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the group we had so much to tell one another that I
very soon went back with him to his tentless hillside.
On the way I gave him a breathless account of my
adventures up at Mametz Wood, but neither of us
really wanted to talk about the Somme Battle. We
should probably get more than enough of it before
we'd finished. He had only just joined the Second Bat-
talion, and I was eager to hear about England. The
men of his platoon were lying down a little way off;
but soon their recumbent mutterings had ceased, and
all around us in the gloom were sleeping soldiers and
the pyramids of piled rifles. We knew that this might
be our last meeting, and gradually an ultimate strange-
ness and simplicity overshadowed and contained our
low-voiced colloquies. We talked of the wonderful
things we'd do after the war; for to me David had
often seemed to belong less to my war experience than
to the freedom which would come after it. He had
dropped his defensive exuberance now, and I felt that
he was rather luckless and lonely—too young to be
killed up on Bazentin Ridge. It was midnight when
I left him. First thing in the morning I hurried up the
hill in hope of seeing him again. Scarcely a trace re-
mained of the battalion which had bivouacked there,
and I couldn't so much as identify the spot where we'd
sat on his ground sheet, until I discovered a scrap of
silver paper which might possibly have belonged to
the packet of chocolate we had munched while he
was telling me about the month's holiday he'd had
in Wales after he came out of hospital.

When I got back to our tent in the Transport Lines
I found everyone in a state of excitement. Dottrell
and the ration party had returned from their all-
night pilgrimage with information about yesterday's
attack. The Brigade had reached its first objectives.