Page:The War and the Future (Masefield, 1918).djvu/26

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The War and the Future

Then they would take position and lie down and fight. The only rest they had was when they could lie down to fight. And at night, when they got to their bleeding feet again and plodded on in the dark, a sort of refrain passed from rank to rank, "We're the bloody rearguard, and bloody rearguards don't eat and bloody rearguards don't sleep, but we're up, we're up, we're up the blooming spout."

They fell back for nine days and nights, till the enemy was at the gates of Paris, and the Allied cause seemed lost. You know how the enemy swept into Belgium and into Northern France, with his myriads of picked men, his aeroplanes and overwhelming numbers of guns. They marched singing and they came on like a tide, supping up cities, Liége, Namur, Mons, Cambrai, as though they were the sea itself. They beat back everything. The French were not ready, the Belgians were only a handful, we were only a handful. And then, when they were at the gates of Paris, the miracle happened. That great army outran its supplies. It advanced so swiftly that the heavy loads of shells could not keep pace with it. Then in September, 1914, that great calm soldier Marshal Joffre wrote those words which will be