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I recall a story, written in English, about a British or American WW1 or WW2 soldier who has to cross enemy lines to deliver a message which he was not to read. In the rain and mud, fearing the ink would run (or fearing imminent capture, I forget which) the soldier reads and memorizes the message and destroys the paper.

He survives to deliver the message. Why did the general (or colonel, I forget) trust the messenger’s word about the contents of the message in the absence of the official notepaper? He trusted it because the message was either “shoot the messenger” or “kill the messenger” or a variant. Surely no spy or double agent would deliver such a message!

What is the name of this story? Who wrote it?

To help narrow down the time, I read this story sometime in the 1970’s.

The story may have been in a public school textbook. I attended school in New York State.

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  • Could you provide more information about this short story? When did you read it (even just a decade is helpful)? What language was it in? Was it in an anthology, and if so can you remember anything about the rest of the anthology?
    – bobble
    Dec 23 '20 at 3:17
  • I read it in the 1970’s. It was written in English. The soldier was American or British. Dec 23 '20 at 3:48
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    Please edit any extra information you have into your question - don't leave it in the comments.
    – bobble
    Dec 23 '20 at 3:58

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