Part 2 out of 4
As he listened to the din from the hillside, to
a deep pulsating thunder that came from afar to
the left, and to the lesser clamors which came
from many directions, it occurred to him that
they were fighting, too, over there, and over
there, and over there. Heretofore he had sup-
posed that all the battle was directly under his
As he gazed around him the youth felt a flash
of astonishment at the blue, pure sky and the
sun gleamings on the trees and fields. It was
surprising that Nature had gone tranquilly on
with her golden process in the midst of so much
THE youth awakened slowly. He came grad-
ually back to a position from which he could re-
gard himself. For moments he had been scruti-
nizing his person in a dazed way as if he had
never before seen himself. Then he picked up
his cap from the ground. He wriggled in his
jacket to make a more comfortable fit, and kneel-
ing relaced his shoe. He thoughtfully mopped
his reeking features.
So it was all over at last! The supreme trial
had been passed. The red, formidable difficulties
of war had been vanquished.
He went into an ecstasy of self-satisfaction.
He had the most delightful sensations of his life.
Standing as if apart from himself, he viewed that
last scene. He perceived that the man who had
fought thus was magnificent.
He felt that he was a fine fellow. He saw
himself even with those ideals which he had con-
sidered as far beyond him. He smiled in deep
Upon his fellows he beamed tenderness and
good will. "Gee! ain't it hot, hey?" he said
affably to a man who was polishing his stream-
ing face with his coat sleeves.
"You bet!" said the other, grinning sociably.
"I never seen sech dumb hotness." He sprawled
out luxuriously on the ground. "Gee, yes! An'
I hope we don't have no more fightin' till a week
There were some handshakings and deep
speeches with men whose features were familiar,
but with whom the youth now felt the bonds of
tied hearts. He helped a cursing comrade to
bind up a wound of the shin.
But, of a sudden, cries of amazement broke
out along the ranks of the new regiment. "Here
they come ag'in! Here they come ag'in!" The
man who had sprawled upon the ground started
up and said, "Gosh!"
The youth turned quick eyes upon the field.
He discerned forms begin to swell in masses out
of a distant wood. He again saw the tilted flag
The shells, which had ceased to trouble the
regiment for a time, came swirling again, and ex-
ploded in the grass or among the leaves of the
trees. They looked to be strange war flowers
bursting into fierce bloom.
The men groaned. The luster faded from
their eyes. Their smudged countenances now
expressed a profound dejection. They moved
their stiffened bodies slowly, and watched in sul-
len mood the frantic approach of the enemy. The
slaves toiling in the temple of this god began to
feel rebellion at his harsh tasks.
They fretted and complained each to each.
"Oh, say, this is too much of a good thing! Why
can't somebody send us supports?"
"We ain't never goin' to stand this second
banging. I didn't come here to fight the hull
damn' rebel army."
There was one who raised a doleful cry. "I
wish Bill Smithers had trod on my hand, in-
steader me treddin' on his'n." The sore joints of
the regiment creaked as it painfully floundered
into position to repulse.
The youth stared. Surely, he thought, this
impossible thing was not about to happen. He
waited as if he expected the enemy to suddenly
stop, apologize, and retire bowing. It was all a
But the firing began somewhere on the regi-
mental line and ripped along in both directions.
The level sheets of flame developed great clouds
of smoke that tumbled and tossed in the mild
wind near the ground for a moment, and then
rolled through the ranks as through a gate. The
clouds were tinged an earthlike yellow in the
sunrays and in the shadow were a sorry blue.
The flag was sometimes eaten and lost in this
mass of vapor, but more often it projected, sun-
Into the youth's eyes there came a look that
one can see in the orbs of a jaded horse. His
neck was quivering with nervous weakness and
the muscles of his arms felt numb and bloodless.
His hands, too, seemed large and awkward as if
he was wearing invisible mittens. And there was
a great uncertainty about his knee joints.
The words that comrades had uttered previous
to the firing began to recur to him. "Oh, say,
this is too much of a good thing! What do they
take us for--why don't they send supports? I
didn't come here to fight the hull damned rebel
He began to exaggerate the endurance, the
skill, and the valor of those who were coming.
Himself reeling from exhaustion, he was aston-
ished beyond measure at such persistency. They
must be machines of steel. It was very gloomy
struggling against such affairs, wound up perhaps
to fight until sundown.
He slowly lifted his rifle and catching a
glimpse of the thickspread field he blazed at a
cantering cluster. He stopped then and began
to peer as best he could through the smoke. He
caught changing views of the ground covered
with men who were all running like pursued
imps, and yelling.
To the youth it was an onslaught of redoubt-
able dragons. He became like the man who lost
his legs at the approach of the red and green
monster. He waited in a sort of a horrified,
listening attitude. He seemed to shut his eyes
and wait to be gobbled.
A man near him who up to this time had been
working feverishly at his rifle suddenly stopped
and ran with howls. A lad whose face had borne
an expression of exalted courage, the majesty of
he who dares give his life, was, at an instant,
smitten abject. He blanched like one who has
come to the edge of a cliff at midnight and is sud-
denly made aware. There was a revelation. He,
too, threw down his gun and fled. There was no
shame in his face. He ran like a rabbit.
Others began to scamper away through the
smoke. The youth turned his head, shaken from
his trance by this movement as if the regiment
was leaving him behind. He saw the few fleeting
He yelled then with fright and swung about.
For a moment, in the great clamor, he was like a
proverbial chicken. He lost the direction of
safety. Destruction threatened him from all
Directly he began to speed toward the rear in
great leaps. His rifle and cap were gone. His
unbuttoned coat bulged in the wind. The flap of
his cartridge box bobbed wildly, and his canteen,
by its slender cord, swung out behind. On his
face was all the horror of those things which he
The lieutenant sprang forward bawling. The
youth saw his features wrathfully red, and saw
him make a dab with his sword. His one thought
of the incident was that the lieutenant was a pecul-
iar creature to feel interested in such matters
upon this occasion.
He ran like a blind man. Two or three times
he fell down. Once he knocked his shoulder so
heavily against a tree that he went headlong.
Since he had turned his back upon the fight
his fears had been wondrously magnified. Death
about to thrust him between the shoulder blades
was far more dreadful than death about to smite
him between the eyes. When he thought of it
later, he conceived the impression that it is better
to view the appalling than to be merely within
hearing. The noises of the battle were like
stones; he believed himself liable to be crushed.
As he ran he mingled with others. He
dimly saw men on his right and on his left, and
he heard footsteps behind him. He thought that
all the regiment was fleeing, pursued by these
In his flight the sound of these following foot-
steps gave him his one meager relief. He felt
vaguely that death must make a first choice of
the men who were nearest; the initial morsels for
the dragons would be then those who were fol-
lowing him. So he displayed the zeal of an insane
sprinter in his purpose to keep them in the rear.
There was a race.
As he, leading, went across a little field, he
found himself in a region of shells. They hurtled
over his head with long wild screams. As he
listened he imagined them to have rows of cruel
teeth that grinned at him. Once one lit before
him and the livid lightning of the explosion
effectually barred the way in his chosen direc-
tion. He groveled on the ground and then
springing up went careering off through some
He experienced a thrill of amazement when
he came within view of a battery in action. The
men there seemed to be in conventional moods,
altogether unaware of the impending annihila-
tion. The battery was disputing with a distant
antagonist and the gunners were wrapped in
admiration of their shooting. They were con-
tinually bending in coaxing postures over the
guns. They seemed to be patting them on the
back and encouraging them with words. The
guns, stolid and undaunted, spoke with dogged
The precise gunners were coolly enthusiastic.
