Page by Page Books
Read Books Online, for Free
The Glory of the Trenches Coningsby Dawson

The Road To Blighty

Page 8 of 12

Table Of Contents: The Glory of the Trenches

Previous Page

Next Page

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter

More Books

More by this Author

The tang of salt in the air, the beat of waves and then, incredible even when it has been realised, England. I think they ought to make the hospital trains which run to London all of glass, then instead of watching little triangles of flying country by leaning uncomfortably far out of their bunks, the wounded would be able to drink their full of the greenness which they have longed for so many months. The trees aren't charred and blackened stumps; they're harps between the knees of the hills, played on by the wind and sun. The villages have their roofs on and children romping in their streets. The church spires haven't been knocked down; they stand up tall and stately. The roadsides aren't littered with empty shell-cases and dead horses. The fields are absolutely fields, with green crops, all wavy, like hair growing. After the tonsured filth we've been accustomed to call a world, all this strikes one as unnatural and extraordinary. There's a sweet fragrance over everything and one's throat feels lumpy. Perhaps it isn't good for people's health to have lumpy throats, and that's why they don't run glass trains to London.

We have hundreds more books for your enjoyment. Read them all!

Then, after such excited waiting, you feel that the engine is slowing down. There's a hollow rumbling; you're crossing the dear old wrinkled Thames. If you looked out you'd see the dome of St. Paul's like a bubble on the sky-line and smoking chimneys sticking up like thumbs--things quite ugly and things of surpassing beauty, all of which you have never hoped to see again and which in dreams you have loved. But if you could look out, you wouldn't have the time. You're getting your things together, so you won't waste a moment when they come to carry you out. Very probably you're secreting a souvenir or two about your person: something you've smuggled down from the front which will really prove to your people that you've made the acquaintance of the Hun. As though your wounds didn't prove that sufficiently. Men are childish.

The engine comes to a halt. You can smell the cab-stands. You're really there. An officer comes through the train enquiring whether you have any preference as to hospitals. Your girl lives in Liverpool or Glasgow or Birmingham. Good heavens, the fellow holds your destiny in his hands! He can send you to Whitechapel if he likes. So, even though he has the same rank as yourself, you address him as, "Sir."

Perhaps it's because I've practised this diplomacy--I don't know. Anyway, he's granted my request. I'm to stay in London. I was particularly anxious to stay in London, because one of my young brothers from the Navy is there on leave at present. In fact he wired me to France that the Admiralty had allowed him a three-days' special extension of leave in order that he might see me. It was on the strength of this message that the doctors at the Base Hospital permitted me to take the journey several days before I was really in a condition to travel.

I'm wondering whether he's gained admission to the platform. I lie there in my bunk all eyes, expecting any minute to see him enter. Time and again I mistake the blue serge uniform of the St. John's Ambulance for that of a naval lieutenant. They come to carry me out. What an extraordinarily funny way to enter London--on a stretcher! I've arrived on boat-trains from America, troop trains from Canada, and come back from romantic romps in Italy, but never in my wildest imaginings did I picture myself arriving as a wounded soldier on a Red Cross train.

Page 8 of 12 Previous Page   Next Page
Who's On Your Reading List?
Read Classic Books Online for Free at
Page by Page Books.TM
The Glory of the Trenches
Coningsby Dawson

Home | More Books | About Us | Copyright 2004