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Rees never minded making himself look ridiculous,
and I began to feel that he was capable of taking care
of himself.   Shirley raised his eyebrows during the
recital, evidently disapproving of such volubility and
not at all sure that officers ought to throw themselves
flat on their faces when shells burst. Later in the day
I took him for a walk up the hill; I wanted to educate
him in unpleasant sights. The wind had dropped and
the sunset sky was mountainous with calm clouds. We
inspected a tank which had got stuck in the mud while
crossing a wide trench. We succeeded in finding this
ungainly monster interesting. Higher up the hill the
open ground was dotted with British dead. It was an
unexpectedly tidy scene, since most of them had been
killed by machine-gun fire.   Stretcher-bearers had
been identifying the bodies and had arranged them
in happy warrior attitudes, hands crossed and heads
pillowed on haversacks. Often the contents of a man's
haversack were scattered around him. There were
letters lying about; the pathos of those last letters
from home was obvious enough. It was a queer thing,
I thought, that I should be taking a young Oxford
man for this conducted tour of a battlefied on a fine
April evening. Here we were, walking about in a sort
of visible fraction of the Roll of Honour, and my pupil
was doing his best to behave as if it were all quite
ordinary and part of the public school tradition. He
was being politely introduced to the horrors of war,
and he made no comment on them. Earlier in the day
an attack on Fontaine-les-Croiselles had fizzled out in
failure. Except for the intermittent chatter of machine-
guns, the country ahead of us was quiet. Then, some-
where beyond the ridge, a huge explosion sent up a
shapeless tower of yellow vapour. I remarked sagely
that a German dump had probably been blown up,