The snow was coming down in big white flakes, whirling and dancing against a grey sky. I shivered as I looked out from the top of the dug-out steps in Maple Redoubt. It was half-past seven, a good hour since the snipers had reported to me before going to their posts. It was quite dark then, for a sniper must always be up on his post a good hour before dawn to catch the enemy working a few minutes too late. It is so easy to miss those first faint glimmerings of twilight when you are just finishing off an interesting piece of wiring in “No Man’s Land.” I speak from experience. For so a sniper got me. “U—u—u—gh,” I shuddered, “it’s no good keeping the men on in this”; so, putting my whiskey-bottle full of rum in my haversack, I set off up Old Kent Road to visit my posts and withdraw the men pro tem. I expected to find the fellows unutterably cold, shrivelled up, and bored. To my surprise, at No. 1 post Thomas and Everton were in a state of huge excitement, eyes glowing, 134 and faces full of life. There seemed to be a great rivalry, too, for the possession of the rifle. For the snipers always worked in pairs: a man cannot gaze out at the opposing lines with acute interest for more than about half an hour on end; so I used to work them by pairs, and give them shifts according to the weather. In summer you could put a pair on for four hours, and they would work well, taking half-hour shifts; but in cold weather two hours was quite enough. “We’ve got them, sir,” from 75 Thomas; “they was working in the trench over there—by all them blue sand-bags, sir—four of them, sir——” “Yes, and I saw him throw up his arms, sir,” put in Everton, excited for the first time I have ever seen him, and trying to push Thomas out of the box, and have another look. But Thomas would not be pushed. “Splendid,” I said: “by Jove, that’s good work. Can I see?” But it was snowing hard, and I could see very little. I tried the telescope. “Put it right up to your eye, sir,” said Thomas, forgetting that I had myself taught him this in billets as he vainly tried to see through it holding it about four inches from his face, and declaring that he could see everything just as well with his own eyes!