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any minute; for although the evening air was as quiet
as a cathedral, a canister soon came over quite near
enough to shatter my meditations with its unholy
crash and cloud of black smoke. A rat scampered
across the tin cans and burst sandbags, and trench
atmosphere reasserted itself in a smell of chloride of
lime. On my way to the dug-out, to fetch my revolver
and attend the twilight ceremony of stand-to and rifle
inspection, I heard the voice of Flook; just round a
bend of the support trench he was asking one of the
company bombers if he'd seen his officer bloke go
along that way. Flook was in a hurry to tell me that I
was to go on leave. I didn't wait to inspect my pla-
toon's rifles, and not many minutes later I was on my
way down the Old Kent Road trench. Maple Redoubt
was getting its usual evening bombardment, and as a
man had been killed by a whizz-bang in the Old Kent
Road a few minutes earlier, I was glad when I was
riding back to Morlancourt with Cottrell; glad, too,
to be driving to Mericourt station behind the sluggish
pony next morning; to hear the mellow bells of Rouen
on the evening air while the leave train stood still for
half an hour before making up its mind to lumber on
to Havre. And thus the gradations of thankfulness
continued, until I found myself in a quiet house in
Kensington where I was staying the night with an old
friend of Aunt Evelyn's.

To be there, on a fine Sunday evening in June, with
the drawing-room windows open and someone play-
ing the piano next door, was an experience which now
seemed as queer as the unnatural conditions I had
returned from. Books, pictures, furniture, all seemed
kind and permanent and unrelated to the present
time and its troubles. I felt detached from my sur-
roundings—rather as if I were in a doctor's waiting-