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"old soldiers", among whom he was now listened to as
one having authority. It was something to have been
in the Battle of the Somme; but to have been at the
Battle of Loos as well made him feel quite a big gun.
In our hut, however, we sought fresher subjects than
bygone battles and obliterated trenches. I enjoyed
talking about English literature, and listened to him as
to an oracle which I could, now and then, venture to
contradict. Although he was nine years younger than
I was, I often found myself reversing our ages, since he
knew so much more than I did about almost every-
thing except fox-hunting. He made short work of
most books which I had hitherto venerateda for David
was a person who consumed his enthusiasms quickly,
and he once fairly took my breath away by pooh-
poohing Paradise Lost as "that moribund academic
concoction". I hadn't realized that it was possible to
speak disrespectfully about Milton. Anyhow, John
Milton was consigned to perdition, and John Skelton
was put forward as "one of the few really good poets".
But somehow I could never quite accept his supremacy
over Milton as an established fact. At that period
Samuel Butler was the source of much of David's in-
genuity at knocking highly-respected names and
notions off their perches.

Anyhow, I was always ready to lose another literary
illusion, for many of my friend's quiddities were as
nicely rounded, and as evanescent, as the double
smoke rings he was so adroit at blowing. He was full of
such entertaining little tricks, and I never tired of hear-
ing him imitate the talk of excitable Welshmen. He
was fond of music, too; but it was a failure when we
went to an orchestral concert in Liverpool. David
said that it "upset him psychologically". It was no
good as music either. No music was really any good