Bullets & Billets eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 169 pages of information about Bullets & Billets.

After another half-hour of this, with eyes feverishly searching for recognizable landmarks, I again began to have doubts as to the veracity of the tram lines.  However, pretending that I placed their honesty beyond all doubt, I plodded on; but round a corner, found the outlook so unfamiliar that I determined to ask again.  Not a soul about.  Presently I discovered a small house, standing back off the road and showing a thin slit of light above the shutters of a downstairs window.  I tapped on the glass.  A sound as of someone hurriedly trying to hide a pile of coverless umbrellas in a cupboard was followed by the opening of the window, and a bristling head was silhouetted against the light.

I squeezed out the same old sentence: 

“Pour Bleville, Monsieur?”

A fearful cataract of unintelligible words burst from the head, but left me almost as much in the dark as ever, though with a faint glimmering that I was “warmer.”  I felt that if I went back about a mile and turned to the left, all would be well.

I thanked the gollywog in the window, who, somehow or other, I think must have been a printer working late, and started off once more.

After another hour’s route march I came to some scattered houses, and finally to a village.  I was indignantly staring at a house when suddenly, joy!—­I realized that what I was looking at was an unfamiliar view of the cafe where I had breakfasted earlier in the day.

Another ten minutes and I reached the Camp.  Time now 2.30 a.m.  I thought I would just take a look in at the Orderly Room tent to see if there were any orders in for me.  It was lucky I did.  Inside I found an orderly asleep in a blanket, and woke him.

“Anything in for me?” I asked.  “Bairnsfather’s my name.”

“Yes, sir, there is,” came through the blanket, and getting up he went to the table at the other end of the tent.  He sleepily handed me the wire:  “Lieutenant Bairnsfather to proceed to join his battalion as machine-gun officer....”

“What time do I have to push off?” I inquired.

“By the eight o’clock from Havre to-morrow, sir.”

Time now 3 a.m.  To-morrow—­the front!  And then I crept into my tent and tried to sleep.


Tortuous travelling—­clippers and
tablets—­dumped at A siding—­I join
my battalion

Not much sleep that night, a sort of feverish coma instead:  wild dreams in which I and the gendarme were attacking a German trench, the officer in charge of which we found to be the Base Camp Adjutant after all.

However, I got up early—­packed my few belongings in my valise, which had mysteriously turned up from the docks, and went off on the tram down to Havre.  That hundred men I had brought over had nothing to do with me now.  I was entirely on my own, and was off to the Front to join my battalion.  Down at Havre the officials at the station gave me a complicated yellow diagram, known as a travelling pass, and I got into a carriage in the train bound for Rouen.

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Bullets & Billets from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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