FLIGHT TO ARRAS. SURELY I must be dreaming. It is as if I were fifteen again. I am back at school. My mind is on my geometry problem. Leaning over the worn black desk, I work away dutifully with compass and ruler and protractor. I am quiet and industrious. Near by sit some of my schoolmates, talking in murmurs. One of them stands at a blackboard chalking up figures. Others less studious are playing bridge. Out of-doors I see the branch of a tree swaying in the breeze. I drop my work and stare at it. From an industrious pupil I have become an idle one. The shining sun fills me with peace. I inhale with delight the childhood odor of the wooden desk, the chalk, the blackboard in this schoolhouse in which we are quartered. I revel in the sense of security born of this daydream of a sheltered childhood. What course life takes, we all know. We are children, we are sent to school, we make friends, we go to collegeand we are graduated. Some sort of diploma is handed to us, and our hearts pound as we arc ushered across a certain threshold, marched through a certain porch, the other side of which we are of a sud den grown men. Now our footfalls strike the ground with a new assurance. We have begun to make our way in life, to take the first few steps of our way in life. We are about to measure our strength against real adver saries. The ruler, the T square, the compass have become weapons with which we shall build a world, triumph over an enemy. Playtime is over. All this I see as I stare at the swaying branch. And I see too that schoolboys have no fear of facing life. They champ at the bit. The jealousies, the trials, the sorrows of the life of man do not intimidate the schoolboy. But what a strange schoolboy I am I sit in this schoolroom, a schoolboy conscious of my good fortune and in no hurry to face life. A schoolboy aware of its cares. . . . Dutertre comes by, and I stop him. Sit down. Ill do some card-tricks for you. Dutertre sits facing me on a desk as worn as mine. I can see his dangling legs as he shuffles the cards. How pleased with myself I am when I pick out the card he has in mind He laughs. Modestly, I smile. P6nicot comes up and puts his arm across my shoulder. What do you say, old boy How tenderly peaceful all this is A school usher is it an usher opens the door and summons two among us. They drop their ruler, drop their compass, get up, and go out. We follow them with our eyes. Their schooldays are over. They have been released for the business of life. What they have learnt, they are now to make use of. Like grown men, they are about to try out against other men the formulas they have worked out. Strange school, this, where each goes forth alone in turn. And without a word of farewell. Those two who have just gone through the door did not so much as glance at us who remain behind. And yet the hazard of life, it may be, will transport them farther away than China. So much farther When schooldays are past, and life has scattered you, who can swear that you will meet again The rest of us, those still nestling in the cosy warmth of our incubator, go back to our murmured talk. Look here, Dutertre. To-night. But once again the same door has opened. And like a court sentence the words ring out in the quiet school room Captain de Saint-Exupery and Lieutenant Dutertre report to the major Schooldays are over. Life has begun. Did you know it was our turn Penicot flew this morning. Oh, yes. The fact that we had been sent for meant that we were to be ordered out on a sortie...

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