I saw this sentence in New Concept English 3 lesson 5.
However, he had at last been allowed to send a cable in which he informed the editor that he had been arrested while counting the 1084 steps leading to the 15-foot wall which surrounded the president's palace.
I believe the items in bold is reduced from "he had been arrested while he had been counting".
I've come up with 2 explanations for this omission, but neither seems flawless to me.
- I know that we don't repeat words in coordinate clauses, but I'm not sure if this rule also applies to subordinate clauses which the while-clause here belongs to. If it does, then omitting "he had been" after "while" is completely reasonable. However, as this omission has nothing to do with "while", I believe "while" is replaceable. It follows that "he had been arrested as counting" should also be correct, which seems odd to me.
- I know that it is acceptable to omit subject + auxiliary verb "be" in while-clauses if the main and subordinate clauses refer to the same subject. However, I doubt if this rule applies here, because the auxiliary verb here is "had been", not just "be". In my opinion, the items should be rewritten as "he had been arrested while having been counting" if we apply this rule here.
I know there must be something wrong with my reasoning, but I can't figure it out.