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Social experience at Nutwood was varied by an
occasional visitor. One evening I sat next to the ne\v
arrival, a fashionable young woman whose husband
(as I afterwards ascertained) was campaigning in the
Cameroons. Her manner implied that she was ready
to take me into her confidence, intellectually; but my
responses were cumbersome and uneasy, for her con-
versation struck me as containing a good deal of
trumped-up intensity. A fine pair of pearls dangled
from her ears, and her dark blue eyes goggled emptily
while she informed me that she was taking lessons in
Italian. She was "dying to read Dante", and had
already started the Canto about Paolo and Francesca;
adored D'Annunzio, too, and had been reading his
Paolo and Francesca (in French). "Life is so wonder-
ful—so great—and yet we waste it all in this dreadful
War!" she exclaimed. Rather incongruously, she then
regaled me with some typical gossip from high
quarters in the Army. Lunching at the Ritz recently,
she had talked to Colonel Repington, who had told
her—I really forget what, but it was excessively signi-
cant, politically, and showed that there was no need
for people to worry about Allenby's failure to advance
very far at Arras. Unsusceptible to her outward
attractions, I came to the conclusion that she wasn't
the stamp of woman for whom I was willing to make
the supreme sacrifice. . . .

Lord Asterisk had returned that evening from
London, where he'd attended a dinner at the House of
Lords. The dinner had been in honour of General
Smuts (for whom I must parenthetically testify my
admiration). This name made me think of Joe
Dottrell, who was fond of relating how, in the Boer
War, he had been with a raiding party which had
nocturnally surprised and almost captured the Head-