Skip to main content

Full text of "TheCompleteMemoirsOfGeorgeSherston"

See other formats

(mainly because he wore spectacles) he had the look '
of one who might some day occupy a professorial
chair. His previous experience at the front gave him
a solid basis of usefulness, and to this was added a
temperament in which kindliness., humour, and intel-
ligence divided the honours equally, with gentleness
and modesty in readiness to assert themselves by the
power of non-assertion.

With these valuable qualities he combined—to my
astonishment and delight—what in conventional
military circles might have been described as "an
almost rabid love of literature". To hear poetry
talked about in our company mess was indeed a new
experience for me. But Velmore, on his very first
evening, calmly produced Flccker's poems from his
pocket and asked young "Stiffy" if he had ever read
The Golden Journey to Samarkand. When he volunteered
to read some of it aloud the junior officers exchanged
embarrassed glances and took an early opportunity
to leave me alone with my second-in-command, who
was soon enunciating, with ingratiating gusto:

Across the vast blue shadow-sweeping plain
The gathered armies darken through the grain
Swinging curved swords and dragon-sculptured spears^
Footmen^ and tiger-hearted cavaliers.

A paraphrase of the last two lines became Vel-
more's stock joke when reporting that the company
was on parade, and it was a great consolation to me
to hear that fine body of men described as "the foot-
men with their dragon-sculptured spears". But Vel-
more was never anything else but a consolation to

With an all-pervading sense of relief I used to