- from the book 'Many Fronts'
- 'Fighting for Serbia'
- edited by Lewis R. Freeman
fighting the Balkans - a romantic view from British and French newsmagazines
I have had many strange meetingsstrange in place and attendant circumstance in various and sundry odd corners of the world, but, everything considered, I am inclined to think my encounter with Radovitch, toward the end of last March, was the strangest of them all.
It was on the gorgeously flower-carpeted slope of a mountain-side in------ But let that transpire in its proper place.
There had been hint of gathering activity in the marching troops on the roads, and I knew that some kind of a skirmish was on from the scattering spatter of rifle-fire above and to my right; but that I had actually blundered in between the combatants was not evident until the staccato of a suddenly unmasked machine-gun broke out in the copse below. I did not hear the familiarly ingratiating swish of speeding bullets, and only an occasional twitching in the oak scrub told of a skirmishing soldier, but it was plain that if the rifles were firing in the direction of the machine-gun, and the machine-gun was firing in the direction of the rifles, the position of my shivering anatomy came pretty near to blocking a portion of the restricted little neck of atmosphere along which the interchanged pellets must make their way. One never learns it until he is under fireespecially rifle-firefor the first time, but the faculty for taking cover, for making oneself inconspicuous at the approach of real or fancied danger, is one of the few things in which the more or less degenerate human of the present day suffers the least in comparison with that fine and self-sufficient animal, his primitive ancestor.
I hurdled neatly over a natural entanglement of magenta-blossomed cactus, dived through a bosky tunnel in the gnarled oak scrub, and landed comfortably in the matted mass of soft maiden-hair where the water dripped from the side of a deep hole excavated by the village brick-makers in taking out clay. There was ample cover from anything but high-angle artillery fire on either side; so, picking out a bed of lush grass with a cornflower and buttercup pillow, I stretched in luxurious ease to let the battle blow over.
The rifles spat back at the woodpecker drum of the machine-gun for a minute or two, then quieted suddenly and gave way to the crashing of underbrush and the chesty 'tween-the-teeth oaths that tell of charging men. Scatteringly, in ones and twos and threes, they began stumbling by above my head, now revealed by the quick silhouette of a set jaw and forward-flung shoulders, and now by the glint of a bobbing bayonet, but mostly by those guttural swearwords which mark the earnest man on business bent. One of thema gaunt-eyed Serb in the faded horizon-blue uniform of a French poilu who passed near enough to the rim of my refuge to allow of a three-quarters length glimpse of him, carried a squawking golden-hued hen by the feathers of her hackle, and I was just reflecting how every other soldier that I had ever known would have put a period on that tell-tale racket by extending his grip round the windpipe, when Radovitch came down to join me. Not that he had anything of the ulterior intention of seeking cover that brought me therequite to the contrary, indeed. I saw him running hard and low (as every good soldier goes into grips with his foe), burst out of the thicket, saw him straighten up and try to swerve to the right as the hole suddenly yawned across his path, and, finally, saw the quick tautening of the scaly yellow loop of earth-running aloe root which deftly caught the toe of his shambling boot and defeated the manoeuvre.
There was little of the fine finesse of my own soft landing in the whacking "ker- plump" which completed the high dive executed by Radovitch after his contact with the aloe root. His gun out-dived him and cut short its parabola with the bayonet spiking a fern frond on the opposite bank, but his broad, bronzed Slavic face was the first part of Radovitch himself to reach the bottom, so that all the inertia of the bone and muscle in his firmly-knit frame was exerted in driving the ivory crescent of the teeth of his back-bent lower jaw in a swift, rough gouge through the yielding turf. He pulled himself together in a dazed sort of way, sat up, rubbed the grass out of his eyes, and kneaded gently the strained joints of his jaw to see that they were still swinging on their hinges. Reassured, he spat forth sputteringly asphodel and anemone and the rest of his mouthful of flower-bed, completing the operation by running an index finger around between the lower teeth and lip to remove lurking bits of earth and gravel.
There was something strangely familiar in that index-finger operation, and it was the sudden recollection that was the identical way in which we used to get rid of the gridiron clods that had been forced under our football nose-guards which was responsible for my fervent ejaculation of surprise. I don't recall exactly what I said, but it was probably something akin to "I'll be blowed!
The look of dazed resentment on Radovitch's grass- and dirt- stained face changed instantly to. one of blank surprise. The poor strained jaw relaxed, and he turned on me a stare of open-eyed wonder.
