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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

servants expressed it; they were competing for the
favours of a handsome young woman in the farm-
house, and a comedy of primitive courtship was being
enacted in the kitchen. Death would be lying in wait
for the troops next week, and now the flavour of life
was doubly strong. As I went to my room across the
road, the cool night smelt of mown grass and leafy
gardens. Away toward Corbie there was the sound
of a train, and bull-frogs croaked continuously in the
marshes along the river. I wasn't sorry to be back; I
was sure of that; we'd all got to go through it, and 1
was trying to convert the idea of death in battle into
an emotional experience. Courage, I argued, is a
beautiful thing, and next week's attack is what I have
been waiting for since I first joined the army. I am
happy to-night, and I don't suppose I'll be dead in a
month's time. Going into my billet I almost fell over
a goat which was tethered among some currant
bushes in the garden.

Five days passed us by. We did easy field-training;
the Battalion Sports were a great success, and we
were defeated, in an officers' tug-of-war, by our gth
Battalion who were resting a few miles away. Satur-
day evening brought a feeling of finality, for we were
moving up to Morlancourt on Monday and the in-
tense bombardment had begun that morning. Bar-
ton and I (and our bottle of '38 brandy) dined at
Battalion Headquarters. Kinjack was full of confi-
dence; he told us that the French were holding on
well at Verdun, which would make all the difference.
But the doctor looked thoughtful, and even the brandy
couldn't make Barton optimistic about his ability to
command a company in open warfare.

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