all quiet on the western front chapter 7
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Mittelstaedt torments him in the same way he tormented every man who served under him at training.
"That is barely two years ago--and now here stands Territorial Kantorek, the spell quite broken, with bent knees, arms like pothooks, unpolished buttons and that ludicrous rig-out--an impossible soldier. I cannot reconcile this with the menacing figure at the schoolmaster's desk. I wonder what I, the old soldier, would do if this skinful of woe ever dared to say to me again: "BÃ¤umer, give the imperfect of 'aller.'
"Then Mittelstaedt makes them practise skirmishing, and as a favour appoints Kantorek squad leader.
Now, in skirmishing the squad leader has always to keep twenty paces in front of his squad; if the order comes "On the march, about turn," the line of skirmishers simply turns about, but the squad leader, who now finds himself suddenly twenty paces in the rear of the line, has to rush up at the double and take his position again twenty paces in front of the squad. That makes altogether forty paces double march. But no sooner has he arrived than the order "On the march, about turn," comes again and he once more has to race at top speed another forty paces to the other side."
"On hands and knees, carrying his gun in regulation fashion, Kantorek shoves his absurd figure over the sand immediately in front of us. He is breathing hard, and his panting is music.
Mittelstaedt encourages Kantorek the territorial with quotations from Kantorek the schoolmaster. "Territorial Kantorek, we have the good fortune to live in a great age, we must brace ourselves and triumph over hardship."
All Quiet on the Western Front