"Where in 'ell d'you come from? he gasped finally; and then, "You speak English?
When, ignoring the former query, I grinned acquiescence to the latter, he came back with, "Ain't 'Merican, are you? Don't know New York, do you?
On my admission of guilt on both charges, he crawled over and gripped my hand crushingly in his grimy paw.
"My name's Radovitch. 'Merican citizen myself," he said proudly. "Took out my last papers just 'fore I came over to fight for Serbia. Went to school five years in New York when I was a kid. Ever been in Chicago?'
Radovitch's excitement, increasing when he found I had been in Omaha (where he had worked in the stockyards), and Jerome, Arizona (where he had "dumped slag" in the copper smelter), reached its climax when I assured him that I had once played a game of baseball at Aldridge, a little coal-mining town in Montana, near the northern portal of Yellowstone Park.
"I got a store there, and a half int'rest in the baseball grounds and a dance-hall." he cried; and he was just in the midst of an excited account of his rise to fortune in what he called the "hottest little ol' camp in the Yellowstone," when the din of two or three fresh machine-guns opening in unison drowned his voice, and a few minutes later a half-dozen rifle muzzles were poked over the edge of our refuge, while a gruff-voiced Serb corporal, in the khaki tunic of a British Tommy and the baggy breeches of a French Zouave, informed us that we were his prisoners.
Radovitch, with a sheepish grin on his face, threw up his hands with the classic cry of "Kamerad! and then, shambling over opposite his captors, coolly bade them toss down a box of cigarettes for him and his "Merikansky" friend.
"Smashed mine when I fell," he explained, sauntering back and offering me a "Macedonia."
"Wouldn't you reckon we'd had about enough fighting in Serbia without these d------d sham fights while we're supposed to be resting up here in Corfu? It may be all right for new recruits; but you'll have to admit that two years of the brand of scrapping we've been getting over yonder in those mountains is not going to put us on edge for play-fighting like this. But never mind, we'll be back to the real thing again in a month or two. Come on along down to the camp and meet my Colonel. We were kids together in Prilep. Now he's in command of three thousand men and I'm only a corporal; but just the same I could buy him out twenty times over."
The bare outline of Radovitch's story he told me that evening (after he had officially been "set free" again), as I trudged beside him across the hills to his camp; but it was not until he obtained an afternoon's leave three or four days later, and took me for a stroll through the Serbian Relief Camp, that I learned he had-been one of that immortal band of heroes who, disdaining to take advantage of the open roads to the Adriatic or Macedonia after Belgrade fell, made their way to a mountain fastness in the heart of their own country and stayed behind to wage such warfare as they could on the hated invader. What sort of a warfare this was indeed, what sort of a warfare it is, for the band still survives, making up in an unquenchable spirit what it has lost in numbersI then learned for the first time.
It was only the unexpected coming across a newly arrived comrade (sufferingand it looked to me, dyingfrom an open bayonet wound and an advanced and hitherto neglected attack of scurvy), that turned Radovitch from wistful reminiscence of Aldridge, Montana, and set him talking of the grim realities of the life he had been leading in Serbia, a subject on which I had found him strangely reticent up to that moment. The things he spoke of that afternoon covered only an incident or two of his life with a body of men who, steadily depleted and yet as steadily recruited from Heaven knows where, have furnished an example of bravery and devotion to an all but lost cause almost without a parallel even in a war in which bravery and devotion form the regular grist of the day's work.
Because this band in question, although its exploits are even now being sung of by the Serbs along with those of the half-legendary heroes of their early history, is still a "force in being," exercising in its sphere an influence of its own on the course of the war, it is necessary that the names of the villages and towns and mountains and valleys and rivers to which Radovitch so constantly referred in his narrative should be entirely suppressed. I may say, however, that later inquiry which I made at Serbian Headquarters at Salonika revealed ample evidence that the things he told me ofas well as others scarcely less remarkable of which the time has not yet come to write occurred beyond the shadow of a doubt.
The mood to talk did not seize Radovitch until after he had led me to the summit of the hill behind the Relief Camp, from which lofty vantage the eye roved eastward across a purple strait to the snow-capped peaks of Epirus and Albania, westward to where what was once the Kaiser's villa of Achilleon stood out sharply against the sombre green of the backbone ridge of the island, northward to where its twin castles flanked to right and left the white walls and red roofs of Corfu town, and southward to the dim outlines of Leukas and Cephalonia, thinning in the violet haze of late afternoon. Below, on three sides, was the sea, with the storied Isles of Ulysses bracing themselves against the flood-tide racing into the bay; above, a vault of cloudless sky, and round about a thousand-year-old forest of gnarled olives. It was the effect of all this, together with the sight of his friend from Serbia in the little tented hospital of the Relief Camp, which set Radovitch talking of things I had been vainly trying to draw him out upon ever since I met him. While the mood lasted he seemed to need no other encouragement than the attentive listener so ready to hand; when it had passed he was back to the mines of Montana again, deaf and blind to my every attempt to make him talk of Serbia and what had befallen him there.
