iron colored mixture from a small and sooty tin pail. He had some fresh meat, which he roasted hurriedly upon a stick. He sat down then and contemplated the youths appetite with glee.
The youth took note of a remarkable change in his comrade since those days of camp life upon the river bank. He seemed no more to be continually regarding the proportions of his personal prowess. He was not furious at small words that pricked his conceits. He was no more a loud young soldier. There was about him now a fine reliance. He showed a quiet belief in his purposes and his abilities. And this inward confidence evidently enabled him to be indifferent to little words of other men aimed at him.
The youth reflected. He had been used to regarding his comrade as a blatant child with an audacity grown from his inexperience, thoughtless, headstrong, jealous, and filled with a tinsel courage. A swaggering babe accustomed to strut in his own dooryard. The youth wondered where had been born these new eyes; when his comrade had made the great discovery that there were many men who would refuse to be subjected by him. Apparently, the other had now climbed a peak of wisdom from which he could perceive himself as a very wee thing. And the youth saw that ever after it would be easier to live in his friends neighborhood.
His comrade balanced his ebony coffee-cup on his knee. Well, Henry, he said, what dyeh think th chances are? Dyeh think well wallop em?
The youth considered for a moment. Day-bfore-yesterday, he finally replied, with boldness, you would a bet youd lick the hull kit-an-boodle all by yourself.
His friend looked a trifle amazed. Would I? he asked. He pondered. Well, perhaps I would, he decided at last. He stared humbly at the fire.
The youth was quite disconcerted at this surprising reception of his remarks. Oh, no, you wouldnt either, he said, hastily trying to retrace.
But the other made a deprecating gesture. Oh, yeh neednt mind, Henry, he said. I believe I was a pretty big fool in those days. He spoke as after a lapse of years.
There was a little pause.
All th officers say weve got th rebs in a pretty tight box, said the friend, clearing his throat in a commonplace way. They all seem t think weve got em jest where we want em.
I dont know about that, the youth replied. What I seen over on th right makes me think it was th other way about. From where I was, it looked as if we was gettin a good poundin yestirday.
Dyeh think so? inquired the friend. I thought we handled em pretty rough yestirday.
Not a bit, said the youth. Why, lord, man, you didnt see nothing of the fight. Why! Then a sudden thought came to him. Oh! Jim Conklins dead.
His friend started. What? Is he? Jim Conklin?
The youth spoke slowly. Yes. Hes dead. Shot in th side.
Yeh dont say so. Jim Conklin . poor cuss!
All about them were other small fires surrounded by men with their little black utensils. From one of these near came sudden sharp voices in a row. It appeared that two light-footed soldiers had been teasing a huge, bearded man, causing him to spill coffee upon his blue knees. The man had gone into a rage and had sworn comprehensively. Stung by his language, his tormentors had immediately bristled at him with a great show of resenting unjust oaths. Possibly there was going to be a fight.
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