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board on nine successive mornings before my own
name (typewritten and slightly misspelt Sharston)
caused me to saunter away with the correct air of un-
concern. At that moment the Medical Officer came
in, shaking some snow off his coat.   Sturdy, pink-
faced and chubby, he looked a typical optimist.  He
had been two years with a fighting battalion and was
now down at the Base for good, with a well earned
D.S.O.   He and I got on well together, but his ap-
pearance was deceptive, for he was a profound pessi-
mist.   He now exclaimed, rather crustily, that he
supposed there'd only be one more winter out here, if
we were lucky.  I'd heard this remark from him be-
fore, and the first time had made me feel gloomy, for
I had been hoping that the War would be over by
next autumn. When the Mess waiter had brought him
a whisky I ventured to ask his opinion about the Ger-
man withdrawal on the Ancre; for at that time they
were retiring to the Hindenburg Line, and sanguine
subalterns were rejoicing over this proof that we'd
"got them on the run". The Doctor assured me that
the Germans were "pulling our legs properly". The
idea seemed to please him; he always looked his
brightest when he was announcing that we were cer-
tain to lose the War. We were now joined by a Rifle
Brigade Major with an Irish brogue, who had been a
cavalryman in the South African War.  He had got
his skull fractured by a bit of shell at the first battle of
Ypres, but in spite of this he was a resolute optimist
and was delighted to be back in France as second-in-
command of a New Army Battalion. England, he said,
was no place for an honest man; the sight of all those
dirty dogs swindling the Government made him sick.
When the Doctor grumbled about the rotten outlook,
the Major would say: "Yes, things couldn't be much