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The Rio Grande rattler. ([McAllen], Hidalgo County, Tex.) 1916-1917, January 19, 1918, Image 9

Image and text provided by New York State Military History Museum

Persistent link: http://www.nyshistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn87030234/1918-01-19/ed-1/seq-9/


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THE WADSWORTH GAS ATTACK a n d RIO GRANDE RATTLER 7 THE IDEAS OF ETHELBURT JELLYBACK, PRIVATE ¥ 1 1 . On How, Acting on Impulse, He Almost Got Into the Officers’ Training School. To the E d ito r : It has ever been a fault of mine-—and I m ake bold to confess it—to act on im pulse. Yes, I often hurl m y self into rash deeds, I, E thelburt Jellyback, a scion of one of our m o st prom inent fam ilies. T h a t was how I m e t with a rude rebuff at the hands of a high officer ju s t the other day. It began w ith the excitem e n t in our ten t over the beginning of the officers9 training school. I told my tentm a tes th a t I couldn't understand why the captain had failed to recom m end me for appointm ent. It was absurd, I declared—as absurd as sa­ luting, though some officers seem to have a fondness for this custom. Of course, I m y ­ self m ight have come to enjoy saluting if I had succeeded in entering the officers’ training school. “My training at home, in the m o st intel­ lectual circles of Fifth Avenue, ought to fit me for an officer,\ I said. “Yes,\ put in Jim M ugrums, the pudgy little first-class private who sleeps next to me. “It’s easy to get a comm ission in the arm y of the unemployed.\ You Can’t Fool Ethelburt. I knew th a t M ugrums spoke w ithout suffi­ cient respect for my position in society. I knew he did. It isn’t easy to deceive me in these things. I know, for instance, th a t yesterday’s stew, despite its tom a to cam o u­ flage, is the sam e stew to-day. Flanagan, my corporal, w e n t out laughing. It rankled in my soul, for Flanagan was going over to be exam ined for the officers’ training school. And he doesn’t possess one iota of the culture th a t is mine. I fell into reflection. I brooded. A sudden im p u lse seized me. (I told you it has ever been a fault of mine to act on im p ulse.) “W h a t/’ I asked m y self excitedly, “w h at is to prevent me going to the exam ination of my own accord?\ E thelburt Bushes Into Action. I seized my hat, adjusted my tortoise-shell spectacles, and rushed out of the tent. In my h a s te I forgot to wax my m o u stache. O u tside the appointed building I found the line of m en w aiting to enter to be ex­ am ined for the school. I fell in a t th e end of the line. I don’t m ean by this th a t I caught my toe on some obtruding object and actually “fell in.\ No, I m a intained perfect poise. I sim ply took up a position at the end of the line. I was still outside the door two hours later, shivering from the cold. If enough had not already been said in a satirical vein of the sunny South I would record my opinion here. Suffice it to say th a t I have renam e d it the Funny South. E thelburt Is Examined. At length my tu r n came to enter the long room and approach the officers standing there in a knot. To me it looked like a hard knot, stern and forbidding. But did I shrink? No! I rem e m b ered th a t the cap­ tain had w arned F lan a g a n : “For H e a v e n ’s sake, Mike, when you get up in front of those officers, m ake an im p ression. Do som e thing to get their attention.\ I w alked forw a rd and, six paces from them , I stopped, clicked my heels together, and saluted—oh, so sm a rtly! I could tell by the expression th a t suddenly cam e over the colonel’s face th a t I had already begun to m a k e an im p ression. “W h a t is your nam e ? \ he snapped out, glaring at me. “E thelburt Jellyback, Private.\ I never winced. “W h e re did you ever go to school?\ “I w e n t to Broton, sir, until I found life there too rough. Then I studied w ith p ri­ vate tutors. A fter that, H a rvard.\ “W h a t did you do before entering the serv­ ice?\ H is Previous Training. “W ell, sir, I did a great m any things. I spent a year in travel. I surrounded m y self w ith the best books, the best chappies and friends a fellow could hope to have, I m a n ­ aged m any a cotillion and social event for Mrs. H atton-H iggins, I drove my own ear— w h en the w e a ther w a sn’t too severe, you know—and—\ “H ave you had any previous m ilitary ex­ perience?\ “Yes, sir.\ I spoke up prom p tly, a snappi­ ness of tone would help to m ake an im p res­ sion I knew. “Yes, sir, I once visited the Campfire Girls at their spring m aneuvers.\ The colonel turned to another officer, who was sitting at a desk keeping records of the candidates. T h e y conversed secretly. T h e ir conversation continued. I began to wonder when the colonel would ever tu r n around and tell me I had been accepted. T h e n I began to fear he had intended to tell me but had forgotten about it. I m u s t do som e thing to get his attention, I told m y ­ self. So, in a sharp, com m anding voice, such as I m ight use w h e n com m anding troops of my own, I cried : “As you w e re!\ He Gets the Colonel’s Attention. It had the desired effect. The Colonel swung about as if on a pivot. He m u s t have been im p ressed for his face grew red and his hand was shaking. In it he held a paper containing the list of nam es. “W h a t—\ he thundered at me in a louder voice than necessary—“w h a t in the devil brought you here!\ “I came on the im p u lse of the moment, sir. I thought there would be an opening.\ “Yes, there is.\ The Colonel turned to the door. “Please close it after you go out.\ I felt like m a k ing him a long speech, in w h ich I should say th a t apparently the only officers they w a n ted w ere fellows who spoke like roaring cannons. B u t I restrained m y ­ self. I w e n t aw ay w ith a ,great am o u n t of hauteur and a confidence th a t I would hit upon other ideas soon. W h en I get them , Mr. Editor, you shall know of them . But you m u s tn’t dism iss them w ith such scant consideration as you displayed in your last note to me. I w rote you about some ideas, and added: “I have other irons in the fire.\ You rep lied : “Re­ move irons. Insert ideas.\ —ETH E L B U R T JELLYBACK Private. (C. D.) A BUILDING BOOM. This is getting to be quite a thriving little town—this here Camp W adsw o rth. The 102d E n g ineers allow as how they are going to build a church, and the 107th comes rig h t back w ith the announcem e n t th a t it is going to build a combined church and club­ house for use by the whole regim ent. P a r t of the building will be used for an officers’ club. NUT NUMBER NEXT WEEK. The next num b e r of the Gas A ttack will be the N u t Number. It will appear on January 26th. It will be som ething to m a r­ vel at. som e thing to laugh over, som ething to crack your brain on, and som ething to send home to the folks.

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