Skip to main content

Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

See other formats

come into this hut with such shining evidences of
youth in his face; and of dark-haired little Fernby
who was just such another; and of Lance-Corporal
Kendle, and all those others whose violent deaths had
saddened my experience. David was now returning
to be a candidate for this military martyrdom, and so
(I remembered it with a sick assurance) was I.

Lying awake while the stove-light died redly in the
corner of the room, I remembered the wine-faced
Army Commander with his rows of medal-ribbons,
and how young Allgood and I had marched past him
at the Army School last May, with the sun shining
and the band playing. He had taken the salute from
four hundred officers and N.C.O.s of his Army. How
many of them had been killed since then, and how
deeply was he responsible for their deaths? Did he
know what he was doing, or was he merely a success-
ful old cavalryman whose peace-time popularity had
pushed him up on to his present perch?

It was natural that I should remember Flixecourt.
Those four weeks had kept their hold on my mind,
and they now seemed like the First Act of a play—a
light-hearted First Act which was unwilling to look
ahead from its background of sunlight and the glory-
ing beauty of beech forests. Life at the Army School,
with its superb physical health, had been like a pre-
lude to some really conclusive sacrifice of high-spirited
youth. Act II had carried me along to the fateful
First of July. Act III had sent me home to think things
over. The autumn attacks had been a sprawling
muddle of attrition and inconclusiveness. In the early
summer the Fourth Army had been ready to advance
with a new impetus. Now it was stuck in the frozen
mud in front of Bapaume, like a derelict tank. And
the story was the same all the way up to Ypres. Belli-