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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 139 pages of information about Bullets & Billets.

Altogether a very objectionable episode.

CHAPTER XIII

ROBINSON CRUSOE—­THAT TURBULENT TABLE

By this time we had really got our little house quite snug.  A hole in the floor, a three-legged chair, and brown paper pushed into the largest of the holes in the walls—­what more could a man want?  However, we did want something more, and that was a table.  One gets tired of balancing tins of pl—­(nearly said it again)—­marmalade on one’s knee and holding an enamel cup in one hand and a pocket-knife in the other.  So we all said how nice a table would be.  I determined to say no more, but to show by deeds, not by words, that I would find a table and have one there by the next day, like a fairy in a pantomime.  I started off on my search one night.  Take it from me—­a fairy’s is a poor job out there, and when you’ve read the next bit you’ll agree.

Behind our position stood the old ruined chateau, and beyond it one or two scattered cottages.  I had never really had a good look at all at that part, and as I knew some of our reserve trenches ran around there, and that it would be a good thing to know all about them, I decided to ask the Colonel for permission to creep off one afternoon and explore the whole thing; incidentally I might by good luck find a table.  It was possible, by wriggling up a mud valley and crawling over a few scattered remnants of houses and bygone trenches to reach the Colonel’s headquarter dug-out in daytime.  So I did it, and asked leave to go off back to have a look at the chateau and the land about it.  He gave me permission, so armed with my long walking-stick (a billiard cue with the thin part cut off, which I found on passing another chateau one night) I started off to explore.

I reached the chateau.  An interesting sight it was.  How many shells had hit it one couldn’t even guess, but the results indicated a good few.  What once had been well-kept lawns were now covered with articles which would have been much better left in their proper places.  One suddenly came upon half a statue of Minerva or Venus wrapped in three-quarters of a stair carpet in the middle of one of the greenhouses.  Passing on, one would find the lightning conductor projecting out through the tapestried seat of a Louis Quinze chair.  I never saw such a mess.

Inside, the upstairs rooms were competing with the ground-floor ones, as to which should get into the cellars first.  It was really too terrible to contemplate the fearful destruction.

I found it impossible to examine much of the interior of the chateau, as blocks of masonry and twisted iron girders closed up most of the doors and passages.  I left this melancholy ruin, full of thought, and proceeded across the shell-pitted gardens towards the few little cottages beyond.  These were in a better state of preservation, and were well worth a visit.  In the first one I entered I found a table! the very thing I wanted.  It was stuck away in a small lean-to at the back.  A nice little green one, just the size to suit us.

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