They lifted their eyes every chance to the smoke-
wreathed hillock from whence the hostile battery
addressed them. The youth pitied them as he
ran. Methodical idiots! Machine-like fools! The
refined joy of planting shells in the midst of the
other battery's formation would appear a little
thing when the infantry came swooping out of
The face of a youthful rider, who was jerking
his frantic horse with an abandon of temper
he might display in a placid barnyard, was im-
pressed deeply upon his mind. He knew that
he looked upon a man who would presently be
Too, he felt a pity for the guns, standing, six
good comrades, in a bold row.
He saw a brigade going to the relief of its pes-
tered fellows. He scrambled upon a wee hill and
watched it sweeping finely, keeping formation in
difficult places. The blue of the line was crusted
with steel color, and the brilliant flags projected.
Officers were shouting.
This sight also filled him with wonder. The
brigade was hurrying briskly to be gulped into
the infernal mouths of the war god. What man-
ner of men were they, anyhow? Ah, it was some
wondrous breed! Or else they didn't compre-
A furious order caused commotion in the artil-
lery. An officer on a bounding horse made mani-
acal motions with his arms. The teams went
swinging up from the rear, the guns were whirled
about, and the battery scampered away. The
cannon with their noses poked slantingly at the
ground grunted and grumbled like stout men,
brave but with objections to hurry.
The youth went on, moderating his pace since
he had left the place of noises.
Later he came upon a general of division
seated upon a horse that pricked its ears in
an interested way at the battle. There was a
great gleaming of yellow and patent leather
about the saddle and bridle. The quiet man
astride looked mouse-colored upon such a splen-
A jingling staff was galloping hither and
thither. Sometimes the general was surrounded
by horsemen and at other times he was quite
alone. He looked to be much harassed. He had
the appearance of a business man whose market
is swinging up and down.
The youth went slinking around this spot.
He went as near as he dared trying to overhear
words. Perhaps the general, unable to compre-
hend chaos, might call upon him for information.
And he could tell him. He knew all concerning
it. Of a surety the force was in a fix, and any
fool could see that if they did not retreat while
they had opportunity--why--
He felt that he would like to thrash the gen-
eral, or at least approach and tell him in plain
words exactly what he thought him to be. It
was criminal to stay calmly in one spot and make
no effort to stay destruction. He loitered in a
fever of eagerness for the division commander to
apply to him.
As he warily moved about, he heard the gen-
eral call out irritably: "Tompkins, go over an'
see Taylor, an' tell him not t' be in such an all-
fired hurry; tell him t' halt his brigade in th'
edge of th' woods; tell him t' detach a reg'ment
--say I think th' center 'll break if we don't help
it out some; tell him t' hurry up."
A slim youth on a fine chestnut horse caught
these swift words from the mouth of his superior.
He made his horse bound into a gallop almost
from a walk in his haste to go upon his mission.
There was a cloud of dust.
A moment later the youth saw the general
bounce excitedly in his saddle.
"Yes, by heavens, they have!" The officer
leaned forward. His face was aflame with excite-
ment. "Yes, by heavens, they 've held 'im!
They 've held 'im!"
He began to blithely roar at his staff: "We 'll
wallop 'im now. We 'll wallop 'im now. We 've
got 'em sure." He turned suddenly upon an aid:
"Here--you--Jones--quick--ride after Tompkins
--see Taylor--tell him t' go in--everlastingly--
As another officer sped his horse after the first
messenger, the general beamed upon the earth
like a sun. In his eyes was a desire to chant a
paean. He kept repeating, "They 've held 'em,
His excitement made his horse plunge, and he
merrily kicked and swore at it. He held a little
carnival of joy on horseback.
THE youth cringed as if discovered in a crime.
By heavens, they had won after all! The im-
becile line had remained and become victors.
He could hear cheering.
He lifted himself upon his toes and looked in
the direction of the fight. A yellow fog lay wal-
lowing on the treetops. From beneath it came
the clatter of musketry. Hoarse cries told of an
He turned away amazed and angry. He felt
that he had been wronged.
He had fled, he told himself, because annihila-
tion approached. He had done a good part in
saving himself, who was a little piece of the army.
He had considered the time, he said, to be one in
which it was the duty of every little piece to res-
cue itself if possible. Later the officers could fit
the little pieces together again, and make a battle
front. If none of the little pieces were wise enough
to save themselves from the flurry of death at such
a time, why, then, where would be the army? It
was all plain that he had proceeded according to
very correct and commendable rules. His ac-
tions had been sagacious things. They had been
full of strategy. They were the work of a mas-
Thoughts of his comrades came to him. The
brittle blue line had withstood the blows and won.
He grew bitter over it. It seemed that the blind
ignorance and stupidity of those little pieces had
betrayed him. He had been overturned and
crushed by their lack of sense in holding the po-
sition, when intelligent deliberation would have
convinced them that it was impossible. He, the
enlightened man who looks afar in the dark, had
fled because of his superior perceptions and
knowledge. He felt a great anger against his
comrades. He knew it could be proved that
they had been fools.
He wondered what they would remark when
later he appeared in camp. His mind heard
howls of derision. Their density would not en-
able them to understand his sharper point of
He began to pity himself acutely. He was
ill used. He was trodden beneath the feet of an
iron injustice. He had proceeded with wisdom
and from the most righteous motives under
heaven's blue only to be frustrated by hateful
A dull, animal-like rebellion against his fel-
lows, war in the abstract, and fate grew within
him. He shambled along with bowed head, his
brain in a tumult of agony and despair. When
he looked loweringly up, quivering at each
sound, his eyes had the expression of those of
a criminal who thinks his guilt and his pun-
ishment great, and knows that he can find no
He went from the fields into a thick woods, as
if resolved to bury himself. He wished to get
out of hearing of the crackling shots which were
to him like voices.
The ground was cluttered with vines and
bushes, and the trees grew close and spread out
like bouquets. He was obliged to force his way
with much noise. The creepers, catching against
his legs, cried out harshly as their sprays were
torn from the barks of trees. The swishing sap-
lings tried to make known his presence to the
world. He could not conciliate the forest. As
he made his way, it was always calling out prot-
estations. When he separated embraces of trees
and vines the disturbed foliages waved their arms
and turned their face leaves toward him. He
dreaded lest these noisy motions and cries should
bring men to look at him. So he went far, seek-
ing dark and intricate places.
After a time the sound of musketry grew faint
and the cannon boomed in the distance. The sun,
suddenly apparent, blazed among the trees. The
insects were making rhythmical noises. They
seemed to be grinding their teeth in unison. A
woodpecker stuck his impudent head around the
side of a tree. A bird flew on lighthearted wing.
Off was the rumble of death. It seemed now
that Nature had no ears.
This landscape gave him assurance. A fair
field holding life. It was the religion of peace.
It would die if its timid eyes were compelled to
see blood. He conceived Nature to be a woman
with a deep aversion to tragedy.
He threw a pine cone at a jovial squirrel, and
he ran with chattering fear. High in a treetop
he stopped, and, poking his head cautiously from
behind a branch, looked down with an air of trepi-
The youth felt triumphant at this exhibition.
There was the law, he said. Nature had given
him a sign. The squirrel, immediately upon rec-
ognizing danger, had taken to his legs without
ado. He did not stand stolidly baring his furry
belly to the missile, and die with an upward
glance at the sympathetic heavens. On the con-
trary, he had fled as fast as his legs could carry
him; and he was but an ordinary squirrel, too--
doubtless no philosopher of his race. The youth
wended, feeling that Nature was of his mind.
She re-enforced his argument with proofs that
lived where the sun shone.
Once he found himself almost into a swamp.
He was obliged to walk upon bog tufts and
watch his feet to keep from the oily mire. Paus-
ing at one time to look about him he saw, out at
some black water, a small animal pounce in and
emerge directly with a gleaming fish.
