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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Swoop! Or How Clarence Saved England - Part One - Chapter 5 - THE GERMANS REACH LONDON
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The Swoop! Or How Clarence Saved England - Part One - Chapter 5 - THE GERMANS REACH LONDON Post by :Fexana Category :Long Stories Author :P G Wodehouse Date :June 2011 Read :2786

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The Swoop! Or How Clarence Saved England - Part One - Chapter 5 - THE GERMANS REACH LONDON

Part One, Chapter 5 - THE GERMANS REACH LONDON


The Germans had got off smartly from the mark and were fully justifying
the long odds laid upon them. That master-strategist, Prince Otto of
Saxe-Pfennig, realising that if he wished to reach the Metropolis
quickly he must not go by train, had resolved almost at once to walk.
Though hampered considerably by crowds of rustics who gathered, gaping,
at every point in the line of march, he had made good progress. The
German troops had strict orders to reply to no questions, with the
result that little time was lost in idle chatter, and in a couple of
days it was seen that the army of the Fatherland was bound, barring
accidents, to win comfortably.

The progress of the other forces was slower. The Chinese especially
had undergone great privations, having lost their way near
Llanfairpwlgwnngogogoch, and having been unable to understand the
voluble directions given to them by the various shepherds they
encountered. It was not for nearly a week that they contrived to reach
Chester, where, catching a cheap excursion, they arrived in the
metropolis, hungry and footsore, four days after the last of their
rivals had taken up their station.

The German advance halted on the wooded heights of Tottenham. Here a
camp was pitched and trenches dug.

The march had shown how terrible invasion must of necessity be. With no
wish to be ruthless, the troops of Prince Otto had done grievous
damage. Cricket-pitches had been trampled down, and in many cases even
golf-greens dented by the iron heel of the invader, who rarely, if
ever, replaced the divot. Everywhere they had left ruin and misery in
their train.

With the other armies it was the same story. Through
carefully-preserved woods they had marched, frightening the birds and
driving keepers into fits of nervous prostration. Fishing, owing to
their tramping carelessly through the streams, was at a standstill.
Croquet had been given up in despair.

Near Epping the Russians shot a fox....

* * * * *

The situation which faced Prince Otto was a delicate one. All his early
training and education had implanted in him the fixed idea that, if he
ever invaded England, he would do it either alone or with the
sympathetic co-operation of allies. He had never faced the problem of
what he should do if there were rivals in the field. Competition is
wholesome, but only within bounds. He could not very well ask the other
nations to withdraw. Nor did he feel inclined to withdraw himself.

"It all comes of this dashed Swoop of the Vulture business," he
grumbled, as he paced before his tent, ever and anon pausing to sweep
the city below him with his glasses. "I should like to find the fellow
who started the idea! Making me look a fool! Still, it's just as bad
for the others, thank goodness! Well, Poppenheim?"

Captain von Poppenheim approached and saluted.

"Please, sir, the men say, 'May they bombard London?'"

"Bombard London!"

"Yes, sir; it's always done."

Prince Otto pulled thoughtfully at his moustache.

"Bombard London! It seems--and yet--ah, well, they have few pleasures."

He stood awhile in meditation. So did Captain von Poppenheim. He kicked
a pebble. So did Captain von Poppenheim--only a smaller pebble.
Discipline is very strict in the German army.

"Poppenheim."

"Sir?"

"Any signs of our--er--competitors?"

"Yes, sir; the Russians are coming up on the left flank, sir. They'll
be here in a few hours. Raisuli has been arrested at Purley for
stealing chickens. The army of Bollygolla is about ten miles out. No
news of the field yet, sir."

The Prince brooded. Then he spoke, unbosoming himself more freely than
was his wont in conversation with his staff.

"Between you and me, Pop," he cried impulsively, "I'm dashed sorry we
ever started this dashed silly invading business. We thought ourselves
dashed smart, working in the dark, and giving no sign till the great
pounce, and all that sort of dashed nonsense. Seems to me we've simply
dashed well landed ourselves in the dashed soup."

Captain von Poppenheim saluted in sympathetic silence. He and the
prince had been old chums at college. A life-long friendship existed
between them. He would have liked to have expressed adhesion verbally
to his superior officer's remarks. The words "I don't think" trembled
on his tongue. But the iron discipline of the German Army gagged him.
He saluted again and clicked his heels.

The Prince recovered himself with a strong effort.

"You say the Russians will be here shortly?" he said.

"In a few hours, sir."

"And the men really wish to bombard London?"

"It would be a treat to them, sir."

"Well, well, I suppose if we don't do it, somebody else will. And we
got here first."

"Yes, sir."

"Then--"

An orderly hurried up and saluted.

"Telegram, sir."

Absently the Prince opened it. Then his eyes lit up.

"Gotterdammerung!" he said. "I never thought of that. 'Smash up London
and provide work for unemployed mending it.--GRAYSON,'" he read.
"Poppenheim."

"Sir?"

"Let the bombardment commence."

"Yes, sir."

"And let it continue till the Russians arrive. Then it must stop, or
there will be complications."

Captain von Poppenheim saluted, and withdrew.

Content of Part One Chapter 5 - THE GERMANS REACH LONDON (P G Wodehouse's novel: The Swoop! or How Clarence Saved England)

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NEXT BOOKS

The Swoop! Or How Clarence Saved England - Part One - Chapter 6 - THE BOMBARDMENT OF LONDON The Swoop! Or How Clarence Saved England - Part One - Chapter 6 - THE BOMBARDMENT OF LONDON

The Swoop! Or How Clarence Saved England - Part One - Chapter 6 - THE BOMBARDMENT OF LONDON
Part One, Chapter 6 - THE BOMBARDMENT OF LONDONThus was London bombarded. Fortunately it was August, and there wasnobody in town.Otherwise there might have been loss of life. (Note from : This chapter is very short)
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Part One, Chapter 4 - WHAT ENGLAND THOUGHT OF ITSuch a state of affairs, disturbing enough in itself, was renderedstill more disquieting by the fact that, except for the Boy Scouts,England's military strength at this time was practically nil.The abolition of the regular army had been the first step. Severalcauses had contributed to this. In the first place, the Socialists hadcondemned the army system as unsocial. Privates, they pointed out, wereforbidden to hob-nob with colonels, though the difference in theirpositions was due to a mere accident of birth. They demanded that everyman in the army should be a general. Comrade Quelch,
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