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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

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more of a problem—one might almost say, more of a
nightmare. Hadn't I just spent an afternoon playing
golf with a man who'd lost half his company in a gas-
bombardment a couple of months ago? ... It seems
to amount to this, I ruminated, twirling my putter as
I polished its neck—that I'm exiled from the troops
as a whole rather than from my former fellow-officers
and men. And I visualized an endless column of
marching soldiers, singing "Tipperary" on their way
up from the back-areas; I saw them filing silently
along ruined roads, and lugging their bad boots
through mud until they came to some shell-hole and
pillar-box line in a landscape where trees were stumps
and skeletons and no Quartermaster on earth could
be certain of getting the rations up. ... "From sun-
light to the sunless land53. . . . The idea of going
back there was indeed like death.

I suppose I ought to have concluded my strenuous
wool-gatherings by adding that death is preferable to
dishonour. But I didn't. Humanity asserted itself in
the form of a sulky little lapse into exasperation against
the people who pitied my "wrong-headedness" and
regarded me as "not quite normal". In their opinion
it was quite right that I should be safely out of it and
"being looked after". How else could I get my own
back on them but by returning to the trenches? Killed
in action in order to confute the Under-Secretary for
War, who had officially stated that I wasn't respon-
sible for my actions. What a truly glorious death for
a promising young pacifist! . . .

By these rather peculiar methods I argued it out
with myself in the twilight. And when the windows
were dark and I could see the stars, I still sat there
with my golf bag between my knees, alone with what
now seemed an irrefutable assurance that going back