The youth went again into the deep thickets.
The brushed branches made a noise that drowned
the sounds of cannon. He walked on, going from
obscurity into promises of a greater obscurity.
At length he reached a place where the high,
arching boughs made a chapel. He softly pushed
the green doors aside and entered. Pine needles
were a gentle brown carpet. There was a reli-
gious half light.
Near the threshold he stopped, horror-stricken
at the sight of a thing.
He was being looked at by a dead man who
was seated with his back against a columnlike
tree. The corpse was dressed in a uniform that
once had been blue, but was now faded to a mel-
ancholy shade of green. The eyes, staring at the
youth, had changed to the dull hue to be seen on
the side of a dead fish. The mouth was open.
Its red had changed to an appalling yellow.
Over the gray skin of the face ran little ants.
One was trundling some sort of a bundle along
the upper lip.
The youth gave a shriek as he confronted the
thing. He was for moments turned to stone be-
fore it. He remained staring into the liquid-look-
ing eyes. The dead man and the living man ex-
changed a long look. Then the youth cautiously
put one hand behind him and brought it against
a tree. Leaning upon this he retreated, step by
step, with his face still toward the thing. He
feared that if he turned his back the body might
spring up and stealthily pursue him.
The branches, pushing against him, threat-
ened to throw him over upon it. His unguided
feet, too, caught aggravatingly in brambles; and
with it all he received a subtle suggestion to
touch the corpse. As he thought of his hand
upon it he shuddered profoundly.
At last he burst the bonds which had fastened
him to the spot and fled, unheeding the under-
brush. He was pursued by a sight of the black
ants swarming greedily upon the gray face and
venturing horribly near to the eyes.
After a time he paused, and, breathless and
panting, listened. He imagined some strange
voice would come from the dead throat and
squawk after him in horrible menaces.
The trees about the portal of the chapel
moved soughingly in a soft wind. A sad silence
was upon the little guarding edifice.
THE trees began softly to sing a hymn of twi-
light. The sun sank until slanted bronze rays
struck the forest. There was a lull in the noises
of insects as if they had bowed their beaks and
were making a devotional pause. There was
silence save for the chanted chorus of the trees.
Then, upon this stillness, there suddenly broke
a tremendous clangor of sounds. A crimson roar
came from the distance.
The youth stopped. He was transfixed by
this terrific medley of all noises. It was as if
worlds were being rended. There was the rip-
ping sound of musketry and the breaking crash
of the artillery.
His mind flew in all directions. He conceived
the two armies to be at each other panther
fashion. He listened for a time. Then he began
to run in the direction of the battle. He saw
that it was an ironical thing for him to be run-
ning thus toward that which he had been at such
pains to avoid. But he said, in substance, to him-
self that if the earth and the moon were about to
clash, many persons would doubtless plan to get
upon the roofs to witness the collision.
As he ran, he became aware that the forest
had stopped its music, as if at last becoming
capable of hearing the foreign sounds. The trees
hushed and stood motionless. Everything seemed
to be listening to the crackle and clatter and ear-
shaking thunder. The chorus pealed over the
It suddenly occurred to the youth that the
fight in which he had been was, after all, but
perfunctory popping. In the hearing of this
present din he was doubtful if he had seen real
battle scenes. This uproar explained a celes-
tial battle; it was tumbling hordes a-struggle in
Reflecting, he saw a sort of a humor in the
point of view of himself and his fellows during
the late encounter. They had taken themselves
and the enemy very seriously and had imagined
that they were deciding the war. Individuals
must have supposed that they were cutting the
letters of their names deep into everlasting tablets
of brass, or enshrining their reputations forever in
the hearts of their countrymen, while, as to fact,
the affair would appear in printed reports under a
meek and immaterial title. But he saw that it was
good, else, he said, in battle every one would
surely run save forlorn hopes and their ilk.
He went rapidly on. He wished to come to
the edge of the forest that he might peer out.
As he hastened, there passed through his mind
pictures of stupendous conflicts. His accumulated
thought upon such subjects was used to form
scenes. The noise was as the voice of an eloquent
Sometimes the brambles formed chains and
tried to hold him back. Trees, confronting him,
stretched out their arms and forbade him to pass.
After its previous hostility this new resistance of
the forest filled him with a fine bitterness. It
seemed that Nature could not be quite ready to
But he obstinately took roundabout ways, and
presently he was where he could see long gray
walls of vapor where lay battle lines. The voices
of cannon shook him. The musketry sounded in
long irregular surges that played havoc with his
ears. He stood regardant for a moment. His
eyes had an awestruck expression. He gawked
in the direction of the fight.
Presently he proceeded again on his forward
way. The battle was like the grinding of an
immense and terrible machine to him. Its com-
plexities and powers, its grim processes, fascinated
him. He must go close and see it produce
He came to a fence and clambered over it.
On the far side, the ground was littered with
clothes and guns. A newspaper, folded up, lay
in the dirt. A dead soldier was stretched with
his face hidden in his arm. Farther off there
was a group of four or five corpses keeping
mournful company. A hot sun had blazed upon
In this place the youth felt that he was an
invader. This forgotten part of the battle ground
was owned by the dead men, and he hurried, in
the vague apprehension that one of the swollen
forms would rise and tell him to begone.
He came finally to a road from which he
could see in the distance dark and agitated
bodies of troops, smoke-fringed. In the lane
was a blood-stained crowd streaming to the rear.
The wounded men were cursing, groaning, and
wailing. In the air, always, was a mighty swell
of sound that it seemed could sway the earth.
With the courageous words of the artillery and
the spiteful sentences of the musketry mingled
red cheers. And from this region of noises came
the steady current of the maimed.
One of the wounded men had a shoeful of
blood. He hopped like a schoolboy in a game.
He was laughing hysterically.
One was swearing that he had been shot in the
arm through the commanding general's misman-
agement of the army. One was marching with
an air imitative of some sublime drum major.
Upon his features was an unholy mixture of
merriment and agony. As he marched he sang
a bit of doggerel in a high and quavering voice:
"Sing a song 'a vic'try,
A pocketful 'a bullets,
Five an' twenty dead men
Baked in a--pie."
Parts of the procession limped and staggered to
Another had the gray seal of death already
upon his face. His lips were curled in hard lines
and his teeth were clinched. His hands were
bloody from where he had pressed them upon his
wound. He seemed to be awaiting the moment
when he should pitch headlong. He stalked like
the specter of a soldier, his eyes burning with the
power of a stare into the unknown.
There were some who proceeded sullenly, full
of anger at their wounds, and ready to turn upon
anything as an obscure cause.
An officer was carried along by two privates.
He was peevish. "Don't joggle so, Johnson, yeh
fool," he cried. "Think m' leg is made of iron?
If yeh can't carry me decent, put me down an'
let some one else do it."
He bellowed at the tottering crowd who
blocked the quick march of his bearers. "Say,
make way there, can't yeh? Make way, dickens
take it all."
They sulkily parted and went to the road-
sides. As he was carried past they made pert
remarks to him. When he raged in reply and
threatened them, they told him to be damned.
The shoulder of one of the tramping bearers
knocked heavily against the spectral soldier who
was staring into the unknown.
The youth joined this crowd and marched
along with it. The torn bodies expressed the
awful machinery in which the men had been
Orderlies and couriers occasionally broke
through the throng in the roadway, scattering
wounded men right and left, galloping on fol-
lowed by howls. The melancholy march was
continually disturbed by the messengers, and
sometimes by bustling batteries that came swing-
ing and thumping down upon them, the officers
shouting orders to clear the way.
