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then. The helmets gave them a Chinese look. To tell
the truth, their faces looked sullen, wretched and
brutal as they sweated with their packs under glisten-
ing waterproof capes. Worried civilian officers on
horses, young-looking subalterns in new rainproof
trench-coats; and behind the trudging column the
heavy transport horses plodding through the sludge,
straining at their loads, and the stolid drivers munch-
ing, smoking, grinning, yelling ^ coarse gibes at one
another. It was the War all right, and they were
going in the direction of it.

Late that afternoon I walked out a little way from
our billets. In the brooding stillness I watched the
willows and poplars, and the gleaming dikes which
reflected the fault flush of a watery sunset. A heron
sailed slowly away across the misty flats of ploughed
land. Twilight deepened, and a flicker of star-shells
wavered in the sky beyond Bethune. The sky seemed
to sag heavily over Flanders; it was an oppressive,
soul-clogging country, I thought, as I went back to
our company mess in the squalid village street, to
find Dick polishing his pipe against his nose, Ormand
and Mansfield playing "nap", and Durley soberly
reading The Cloister and the Hearth in an Everyman
edition. Already we were quite a happy family. "Old
Man Barton" as we called him, had gone out to
invite the Quartermaster to dinner with us. Until
that evening I had only seen the Q,.M. from a dis-
tance, but I was already aware that he was the bed-
rock of the battalion (as befitted one on whom we
relied for our rations). I saw him clearly for what he
was, on that first evening (though not so clearly as I
can see him now).

Joe Dottrell had been quartermaster-sergeant be-
fore the War; he was now Acting Quartermaster,