The Adjutant whistled softly. “This,” he said, and nodded again and again to the plain below, “this looks like business—at last.”
“Yes,” said the Colonel, “at last. It’s going to be a very different story this time, when we begin to push things.”
“Hark at the guns,” said the Adjutant, and both stood silent a moment listening to the long, deep, rolling thunder that boomed steady and unbroken as surf on a distant beach. “And they’re our guns too, mostly,” went on the Adjutant. “I suppose we’re firing more shells in an ordinary trench-war-routine day now than we dared fire in a month this time last year. Last year we were short of shells, the year before we were short of guns and shells and men. Now hear the guns and look down there at a few of the men.”
Through the still air rose from below them the shrill crow of a farmyard rooster, the placid mooing of a cow, the calls and laughter of some romping children.
But the two on the hillside had no ear for these sounds of peace. They heard only that distant sullen boom of the rumbling guns, the throbbing foot-beats of the marching battalions below them, the plop-plopping hoofs and rattling wheels of wagons passing on their way up to the firing line with food for the guns.
“Our turn coming,” said the Adjutant—“at last.”
“Yes,” the Colonel said, and repeated grimly—“at last.”