There was a tattered man, fouled with dust,
blood and powder stain from hair to shoes, who
trudged quietly at the youth's side. He was lis-
tening with eagerness and much humility to the
lurid descriptions of a bearded sergeant. His
lean features wore an expression of awe and ad-
miration. He was like a listener in a country
store to wondrous tales told among the sugar
barrels. He eyed the story-teller with unspeak-
able wonder. His mouth was agape in yokel
The sergeant, taking note of this, gave pause
to his elaborate history while he administered a
sardonic comment. "Be keerful, honey, you 'll
be a-ketchin' flies," he said.
The tattered man shrank back abashed.
After a time he began to sidle near to the
youth, and in a different way try to make him a
friend. His voice was gentle as a girl's voice
and his eyes were pleading. The youth saw
with surprise that the soldier had two wounds,
one in the head, bound with a blood-soaked rag,
and the other in the arm, making that member
dangle like a broken bough.
After they had walked together for some time
the tattered man mustered sufficient courage to
speak. "Was pretty good fight, wa'n't it?"
he timidly said. The youth, deep in thought,
glanced up at the bloody and grim figure with
its lamblike eyes. "What?"
"Was pretty good fight, wa'n't it?
"Yes," said the youth shortly. He quick-
ened his pace.
But the other hobbled industriously after him.
There was an air of apology in his manner, but
he evidently thought that he needed only to talk
for a time, and the youth would perceive that he
was a good fellow.
"Was pretty good fight, wa'n't it?" he began
in a small voice, and then he achieved the forti-
tude to continue. "Dern me if I ever see fellers
fight so. Laws, how they did fight! I knowed
th' boys 'd like when they onct got square at it.
Th' boys ain't had no fair chanct up t' now, but
this time they showed what they was. I knowed
it 'd turn out this way. Yeh can't lick them boys.
No, sir! They're fighters, they be."
He breathed a deep breath of humble ad-
miration. He had looked at the youth for en-
couragement several times. He received none,
but gradually he seemed to get absorbed in his
"I was talkin' 'cross pickets with a boy from
Georgie, onct, an' that boy, he ses, 'Your fellers
'll all run like hell when they onct hearn a gun,'
he ses. 'Mebbe they will,' I ses, 'but I don't
b'lieve none of it,' I ses; 'an' b'jiminey,' I ses back
t' 'um, 'mebbe your fellers 'll all run like hell
when they onct hearn a gun,' I ses. He larfed.
Well, they didn't run t' day, did they, hey? No,
sir! They fit, an' fit, an' fit."
His homely face was suffused with a light of
love for the army which was to him all things
beautiful and powerful.
After a time he turned to the youth. "Where
yeh hit, ol' boy?" he asked in a brotherly tone.
The youth felt instant panic at this question,
although at first its full import was not borne in
"What?" he asked.
"Where yeh hit?" repeated the tattered man.
"Why," began the youth, "I--I--that is--
He turned away suddenly and slid through
the crowd. His brow was heavily flushed, and
his fingers were picking nervously at one of his
buttons. He bent his head and fastened his eyes
studiously upon the button as if it were a little
The tattered man looked after him in aston-
THE youth fell back in the procession until
the tattered soldier was not in sight. Then he
started to walk on with the others.
But he was amid wounds. The mob of men
was bleeding. Because of the tattered soldier's
question he now felt that his shame could be
viewed. He was continually casting sidelong
glances to see if the men were contemplating the
letters of guilt he felt burned into his brow.
At times he regarded the wounded soldiers
in an envious way. He conceived persons with
torn bodies to be peculiarly happy. He wished
that he, too, had a wound, a red badge of cour-
The spectral soldier was at his side like a
stalking reproach. The man's eyes were still
fixed in a stare into the unknown. His gray,
appalling face had attracted attention in the
crowd, and men, slowing to his dreary pace, were
walking with him. They were discussing his
plight, questioning him and giving him advice.
In a dogged way he repelled them, signing to them
to go on and leave him alone. The shadows of
his face were deepening and his tight lips seemed
holding in check the moan of great despair.
There could be seen a certain stiffness in the
movements of his body, as if he were taking
infinite care not to arouse the passion of his
wounds. As he went on, he seemed always look-
ing for a place, like one who goes to choose a
Something in the gesture of the man as he
waved the bloody and pitying soldiers away
made the youth start as if bitten. He yelled in
horror. Tottering forward he laid a quivering
hand upon the man's arm. As the latter slowly
turned his waxlike features toward him, the
"Gawd! Jim Conklin!"
The tall soldier made a little commonplace
smile. "Hello, Henry," he said.
The youth swayed on his legs and glared
strangely. He stuttered and stammered. "Oh,
Jim--oh, Jim--oh, Jim--"
The tall soldier held out his gory hand. There
was a curious red and black combination of new
blood and old blood upon it. "Where yeh been,
Henry?" he asked. He continued in a monoto-
nous voice, "I thought mebbe yeh got keeled
over. There 's been thunder t' pay t'-day. I was
worryin' about it a good deal."
The youth still lamented. "Oh, Jim--oh, Jim
"Yeh know," said the tall soldier, "I was out
there." He made a careful gesture. "An',
Lord, what a circus! An', b'jiminey, I got shot--
I got shot. Yes, b'jiminey, I got shot." He
reiterated this fact in a bewildered way, as if he
did not know how it came about.
The youth put forth anxious arms to assist
him, but the tall soldier went firmly on as if pro-
pelled. Since the youth's arrival as a guardian
for his friend, the other wounded men had ceased
to display much interest. They occupied them-
selves again in dragging their own tragedies
toward the rear.
Suddenly, as the two friends marched on, the
tall soldier seemed to be overcome by a terror.
His face turned to a semblance of gray paste.
He clutched the youth's arm and looked all about
him, as if dreading to be overheard. Then he
began to speak in a shaking whisper:
"I tell yeh what I'm 'fraid of, Henry--I 'll tell
yeh what I 'm 'fraid of. I 'm 'fraid I 'll fall down
--an' then yeh know--them damned artillery
wagons--they like as not 'll run over me. That 's
what I 'm 'fraid of--"
The youth cried out to him hysterically: "I 'll
take care of yeh, Jim! I'll take care of yeh! I
swear t' Gawd I will!"
"Sure--will yeh, Henry?" the tall soldier
"Yes--yes--I tell yeh--I'll take care of yeh,
Jim!" protested the youth. He could not speak
accurately because of the gulpings in his throat.
But the tall soldier continued to beg in a
lowly way. He now hung babelike to the
youth's arm. His eyes rolled in the wildness of
his terror. "I was allus a good friend t' yeh,
wa'n't I, Henry? I 've allus been a pretty good
feller, ain't I? An' it ain't much t' ask, is it? Jest
t' pull me along outer th' road? I 'd do it fer you,
Wouldn't I, Henry?"
He paused in piteous anxiety to await his
The youth had reached an anguish where the
sobs scorched him. He strove to express his
loyalty, but he could only make fantastic gestures.
However, the tall soldier seemed suddenly to
forget all those fears. He became again the
grim, stalking specter of a soldier. He went
stonily forward. The youth wished his friend to
lean upon him, but the other always shook his
head and strangely protested. "No--no--no--
leave me be--leave me be--"
His look was fixed again upon the unknown.
He moved with mysterious purpose, and all of
the youth's offers he brushed aside. "No--no--
leave me be--leave me be--"
The youth had to follow.
Presently the latter heard a voice talking
softly near his shoulders. Turning he saw that it
belonged to the tattered soldier. "Ye 'd better
take 'im outa th' road, pardner. There 's a batt'ry
comin' helitywhoop down th' road an' he 'll git
runned over. He 's a goner anyhow in about five
minutes--yeh kin see that. Ye 'd better take 'im
outa th' road. Where th' blazes does he git his
"Lord knows!" cried the youth. He was
shaking his hands helplessly.
