the call of the soil lappel du sol prix goncourt 1916

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER II THE RETREAT The rain had come. A cold and steady downpour, drenching the trees from top to bottom. The men slipped about on the wet soil which stuck to their boots, caking them with a thick crust. In these latter days of August it seemed as though the quick-coming autumn of Lorraine had already begun to triumph over the dying summer. The thirty-sixth battalion of Chasseurs Alpins had remained all through the preceding day stretched on the plain or concealed in the wood. At nightfall they had pushed forward as far as the ridge. They took possession of it without a struggle, for the German tirailleurs had withdrawn. The various companies had a few killed and several wounded amongst them. However, no one had yet fired a shot, no one had so much as seen the enemy. Away yonder, close to the batteries no doubt, the searchlights probed the air by night, as the shells did by day. They swept the sky with their far-flung fan- like rays. The plateau sloped down towards a river. On the farther bank, some distance off, a farm was blazing, nothing broke the silence of the night. "They were shelling us from a distance of eight miles," said Captain Nicolai, who still went on smoking. "We'll make them pay dearly for it," declared Serre. The latter rarely displayed any critical faculty and he had never been looked upon as a genius. But he was attentive to duty and naturally courageous. He had risen from the ranks and took as much out of himself as he did out of his men. His decisions were prompt and he imposed them on his inferiors in rank, for he possessed the disciplinary faculty. He liked to air his opinions though he lacked the verbal skill to maintain them. He indulged in no philosophising about the world and what went on in it. Nicolai returned no answer. T... --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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