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awake in civilian life. We were lucky to be dry, for
the sky was overcast. At one o'clock our old enemy
the rain arrived in full force. Four hours' deluge
left the troops drenched and disconsolate, and then
Dottrell made one of his providential appearances
with the rations. Dixies of hot tea, and the rum issue,
made all the difference to our outlook. It seemed to
me that the Quartermaster symbolized that region
of temporary security which awaited us when our
present adversities were ended. He had a cheery
word for everyone, and his jocularity was judicious.
What were the jokes he made, I wonder? Their help-
fulness must be taken for granted. I can only remem-
ber his chaffing an officer named Woolman, whose
dumpy figure had bulged abnormally since we came
up to the battle area, Woolman's young lady in
England had sent him a bullet-proof waistcoat; so far
it had only caused its wearer to perspire profusely;
and although reputed to be extremely vulnerable, it
had inspired a humorist in his company to refer to
him as "Asbestos Bill".

Time seems to have obliterated the laughter of the
war. I cannot hear it in my head. How strange such
laughter would sound, could I but recover it as it was
on such an evening as I am describing, when we all
knew that we'd got to do an attack that night; for
short-sighted Barton and the other company com-
manders had just returned from a reconnaissance
of the ground which had left them little wiser than
when they started. In the meantime we'd got some
rum inside us and could find something to laugh
about. Our laughter leapt up, like the flames of camp
fires in the dusk, soon to be stamped out, or extin-
guished by our impartial opponent the rain. The
consoling apparition of Dottrel! departed, and I don't