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X48   DAYS OF PREPARATION

during the night and going on board one or other of the thirty assembled ships. On the morning of September 24th, at the Louise Docks, Quebec, the cavalry men were waiting their turn for embarkation. They had come to the city by road, reaching their destination in the early dawn. The rising sun saw them resting. On the stone docks or on the bare ground they lay, their saddles or their kits serving as pillows, their horses grouped and in charge of one or two weary guards. Tanned, leather-hard, the soldiers lay, the hoar-frost glistening on their uniforms. These were men who a few weeks before had been used to every comfort, many of them to every luxury. The boys, once querulous at the lack of a single coverlet, clamorous for an eiderdown comforter in the autumn nights, lay on the rough stones and slept—to wake as giants refreshed. This much in seven weeks Valcartier had done for them.

From the day the early recruits arrived in camp there was apparent among them a tendency to make the best of everything and to regard the shortcomings of Head-quarters with lenient humour. Mistakes were bound to happen, not only because the task of outfitting such a large force was new and colossal, but because the original contracts—based on some 21,000 men—had to be in-creased by one-half. Instead of 63,000 blankets, for example, 100,000 were needed. Boots, underwear, tunics, brass buttons, belts, putties, water bottles, saddles, harness, and a hundred dozen necessities were required for speedy delivery. It was no wonder, perhaps, that when one consignment of boots was opened the men found that all were for the right foot! Shirts were also scarce for the first week, but the commissariat never failed. From the opening of the camp no man went hungry. That was the great fact, which repressed discontent and made the men cheerful in the hard plugging of eternal drill. The cool nights come soon in the Laurentians, but by the time of their arrival in late August the men were prepared and had abundance of


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