He ran forward presently and grasped the
tall soldier by the arm. "Jim! Jim!" he coaxed,
"come with me."
The tall soldier weakly tried to wrench himself
free. "Huh," he said vacantly. He stared at the
youth for a moment. At last he spoke as if dimly
comprehending. "Oh! Inteh th' fields? Oh!"
He started blindly through the grass.
The youth turned once to look at the lashing
riders and jouncing guns of the battery. He was
startled from this view by a shrill outcry from
the tattered man.
"Gawd! He's runnin'!"
Turning his head swiftly, the youth saw his
friend running in a staggering and stumbling
way toward a little clump of bushes. His heart
seemed to wrench itself almost free from his
body at this sight. He made a noise of pain.
He and the tattered man began a pursuit. There
was a singular race.
When he overtook the tall soldier he began
to plead with all the words he could find. "Jim
--Jim--what are you doing--what makes you do
this way--you 'll hurt yerself."
The same purpose was in the tall soldier's face.
He protested in a dulled way, keeping his eyes
fastened on the mystic place of his intentions.
"No--no--don't tech me--leave me be--leave
The youth, aghast and filled with wonder at the
tall soldier, began quaveringly to question him.
"Where yeh goin', Jim? What you thinking
about? Where you going? Tell me, won't you,
The tall soldier faced about as upon relentless
pursuers. In his eyes there was a great appeal.
"Leave me be, can't yeh? Leave me be fer a
The youth recoiled. "Why, Jim," he said, in
a dazed way, "what's the matter with you?"
The tall soldier turned and, lurching danger-
ously, went on. The youth and the tattered
soldier followed, sneaking as if whipped, feeling
unable to face the stricken man if he should again
confront them. They began to have thoughts of
a solemn ceremony. There was something rite-
like in these movements of the doomed soldier.
And there was a resemblance in him to a devotee
of a mad religion, blood-sucking, muscle-wrench-
ing, bone-crushing. They were awed and afraid.
They hung back lest he have at command a
At last, they saw him stop and stand motion-
less. Hastening up, they perceived that his face
wore an expression telling that he had at last
found the place for which he had struggled. His
spare figure was erect; his bloody hands were
quietly at his side. He was waiting with patience
for something that he had come to meet. He was
at the rendezvous. They paused and stood, ex-
There was a silence.
Finally, the chest of the doomed soldier began
to heave with a strained motion. It increased in
violence until it was as if an animal was within
and was kicking and tumbling furiously to be
This spectacle of gradual strangulation made
the youth writhe, and once as his friend rolled his
eyes, he saw something in them that made him
sink wailing to the ground. He raised his voice
in a last supreme call.
The tall soldier opened his lips and spoke.
He made a gesture. "Leave me be--don't tech
me--leave me be--"
There was another silence while he waited.
Suddenly, his form stiffened and straightened.
Then it was shaken by a prolonged ague. He
stared into space. To the two watchers there
was a curious and profound dignity in the firm
lines of his awful face.
He was invaded by a creeping strangeness
that slowly enveloped him. For a moment the
tremor of his legs caused him to dance a sort of
hideous hornpipe. His arms beat wildly about
his head in expression of implike enthusiasm.
His tall figure stretched itself to its full height.
There was a slight rending sound. Then it began
to swing forward, slow and straight, in the man-
ner of a falling tree. A swift muscular contortion
made the left shoulder strike the ground first.
The body seemed to bounce a little way from
the earth. "God!" said the tattered soldier.
The youth had watched, spellbound, this
ceremony at the place of meeting. His face
had been twisted into an expression of every
agony he had imagined for his friend.
He now sprang to his feet and, going closer,
gazed upon the pastelike face. The mouth was
open and the teeth showed in a laugh.
As the flap of the blue jacket fell away from
the body, he could see that the side looked as if it
had been chewed by wolves.
The youth turned, with sudden, livid rage,
toward the battlefield. He shook his fist. He
seemed about to deliver a philippic.
The red sun was pasted in the sky like a wafer.
THE tattered man stood musing.
"Well, he was reg'lar jim-dandy fer nerve,
wa'n't he," said he finally in a little awestruck
voice. "A reg'lar jim-dandy." He thoughtfully
poked one of the docile hands with his foot. "I
wonner where he got 'is stren'th from? I never
seen a man do like that before. It was a funny
thing. Well, he was a reg'lar jim-dandy."
The youth desired to screech out his grief.
He was stabbed, but his tongue lay dead in the
tomb of his mouth. He threw himself again
upon the ground and began to brood.
The tattered man stood musing.
"Look-a-here, pardner," he said, after a time.
He regarded the corpse as he spoke. "He 's up
an' gone, ain't 'e, an' we might as well begin t'
look out fer ol' number one. This here thing is
all over. He 's up an' gone, ain't 'e? An' he 's all
right here. Nobody won't bother 'im. An' I
must say I ain't enjoying any great health m'self
The youth, awakened by the tattered soldier's
tone, looked quickly up. He saw that he was
swinging uncertainly on his legs and that his face
had turned to a shade of blue.
"Good Lord!" he cried, "you ain't goin' t'--
not you, too."
The tattered man waved his hand. "Nary
die," he said. "All I want is some pea soup an'
a good bed. Some pea soup," he repeated
The youth arose from the ground. "I wonder
where he came from. I left him over there."
He pointed. "And now I find 'im here. And
he was coming from over there, too." He in-
dicated a new direction. They both turned
toward the body as if to ask of it a question.
"Well," at length spoke the tattered man,
"there ain't no use in our stayin' here an' tryin' t'
ask him anything."
The youth nodded an assent wearily. They
both turned to gaze for a moment at the corpse.
The youth murmured something.
"Well, he was a jim-dandy, wa'n't 'e?" said
the tattered man as if in response.
They turned their backs upon it and started
away. For a time they stole softly, treading
with their toes. It remained laughing there in
"I'm commencin' t' feel pretty bad," said the
tattered man, suddenly breaking one of his little
silences. "I'm commencin' t' feel pretty damn'
The youth groaned. "O Lord!" He won-
dered if he was to be the tortured witness of
another grim encounter.
But his companion waved his hand reassur-
ingly. "Oh, I'm not goin' t' die yit! There too
much dependin' on me fer me t' die yit. No, sir!
Nary die! I CAN'T! Ye'd oughta see th' swad
a' chil'ren I've got, an' all like that."
The youth glancing at his companion could
see by the shadow of a smile that he was making
some kind of fun.
As they plodded on the tattered soldier con-
tinued to talk. "Besides, if I died, I wouldn't
die th' way that feller did. That was th' funniest
thing. I'd jest flop down, I would. I never seen
a feller die th' way that feller did.
"Yeh know Tom Jamison, he lives next door
t' me up home. He's a nice feller, he is, an' we
was allus good friends. Smart, too. Smart as a
steel trap. Well, when we was a-fightin' this
atternoon, all-of-a-sudden he begin t' rip up an'
cuss an' beller at me. 'Yer shot, yeh blamed
infernal!'--he swear horrible--he ses t' me. I
put up m' hand t' m' head an' when I looked at
m' fingers, I seen, sure 'nough, I was shot. I
give a holler an' begin t' run, but b'fore I could
git away another one hit me in th' arm an' whirl'
me clean 'round. I got skeared when they was
all a-shootin' b'hind me an' I run t' beat all,
but I cotch it pretty bad. I've an idee I'd
a' been fightin' yit, if t'was n't fer Tom Jami-
Then he made a calm announcement: "There's
two of 'em--little ones--but they 're beginnin' t'
have fun with me now. I don't b'lieve I kin walk
They went slowly on in silence. "Yeh look
pretty peek-ed yerself," said the tattered man at
last. "I bet yeh 've got a worser one than yeh
think. Ye'd better take keer of yer hurt. It
don't do t' let sech things go. It might be inside
mostly, an' them plays thunder. Where is it
located?" But he continued his harangue with-
out waiting for a reply. "I see 'a feller git hit
plum in th' head when my reg'ment was a-standin'
at ease onct. An' everybody yelled out to 'im:
Hurt, John? Are yeh hurt much? 'No," ses he.
