By now word had passed round the Towers that they were to take over a portion of the trenches hitherto occupied by the French. Many were the doubts, and many were the arguments, as to whether this would or would not be to the personal advantage and comfort of themselves; but at least it made a change of scene and surroundings from those they had learned for months past, and since such a change is as the breath of life to the British soldier, they were on the whole highly pleased with it.
The morning was well advanced when they were met by guides and interpreters from the French regiment which they were relieving, and commenced to move into the new trenches. Although at first there were some who were inclined to criticize, and reluctant to believe that a Frenchman, or any other foreigner, could do or make anything better than an Englishman, the Towers had to admit, even before they reached the forward firing trench, that the work of making communication trenches had been done in a manner beyond British praise. The trenches were narrow and very deep, neatly paved throughout their length with brick, spaced at regular intervals with sunk traps for draining off rain-water, and with bays and niches cut deep in the side to permit the passing of any one meeting a line of pack-burdened men in the shoulder-wide alley-way.
When they reached the forward firing trench, their admiration became unbounded; they were as full of eager curiosity as children on a school picnic. They fraternized instantly and warmly with the outgoing Frenchmen, and the Frenchmen for their part were equally eager to express friendship, to show the English the dugouts, the handy little contrivances for comfort and safety, to bequeath to their successors all sorts of stoves and pots and cooking utensils, and generally to give an impression, which was put into words by Private Robinson: “Strike me if this ain’t the most cordiawl bloomin’ ongtongt I’ve ever met!”