R. Aldington. DEATH OF A HERO (part III)
Three more nights passed rather more tranquilly. There was comparatively little gas, but the German heavies were persistent. They, too, quieted down on the third night, and Winterboume got to bed fairly early and fell into a deep sleep. Suddenly he was wide awake and sitting up. What on earth or hell was happening? From outside came a terrific rumble and roaring, as if three volcanoes and ten thunderstorms were in action simultaneously. The whole earth was shaking as if beaten by a multitude of flying hoofs, and the cellar walls vibrated. He seized his helmet, dashed past the other runners, who were starting up and exclaiming, rushed through the gas-curtain; and recoiled. It was still night, but the whole sky was brilliant with hundreds of flashing lights. Two thousand British guns were in action, and heaven and earth were filled with the roar and flame. From about half a mile to the north, southwards as far as he could see, the whole front was a dazzling flicker of gun- flashes. It was as if giant hands covered with huge rings set with searchlights were being shaken in the darkness, as if innumerable brilliant diamonds were flashing great rays of light. There was not a fraction of a second without its flash and roar. Only the great boom of a twelve-or fourteen-inch naval gun just behind them punctured the general pandemonium at regular intervals.
Winterboume ran stumbling forwards to get a view clear of the ruins. He crouched by a piece of broken house and looked towards the German lines. They were a long, irregular wall of smoke, torn everywhere with the dull red flashes of bursting shells. Behind their lines their artillery was flickering brighter and brighter as battery after battery came into action, making a crescendo of noise and flame when the limits of both seemed to have been reached. Winterboume saw but could not hear the first of their shells as it exploded short of the village. The great clouds...
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