"How did your band get together in the first place? I had asked, "and what sort of men was it made up of? Was there some kind of organisation before the retreat, or did you simply drift together afterwards?
"It must have been mostly 'drift,' " replied Radovitch. "Probably the Government and our generals knew we'd have to give way when the Austrians and Bulgars together came at us, but none of the rest of us ever dreamed we couldn't wallop the whole bunch. So I don't think there is much truth in the yarn about the band of ' blood brothers' that had been formed in advance. We were about evenly made up at the start of men who wouldn't leave the country and men who couldn't leave the country. The first were mostly mountain men of the region we went to. There were a lot of ex- brigands among them, and most of them had been fighting the Turk, or the Bulgar, or the Government, or each other, all their lives. It was to the way these fellows knew the country, and how to live off it and fight in it, that we owed most of our success. The rest of us were all sorts of odds and ends who had fallen out of the retreat but had still been able to keep out of enemy hands.
"At first this particular mountain region which later became our stronghold, and is now the only part of Old Serbia in which the enemy has never set footwas but a refuge, and for a few weeks we were pretty hard put to find enough to live on. It was touch and go for food all of the first winter, and we lived mostly by night raids on straggling Austrian supply trains. But before long we rounded up enough sheep and goats to keep us going, and in the spring got one of the little mountain valleys under cultivation. Since last summerexcept for vegetables, which we had no luck with food was one of our least troubles.
"We had plenty of rifles from the first. A Serb will drop his clothes before he will his gun, as you will find if you ever see our army in action where a river has to be forded. Many a man straggled in to us without pants or shirt, but never a one that I ever heard of without his rifle.
We were also tolerably well fixed for cartridges, because a man don't use one in raiding or fighting from ambush to a hundred he pots off in the trenches. We always managed to have enough for our own regular army rifles, and after we got well started raiding, Austrian rifles and munition came in faster than we ever had use for them. We could have done with an extra machine-gun or two before we had our stone-rolling defence organised, and before the Austrians had learned that it didn't pay to try and crawl in and pull us out of our holes. But before the winter was over we had enough spare 'spit-firers,' so that we didn't mind risking the loss of one or two by taking them along on raiding parties.
"The lay of the mountains made the whole mesa just one big natural fort, and I miss my guess if in all the world there's another place of the same kind so easy to defend and so hard to attack. The mountains are steeper and rockier than that main range of Albania you see across there against the sky, and that's going some. I never struck anything half so rough in all the summers I put in prospecting in Arizona, Utah, and Colorado. Only one of the passes had a cart-road up to it, and only three had mule trails. At two or three other places a man could scramble up by using his hands, but everywhere else he would need to have ropes and scaling ladders.
"At every one of the passesincluding the one of the cart-road a half-dozen good rock-rollers, with plenty of ammunition, could put the kibosh on an army, and you may bet we saw to it that there was no shortage of pebbles on hand. For the first week or two my fingers were worn pretty near to the bone from handling rocks. The only way the Austrians could have got the best of us, once we had made ourselves at home, would have been with not less than a dozen regiments of their Kaiser Jaeger, mountain batteries and all; but by the time this fact sunk into them the Italians were keeping them so busy that they probably figured they couldn't spare any such number of Alpine troops for side-shows. Anyhow, they never even gave us a good run for our money in the way of attacks, though of course some of the raiding parties came in for pretty bad punishings every now and then.
