13th February (1918)

Went up with W. and another chap with waggon and 6 horse (or mule) team with a load of ammunition.  Dumped that and returned by a wide detour through another village (bashed) picking up a load of stuff to take back.  I was able to take a fresh interest in the city after last night’s lecture.  The walls and moat are more attractive when you know that on innumerable occasions the besieged poured molten lead on the heads of the besiegers floundering below.  We were able to just distinguish a fragment of a mural painting on one of the ruined walls which the lecturer had mentioned, and so forth.  He had remarked on the opulence of its vegetation; how the buildings were all to be seen surrounded by trees and gardens.  One can see the blasted and blackened remains of trees and shrubs, half buried in the debris on all sides, and there is something about them sadder even than the broken buildings.  A blown-up cemetery isn’t a pretty sight either.  As my little mules knee was still stiff I took in his stead a mad mare which is quite unmanageable in stables, but an excellent animal in harness, and the pair went splendidly.  I must confess to some particularly asinine familiarities with my little donk this afternoon.  His only retaliation was to lavishly lick my hand, being it appears, partial to the machine oil I had been smearing on my metal work.  Usage soon reduces for one the essential weirdness of mules, so that now when occasionally I handle a horse I marvel at the insignificance of his ears and the brevity of his head.  Mules are, as a rule, fast walkers and easy to sit at the trot.  When you want them to go you say “allons donc”.

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