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becoming a recognized fact, even in the ranks, that
we were unlikely to be sent to the Front in our present
semi-efficient condition. It was said, too, that
"Kitchener had got a down on our Brigade". I
remember riding home from a Brigade Field Day
one afternoon at the end of September. My horse
had gone lame and I had been given permission to
withdraw from the unconvincing operations. During
three or four leisurely miles back to the Workhouse
I was aware of the intense relief of being alone and,
for those few miles, free. For the first time since I'd
joined the Army with such ardours I felt homesick. I
was riding back to a Workhouse and the winter lay
ahead of me. There was no hope of sitting by the fire
with a book after a good day's hunting.
I thought of that last cricket match, on August
Bank Holiday, when I was at Hoadley Rectory
playing for the Rector's eleven against the village,
and how old Colonel Hesmon had patted me on the
back because I'd enlisted on the Saturday before.
Outwardly the match had been normally conducted
but there was something in the sunshine which none
of us had ever known before that calamitous Monday.
Parson Colwood had two sons in the service, and his
face showed it. I thought of how I'd said good-bye
to Stephen the next day. He had gone to his Artillery
and I had gone to stay at the hotel in Downfield,
where I waited till the Wednesday morning and then
put on my ill-fitting khaki and went bashfully down
to the Drill Hall to join the Downfield troop. I had
felt a hero when I was lying awake on the floor of
the Town Hall on the first night of the War.
But the uncertainty and excitement had dwindled.
And here I was, riding past the park wall of Lord
Kitchener's country house and wondering how long