The one thing that we needed most, first and last, was dynamite. If we could have got hold of even half a ton of it in the first month or two, before the Austrians got their patrols organised, we could have done no end of harm in blowing up bridges and tunnels where they had been missed in the rush of the retreat, and upsetting communications generally. When we finally did begin to get hold of powder, all the danger-points were so heavily guarded that we never got a fair chance at them. Once, with fifty men armed with knives, we rushed the guard at an important bridge and cleaned up the lot before a shot was fired. But something must have been wrong with the fuse or caps, for the dynamite placed under the near abutment never exploded, and there wasn't time to go back and do the job over. The next time we tried the same tactics it was on a tunnel, but here they had an ambush ready, and only about a dozen of the hundred men who were in the raid ever came back. The smoothest piece of tunnel work ever brought off was not done by our gang at all, but by a much smaller one that worked in the region of Uskub for a while, led by a Serbian Intelligence Officer from Salonika who had been dropped there a month before from an aeroplane. They descended into a very important pass in broad daylight, seized a train of empty freight cars that was waiting on a siding for a south- bound troop-train to go by, held it until a signal arranged for in advance told them the troop-train was entering the north end of the longest tunnel in that part of the country, and then turned the freight loose into the other end. We had word later that never a man was brought out alive, but the best effect of the job was its setting afire the lime rock in the heart of the mountain and the blocking of traffic for many months.
"This southern bandafter recruiting up to over a thousand men at one time, and making life miserable for the Austrians for nearly four monthsran short of food in mid-winter and had to break up. Its leader, however, disguised as a Bulgar soldier, worked his way back through the enemy lines, and after just missing being potted by the first Serb patrol he ran into after crossing the Cerna, reached Salonika in safety with a complete report of what he had seen during five months in hostile territory. It was the slickest job of the kind that has been put through in this neck of the war. The guy's name is ------, and, unless he's off on another lay of the same kind, you can probably see him in Salonika.
"As I was telling you," resumed Radovitch, "dynamite was the one thing we felt the need of more than anything else, and yetperhaps the one big thing we did wouldn't have been half so big (and maybe it would have failed completely) if we'd had the powder to go about the job the way we planned to do it in the first place. Did you ever hear what happened to the Austrian force that was camped in the------ Valley last spring?
"I remember reading one of their bulletins," I replied, "which admitted losing a battalion or two in a flood in that region. But that was due to 'natural causes,' wasn't it? Didn't a broken dam have something to do with it?
"Natural causes and a busted dam did have something to do with it," said Radovitch with a grin; "but nature in this case had some active assistance, and that was where we came in. It wasn't just a battalion that went down-stream, either; it was more like two of their big regimentsthe whole of the main force they had shivvied together to bottle us up with. It was the best thing we did by a mile; and, as I told you, it wouldn't have been half the clean-up it was if we'd had in the first place the powder to do it in the 'regular way.' If we had had the powder, we'd never have given Providence a chance, and, believe me, it was nothing but Providence that could have worked things round the way they finally came out.
"You see, it was this way," went on Rado-vitch, settling back comfortably and smiling the pleased smile of reminiscence that sits on the face of a man who recalls events in which he has taken keen pride and enjoyment, "the most open approach to our mountain country was by the gorge up which ran the cart-road. There was a good- sized area of watershed draining out this way, so that the little river running through the gorge was a pretty powerful stream even in low watera good bit bigger than the old Firehole in Yellowstone Park. This river flowed out of the main mass of the mountains into a fine bowl of an uplands valley, and then on out of that, through a rough range of foothills, in another gorge. At the head of this last gorge is a natural site to store water, and there as a project of an old Government reclamation scheme that had been held up halfway for lack of money to go on witha high dam had been built which backed up a deep, narrow lake four or five miles long.
"The Austrians had a small force in the little village in the valley of the lake, and patrolled four or five miles of the cart-road into the mountains, but the main lot of them were camped below the second gorge in an open, triangle-shaped valley that ran up from the plain to the foothills. It was a good, safe, healthy, well-drained camp, well above the top marks of spring high-water. The only threat to it was the lake behind the dam in the valley above, but, unluckily for them, they didn't know all the facts about that dam.
"The truth was that this dam was built to hold up a lake half again as deep as the one then there, but poor engineering and scamp contracting combined to make it too weak to stand the pressure up to the level intended. The English engineer who came to inspect it put a mark about two-thirds of the way up, and warned that it wouldn't be safe to ever let the water rise above that height. As a precaution, it had been the custom every February or March, before the spring thaw came, to drain off the water of the lake during the month or two before the run-off was the greatest, so that there was plenty of margin against the floods shoving up the level above the danger-point. The Austrians were good enough engineers to know that it was a rotten dam, but they didn't seem to have the sense to start lowering the water level before the spring freshets set in.
