Skip to main content

Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

ling Street was the one I wanted. Finding one's way
about the trenches in the dark was no easy job when
one didn't live up there. I passed the dug-outs of the
support company at Maple Redoubt. Candles and
braziers glinted through the curtain-flaps and voices
muttered gruffly from the little underground cabins
(which would have been safer if they had been
deeper down in the earth). Now and again there was
the splitting crack of a rifle-shot from the other
side, or a five-nine shell droned serenely across the
upper air to burst with a hollow bang; voluminous
reverberations rolled along the valley. The shallow
blanching flare of a rocket gave me a glimpse of the
mounds of bleached sandbags on the Redoubt. Its
brief whiteness died downward, leaving a dark world;
chilly gusts met me at corners, piping drearily through
crannies of the parapet; very different was the voice
of the wind that sang in the cedar tree in the garden
at home. . . .

Pushing past the gas-blanket, I blundered down the
stairs to the company headquarters' dug-out. There
were twenty steps to that earthy smelling den, with
its thick wooden props down the middle and its pre-
carious yellow candlelight casting wobbling shadows.
Barton was sitting on a box at the rough table, with
a tin mug and a half-empty whisky bottle. His
shoulders were hunched and the collar of his trench-
-coat was turned up to his ears. Dick was in deep
shadow, lying on a bunk (made of wire-netting with
empty sandbags on it). It was a morose cramped
little scene, loathsome to live in as it is hateful to
remember. The air was dank and musty; lumps of
chalk fell from the "ceiling" at intervals. There was
a bad smell of burnt grease, and the frizzle of some-
thing frying in the adjoining kennel that was called