known only to Frenchmen, during the germination of his ideas.

The four of them became interested as he unfolded his plan; there was something in this scheme of Bourget's, if it worked. What a study in contrasts these four men, and what a mental similarity! One would have thought that, born miles apart, they had been brought up by the same nurse or in the same stable.

Santoni was the pleasantspoken Italian, slim, dark, and rather quick; quickness itself when he wanted, i.e. when an officer was about; a Latin of the Latins, of the south, of the sun-he had no use for the greyness of the north. Opposite him sprawled Demironda, chiefly remarkable for his linguistic attainments. Portuguese by birth, it was one of the few languages he had difficulty in talking; his French, when he dropped Legion slang, would have adorned a Parisian salon-not that he had ever been in one, but he had picked it up somewhere or other. He could also converse with Rus

"Je m'en fiche du Piston," grumbled Balthazar. He was an old sergeant of the Brazilian Army, and cared not a hang for the captain of a French company. "We might put them back sians, with Czechs and Serbs,

had led a roving life round the Mediterranean, had tried everything from fisherman to mountaineer.

Not so Bourget, the concocter of schemes; he was French of the French, no traveller, except when he had to be; had once liked, and known, good food and wine; now— his eyes would become misty when he thought of it-he had to take what they gave him, had to move about with the others. It was not so easy,

this forgetting business . . . As for Balthazar, his was a phlegmatic disposition-and silent, though he could swear with the best of them when he was angry. Brazil! Why, he had forgotten the place long ago, hardly remembered where it was, except for an incident near Rio... Ah, these legionaries, which of them has quite forgotten that incident, the "why" of their regimental number.

But that is not our business.

Petticon, Sergeant of Mules, looked doubtful. He was a Parisian, with the craft of a gamin; rather smart, with a lot of service behind him, he had the médaille militaire for long service, and hoped for a Legion of Honour before the end of the war; but he, too, was short of cash, and there was a girl in a bistro-his opposite number across the Channel would have called it a "pub "-who was in need of money; there was a money famine, they all wanted money.

Then, “I am taking a waggon to the station to-morrow for ammunition-I might not notice if one or two of the brutes were missing when I return," he said.

Bourget had only given him an outline of the plot, enough to give him a shrewd idea of what was in the wind. There might be money in it, and if the Piston should come back


too soon and find out, he could get out of it in some way— they could do six months' "discipline" for it; he would find them out and get the credit. All was grist that came to his mill.

The upshot of it was that Santoni and Balthazar found themselves the next morning in the neighbourhood of Pierre Toustou's farm, a few miles out of Neuilly. The latter was airing himself in the sun with his hands in his pockets and casting disdainful looks at the empty stalls surrounding the refuse pit in front of the house; a good moment to broach the subject, thought the two men. They approached him, each leading his mule.

"Dirty weather," began Santoni by way of greeting-he knew something of farmers; that, sun or rain, all weather to them is more or less execrable.

"The country demands rain,'

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looked interested; mules, and good ones, too, did not come his way every day.


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How much? he asked. He was not a man of many words.

"Five hundred francs apiece," replied Santoni glibly. He would have been glad to get that amount for the twoother people's property goes cheap.

"Too much," mumbled the farmer, turning away. "I wouldn't give six hundred for the pair."

This was hopeful, thought Santoni, giving the nearest mule a kick and telling Balthazar to lead them on. Toustou hesitated and turned round again, asking them to come in and drink the wine of the country.

They left the mules in the yard and went into the kitchen, where they started bargaining in grim earnest. After an hour the two soldiers left without the mules, but with five hundred and fifty francs in their pockets. That will be a hundred for each of us and a hundred for Petticon," said Santoni as they left.


And the other fifty? asked Balthazar.

"We will say nothing about it. We can drink again on the way home," was Santoni's allsufficing reply.


Bourget, who would have tall, debonair, and ready in been fat but for this life he the use of words, looked smart had to lead, and Demironda, as they started off next morn

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