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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 172 pages of information about Adventures of a Despatch Rider.

When I returned I found the S.O. had shifted to the station of Dour.  We were given the waiting-room, which we made comfortable with straw.  Opposite the station was a hotel where the Staff lived.  It was managed by a curiously upright old man in a threadbare frock-coat, bright check trousers, and carpet slippers.  Nadine, his pretty daughter, was tremulously eager to make us comfortable, and the two days we were at Dour we hung round the hotel, sandwiching omelettes and drink between our despatches.

[Illustration:  ROUND MONS]

FOOTNOTES: 

[2] This was written in the middle of October.

[3] We became bored with the song, and dropped it soon after for less printable songs.

[4] The word used in Flanders for a tavern that does not aspire to the dignity of “restaurant” or “hotel.”

[5] The Bavai-Andregnies-Elouges road.

CHAPTER III.

THE BATTLE OF MONS

We knew nothing of what was going on.  There was a rumour that Namur had fallen, and I heard certain officers say we had advanced dangerously far.  The cavalry was on our left and the Third Division on our right.  Beyond the Third Division we had heard of the First Corps, but nothing of the French.  We were left, to the best of our knowledge, a tenuous bulwark against the German hosts.

The 14th Brigade had advanced by the Andregnies road to Elouges and the Canal.  The 13th was our right brigade, and the 15th, at first in reserve, extended our line on the second day to Frameries.  The Cyclists were reconnoitring north of the Canal.

The roads round Dour were of the very worst pave, and, if this were not enough, the few maps we had between us were useless.  The villages of Waasmes, Paturages, and Frameries were in the midst of such a network of roads that the map could not possibly be clear.  If the country had been flat, we might at least have found our way by landmarks.  It was not.  The roads wandered round great slag-heaps, lost themselves in little valleys, ran into pits and groups of buildings.  Each one tried to be exactly like all its fellows.  Without a map to get from Elouges to Frameries was like asking an American to make his way from Richmond Park to Denmark Hill.

About ten o’clock on the morning of August 23rd I was sent out to find General Gleichen, who was reported somewhere near Waasmes.  I went over nightmare roads, uneven cobbles with great pits in them.  I found him, and was told by him to tell the General that the position was unfortunate owing to a weak salient.  We had already heard guns, but on my way back I heard a distant crash, and looked round to find that a shell had burst half a mile away on a slag-heap, between Dour and myself.  With my heart thumping against my ribs I opened the throttle, until I was jumping at 40 m.p.h. from cobble to cobble.  Then, realising that I was in far greater danger of breaking my neck than of being shot, I pulled myself together and slowed down to proceed sedately home.

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