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Table Of Contents: The First Hundred Thousand

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In the more exclusive and fashionable districts--round about the Orderly-room, and the Canteen, and the Guard-room--elevated "duck-walks" are laid down, along which we delicately pick our way. It would warm the heart of a democrat to observe the ready--nay, hasty--courtesy with which an officer, on meeting a private carrying two overflowing buckets of kitchen refuse, steps down into the mud to let his humble brother-in-arms pass. Where there are no duck-walks, we employ planks laid across the mud. In comparatively dry weather these planks lie some two or three inches below the mud, and much innocent amusement may be derived from trying to locate them. In wet weather, however, the planks float to the surface, and then of course everything is plain sailing. When it snows, we feel for the planks with our feet. If we find them we perform an involuntary and unpremeditated ski-ing act: if we fail, we wade to our quarters through a sort of neapolitan ice--snow on the top, mud underneath.

Our parade-ground is a mud-flat in front of the huts. Here we take our stand each morning, sinking steadily deeper until the order is given to move off. Then the battalion extricates itself with one tremendous squelch, and we proceed to the labours of the day.

Seriously, though--supposing the commanding officer were to be delayed one morning at orderly-room, and were to ride on to the parade-ground twenty minutes late, what would he find? Nothing! Nothing but a great parterre of glengarries, perched upon the mud in long parallel rows, each glengarry flanked on the left-hand side by the muzzle of a rifle at the slope. (That detached patch over there on the left front, surrounded by air-bubbles, is the band. That cavity like the crater of an extinct volcano, in Number one Platoon of A Company, was once Private Mucklewame.)

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And yet people talk about the sinking of the Birkenhead!

* * * * *

This morning some one in the Department has scored another ten points. Word has just been received that we are to move again to-morrow--to a precisely similar set of huts about a hundred yards away!

They are mad wags on Olympus.

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The First Hundred Thousand
Ian Hay

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