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proud and burly, pacing the platform beside his
slender son and wearing cheeriness like a light un-
clerical overcoat, which couldn't conceal the gravity
of a heart heavy as lead. What did they say to one
another, he and Aunt Evelyn, when the train had
snorted away and left an empty space in front of
them? ...

To have finished with farewells; that in itself was
a burden discarded. And now there was nothing
more to worry about. Everything was behind us,
and the first battalion was in front of us.

At nine o'clock we were none of us looking over
bright, for we had paraded with kit at two in the
morning, though the train, in its war time way,
hadn't started till three hours later. There we sat,
Dick and I and Mansfield (at last released from peace
time Army conventions) and Joe Earless (a gimlet-
moustached ex-sergeant-major who was submitting
philosophically to his elevation into officerdom and
spat on the floor at frequent regular intervals). On
our roundabout journey we stopped at St. Pol and
overheard a few distant bangs—like the slamming of
a heavy door they sounded. Earless had been out
before; had been hit at the first battle of Ypres; had
left a wife and family behind him; knocked his pipe
out and expectorated, with a grim little jerk of his
bullet head, when he heard the guns. We others
looked at him for guidance now, and he was giving
us all we needed, in his taciturn, matter-of-fact way,
until he got us safely reported with the first battalion.

It felt funny to be in France for the first time. The
sober-coloured country all the way from Etaples had
looked lifeless and unattractive, I thought. But one
couldn't expect much on a starved grey November
morning. A hopeless hunting' country, it looked. . . .