War was fifty kilometres away, though we could hear the big guns booming beyond the horizon. I was happy as I trudged along the lanes in the column, with my platoon chattering behind me and everything gilt with the sun's good humour. Happier still when I borrowed the little black mare no one could ride and cantered about the open country by myself, which I did two or three afternoons a week. The black mare was well bred, but had lost the use of one eye. She had a queer temper, and had earned an evil reputation by kicking various officers off or bolting back to the transport lines with them after going half a mile quite quietly. She was now used as a pack-pony for carrying ammunition, but by gentle treatment I gained her confidence and she soon became a sort of active-service echo of my old favour- ites. Dick rode out with me as often as he could per- suade the Transport Officer to let him have a horse. When riding alone I explored the country rather absent-mindedly, meditating on the horrors which I had yet to experience; I was unable to reconcile that skeleton certainty with the serenities of this winter landscapeŚclean-smelling, with larks in the sky, the rich brown gloom of distant woods, and the cloud shadows racing over the lit and dappled levels of that widespread land. And then I would pass a grey- roofed chateau, with its many windows and no face there to watch me pass. Only a bronze lion guarding the well in the middle of an overgrown lawn, and the whole place forlorn and deserted. Once, as I was crossing the main road from Abbeville to Beauvais, I watched the interminable column of a French army corps which was moving southward. For the first time I saw the famous French field-guns -the "75's".