ISBN: 0910395640 / ISBN-13: 9780910395649
Hills and the Sea
Excerpt: ...between provinces perhaps, or between river valleys, for in France there are many bare upland plateaus dividing separate districts; and ... Show synopsis Excerpt: ...between provinces perhaps, or between river valleys, for in France there are many bare upland plateaus dividing separate districts; and it is a feature of the country that the districts so divided have either formed separate provinces in the past or, at any rate (even if they have not had political recognition), have stood, and do still stand, for separate units in French society. It was more apparent with every mile as we went on that we were approaching new things. The plain was naked save for rare planted trees, and here and there, a long way off (on the horizon, it seemed) a farm or two, unprotected and alone. The rain ceased, and the steady grey sky broke a little as we marched on, still in silence, and by this time thirsty and a little dazed. A ravine opened in a bare plateau, and we saw that it held a little village. They led us into it, down a short steep bit of road, and lined us up by a great basin of sparkling water, and every man was mad to break ranks and drink; but no one dared. The children of the village gathered in a little group and looked at us, and we envied their freedom. When we had stood thus for a quarter of an hour or so, an orderly came riding in all splashed, and his horse's coat rough with the rain and steaming up into the air. He came up to the lieutenant in command and delivered an order; then he rode away fast northward along the ravine and out of the village. The lieutenant, when he had gone, formed us into a little column, and we, who had expected to dismiss at any moment, were full of anger, and were sullen to find that by some wretched order or other we had to take another hour of the road: first we had to go back four miles along the road we had already come, and then to branch off perpendicular to our general line of march, and (as it seemed to us) quite out of our way. It is a difficult thing to move a great mass of men through a desolate country by small units and leave them dependent on the country, and it is...
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