He looked kinder surprised, an' he went on tellin'
'em how he felt. He sed he didn't feel nothin'.
But, by dad, th' first thing that feller knowed he
was dead. Yes, he was dead--stone dead. So,
yeh wanta watch out. Yeh might have some
queer kind 'a hurt yerself. Yeh can't never tell.
Where is your'n located?"
The youth had been wriggling since the intro-
duction of this topic. He now gave a cry of ex-
asperation and made a furious motion with his
hand. "Oh, don't bother me!" he said. He was
enraged against the tattered man, and could have
strangled him. His companions seemed ever to
play intolerable parts. They were ever uprais-
ing the ghost of shame on the stick of their
curiosity. He turned toward the tattered man as
one at bay. "Now, don't bother me," he re-
peated with desperate menace.
"Well, Lord knows I don't wanta bother any-
body," said the other. There was a little accent
of despair in his voice as he replied, "Lord
knows I 've gota 'nough m' own t' tend to."
The youth, who had been holding a bitter de-
bate with himself and casting glances of hatred
and contempt at the tattered man, here spoke in
a hard voice. "Good-by," he said.
The tattered man looked at him in gaping
amazement. "Why--why, pardner, where yeh
goin'?" he asked unsteadily. The youth looking
at him, could see that he, too, like that other one,
was beginning to act dumb and animal-like. His
thoughts seemed to be floundering about in his
head. "Now--now--look--a--here, you Tom
Jamison--now--I won't have this--this here
won't do. Where--where yeh goin'?"
The youth pointed vaguely. "Over there,"
"Well, now look--a--here--now," said the
tattered man, rambling on in idiot fashion. His
head was hanging forward and his words were
slurred. "This thing won't do, now, Tom Jami-
son. It won't do. I know yeh, yeh pig-headed
devil. Yeh wanta go trompin' off with a bad
hurt. It ain't right--now--Tom Jamison--it ain't.
Yeh wanta leave me take keer of yeh, Tom Jami-
son. It ain't--right--it ain't--fer yeh t' go--
trompin' off--with a bad hurt--it ain't--ain't--
ain't right--it ain't."
In reply the youth climbed a fence and
started away. He could hear the tattered man
Once he faced about angrily. "What?"
"Look--a--here, now, Tom Jamison--now--
The youth went on. Turning at a distance he
saw the tattered man wandering about helplessly
in the field.
He now thought that he wished he was dead.
He believed that he envied those men whose
bodies lay strewn over the grass of the fields and
on the fallen leaves of the forest.
The simple questions of the tattered man had
been knife thrusts to him. They asserted a
society that probes pitilessly at secrets until all is
apparent. His late companion's chance persist-
ency made him feel that he could not keep his
crime concealed in his bosom. It was sure to be
brought plain by one of those arrows which
cloud the air and are constantly pricking, dis-
covering, proclaiming those things which are
willed to be forever hidden. He admitted that
he could not defend himself against this agency.
It was not within the power of vigilance.
HE became aware that the furnace roar of the
battle was growing louder. Great brown clouds
had floated to the still heights of air before him.
The noise, too, was approaching. The woods
filtered men and the fields became dotted.
As he rounded a hillock, he perceived that the
roadway was now a crying mass of wagons,
teams, and men. From the heaving tangle issued
exhortations, commands, imprecations. Fear was
sweeping it all along. The cracking whips bit
and horses plunged and tugged. The white-
topped wagons strained and stumbled in their
exertions like fat sheep.
The youth felt comforted in a measure by this
sight. They were all retreating. Perhaps, then,
he was not so bad after all. He seated himself
and watched the terror-stricken wagons. They
fled like soft, ungainly animals. All the roarers
and lashers served to help him to magnify the
dangers and horrors of the engagement that he
might try to prove to himself that the thing with
which men could charge him was in truth a
symmetrical act. There was an amount of pleas-
ure to him in watching the wild march of this
Presently the calm head of a forward-going
column of infantry appeared in the road. It
came swiftly on. Avoiding the obstructions gave
it the sinuous movement of a serpent. The men
at the head butted mules with their musket
stocks. They prodded teamsters indifferent to
all howls. The men forced their way through
parts of the dense mass by strength. The blunt
head of the column pushed. The raving team-
sters swore many strange oaths.
The commands to make way had the ring of a
great importance in them. The men were going
forward to the heart of the din. They were to
confront the eager rush of the enemy. They felt
the pride of their onward movement when the
remainder of the army seemed trying to dribble
down this road. They tumbled teams about
with a fine feeling that it was no matter so long
as their column got to the front in time. This
importance made their faces grave and stern.
And the backs of the officers were very rigid.
As the youth looked at them the black weight
of his woe returned to him. He felt that he was
regarding a procession of chosen beings. The
separation was as great to him as if they had
marched with weapons of flame and banners of
sunlight. He could never be like them. He
could have wept in his longings.
He searched about in his mind for an ade-
quate malediction for the indefinite cause, the
thing upon which men turn the words of final
blame. It--whatever it was--was responsible for
him, he said. There lay the fault.
The haste of the column to reach the battle
seemed to the forlorn young man to be some-
thing much finer than stout fighting. Heroes, he
thought, could find excuses in that long seething
lane. They could retire with perfect self-respect
and make excuses to the stars.
He wondered what those men had eaten that
they could be in such haste to force their way to
grim chances of death. As he watched his envy
grew until he thought that he wished to change
lives with one of them. He would have liked to
have used a tremendous force, he said, throw off
himself and become a better. Swift pictures of
himself, apart, yet in himself, came to him--a
blue desperate figure leading lurid charges with
one knee forward and a broken blade high--a
blue, determined figure standing before a crimson
and steel assault, getting calmly killed on a high
place before the eyes of all. He thought of the
magnificent pathos of his dead body.
These thoughts uplifted him. He felt the
quiver of war desire. In his ears, he heard the
ring of victory. He knew the frenzy of a rapid
successful charge. The music of the trampling
feet, the sharp voices, the clanking arms of the
column near him made him soar on the red wings
of war. For a few moments he was sublime.
He thought that he was about to start for the
front. Indeed, he saw a picture of himself, dust-
stained, haggard, panting, flying to the front at
the proper moment to seize and throttle the dark,
leering witch of calamity.
Then the difficulties of the thing began to
drag at him. He hesitated, balancing awkwardly
on one foot.
He had no rifle; he could not fight with his
hands, said he resentfully to his plan. Well,
rifles could be had for the picking. They were
Also, he continued, it would be a miracle if he
found his regiment. Well, he could fight with
He started forward slowly. He stepped as if
he expected to tread upon some explosive thing.
Doubts and he were struggling.
He would truly be a worm if any of his com-
rades should see him returning thus, the marks of
his flight upon him. There was a reply that the
intent fighters did not care for what happened
rearward saving that no hostile bayonets ap-
peared there. In the battle-blur his face would,
in a way be hidden, like the face of a cowled
But then he said that his tireless fate would
bring forth, when the strife lulled for a moment,
a man to ask of him an explanation. In imagina-
tion he felt the scrutiny of his companions as he
painfully labored through some lies.
Eventually, his courage expended itself upon
these objections. The debates drained him of his
He was not cast down by this defeat of his
plan, for, upon studying the affair carefully, he
could not but admit that the objections were very
Furthermore, various ailments had begun to
cry out. In their presence he could not persist
in flying high with the wings of war; they
rendered it almost impossible for him to see him-
self in a heroic light. He tumbled headlong.
