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T. E. Lawrence, The Mint

PART II


 

17:  ANOTHER CHANCE

In the morning we went on dawn P.T., tightly girt as to the loins and ready, if anyone attacked us, to continue battle. The idiot Hemmings again got on to our mob: but the orderly officer who strolled over to see what the matter was sent him shortly back to his proper duty of supervision. Our round.

Afternoon P.T. was Corporal Small. We faced him shirkingly: but he stripped off his jersey to lead us himself and demonstrate the exercises. We saw his heart was engaged and not his spite. Therefore we played honestly back and broke the ill sequence. He kept us only forty minutes: - then said, 'Till last week we called you the posh flight. It won't be my fault if it isn't always. I take you, in future. Fall out now, and do your own work on the apparatus till time's up.'

A minute later the gym was like a Zoo, with airmen swinging on bars, swarming ropes, and crawling up the wrong sides of ladders, amidst cat-calls. I rested my sprained instep by traversing round the wall-girders on my wrists. Ten minutes to go. 'Show us that grand circle,' pleaded Sailor, to whom in the hut I'd tried to tell how this showy feat was compassed. Some demon of display took me. I jumped, suddenly confident, for the bar and at the second wild swing did it. The sky-larking stopped abruptly. Because physical prowess is measurable with a rod, Englishmen exaggeratedly respect it. I find myself higher in the general favour tonight.




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