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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

conversational amenities, so I sat self-consciously
while the drumming din upstairs was doing its utmost
to achieve a reassuring climax. Three o'clock arrived.
The tick-tacking telephone-orderly in a corner re-
ceived a message that the attack had started. They
were over the barrier now, and bombing up the
trench. The Cameronian Colonel and his Adjutant
conversed in the constrained undertones of men who
expect disagreeable news. The Colonel was a fine
looking man, but his well-disciplined face was haggard
with anxiety. Dunning sat in another corner, serious
and respectful, with his natural jollity ready to come
to the surface whenever it was called for.

At the end of twenty minutes' tension the Colonel
exclaimed abruptly, "Good God, I wish I knew how
they're doing!35 . . . And then, as if regretting his
manifestation of feeling, "No harm in having a bit of
cake, anyhow." There was a large home-made cake
on the table. I was offered a slice, which I munched
with embarrassment. I felt that I had no business to
be there at all, let alone helping to make a hole in the
Colonel's cake, which was a jolly good one. I couldn't
believe that these competent officers were counting on
me to be of any use to them if I were required to take
an active part in the proceedings upstairs. Then the
telephone-orderly announced that communication
with Captain Macnair's headquarters had broken
down; after that the suspense continued monoton-
ously. I had been sitting there about two and a half
hours when it became evident that somebody was de-
scending the steps in a hurry. H.Q.. must have kept
its cooking utensils on the stairs, for the visitor arrived
outside the doorway in a clattering cascade of pots and
pans. He was a breathless and dishevelled sergeant,
who blurted out an incoherent statement about their