"Of course we didn't have to set up nights to figure what a break in the damif only it came sudden enoughwould do to the main Austrian camp; but the contriving of ways and means to bring about that 'sudden break' seemed to have us guessing from the first. The simple and natural thing would have been to try and work down a couple of raiding parties on either side of the lake, rush the guards at the dam with knives (as we did later at the bridge I told you of), plant two or three charges of dynamite, touch off the fuses, and beat it back to the hills. If we'd had enough powder, probably that's the thing we'd have tried, but with what success it's hard to say. The chances against anything like a 'clean job' were anywhere from ten to fifty to one. In the first place, there was the chance of some of the raiders running into an Austrian patrol or sentry and starting something before they ever got near the dam. Then there was the chance that the rush at the dam might not go off quietly enough to keep from bringing the force in the village down on us and making it hopeless to try and place the powder, even if we had cleaned up the guards. Or, if we did get the powder placed, there was the chance that we might fail to explode it (as happened at the bridge); or even if it did explode, it was no cinch that the dam would go all at once, or that the camp below wouldn't be warned in time to get clear. Yes, I'm sure it was a good fifty-to-one that one of these things would have upset the apple-cart if we'd happened to be in shape to try and do the job with dynamite. And once we'd showed our hand, of course, the Austrians had only to let the water out of the lake or move the lower camp, and the game was up for good.
"But the hundred or so sticks of forty per cent. 'giant' we had in stock were out of the question to tackle the job with, and so no move was made that might have stirred the enemy's suspicions of what we had in pickle for him. So, far from taking any precautions as the flood season approached, he only let the water go on rising in the lake and extended the main camp a hundred yards nearer the river. We talked over a hundred plans in the long winter nights, but it was not till the snow began to turn slushy at noonday, along towards the middle of March, that we hit on one that seemed to promise a chance of success.
"We had been hoping all along that the Austrians might let the water go on piling up behind the dam until it gave way, but it was not till one day when our scouts brought word that the gates had now been opened, with the evident intention of holding the lake at a level which they figured at about ten feet above the danger-point, that it occurred to us that we might do something to help the good work along. Nobody ever recalled afterwards whose idea it was, but a dozen of usofficers and men together, in the Serbian fashionsuddenly found ourselves waving our arms and getting red in the face discussing a plan for building a little dam of our own, backing up as big a lakeful of water behind it as we could, and then turning it loose on the big lake below at the crest of the spring floods. If any of us had had any engineering sense we'd have known that we couldn't build with no tools but a few axes and spades, and no materials but what nature had put there a dam in a year big enough to be of any use, let alone in a month. But having no sense to speak of in things of that kind, we went ahead with the job, and, with the luck of fools, pulled it off.
"There was a fine site for a dam at the upper end of the cart-road gorge, where it looked as though a solid barrier thirty feet high would back up a lake something like three-quarters of a mile long and from a quarter to half a mile wide. We began by building a 'crib' of pine-trunks thirty feet widewhich was to be filled with boulders and gravel. On our pencil plan of it, it was to be heavily buttressed from below and slope from both sides till it was only ten feet wide at the top. Our idea was to make it as much like a fort as possible, so that if the Austrians piped it off from an aeroplane they would think we were only working on defences. A hole was to be left in the middle for the river to flow out through, as we didn't intend to store water till the big rains and thaws set in. As it was rainy or windy every day from the time we started to work, the Austriansas far as we ever knewdid no flying over the mountains, so that we had no worry on that score.
"Upwards of five hundred husky Serbs can do a deal of work, but it didn't take more than three days of log-rolling and rock-packing to show thateven at the pace we were hitting it that hundred-yard-long, thirty-feet-high dam wouldn't be finished before the next season, and that, even if we did get it done some time, the stuff we were putting in it was too loose to stop water. It was at this stage of things that I had my big idea. I had worked in hydraulic mines in the West, and while we had nothing to rig up a pipe and nozzle from, there was a chance to divert a little mountain torrent that came tumbling down from the snows only a few yards below our dam site. Why not, I suggested, build up only a narrow crib of boulders and pine logs to act as a barrier, and then bring over this little torrentit was flowing about a hundred miner's inches at this timeand let it sluice down the loose 'conglomerate' from the four- hundred-foot-high cliff through which it flowed? Because no one had anything else to offer, we decided to try the thing.
"We used up a good half of our poor little store of powder in making the cut to bring over the stream, but the job was mostly easy digging, and we finished it in three days. My young 'hydraulic' sure tore down a lot of rock and gravel, but, as we couldn't rig up anything to confine it properly, it only spread out in a big ' fan,' which in turn was sluiced away by the river. That fairly stumped us, and when on top of it a big storm came on and brought down a flood that washed away all our cribbing, we chucked up in disgust our project of 'harnessing nature' against the Austrian and began to plan raids again.
