“But you’re a Lieutenant now,” she said, “if that’s true. It says that ‘after eighteen months—’”
I snatched up the paper again. Good Heavens! it was eighteen months—not years.
“Then I am a Lieutenant,” I said.
We had a bottle of champagne for dinner that night, and Celia got the paper and read it aloud to my tunic. And just for practice she took the two stars off my other tunic and sewed them on this one—thus:
And we had a very happy evening.
“I suppose it will be a few days before it’s officially announced,” I said.
“Bother, I suppose it will,” said Celia, and very reluctantly she took one star off each shoulder,
leaving the matter—so:
And the years rolled on....
And I am still a Second Lieutenant....
I do not complain; indeed I am even rather proud of it. If I am not gaining on my original one star, at least I am keeping pace with it. I might so easily have been a corporal by now.
But I should like to have seen a little more notice taken of me in the “Gazette.” I scan it every day, hoping for some such announcement as this:
“Second Lieutenant M —— to remain a Second Lieutenant.”
“Second Lieutenant M —— to be seconded and to retain his present rank of Second Lieutenant.”
Or even this:
“Second Lieutenant M —— relinquishes the rank of Acting Second Lieutenant on ceasing to command a Battalion, and reverts to the rank of Second Lieutenant.”
Failing this, I have thought sometimes of making an announcement in the Personal Column of “The Times”:
“Second Lieutenant M —— regrets that his duties as a Second Lieutenant prevent him from replying personally to the many kind inquiries he has received, and begs to take this opportunity of announcing that he still retains a star on each shoulder. Both doing well.”
But perhaps that is unnecessary now. I think that by this time I have made it clear just how many stars I possess.
One on the right shoulder. So:
And one on the left shoulder. So:
That is all.
THE JOKE: A TRAGEDY
The Joke was born one October day in the trench called Mechanics, not so far from Loos. We had just come back into the line after six days in reserve, and, the afternoon being quiet, I was writing my daily letter to Celia. I was telling her about our cat, imported into our dug-out in the hope that it would keep the rats down, when suddenly the Joke came. I was so surprised by it that I added in brackets, “This is quite my own. I’ve only just thought of it.” Later on the Post-Corporal came, and the Joke started on its way to England.