The Colonel thought for a moment: “You’d better come along back to the farm on the road for to-night anyway, and you can spend to-morrow decorating the walls with a few sketches,” he said. This was a decidedly better suggestion, a reprieve, in fact, as prior to this remark my bedroom for the night looked like being a borrowed ground sheet slung over some charred rafters which were leaning against a wall in the yard.
I followed along behind the Colonel down the road, down the corduroy boards, and out at the old moated farm not far from Wulverghem. Thank goodness, I should get a floor to sleep on! A roof, too! Straw on the floor! How splendid!
It was quite delightful turning into that farm courtyard, and entering the building. Dark, dismal and deserted as it was, it afforded an immense, glowing feeling of comfort after that mysterious, dark and wintry plain, with its long lines of grey trenches soaking away there under the inky sky.
Inside I found an empty room with some straw on the floor. There was only one shell hole in it, but some previous tenant had stopped it up with a bit of sacking. My word, I was tired! I rolled myself round with straw, and still retaining all my clothes, greatcoat, balaclava, muffler, trench boots, I went to sleep.
THE PAINTER AND DECORATOR—FRAGMENTS
FORMING—NIGHT ON THE MUD PRAIRIE
Had a fairly peaceful night. I say fairly because when one has to get up three or four times to see whether the accumulated rattle of rifle fire is going to lead to a battle, or turn out only to be merely “wind up,” it rather disturbs one’s rest. You see, had an attack of some sort come on, yours truly would have had to run about a mile and a half to some central spot to overlook the machine-gun department. I used to think that to be actually with one gun was the best idea, but I subsequently found that this plan hampered me considerably from getting to my others; the reason being that, once established in one spot during an open trench attack, it is practically impossible to get to another part whilst the action is on.
At the Douve, however, I discovered a way of getting round this which I will describe later.