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  The Glory of the Trenches Coningsby Dawson

The Growing Of The Vision

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I'm continuing in America the book which I thought out during the golden July and August days when I lay in the hospital in London. I've been here a fortnight; everything that's happened seems unbelievably wonderful, as though it had happened to some one other than myself. It'll seem still more wonderful in a few weeks' time when I'm where I hope I shall be--back in the mud at the Front.

Here's how this miraculous turn of events occurred. When I went before my medical board I was declared unfit for active service for at least two months. A few days later I went in to General Headquarters to see what were the chances of a trip to New York. The officer whom I consulted pulled out his watch, "It's noon now. There's a boat-train leaving Euston in two and a half hours. Do you think you can pack up and make it?"

Did I think!

"You watch me," I cried.

Dashing out into Regent Street I rounded up a taxi and raced about London like one possessed, collecting kit, visiting tailors, withdrawing money, telephoning friends with whom I had dinner and theatre engagements. It's an extraordinary characteristic of the Army, but however hurried an officer may be, he can always spare time to visit his tailor. The fare I paid my taxi-driver was too monstrous for words; but then he'd missed his lunch, and one has to miss so many things in war-times that when a new straw of inconvenience is piled on the camel, the camel expects to be compensated. Anyway, I was on that boat-train when it pulled out of London.

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I was in uniform when I arrived in New York, for I didn't possess any mufti. You can't guess what a difference that made to one's home-coming--not the being in uniform, but the knowing that it wasn't an offence to wear it. On my last leave, some time ago before I went overseas, if I'd tried to cross the border from Canada in uniform I'd have been turned back; if by any chance I'd got across and worn regimentals I'd have been arrested by the first Irish policeman. A place isn't home where you get turned back or locked up for wearing the things of which you're proudest. If America hadn't come into the war none of us who have loved her and since been to the trenches, would ever have wanted to return.

But she's home now as she never was before and never could have been under any other circumstances--now that khaki strides unabashed down Broadway and the skirl of the pipers has been heard on Fifth Avenue. We men "over there" will have to find a new name for America. It won't be exactly Blighty, but a kind of very wealthy first cousin to Blighty--a word meaning something generous and affectionate and steam-heated, waiting for us on the other side of the Atlantic.

Two weeks here already--two weeks more to go; then back to the glory of the trenches!

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The Glory of the Trenches
Coningsby Dawson

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