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Brideshead Revisited 251 ‘Now this is where the last lot put the clerks

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导读: BridesheadRevisited251‘Nowthisiswherethelastlotputtheclerks;plentyofroom,anyway.I’vehadthewallsandfireplacesboardedupyouseevaluableoldworkunderneath.Hullo,someoneseemstohavebeenmakingabeas...
Brideshead Revisited 251 ‘Now this is where the last lot put the clerks

 Brideshead Revisited 251

 Now this is where the last lot put the clerks; plenty of room, anyway. I’ve had the walls and fireplaces boarded up you see valuable old work underneath. Hullo, someone seems to have been making a beast of himself here; destructive beggars, soldiers are!  Lucky we spotted it, or it would have been charged to you chaps.  ‘This is another good-sized room, used to be full of tapestry. I’d advise you to use this for conferences.’

I’m only here to clean up, sir. Someone from Brigade will allot the rooms.’ ‘Oh, well, you’ve got an easy job. Very decent fellows the last lot. They shouldn’t have done that to the fireplace though. How did they manage it? Looks solid enough. I wonder if it can be mended?

I expect the brigadier will take this for his office; the last did. It’s got a lot of painting that can’t be moved, done on the walls. As you see, I’ve covered it up as best I can, but

 

soldiers get through anything - as the brigadier’s done in the corner. There was another painted room, outside under pillars - modern work but, if you ask me, the prettiest in the place; it was the signal office and they made absolute hay of it; rather a shame.  ‘This eyesore is what they used as the mess; that’s why I didn’t cover it up; not that it would matter much if it did get damaged; always reminds me of one of the costlier knocking-shops, you know - “ Maison Japonaise”...and this was the ante-room...’

It did not take us long to make our tour of the echoing rooms. Then we went outside on the terrace.

Those are the other ranks’ latrines and wash-house; can’t think why they built them just there; it was done before I took the job over. All this used to be cut off from the front. We laid the road through the trees joining it up with the main drive; unsightly but very practical; awful lot of transport comes in and out; cuts the place up, too. Look where one careless devil went smack through the box-hedge and carried away all that balustrade; did it with a three-ton lorry, too; you’d think he had a Churchill tank at least.  ‘That fountain is rather a tender spot with our landlady; the young officers used to lark about in it on guest nights and it was looking a bit the worse for wear, so I wired it in and turned the water off. Looks a bit untidy now; all the drivers throw their cigarette-ends and the remains of the sandwiches there, and you can’t get to it to clean it up, since I put the wire round it. Florid great thing, isn’t it?...

Well, if you’ve seen everything I’ll push off. Good day to you.’ His driver threw a cigarette into the dry basin of the fountain; saluted and opened the door of the car. I saluted and the Quartering Commandant drove away through the new, metalled gap in the lime trees.

Hooper,’ I said, when I had seen my men started, ‘do you think I can safely leave you in charge of the work-party for half an hour?’

I was just wondering where we could scrounge some tea.’

For Christ’s sake,’ I said, ‘they’ve only just begun work.’

They’re awfully browned off.’

Keep them at it.’

Rightyoh.’

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