Vision de Hugo
Quatre Saisons de la Kultur
"There's no shortage of colonels!" Lance Corporal Pistil, who
was on duty, and also on fatigue, snapped back at me.
"And while waiting for the colonel to be replaced, I'll tell
you what you can do, me lad. You get on with fetching the grub, together
with Empouille and Kerdoncuff here. There's a couple of sacks for each
of you, and it's behind the church over there that you'll find it.... And
you can see to it you don't get handed a bag of bloody bones, as you did
yesterday. And I'll thank you to get a move on with it and not come bleedin'
in here after nightfall, you stiffs...."
So off we went again, all three of us.
"I sha'n't ever tell them anything in future," I said to myself.
I was annoyed. There was clearly no point in telling their sort about such
a thing as l'd just seen; one only got bawled at for one's pains. It was
already too long past to be of any interest. And when you think that a
week before I would have had four columns in the papers, along with my
photograph, for announcing the death of a colonel like that. Just a brainless
lot of sods, that's all!
It was in a cherry orchard dried up by the August sun that the
meat for the whole regiment was being doled out. On sacks and on tent canvas
spread out on the ground and on the grass itself were pounds and pounds
of tripe and whitish-yellow fat and whole disembowelled sheep in a havoc
of entrails which oozed curious little streams into the surrounding grass.
The carcass of an ox had been cut in two and hung in a tree. The four butchers
of the regiment were still clambering around it, swearing and tugging at
portions of its flesh. There was any amount of brawling between sections
over morsels of rich meat, and kidneys in particular, amid clouds of those
flies which are only seen at such moments and are as lusty and clamorous
And then, too, there was blood everywhere, softly flowing through
the grass in search of sloping ground. The last pig was being killed near
by. Four men and one of the butchers were already squabbling over some
of the bits to come.
"Damn your eyes, it was you pinched the sirloin yesterday...."
I had time to glance twice at this discussion of food values,
as I leant against a tree, and then I had to give way to an overwhelming
desire to vomitómore than a little, until I fainted.
Well, they took me back to camp on a stretcher, but not without
making good use of the opportunity to rummage through my two rubber-lined
I awoke into another of Pistil's cursing fits. The war was still
in full swing.