22 “THE O-PIP”
[cartoon at top of page]
Apart from the information revealed in Webster’s, no doubt you have often wondered what a billet is, and what it is like. We were a bit hazy ourselves at one time, but we are wise now, and somehow or other do not like the name.
A billet, it appears, can be anything from a cow-shed to a chateau, and as chateaux are not as plentiful here as in England, we generally copp off the former. When we are marched into a little hamlet for the first time, we pass houses, sheds, and stables, and are surprised to read on signs thereon, just how many men these places are supposed to hold. We are all lined up, and razzled off, baggage and all, in little lots, to our respective allotments.
As you enter the farmyard you become conscious from the start that you are not entering a daisy field, as outside the door of the house, there is the inevitable pile of everything left over from meals, stables, pig pens. The owner, generally an old boy, comes out and shows you to “your rooms” in the barn. Your boudoir is generally in the loft, sometimes you get a ground floor apartment, but at that you are not over-fortunate. The pig can walk over you there, while up above you have only the hens and rats to bother with. Thirty or forty men are jammed in a place about the size of a home kitchen, and when the straw is shaken out, kits placed and blankets down, the room that’s left over wouldn’t make a parade ground for a flea battalion that had been in the battle of creolin.