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Tommy   By: (1860-1937)

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TOMMY

BY

JOSEPH HOCKING

AUTHOR OF

"ALL FOR A SCRAP OF PAPER" "DEARER THAN LIFE" ETC.

HODDER AND STOUGHTON

LONDON NEW YORK TORONTO

MCMXVI

TWO GREAT WAR STORIES BY JOSEPH HOCKING

ALL FOR A SCRAP OF PAPER DEARER THAN LIFE

OTHER STORIES BY JOSEPH HOCKING

Facing Fearful Odds O'er Moor and Fen The Wilderness Rosaleen O'Hara The Soul of Dominie Wildthorne Follow the Gleam David Baring The Trampled Cross

NOTE

My only qualification for writing this simple story of "Tommy" is that I have tried to know him, and that I greatly admire him. I met him before he joined the army, when for more than six months I addressed recruiting meetings. I have also been with him in training camps, and spent many hours talking with him. It was during those hours that he opened his heart to me and showed me the kind of man he is. Since then I have visited him in France and Flanders. I have been with him down near La Bassée, and Neuve Chapelle. I have talked with him while great guns were booming as well as during his hours of well earned rest, when he was in a garrulous mood, and was glad to crack a joke "wi' a man wearin' a black coat." I have also been with him up at Ypres, when the shells were shrieking over our heads, and the "pep, pep, pep" of machine guns heralded the messengers of death. We stood side by side in the front trenches, less than a hundred yards from the German sand bags, when to lift one's head meant a Hun's bullet through one's brain, and when "woolly bears" were common. So although I am not a soldier, and have probably fallen into technical errors in telling the story of "Tommy," it is not because he is a stranger to me, or because I have not tried to know him.

Only a small part of this story is imagination. Nearly every incident in the book was told me by "Tommy" himself, and while the setting of my simple tale is fiction, the tale itself is fact.

That is why I hope the story of "Tommy" will not only be read by thousands of men in khaki, but by their fathers and mothers and loved ones who bade them go to the Front, and who earnestly pray for their speedy and victorious return, even as I do.

JOSEPH HOCKING.

PRIORS' CORNER, TOTTERIDGE, HERTS, February 1916.

CHAPTER I

The Brunford Town Hall clock was just chiming half past three as Tom Pollard left his home in Dixon Street and made his way towards the Thorn and Thistle public house. It was not Tom's intention to stay long at the Thorn and Thistle, as he had other plans in view, nevertheless something drew him there. He crossed the tram lines in St. George's Street, and, having stopped to exchange some rustic jokes with some lads who stood at the corner of the street, he hurried across the open space and quickly stood on the doorsteps of the public house.

The weather was gloriously fine, and for a wonder the air in the heart of the town was pure and clear. That was accounted for by the fact that it was Sunday, and the mills were idle. Throughout the week days, both in summer and in winter, the atmosphere of Brunford is smoke laden, while from a hundred mills steamy vapours are emitted which makes that big manufacturing town anything but a health resort. Tom was making his way up the passage towards the bar, when the door opened and a buxom, bold eyed, red cheeked girl of about twenty four stopped him.

"You're late, Tom," she said.

"Am I?" replied Tom. "I didn't mean to be."

"I was thinking you weren't coming at all. Some young men I know of wouldn't have been late if I'd said to them what I said to you on Friday night." Then she looked at him archly.

"I couldn't get away before," replied Tom. Evidently he was not quite comfortable, and he did not return the girl's glances with the warmth she desired.

"Anyhow I am free till half past five," she went on. "I don't know what father and mother would say if they knew I was walking out with you; but I don't mind... Continue reading book >>




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