"All that night it rained cats and dogs, and when I looked out of my hut the next morning the river was over its banks and humping it like a 'locoed' mustang. But the funny thing was that the cascade from the little stream we had diverted seemed to have disappeared. At first I thought it had bucked its way back into its old channel, but when I went down to look I found that it had been swallowed up by the cliff. Five times as big as on the night before, it came tumbling down over an up-ended stratum of slate, to disappear in a foamy yellow-white spout into a deep crack it had sluiced into the soft 'conglomerate.' At the bottom of the cliff it came boiling out from under the angling slate-layer in a stream that looked to be about equal parts of gravel and water. My baby 'hydraulic' had evidently undermined a sloping section of the cliff for a hundred feet or more, and only the tough slate stratum was staving off a big cave- in. How big a cave-in it was going to be, and what it was going to lead to, I never guessed.
"The warm rain kept plugging down all day, and was still pelting hard when I went to sleep that night. Towards morning I was waked up with a roar a hundred times louder than any snow-slide I ever heard, and then came a jar that rocked the whole valley. I felt sure a piece of the cliff had come down, but didn't have the least hunch that anything like what the first daylight showed up had come off. The first thing I saw as the dark slacked off was the shimmer of a flat stretch of water in the bottom of the valley, a lakejust as if it had been dropped from the skyright where we'd been trying to start one ourselves.
"The cliff had broken back a couple of hundred feet or more all the way to the top, and in falling had piled up clear across the head of the gorge. On the near side it was about one hundred and fifty feet high, on the farther side something like sixty.
"With the rain still pouring pitchforks and the snow melting all over the mountains, water was coming down at a rate that had the lake rising at the rate of two feet an hour all morning, and better than half that fast even when it began to spread out over the valley floor in the afternoon. The storm kept right on for three days. The second morning there was twenty-five feet of water at the dam, on the third forty feet and on the fourth near to fifty. The lake by this time was both bigger and deeper than the one we'd planned to make ourselves.
"By good luck the streams ramping down from the mountains into the gorge below the slide kept two or three times its average flow in the river, and so the Austrians who didn't know its habits very wellfailed to notice that anything unusual had come off up-stream. Our scouts reported that the water in the lower lake had not risen much, and that it seemed to stand at about fifteen feet above the danger mark. The Austrians, they said, did not appear to be paying any more attention to the dam than usual.
"We were hoping that the storm would hold until enough water was backed up to bust the dam on its own, but when it began to clear on the fourth day it was plain the best way out of it was to give the thing a push on our own account. We didn't have a hundredth of enough 'giant' to do the job, so had to rig the best makeshift we could by turning the still husky stream of my 'hydraulic' right along the sloping top of the slide and off down into the gorge.
"It was about midday when we set it sluicing, and all afternoon it licked off the loose earth as if it was sugar. By dark half the near end of the slide had slushed away, and the wall that still held was beginning to bulge and cave with the seep forced through from the other side. Half an hour later our pitch-pine torches showed the water bubbling through all the way along, and we knew it was time for us to clear out. It was none too soon either, for the last man was just out of the way when a heavy sort of rolling-grind started, and thenwhouf!out she went.
"I've been in 'Yankee Jim's' Canyon of the Yellowstone when the flood behind the break-up of the ice-jam in the lake came down, but that was a rat-a-tat to the roar that sounded now, The mountains themselves were shaking, and the movement started the ' hanging' snow-slides all the way down the gorge. It must have been a racket like that when the world was made. The lake was drained of all but mud in ten minutes, and it must have been about twice that long before a new sound broke in a roar so deep that it seemed to almost be a rumbling from under the earth. But we knew that it was the big dam goingthat our work was done for that night.
"The next morning at daybreak every man in shape to stand the climb over a mountain path we knewthe road down the gorge had been scoured out clean dropped down from three sides on the little Austrian force in the village where the dam had been, and killed or captured the whole bunch. Then we pushed on to the top of the foothills looking down to the plain. |Where the main Austrian camp had been was a slither of smooth mud, dotted with the stumps of snapped-off trees; and just that, and no more, was all we could see as far as our eyes could reach.
"And just so," cried Radovitch, leaping to his feet and shaking a fist toward the serrated sky-line to the north-east, beyond which ran the roads to Monastir and Prilep and Uskub; "just so, when the time comes, will the whole-------------herd of the swine be swept out of Serbia!"
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