Mebbe, it want all his faultnot all together. He did th best he knowed. Its our luck t git licked often, said his friend in a weary tone. He was trudging along with stooped shoulders and shifting eyes like a man who has been caned and kicked.
Well, dont we fight like the devil? Dont we do all that men can? demanded the youth loudly.
He was secretly dumfounded at this sentiment when it came from his lips. For a moment his face lost its valor and he looked guiltily about him. But no one questioned his right to deal in such words, and presently he recovered his air of courage. He went on to repeat a statement he had heard going from group to group at the camp that morning. The brigadier said he never saw a new regment fight the way we fought yestirday, didnt he? And we didnt do better than many another regment, did we? Well, then, you cant say its th armys fault, can you?
In his reply, the friends voice was stern. A course not, he said. No man dare say we dont fight like th devil. No man will ever dare say it. Th boys fight like hell-roosters. But stillstill, we dont have no luck.
Well, then, if we fight like the devil an dont ever whip, it must be the generals fault, said the youth grandly and decisively. And I dont see any sense in fighting and fighting and fighting, yet always losing through some derned old lunkhead of a general.
A sarcastic man who was tramping at the youths side, then spoke lazily. Mebbe yeh think yeh fit th hull battle yestirday, Fleming, he remarked.
The speech pierced the youth. Inwardly he was reduced to an abject pulp by these chance words. His legs quaked privately. He cast a frightened glance at the sarcastic man.
Why, no, he hastened to say in a conciliating voice, I dont think I fought the whole battle yesterday.
But the other seemed innocent of any deeper meaning. Apparently, he had no information. It was merely his habit. Oh! he replied in the same tone of calm derision.
The youth, nevertheless, felt a threat. His mind shrank from going near to the danger, and thereafter he was silent. The significance of the sarcastic mans words took from him all loud moods that would make him appear prominent. He became suddenly a modest person.
There was low-toned talk among the troops. The officers were impatient and snappy, their countenances clouded with the tales of misfortune. The troops, sifting through the forest, were sullen. In the youths company once a mans laugh rang out. A dozen soldiers turned their faces quickly toward him and frowned with vague displeasure.
The noise of firing dogged their footsteps. Sometimes, it seemed to be driven a little way, but it always returned again with increased insolence. The men muttered and cursed, throwing black looks in its direction.
In a clear space the troops were at last halted. Regiments and brigades, broken and detached through their encounters with thickets, grew together again and lines were faced toward the pursuing bark of the enemys infantry.
This noise, following like the yellings of eager, metallic hounds, increased to a loud and joyous burst, and then, as the sun went serenely up the sky, throwing illuminating rays into the gloomy thickets, it broke forth into prolonged pealings. The woods began to crackle as if afire.
Whoop-a-dadee, said a man, here we are! Everybody fightin. Blood an destruction.
I was willin t bet theyd attack as soon as th sun got fairly up, savagely asserted the lieutenant who commanded the youths company. He jerked without mercy at his little mustache. He strode to and
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