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DUCKS quacking woke Martin. For a moment he could not think where he was; then he remembered. The rafters of the loft of the farmhouse over his head were hung with bunches of herbs drying. He lay a long while on his back looking at them, sniffing the sweetened air, while farmyard sounds occupied his ears, hens cackling, the grunting of pigs, the rou-cou-cou cou, rou-cou-coucou of pigeons under the eaves. He stretched himself and looked about him. He was alone except for Tom Randolph, who slept in a pile of blankets next to the wall, his head, with its close-cropped black hair, pillowed on his bare arm. Martin slipped off the canvas cot he had slept on and went to the window of the loft, a little square open at the level of the floor, through which came a dazzle of blue and gold and green. He looked out. Stables and hay-barns filled two sides of the farmyard below him. Behind them was a mass of rustling oak-trees. On the lichen-greened tile roofs pigeons strutted about, putting their coral feet daintily one before the other, puffing out their glittering breasts. He breathed deep of the smell of hay and manure and cows and of unpolluted farms.
From the yard came a riotous cackling of chickens and quacking of ducks, mingled with the peeping of the little broods. In the middle a girl in blue gingham, sleeves rolled up as far as possible on her brown arms, a girl with a mass of dark hair loosely coiled above the nape of her neck, was throwing to the fowls handfuls of grain with a wide gesture.
"And to think that only yesterday . . ." said Martin to himself. He listened carefully for some time. "Wonderful! You can't even hear the guns."