SWORDS AND SEARCHLIGHTS .
IT's a camel, a camel ! " cried Aurea. " I'm not 1 sure whether we're in the Old Testament, or where."
We were in Rushmoor Arena at Aldershot, as a matter of fact,- for the Searchlight Tattoo.. It was a splendid setting for pageants : green sward below us, a cirque, of dark woods, massed bands making a scarlet patch in the middle distance, a white Oriental village to our right, a horned moon in the unusually turquoise sky, tier upon tier of spectators, searchlights, star-shells, smoke screens. . • . . A grey horse, a donkey, two camels, streams of white-robed figures defiled towards the village.
" The programme says King Prempeh's ,drum was festooned by a ring of human ears. What's that man .crying from the minaret ? Oh, look at the horses and their white socks ! They know they're showing off."
With skreel of pipes and ruffle and flam of drums more bands came marching in, led by a magnificent drum- major.
" Don't they look ripping, like lady-birds, with the lights on them ! I wish they could hear us clapping ! Look at the little tot third from the right of the front line. Is he a mascot ? How wonderful the drummer boys are ! " Came the horse-gunners, limbers and wheels a blaze of lights to the tune of " Bonnie Dundee." " What are those men in busbies rushing about for I They must be terribly hot," said Aurea as the markers took their stations at the double. " Oh, look I Illu- minated cannons ! "
• Presently the Oriental village began to stir with, life, and from the opposite side of the arena rode the mounted scouts of a British detachment. Troops marched to their camping ground, picquets skirmished out, tents. were pitched. Soldiering like this on a summer evening is very jolly. Lights out. The camp slept. Aurea bent her blonde moo, frizzled lilt a savage's, over the programnie and spelt it out in the semi-dark. " Cloud-wreathed visions appear in which are seen glimpses of battles' . . the first is Hastings. Here are the Saxons. They're going to die to the last man round Harold's standard. Oh, loOk at the Norman ships—aren't they utterly marvellous .? "
Aurea sat in fascinated silence during the fight, nor did she speak when England's billmen and bowmen destroyed the chivalry of France at Agincourt. But the charge of the Light Brigade, when a trumpeter of the 17th Lancers turned to the eager squadron behind him, and blew the charge on the very trumpet that sounded to the Six Hundred at Balaclava--that was a moment to live for. There is that in the charge that makes man more than man. Aurea clapped vigorously. Her companion mopped his elderly eyes.
Then there was a modern battle, very well and realis- tically done. Cavalry, motor bicycles, zooming aero- planes, a furious artillery battle, tin hats creeping up behind the barrage, the chatter of machine guns, bursting of bombs, and whirr—buzz—whoop—the tanks crashed through the battle line and demolished a house.
Words failed Aurea. But afterwards she reacted from the stress of war and became mildly flippant. " That horse has a permanent wave in its tail. I don't want to sing a hymn at the end. I'm famished and thirsty. Let's find the car. Yes, that's a perfect show—all thrills and fresh air, and—did you say you had sandwiches and something to drink ? "
A parcel was unwrapped, a cork went pop." It as a lovely evening.