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Newspaper Page Text
GOODWIN'S WEEKLY s
' A WAR JOKE : By R R Gallagher I
SOME day Peter B. Kyne, author
u of "Cappy Ricks" and other blithe
stories ,will write his confessions. He
4ill toll, perhaps, how he came to
make a perfect record for artillery
Are in France when the qualifying
B tests were held. But Peter is too
busy just now writing fiction to tell
the truth and there is no reason why
the good story should be withheld un
til he gets ready to confess.
A prominent Salt Laker, who was
instructor at the Clermont school of
artillery in France ,has whispered the
merry secret which I proceed to
shout. If it is to be a case of pistols
and coffee at sunrise I will tell Peter
tJ0iave it out with hiB instructor. I
may add that the instructor is not the
least bit impressed with Peter's
marksmanship despite the strange
and wonderful record in France. It
is quite true that on the day in Ques-f
tion Peter hit every tarket placed be-!
Sfore him and won a reputation for
marksmanship and mathematical cal-
culation that might have stirred envy 1
I within the breast of Field Marshal
fN Foch if he had heard of it. Neverthe
less, I herewith aver, that the Salt
Lake instructor has his own opinion
about that record. He declares that
Peter is the be. t fellow in the world,
but as an artillerist
However, at this point, I must be
i gin the story.
The natural beginning of the narra
tive is back in Peter's youth. He
I was a brilliant scholar when he was
j fcot playing hookey or blowing spit
p- balls. When examinations were held
B he was the most expert in copying
V notes from a cuff or concealed scrap
C of paper. He made good in 3very
' form of juvenile deception, but -on one
l, thing he could not make good. He
could not tell a simple fraction from
an active verb. He thought a decimal
was a French yardstick and that a
! square root was not round. In a word,
j what he did not know about mathe-
music was the wonder and adniira-
i tion of all his teachers and school-
i mates. But being a master of pres
1 tidigitation and a good fellow he got
p That was all very well so long as
j he was a high private in the Phil-
j ippines and while he was writing
snappy stories for magazines. Even
J "Vf a member of the California Na
1 tional Guard he did not need to
weary his brain and his mates with
the little he knew about mathematics.
But the fateful day came when he
' was pitted against a writer ,as cele
brated as himself, who loved Euclid
with a consuming passion. When
I Steward Edward White wished for
mental recreation, after torturing him
self with a novel or an especially
complex short story ,he would fondle
a proposition in trigonometry. He
c$nld lead a trigonometrical function
around by tho hand and croon to it
J lovingly by the hour.
Peter B. Kyne and Stewart Edward
White were the literary stars of the
California National Guard. When
Stewart Edward wanted to get into tho
ff war nothing could hold back Peter.
The 140th regiment was formed. It
was designated an artillery regiment.
Stewart Edward White is said to
have smiled at Peter when the news
was brought to them. And this is the
only recorded occasion on which Pe
ter neglected and refused to smile in
Stewart Edward even went ao rar
as to remark that he was glad he was
such a good mathematician.
It was maddening to Peter. But
he would be revenged.
So they both joined the artillery.
Stewart Edward was made a major
and Peter a captain.
The story shifts from the Presidio
and the calm majesty of the Pacific
to the artillery school at Clermont,
the same being somewhere in France.
Peter was at this "somewhere," but
mathematically he was not there.
jfstewart was there mathematically and
(every other way.
' Major White was highly respected.
He was an ideal officer. He was
grave, dignified and a glutton for
Peter was gay, undignified and bril
liant in all branches of knowledge ex
How was he to qualify when the
time came fey; the tests'?
Being a dwiser ofi-'plots he thought
he could frame a ylat for the occasion.
I am njt quitesure of my ground
.here. The instructor said that Peter
framed no plot, but I suspect that
he, did. I suspect that he used his
ignetic qualities to get everybody to
nove him. Also he used a little coin.
Whenever the drinks were to be set
up Peter was there with the coin. He
was insulted if anybody else attempt
ed to pay. And such stories as he
told, and such with as he displayed.
He had the school in a gale of laugh
ter half the time. He was voted the
best fellow in all France. When he
laughed the school laughed. Which
means that the school was never
gloomy because Peter smiled always.
Major Stewart Edward smiled only
when he was poring over a problem in
trigonometry or calculus.
It was In this way that Peter be
came the 100 per cent gunner of tho
ltGth, the only one in that regiment.
His fellow officers vowed that Pe
ter should not fail. They were inter
ested in his success for two reasons
because of his rivalry with Major
White and because he was a good
fellow. They thought it would be such
a good joke if Peter could put it over
on the major.
So the ytried to teach Peter mathe
matics. They might as well have
tried to teach him to be serious.
When the tests came Major White
made an admirable record. His cal
culations were almost perfect. When
he telephoned his orders it was almost
certain that the target would show
signs of wear and tear.
But he didn't irke 100 per cent. In
fact, he didn lake 90 per cent.
But Peter n 100 per cent. Oh,
dear, yes. It was easy.
Evejy time Pete rtelephoned an or
der ther target fell in a fit, so to speak.
It lay right down and rolled over on
its side and wagged its tail.
He just could not miss.
Neither could you miss if a dozen
of the most expert mathematicians
wore at your elbow telling you what
Once or twice Peter came near
missing. Onco a prompter made a slip
of the tongue and naturally Peter
made the same slip, but the mistake
was rectified in the nick of time. On
another occasion Peter misunder
stood what was said to him and gave
the wrong signal, but again the blun
der was righted promptly.
100 per cent! A sensation at Cler
mont. Peter was a hero. Every jl
French officer at the school insisted
on kissing him.
And Stewart Edward didn't smile.
He congratulated Peter rather gloom- ifl
ily. Perhaps symptoms of suspicion M
surged in his soul. If so, he gave no M
sign. He was a good sport. 11
But he didn't say anything about M
mathematics after that. '
But Peter saw a grand opportunity. M
He was forever dispatching stories to M
the magazines in the United States.
After he had made his 100 per cent H
record he began to eschew humorous
(Continued on Page 12.) H
We don't know who this Bela
Kun fellow in Hungary is, but he I
never had any connection with
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