With a red sun rising over the low ridge of wooded ground to the east, the camp in the hollow was revealed, the smoke rising in a pillar of blue from the sheet-iron chimney of the cookhouse; smoke rising, too, from a dozen big horses being curried before the stables. Most of the men had arrived the night before.
I could not at first locate it, and crawled out to have a better look skyward, but still failed to place it. Presently the humming stopped, and I thought it had departed, and seized the chance to go to the cookhouse for a cup of tea. When almost there Kr-kr-kr-p!
The poor fellow was starving for something to eat and he thought he would steal the time to slip up to the cookhouse and get a bite of grub.
In deference to the limited knowledge of each other's language possessed by myself and the proprietor, I am invited into the cookhouse and permitted to take a peep at the contents of several different pots and kettles simmering over a slow fire in a sort of brick trench, to point out to the waiter such dishes as I think I shall like.
I suppose it was the same bright individual who had the storm trench dug who thought of the idea of burying a pipe to carry away the cookhouse effluent down into the eastern hillside tunnel. I found this out by accident.
Some of the British could be seen at times picking over the sour refuse in the barrels. This amused the Germans very much. We endeavoured to get cookhouse jobs for the pickings to be had, but could not do so. At a later date, when the Canadian Red Cross, Lady Farquhar, Mrs. Hamilton Gault and our families were sending us packages regularly, we made out all right.
The wells were so congested, and the water so scarce that water-bottles were not allowed at the wells, and all we could do was to keep them in the cookhouse, ready to be filled and issued as the water was boiled. Apart from the November blizzard our first week in the reserve trenches, until we got our water supply in working order, was the most uncomfortable of our stay.
The first place I went to in the wagon lines was the cookhouse and as I got there I thought I noticed the swish of someone quickly disappearing round the corner and the cockney-cook there informed me that Scotty had spent the previous evening with them and had only left a minute ago. "'E's no slouch, that cook of yours," he said, "'e's a fighter, 'e is." "That so?" "You're right, 'e is.
While eating, one of our own shells, a shrapnel, that had been sent up at a German stork and did not explode, dropped squarely into the middle of the cookhouse, frightened the cook out of his wits and hit the dixies, scattering them around our feet. "Stand to!" and we made our way carefully, keeping out of sight as much as possible from the watching bird overhead.
I said nothing about what had happened and returned to the cookhouse to find six Algerians devouring the officers' rations in such fashion as to make one think of the man in the side show who was advertised in letters twenty feet deep as the original snake-eater of South America; there wasn't enough left for a one-man meal.