He discovered that he had a scorching thirst.
His face was so dry and grimy that he thought
he could feel his skin crackle. Each bone of his
body had an ache in it, and seemingly threatened
to break with each movement. His feet were
like two sores. Also, his body was calling for
food. It was more powerful than a direct hunger.
There was a dull, weight like feeling in his stom-
ach, and, when he tried to walk, his head swayed
and he tottered. He could not see with distinct-
ness. Small patches of green mist floated before
While he had been tossed by many emotions,
he had not been aware of ailments. Now they
beset him and made clamor. As he was at last
compelled to pay attention to them, his capacity
for self-hate was multiplied. In despair, he
declared that he was not like those others. He
now conceded it to be impossible that he should
ever become a hero. He was a craven loon.
Those pictures of glory were piteous things. He
groaned from his heart and went staggering off.
A certain mothlike quality within him kept
him in the vicinity of the battle. He had a great
desire to see, and to get news. He wished to
know who was winning.
He told himself that, despite his unprecedented
suffering, he had never lost his greed for a victory,
yet, he said, in a half-apologetic manner to his
conscience, he could not but know that a defeat
for the army this time might mean many favor-
able things for him. The blows of the enemy
would splinter regiments into fragments. Thus,
many men of courage, he considered, would be
obliged to desert the colors and scurry like
chickens. He would appear as one of them.
They would be sullen brothers in distress, and he
could then easily believe he had not run any
farther or faster than they. And if he himself
could believe in his virtuous perfection, he con-
ceived that there would be small trouble in con-
vincing all others.
He said, as if in excuse for this hope, that
previously the army had encountered great
defeats and in a few months had shaken off all
blood and tradition of them, emerging as bright
and valiant as a new one; thrusting out of sight
the memory of disaster, and appearing with the
valor and confidence of unconquered legions.
The shrilling voices of the people at home would
pipe dismally for a time, but various generals
were usually compelled to listen to these ditties.
He of course felt no compunctions for proposing
a general as a sacrifice. He could not tell who
the chosen for the barbs might be, so he could
center no direct sympathy upon him. The
people were afar and he did not conceive public
opinion to be accurate at long range. It was
quite probable they would hit the wrong man
who, after he had recovered from his amazement
would perhaps spend the rest of his days in writ-
ing replies to the songs of his alleged failure. It
would be very unfortunate, no doubt, but in this
case a general was of no consequence to the
In a defeat there would be a roundabout
vindication of himself. He thought it would
prove, in a manner, that he had fled early because
of his superior powers of perception. A serious
prophet upon predicting a flood should be the
first man to climb a tree. This would demon-
strate that he was indeed a seer.
A moral vindication was regarded by the
youth as a very important thing. Without salve,
he could not, he thought, wear the sore badge of
his dishonor through life. With his heart con-
tinually assuring him that he was despicable, he
could not exist without making it, through his
actions, apparent to all men.
If the army had gone gloriously on he would
be lost. If the din meant that now his army's
flags were tilted forward he was a condemned
wretch. He would be compelled to doom
himself to isolation. If the men were advancing,
their indifferent feet were trampling upon his
chances for a successful life.
As these thoughts went rapidly through his
mind, he turned upon them and tried to thrust
them away. He denounced himself as a villain.
He said that he was the most unutterably selfish
man in existence. His mind pictured the soldiers
who would place their defiant bodies before the
spear of the yelling battle fiend, and as he saw
their dripping corpses on an imagined field, he
said that he was their murderer.
Again he thought that he wished he was dead.
He believed that he envied a corpse. Thinking
of the slain, he achieved a great contempt for
some of them, as if they were guilty for thus
becoming lifeless. They might have been killed
by lucky chances, he said, before they had had
opportunities to flee or before they had been
really tested. Yet they would receive laurels
from tradition. He cried out bitterly that their
crowns were stolen and their robes of glori-
ous memories were shams. However, he still
said that it was a great pity he was not as
A defeat of the army had suggested itself to
him as a means of escape from the consequences
of his fall. He considered, now, however, that it
was useless to think of such a possibility. His
education had been that success for that mighty
blue machine was certain; that it would make
victories as a contrivance turns out buttons. He
presently discarded all his speculations in the
other direction. He returned to the creed of
When he perceived again that it was not
possible for the army to be defeated, he tried
to bethink him of a fine tale which he could take
back to his regiment, and with it turn the expected
shafts of derision.
But, as he mortally feared these shafts, it
became impossible for him to invent a tale he felt
he could trust. He experimented with many
schemes, but threw them aside one by one as
flimsy. He was quick to see vulnerable places in
Furthermore, he was much afraid that some
arrow of scorn might lay him mentally low before
he could raise his protecting tale.
He imagined the whole regiment saying:
"Where's Henry Fleming? He run, didn't 'e?
Oh, my!" He recalled various persons who
would be quite sure to leave him no peace
about it. They would doubtless question him
with sneers, and laugh at his stammering hesi-
tation. In the next engagement they would
try to keep watch of him to discover when he
Wherever he went in camp, he would en-
counter insolent and lingeringly cruel stares. As
he imagined himself passing near a crowd of
comrades, he could hear some one say, "There
Then, as if the heads were moved by one
muscle, all the faces were turned toward him
with wide, derisive grins. He seemed to hear
some one make a humorous remark in a low tone.
At it the others all crowed and cackled. He was
a slang phrase.
THE column that had butted stoutly at the
obstacles in the roadway was barely out of the
youth's sight before he saw dark waves of men
come sweeping out of the woods and down
through the fields. He knew at once that the
steel fibers had been washed from their hearts.
They were bursting from their coats and
their equipments as from entanglements. They
charged down upon him like terrified buffaloes.
Behind them blue smoke curled and clouded
above the treetops, and through the thickets he
could sometimes see a distant pink glare. The
voices of the cannon were clamoring in intermi-
The youth was horrorstricken. He stared
in agony and amazement. He forgot that he
was engaged in combating the universe. He
threw aside his mental pamphlets on the philoso-
phy of the retreated and rules for the guidance
of the damned.
The fight was lost. The dragons were com-
ing with invincible strides. The army, helpless
in the matted thickets and blinded by the over-
hanging night, was going to be swallowed. War,
the red animal, war, the blood-swollen god, would
have bloated fill.
Within him something bade to cry out. He
had the impulse to make a rallying speech, to sing
a battle hymn, but he could only get his tongue to
call into the air: "Why--why--what--what 's
Soon he was in the midst of them. They
were leaping and scampering all about him.
Their blanched faces shone in the dusk. They
seemed, for the most part, to be very burly men.
The youth turned from one to another of them as
they galloped along. His incoherent questions
were lost. They were heedless of his appeals.
They did not seem to see him.
They sometimes gabbled insanely. One huge
man was asking of the sky: "Say, where de
plank road? Where de plank road!" It was as if
he had lost a child. He wept in his pain and
Presently, men were running hither and
thither in all ways. The artillery booming,
forward, rearward, and on the flanks made
jumble of ideas of direction. Landmarks had
vanished into the gathered gloom. The youth
began to imagine that he had got into the
center of the tremendous quarrel, and he could
perceive no way out of it. From the mouths of
the fleeing men came a thousand wild questions,
but no one made answers.
The youth, after rushing about and throwing
interrogations at the heedless bands of retreating
infantry, finally clutched a man by the arm. They
swung around face to face.
"Why--why--" stammered the youth strug-
gling with his balking tongue.
The man screamed: "Let go me! Let go
me!" His face was livid and his eyes were roll-
ing uncontrolled. He was heaving and panting.
