Henry Noel Brailsford: Waiting for the horrors of a war that was coming
Henry Noel Brailsford
From The Broom of the War God (1898)
It was a charitable darkness. The persons of the farce dropped their masks. They moved about, black human figures, neither petty nor frivolous, black human figures waiting for the horrors of a war that was coming. A sense of pity and forgiveness, of a simple sadness in the tragedy that called for no clever phrase to express it, came over Graham as he sat on his bench, thinking without words. Yes, yes, it was Fate that moved them, those black masses on legs, those things in the dark without eyes. And he abandoned himself to the fancy. It seemed the road to rest, to walk towards Death in this fashion, with grown-up children about one, with “Folly” for the rule of life.
The company had covered half-a-mile when a halt was called, and the captain and the sergeant went aside again to peer over the plain and discuss the situation.
“Hallo!” said Smith, “that road wasn’t red a minute ago.” It was as though a vein had been opened on the moor three miles away, and the red blood trickled slowly down, a thin streak soaking its way through the yellow dust. The eyes of the company were fixed on the dry road, greedily watching the yellow absorbing the red.
It had a fascination like nothing else on earth, this thin red symbol of terror that crept remorselessly over the sand.