T. E. Lawrence - THE MINT 
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T. E. Lawrence, The Mint

PART III


 

10:  DANCE NIGHT

Chick came in first, just after eleven: but the strangeness of the empty hut made it feel like no time at all. The floor flickered and vanished, white and dark, like a waving flag, as my logs blazed up momently, or guttered away in smoke. He came in quickly, but the rubbers on his walking-out boots hushed his step, and he was careful not to wake me. For a moment he hesitated by his bed: flung down cap and stick, unhooked the choking collar of his tunic: then again he hesitated.

The fire rose, and caught his notice. He walked over, and seemed to extinguish it for a while, behind the black screen of his solidity. After, he began with lithe springing strides to pad up and down the wood-blocked floor, not noisily, but as though he loved the striding. He swung his arms, and once or twice muttered something, half-aloud, as he turned on his toes.

I rolled over in my bed, to warn him of my notice: he walked across, nuzzled down on my blankets, and bending his face (a strange scent) down to mine whispered, 'You awake, Ross?' I whispered back in my normal voice, reassuring him. He began to talk about the intoxication of the moon-lit frosty night, which filled his legs with dancing-love, like gin.

Suddenly he bent down again, muttering very gently, 'Do you know what happened to me, tonight? I met a girl... or she wasn't a girl, really... and we... clicked and went off together. Remember that dollar I borrowed off you, Monday? Well that just did it.' He threw his hard weight flat along the narrow bed, whispering eagerly, 'You know blanket-drill, and what that feels like? Well, it's chalk to cheese. Made me jump, this did, like two hundred volts. I wondered if we'd go up in flames, like poor old Mouldy and his kite. I've come back in one run, without a breather. It's all of five miles, isn't it? Breeches and puttees: Christ, some run. Just you feel here and here: I'm sweating like a bull. You could wring my togs out. Don't think I can bug down tonight. Where's Tug? I can't ever do it the first time again: but Christ, it was bloody wonnerful.'I say, what've I got to do now? Wash it, I s'pose. Got any dope?'




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