From "The Orderly Sergeant," Five Nines and Whiz Bangs, 1937
Not the least attractive of the virtues one learns in the Army is the virtue of modesty. Confronted with a situation that demands from him some admission of his own worth, the soldier is invariably overwhelmed with an embarrassing shyness. You've met fellahs like—What's that?
Oh, nonsense, of course you have.
I'm thinking of that old troop of whom my friend Chester Payne tells.
Early in the Grand Embroglio, Sir Sam Hughes was making one of his rare inspections of an active service battalion. Give Sam credit, he was never known to turn any troops out for inspection oftener than twice a day.
On the right of the line stood a tall, broad-shouldered, well set up musketeer. His moustache was waxed, his eyes bored right to the front, head back, chin drawn in, his torso straight as a ramrod. Sam's eye lit on him at once.
"That," said Sam, "is the kind of chap I like to see. I can pick 'em out anywhere. An old soldier, eh? He is an old soldier, isn't he?" Sam turned to Ches.
"You bet he is," Sam said. With an approving smile he walked up to the troop.
"Well, my man, I like your looks," he said frankly. "What regiment did you serve in?"
"Ain't served in no regiment, Sir."
"What!" Sir Sam's eyebrows took a stream-line.
"Ah, you were in the artillery, though?"
Sam scowled. It wasn't often he made mistakes like this. He looked the chap up and down. He was buffaloed. And it didn't please him a bit that he'd been caught out making a mistake. In disgust he turned away. "I thought you told me that fellow'd been a soldier," he snorted to Ches witheringly. "Let that be a lesson to you. Never go by appearances."
He said other things, too; but the foregoing is sufficient to indicate his ministerial disapproval.
Ches was a bit chagrined. When the parade was over and Sam had crashed noisily out of the picture, he saw the object of Sam's interest approaching. Stepping smartly up, the laddie saluted.
"Did you spring that guff on Sam about me bein' an old soldier, Sir?"
"I did. I told him. What's the big idea of makin' a ninny out of me like that?"
"Well, you see, Sir—" The troop hesitated, with a soft, embarrassing blush suffusing his features.
"Whatja mean by denying it?" demanded Ches warmly. "Weren't you in the 3rd Provisional of The Royal Canadian Regiment in Halifax?"
"Sure I was," murmured the troop coyly. "An' they're still lookin' for me."