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for the future consolation of B Company; but they
were better than nothing and the box was no weight
for my servant to carry.

Having seen the men settled into their chilly barns
and sheds, I stuffed myself with coffee and eggs and
betook myself to a tree stump in the peaceful park of
a white chateau close to the village. Next day we
were moving to our concentration area, so I was in a
meditative mood and disposed to ask myself a few
introspective questions. The sun was just above the
tree-tops; a few small deer were grazing; a rook
flapped overhead; and some thrushes and blackbirds
were singing in the brown undergrowth. Nothing was
near to remind me of the War; only the enormous
thudding on the horizon and an aeroplane humming
across the clear sky. For some obscure reason I felt
confident and serene. My thoughts assured me that I
wouldn't go back to England to-morrow if I were
offered an improbable choice between that and the
battle. Why should I feel elated at the prospect of the
battle, I wondered. It couldn't be only the coffee and
eggs which had caused me to feel so acquiescent. Last
year, before the Somme, I hadn't known what I was
in for. I knew now, and the idea was giving me emo-
tional satisfaction! I had often read those farewell
letters from second-lieutenants to their relatives which
the newspapers were so fond of printing. "Never
has life brought me such an abundance of noble
feelings," and so on. I had always found it difficult
to believe that these young men had really felt
happy with death staring them in the face, and I re-
sented any sentimentalizing of infantry attacks. But
here I was, working myself up into a similar mental
condition, as though going over the top were a species
of religious experience. Was it some suicidal self-de-