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and became conscious of my clean little room with its
tiled floor and shuttered windows. I knew that the
morning was fine; voices passed outside; sparrows
chirped and starlings whistled; the bell in the church
tower tolled and a clock struck the quarters. Flook
entered with my Sam Brown belt and a jug of hot
water. He remarked that we'd come to the right
place, for once, and regretted that we weren't there
for the duration. Wiping my face after a satisfactory
shave, I stared out of the window; on the other side
of the street a blossoming apple-tree leant over an old
garden wall, and I could see the friendly red roof of a
dovecot. It was a luxury to be alone, with plenty of
space for my portable property. There was a small
table on which I could arrange my few books. Hardy's
Far from the Madding Crowd was one of them. Also
Lamb's Essays and Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour. Books
about England were all that I wanted. I decided to
do plenty of solid reading at the Army School.

Near by was the Mess Room where fourteen of us
had our meals. A jolly-faced Captain from the Ulster
Division had undertaken the office of Mess President
and everyone was talkative and friendly. With half
an hour to spare after breakfast, I strolled up the hill
and smoked my pipe under a quick-set hedge. Loos-
ening my belt, I looked at a chestnut tree in full leaf
and listened to the perfect performance of a nightin-
gale. Such things seemed miraculous after the deso-
lation of the trenches. Never before had I been so
intensely aware of what it meant to be young and
healthy in fine weather at the outset of summer. The
untroubled notes of the nightingale made the Army
School seem like some fortunate colony which was,
for the sake of appearances, pretending to assist the
struggle from afar. It feels as if it's a place where I