Adventures of a Despatch Rider eBook

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

A fifth motor-cyclist, who discreetly did not stop his engine, took my despatches back to “the Div.”  The second artillery motor-cycle we started after quarter of an hour’s prodigious labour.  The first and mine were still obstinate, so he and I retired to the inn, drank brandy and hot water, and conversed amiably with madame.

Madame, who together with innumerable old men and children inhabited the inn, was young and pretty and intelligent—­black hair, sallow and symmetrical face, expressive mouth, slim and graceful limbs.  Talking the language, we endeavoured to make our forced company pleasant.  That other despatch rider, still steaming from the stove, sat beside a charming Flemish woman, and endeavoured, amid shrieks of laughter, to translate the jokes in an old number of ‘London Opinion.’

A Welsh lad came in—­a perfect Celt of nineteen, dark and lithe, with a momentary smile and a wild desire to see India.  Then some Cheshires arrived.  They were soaked and very weary.  One old reservist staggered to a chair.  We gave him some brandy and hot water.  He chattered unintelligibly for a moment about his wife and children.  He began to doze, so his companion took him out, and they tottered along after their company.

A dog of no possible breed belonged to the estaminet.  Madame called him “Automobile Anglais,” because he was always rushing about for no conceivable reason.

We were sorry when at 9.50 the lorry came for the bicycles.  Our second driver was an ex-London cabby, with a crude wit expressed in impossible French that our hostess delightfully parried.  On the way back he told me how he had given up the three taxis he had owned to do “his bit,” how the other men had laughed at him because he was so old, how he had met a prisoner who used to whistle for the taxis in Russell Square.  We talked also of the men in the trenches, of fright, and of the end of the war.  We reached D.H.Q. about 10.30, and after a large bowl of porridge I turned in.

FOOTNOTES: 

[25] The soldier’s contemptuous expression for the inhabitants of the civilian world.

[26] I retired with some haste from Flanders the night after the Germans first began to use gas.  Militant chemistry may have altered the British soldier’s convictions.

[27] I have left out the usual monotonous epithet.  Any soldier can supply it.

[28] To these may now be added—­St Eloi, Hill 60, the Second Battle of Ypres.

CHAPTER XII.

BEHIND THE LINES.

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Adventures of a Despatch Rider from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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