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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

was 300 yards away up a slope. Gaps had been cut in
our wire for the attacking battalion to pass through.
Early on the next afternoon Kinjack came up to in-
spect the gaps. With the assistance of his big periscope
he soon discovered that the wire wasn't properly cut.
It must be done that night, he said. Barton brought
me the news. I was huddled up in a little dog-kennel
of a dug-out, reading Tess of the D> Urbervilles and
trying to forget about the shells which were hurrying
and hurrooshing overhead. I was meditating about
England, visualizing a grey day down in Sussex; dark
green woodlands with pigeons circling above the tree-
tops; dogs barking, cocks crowing, and all the casual
tappings and twinklings of the countryside. I thought
of the huntsman walking out in his long white coat
with the hounds; of Parson Colwood pulling up
weeds in his garden till tea-time; of Captain Huxtable
helping his men get in the last load of hay while a
shower of rain moved along the blurred Weald below
his meadows. It was for all that, I supposed, that I
was in the front-line with soaked feet, trench mouth,
and feeling short of sleep, for the previous night had
been vigilant though uneventful. Barton's head and
shoulders butting past the gas-blanket in the dug-out
doorway wrecked my reverie; he wanted me to come
out and have a squint at the uncut wire, which was
no day dream since it was going to affect the fortunes
of a still undiminished New Army Battalion. Putting
Tess in my pocket, I followed him to the fire-trench,
which was cumbered with gas-cylinders and boxes of
smoke-bombs. A smoke-cloud was to be let off later in
the afternoon, for no special reason (except, perhaps,
to make us cough and wipe our eyes, since what wind
there was blew the smoke along our trench). Shells
were banging away on the rising ground behind Fri-

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