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scape looked parched and shabby; only the poppies
made harsh spots of red, matching the head caps of
the Indian cavalry who were camped near by.

Among all this activity time passed sluggishly for
me. Inside our tent I used to stare at the camouflage
paint smears which showed through the canvas, for-
mulating patterns and pictures among which the
whiteness of the sky showed in gaps and rents. The
paint smears were like ungainly birds with wide spread
wings, fishes floating, monkeys in scarecrow trees, or
anything else my idle brain cared to contrive. In one
corner a fight was going on (in a Futuristic style) and
a figure brandished a club while his adversary took a
side-leap, losing an arm and a leg from a bomb ex-
plosion. Then someone would darken the doorway
with a rumour that the Battalion had been moved up
to attack High Wood—a new name, and soon after-
wards an ugly one. Night would fall, with the others
playing "Nap" and talking stale war stuff out of the
Daily Mail> and the servants singing by a bright shell-
box fire in the gusty twilight. And I would think about
driving home from cricket matches before the War,
wondering whether I'd ever go back to that sort of
thing again.

I remember another evening (it was the last one I
spent in that place) when the weather seemed await-
ing some spectacular event in this world of blundering
warfare. Or was it as though the desolation of num-
berless deaths had halted the clouded sky to an atti-
tude of brooding inertia? I looked across at Albert;
its tall trees were flat grey-blue outlines, and the
broken tower of the basilica might have been a gigan-
tic clump of foliage. Above this landscape of massed
stillness and smoky silhouettes the observation balloons
were swaying slowly, their noses pointing toward the