He still grasped his rifle, perhaps having for-
gotten to release his hold upon it. He tugged
frantically, and the youth being compelled to lean
forward was dragged several paces.
"Let go me! Let go me!"
"Why--why--" stuttered the youth.
"Well, then!" bawled the man in a lurid
rage. He adroitly and fiercely swung his rifle.
It crushed upon the youth's head. The man
The youth's fingers had turned to paste upon
the other's arm. The energy was smitten from
his muscles. He saw the flaming wings of light-
ning flash before his vision. There was a deaf-
ening rumble of thunder within his head.
Suddenly his legs seemed to die. He sank
writhing to the ground. He tried to arise. In
his efforts against the numbing pain he was like a
man wrestling with a creature of the air.
There was a sinister struggle.
Sometimes he would achieve a position half
erect, battle with the air for a moment, and
then fall again, grabbing at the grass. His face
was of a clammy pallor. Deep groans were
wrenched from him.
At last, with a twisting movement, he got
upon his hands and knees, and from thence, like a
babe trying to walk, to his feet. Pressing his
hands to his temples he went lurching over the
He fought an intense battle with his body.
His dulled senses wished him to swoon and he
opposed them stubbornly, his mind portraying
unknown dangers and mutilations if he should
fall upon the field. He went tall soldier fashion.
He imagined secluded spots where he could fall
and be unmolested. To search for one he strove
against the tide of his pain.
Once he put his hand to the top of his head
and timidly touched the wound. The scratching
pain of the contact made him draw a long breath
through his clinched teeth. His fingers were
dabbled with blood. He regarded them with a
Around him he could hear the grumble of
jolted cannon as the scurrying horses were lashed
toward the front. Once, a young officer on a
besplashed charger nearly ran him down. He
turned and watched the mass of guns, men, and
horses sweeping in a wide curve toward a gap in
a fence. The officer was making excited motions
with a gauntleted hand. The guns followed the
teams with an air of unwillingness, of being
dragged by the heels.
Some officers of the scattered infantry were
cursing and railing like fishwives. Their scold-
ing voices could be heard above the din. Into
the unspeakable jumble in the roadway rode a
squadron of cavalry. The faded yellow of their
facings shone bravely. There was a mighty
The artillery were assembling as if for a con-
The blue haze of evening was upon the field.
The lines of forest were long purple shadows.
One cloud lay along the western sky partly
smothering the red.
As the youth left the scene behind him, he
heard the guns suddenly roar out. He imagined
them shaking in black rage. They belched and
howled like brass devils guarding a gate. The
soft air was filled with the tremendous remon-
strance. With it came the shattering peal of
opposing infantry. Turning to look behind him,
he could see sheets of orange light illumine the
shadowy distance. There were subtle and sudden
lightnings in the far air. At times he thought he
could see heaving masses of men.
He hurried on in the dusk. The day had
faded until he could barely distinguish place for
his feet. The purple darkness was filled with
men who lectured and jabbered. Sometimes he
could see them gesticulating against the blue and
somber sky. There seemed to be a great ruck of
men and munitions spread about in the forest and
in the fields.
The little narrow roadway now lay lifeless.
There were overturned wagons like sun-dried
bowlders. The bed of the former torrent was
choked with the bodies of horses and splintered
parts of war machines.
It had come to pass that his wound pained him
but little. He was afraid to move rapidly, how-
ever, for a dread of disturbing it. He held his
head very still and took many precautions against
stumbling. He was filled with anxiety, and his
face was pinched and drawn in anticipation of the
pain of any sudden mistake of his feet in the
His thoughts, as he walked, fixed intently
upon his hurt. There was a cool, liquid feeling
about it and he imagined blood moving slowly
down under his hair. His head seemed swollen
to a size that made him think his neck to be
The new silence of his wound made much
worriment. The little blistering voices of pain
that had called out from his scalp were, he
thought, definite in their expression of danger.
By them he believed that he could measure his
plight. But when they remained ominously
silent he became frightened and imagined ter-
rible fingers that clutched into his brain.
Amid it he began to reflect upon various
incidents and conditions of the past. He be-
thought him of certain meals his mother had
cooked at home, in which those dishes of which
he was particularly fond had occupied prominent
positions. He saw the spread table. The pine
walls of the kitchen were glowing in the warm
light from the stove. Too, he remembered how
he and his companions used to go from the school-
house to the bank of a shaded pool. He saw his
clothes in disorderly array upon the grass of the
bank. He felt the swash of the fragrant water
upon his body. The leaves of the overhanging
maple rustled with melody in the wind of youth-
He was overcome presently by a dragging
weariness. His head hung forward and his
shoulders were stooped as if he were bearing a
great bundle. His feet shuffled along the
He held continuous arguments as to whether
he should lie down and sleep at some near spot,
or force himself on until he reached a certain
haven. He often tried to dismiss the question,
but his body persisted in rebellion and his senses
nagged at him like pampered babies.
At last he heard a cheery voice near his
shoulder: "Yeh seem t' be in a pretty bad way,
The youth did not look up, but he assented
with thick tongue. "Uh!"
The owner of the cheery voice took him firmly
by the arm. "Well," he said, with a round
laugh, "I'm goin' your way. Th' hull gang is
goin' your way. An' I guess I kin give yeh a
lift." They began to walk like a drunken man
and his friend.
As they went along, the man questioned the
youth and assisted him with the replies like one
manipulating the mind of a child. Sometimes he
interjected anecdotes. "What reg'ment do yeh
b'long teh? Eh? What's that? Th' 304th N'
York? Why, what corps is that in? Oh, it is?
Why, I thought they wasn't engaged t'-day--
they 're 'way over in th' center. Oh, they was,
eh? Well, pretty nearly everybody got their
share 'a fightin' t'-day. By dad, I give myself up
fer dead any number 'a times. There was shootin'
here an' shootin' there, an' hollerin' here an'
hollerin' there, in th' damn' darkness, until I
couldn't tell t' save m' soul which side I was on.
Sometimes I thought I was sure 'nough from
Ohier, an' other times I could 'a swore I was
from th' bitter end of Florida. It was th' most
mixed up dern thing I ever see. An' these here
hull woods is a reg'lar mess. It'll be a miracle
if we find our reg'ments t'-night. Pretty soon,
though, we 'll meet a-plenty of guards an' provost-
guards, an' one thing an' another. Ho! there they
go with an off'cer, I guess. Look at his hand
a-draggin'. He 's got all th' war he wants, I bet.
He won't be talkin' so big about his reputation
an' all when they go t' sawin' off his leg. Poor
feller! My brother 's got whiskers jest like that.
How did yeh git 'way over here, anyhow? Your
reg'ment is a long way from here, ain't it? Well,
I guess we can find it. Yeh know there was a
boy killed in my comp'ny t'-day that I thought
th' world an' all of. Jack was a nice feller. By
ginger, it hurt like thunder t' see ol' Jack jest git
knocked flat. We was a-standin' purty peaceable
fer a spell, 'though there was men runnin' ev'ry
way all 'round us, an' while we was a-standin'
like that, 'long come a big fat feller. He began
t' peck at Jack's elbow, an' he ses: 'Say, where 's
th' road t' th' river?' An' Jack, he never paid no
attention, an' th' feller kept on a-peckin' at his
elbow an' sayin': 'Say, where 's th' road t' th'
river?' Jack was a-lookin' ahead all th' time
tryin' t' see th' Johnnies comin' through th'
woods, an' he never paid no attention t' this big
fat feller fer a long time, but at last he turned
'round an' he ses: 'Ah, go t' hell an' find th'
road t' th' river!' An' jest then a shot slapped
him bang on th' side th' head. He was a sergeant,
too. Them was his last words. Thunder, I wish