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Page 206

CHAPTER XV

After fifty minutes marching an officer cantered up along the grass and the order was given to halt and fall out for ten minutes. When they fell in again, Y company had been displaced from the lead, and the rate of marching fell by half a mile an hour. Wren's section were just in front of the band, and Denis marched with unconscious rhythm. The single notes of cornet and flute sounded so clear and urgent that he forgot to listen to the melody itself. Each separate player seemed to compete for his ear. Deepest and most insistent of all came the measured reverberations of the big drum, blotting out of his memory the remainder of the band. Then, gradually, he became accustomed to each separate instrument and the melody rose clear from the general din ; but from a great distance.
After supper, Denis and Robin went off to the big marquee, where they had filled their palliasses on the first day of camp. The marquee was packed, but they stretched themselves in the straw and listened. Four boys in dark blue mess jackets were on the platform. Winchester, alone among the schools, wore special tunics when off parade and soft hats in the style of London street cleaners. The Winchester quartet made the only serious attempt to hold the interest of the audience without recourse to low humour.

Shine, shine, moon
sang the Wykehamists.
When you look at Dinah dear.
Shine, shine, moon ...

Denis leaned back in the corner of the tent and listened with half closed eyes. The voices, well trained, yet unspoiled by professional tricks, gave him a thrill. On the top notes they hurt him with a weakening pain, that loosened all his muscles. He was angry, when a trio from another school got up and led off with the old camp favourite " The Old Dun Cow."
" I'm sick of this," said Robin. " Let's go."
" Wait a sec," said Denis. The trio was well away now.

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