Northern France, during the Great War

The bearded stranger's grandfather also travelled widely. Here is another story where he is the stranger.


We gave the stranger a spear and showed him how to use it. It is a matter of pride and custom for us to kill with the spear.  He was a Sergeant in the British Army so he should be able to handle himself.

We were in one of the forests near Compiegne, north of Paris. Later in the War it was in these dense growths that one of our generals, Mangin, hid his tanks and his troops before launching his attack on the Marne flank in 1918, a turning point in the War. But that night a number of us from the French army, with our British guest, were there to hunt boar not Germans. We set out together but, at some point during the night, we became separated from the Sergeant.

We were impressed when we met up again later: he arrived with the carcass of a boar.

We were not impressed when we heard the whole story.

The stranger told us that, after he became separated from us, he was creeping through the darkness and the intense silence of an empty forest, when a footstep had landed on something soft which squeaked. He had trodden on a baby boar. He guessed the parents would be close, and angry. He had not thought to spear the baby, but had quickly drawn his revolver when the adult boar charged.