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The night was very still; as I went along the field
path I was almost sure I could hear the guns. Not
that I wanted to; but the newspapers reported that a
new offensive had been started at Guillemont, and I
couldn't help feeling that our Division was in it. (I
still thought of it as "our Division".) Our village was
quiet enough, anyhow, and so was Protheroe's white-
faced house, with its creaking gate and red-blinded
windows. I rapped with the knocker and Miss Pro-
theroe came to the door, quite surprised to see me,
though I'd seen her a few hours before when she called
to return last month's Blackwood*s Magazine. Proth-
eroe was in the middle of a game of chess with the
village doctor, a reticent little man whose smallest
actions were always extremely deliberate. The doctor
would make up his mind to move one of his men, grasp
it resolutely, become hesitative, release it, and then
begin his cogitative chin-rubbing and eye-puckering
all over again, while Protheroe drummed his fingers
on the table and stared at a moth which was bumping
softly against the ceiling of the snug little parlour, and
his sister, with gentle careworn face, knitted some-
thing woollen for the brother who, though past forty,
was serving as a corporal in the infantry in France.
My arrival put a stop to the doctor's perplexities; and
since I was welcomed rather as a returned hero, I was
inclined to be hearty. I slapped Protheroe on the
back, told him he'd got the best dug-out in Butley,
and allowed myself to be encouraged to discuss the
War. I admitted that it was pretty bad out there, with
an inward feeling that such horrors as I had been
obliged to witness were now something to be proud
of. I even went so far as to assert that I wouldn't have
missed this War for anything. It brought things home
to one somehow, I remarked, frowning portentously