(But the test is that I've got to get through it all
without him.) After tea I gave the senior N.C.O.s a
forty-minute talk under the apple-trees3 and really
felt as if I were quite a good instructor. The feeling
that they like and trust me "gives me a new inside55.
And I have this advantage, that my predecessor was
dead-stale and not at all active-minded. So these
splendid N.C.O.s respond to what I try to tell them
and are rpally keen. After lunch we did two hours
(full marching order) in the forest. Very pleasant in
there among the green glory of the beeches with sun-
shine filtering through. Prolonged wearing of gas-
masks in company training rather trying. It is now
10.30 on a moonlight night with hawthorn scents and
glimmerings and nightingale songs. The Boches are
overhead, dropping bombs on neighbouring villages.
Shattering din and organ-drone of planes going on
now. They have been hammering Abbeville heavily
lately. Sleeping badly lately, but nothing matters
except the Company.
May 22. Cloudless weather again. Quiet day's train-
ing. Yesterday I began to read Duhamel's Vie des
Martyres (a grand book well translated). I expect he
felt he was in a groove while he wrote it—patiently
studying the little world of his hospital with such
immense compassion. While reading I suddenly
realized the narrowness of the life a soldier leads on
The better the soldier, the more limited is his out-
I am learning to understand soldiers and their
ideas; intelligent instruction of them teaches me a
lot. But I find them very difficult to put on paper.
And in these days of hawthorn blossom and young
leaves they seem like a part of the passing of the year.