now in wide purple and gold, having various deflections. They went gayly with music. It was pleasure to watch these things. He spent delightful minutes viewing the gilded images of memory.
He saw that he was good. He recalled with a thrill of joy the respectful comments of his fellows upon his conduct.
Nevertheless, the ghost of his flight from the first engagement appeared to him and danced. There were small shoutings in his brain about these matters. For a moment he blushed, and the light of his soul flickered with shame.
A specter of reproach came to him. There loomed the dogging memory of the tattered soldierhe who, gored by bullets and faint for blood, had fretted concerning an imagined wound in another; he who had loaned his last of strength and intellect for the tall solider; he who, blind with weariness and pain, had been deserted in the field.
For an instant a wretched chill of sweat was upon him at the thought that he might be detected in the thing. As he stood persistently before his vision, he gave vent to a cry of sharp irritation and agony.
His friend turned. Whats the matter, Henry? he demanded. The youths reply was an outburst of crimson oaths.
As he marched along the little branch-hung roadway among his prattling companions this vision of cruelty brooded over him. It clung near him always and darkened his view of these deeds in purple and gold. Whichever way his thoughts turned they were followed by the somber phantom of the desertion in the fields. He looked stealthily at his companions, feeling sure that they must discern in his face evidences of this pursuit. But they were plodding in ragged array, discussing with quick tongues the accomplishments of the late battle.
Oh, if a man should come up an ask me, Id say we got a dum good lickin.
Lickinin yer eye! We aint licked, sonny. Were goin down here aways, swing aroun, an come in behint em.
Oh, hush, with your comin in behint em. Ive seen all a that I wanta. Dont tell me about comin in behint
Bill Smithers, he ses hed rather been in ten hundred battles than been in that heluva hospital. He ses they got shootin in th night-time, an shells dropped plum among em in th hospital. He ses sech hollerin he never see.
Hasbrouck? Hes th best offcer in this here regment. Hes a whale.
Didnt I tell yeh wed come aroun in behint em? Didnt I tell yeh so? We
Oh, shet yeh mouth!
For a time this pursuing recollection of the tattered man took all elation from the youths veins. He saw his vivid error, and he was afraid that it would stand before him all his life. He took no share in the chatter of his comrades, nor did he look at them or know them, save when he felt sudden suspicion that they were seeing his thoughts and scrutinizing each detail of the scene with the tattered soldier.
Yet gradually he mustered force to put the sin at a distance. And at last his eyes seemed to open to some new ways. He found that he could look back upon the brass and bombast of his earlier gospels and see them truly. He was gleeful when he discovered that he now despised them.
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