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Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

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be capable of achieving something useful. He had set
me on the right road and made me feel that if the
War were to end to-morrow I should be starting on a
new life's journey in which point-to-point races and
cricket matches would no longer be supremely im-
portant and a strenuous effort must be made to take
some small share in the real work of the world.

If the War were to end to-morrow! . . . That was
where I remembered that my future was unlikely to
happen at all. The fireproof curtain was still lowered
in front of the stage on which post-war events would
be enacted; and life, with an ironic gesture, had con-
trived that the man who had lit up my future with a
new eagerness to do well in it should now be instru-
mental in sending me back to an even-money chance
of being killed.

Here was I, in my little room, with a fire burning
brightly and a dozen of the world's literary master-
pieces tidily arranged on my table. Where should I
be by the end of November? I wondered; for I was
expecting that, since I was such a "special case", I
should be sent back without much delay. The con-
trast, as regards comfort, between where I was now
and where I might be in a few weeks' time needed no
stressing. Realizing how much I wanted not to lose
that chance of a "new life", I experienced a sort of
ordeal by self-immolation. Immolation for what? I
asked myself. I should be returning to the War with
no belief in what I was doing; I should go through
with it in a spirit of loneliness and detachment because
there was no alternative. Going back was the only
way ,out of an impossible situation. At the front I
should at least find forgetfulness. And I would rather
be killed than survive as one who had "wangled" his
way through by saying that the War ought to stop.