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chloride of lime and dead rats, or in idealizing the
grousings of Ormand and Mansfield because the jam
ration was usually inferior, seldom Hartley's, and
never Crosse and Blackwell's. But we'd all done our
best to help one another, and it was good to remem-
ber Durley coming in with one of his wry-faced stories
about a rifle-grenade exploding on the parados a few
yards away from him—Durley demonstrating just
how he'd dodged it, and creating an impression that
it had been quite a funny German practical joke.
Yes, we'd all of us managed to make jokes—mostly
family jokes—for a company could be quite a happy
family party until someone got killed. Cheerfulness
under bad conditions was by no means the least heroic
element of the war. Wonderful indeed had been that
whimsical fortitude of the men who accepted an in-
tense bombardment as all in the day's work and then
grumbled because their cigarette ration was one packet
short! But C Company Mess, as it was in the first half
of 1916, could never be reassembled. Its ingredients
were now imbued with ghostliness. Mansfield and
Durley were disabled by wounds, and Ormand was
dead. Barton was the only one of us who was func-
tioning at the front now; he'd gone back last spring
and had survived the summer and autumn without
getting a scratch. Poor old devil, I thought he must
be qualifying for a spell at Slateford by now, for
he'd been out there eighteen months before he was
wounded the first time. . . . No, there wasn't much
sense in feeling exiled from a family party which had
ceased to exist; and the Bois Frangais sector itself had
become ancient history, as remote and obsolete as the
first winter of the War. Everything would be different
if I went back to France now—different even from
what it was last April. Gas was becoming more and