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The Rough Road   By: (1863-1930)

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First Page:

THE ROUGH ROAD

by

WILLIAM J. LOCKE

First Edition ... September 1918

John Lane The Bodley Head Ltd

TO SHEILA

THIS LITTLE TALE OF THE GREAT WAR AS A MEMORY FOR AFTER YEARS

THE ROUGH ROAD

CHAPTER I

This is the story of Doggie Trevor. It tells of his doings and of a girl in England and a girl in France. Chiefly it is concerned with the influences that enabled him to win through the war. Doggie Trevor did not get the Victoria Cross. He got no cross or distinction whatever. He did not even attain the sorrowful glory of a little white cross above his grave on the Western Front. Doggie was no hero of romance, ancient or modern. But he went through with it and is alive to tell the tale.

The brutal of his acquaintance gave him the name of "Doggie" years before the war was ever thought of, because he had been brought up from babyhood like a toy Pom. The almost freak offspring of elderly parents, he had the rough world against him from birth. His father died before he had cut a tooth. His mother was old enough to be his grandmother. She had the intense maternal instinct and the brain, such as it is, of an earwig. She wrapped Doggie his real name was James Marmaduke in cotton wool, and kept him so until he was almost a grown man. Doggie had never a chance. She brought him up like a toy Pom until he was twenty one and then she died. Doggie being comfortably off, continued the maternal tradition and kept on bringing himself up like a toy Pom. He did not know what else to do. Then, when he was five and twenty, he found himself at the edge of the world gazing in timorous starkness down into the abyss of the Great War. Something kicked him over the brink and sent him sprawling into the thick of it.

That the world knows little of its greatest men is a commonplace among silly aphorisms. With far more justice it may be stated that of its least men the world knows nothing and cares less. Yet the Doggies of the War, who on the cry of "Havoc!" have been let loose, much to their own and everybody else's stupefaction, deserve the passing tribute sometimes, poor fellows, of a sigh, sometimes of a smile, often of a cheer. Very few of them very few, at any rate, of the English Doggies have tucked their little tails between their legs and run away. Once a brawny humorist wrote to Doggie Trevor " Sursum cauda. " Doggie happened to be at the time in a water logged front trench in Flanders and the writer basking in the mild sunshine of Simla with his Territorial regiment. Doggie, bidden by the Hedonist of circumstance to up with his tail, felt like a scorpion.

Such feelings, however, will be more adequately dealt with hereafter. For the moment, it is only essential to obtain a general view of the type to which Trevor belonged.

If there is one spot in England where the present is the past, where the future is still more of the past, where the past wraps you and enfolds you in the dreamy mist of Gothic beauty, where the lazy meadows sloping riverward deny the passage of the centuries, where the very clouds are secular, it is the cathedral town of Durdlebury. No factory chimneys defile with their smoke its calm air, or defy its august and heaven searching spires. No rabble of factory hands shocks its few and sedate streets. Divine Providence, according to the devout, and the crass stupidity of the local authorities seventy years ago, according to progressive minds, turned the main line of railway twenty miles from the sacred spot. So that to this year of grace it is the very devil of a business to find out, from Bradshaw, how to get to Durdlebury, and, having found, to get there. As for getting away, God help you! But whoever wanted to get away from Durdlebury, except the Bishop? In pre motor days he used to grumble tremendously and threaten the House of Lords with Railway Bills and try to blackmail the Government with dark hints of resignation, and so he lived and threatened and made his wearisome diocesan round of visits and died... Continue reading book >>




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