By God, I hope so! Same here, he confessed. And these were our first natural words this morning.
This will go well, said I, holding my flask out to him; and both of us took some, and felt easier for it and the natural words.
For an hour we had been shirking real talk, holding fast to the weather, or anything, and all the while that silent thing we were keeping off spoke plainly in the air around us and in every syllable that we uttered. But now we were going to get away from it; leave it behind in the stable, and set ourselves free from it by talking it out. Already relief had begun to stir in my spirits.
You never did this before, I said.
No. I never had it to do. He was riding beside me, looking down at his saddle-horn.
I do not think I should ever be able, I pursued.
Defiance sounded in his answer. I would do it again this morning. Oh, I dont mean that. Its all right here. Theres no other way. I would do it all over again the same this morning. Just the same. Why, so should I--if I could do it at all. I still thought he was justifying their justice to me.
He made no answer as he rode along, looking all the while at his saddle. But again he passed his hand over his forehead with that frown and shutting of the eyes.
I should like to be sure I should behave myself if I were condemned, I said next. For it now came to me--which should I resemble? Could I read the newspaper, and be interested in county elections, and discuss coming death as if I had lost a game of cards? Or would they have to drag me out? That poor wretch in the gray flannel shirt--It was bad in the stable, I said aloud. For an after-shiver of it went through me.
A third time his hand brushed his forehead, and I ventured some sympathy.
Im afraid your head aches. I dont want to keep seeing Steve, he muttered.
Steve! I was astounded. Why he--why all I saw of him was splendid. Since it had to be. It was--
Oh, yes; Ed. Youre thinking about him. Id forgot him. So you didnt enjoy Ed? At this I looked at him blankly. It isnt possible that--
Again he cut me short with a laugh almost savage. You neednt to worry about Steve. He stayed game. What then had been the matter that he should keep seeing Steve--that his vision should so obliterate from him what I still shivered at, and so shake him now? For he seemed to be growing more stirred as I grew less. I asked him no further questions, however, and we went on for several minutes, he brooding always in the same fashion, until he resumed with the hard indifference that had before surprised me:- So Ed gave you feelings! Dumb ague and so forth. No doubt were not made the same way, I retorted.
He took no notice of this. And youd have been more comfortable if hed acted same as Steve did. It certnly was bad seeing Ed take it that way, I reckon. And you didnt see him when the time came for business. Well, heres what it is: a man maybe such a confirrned miscreant that killings the only cure for him; but still hes your own species, and you dont want to have him fall around and grab your laigs and show you his fear naked. It makes you feel ashamed. So Ed gave you feelings, and Steve made everything right easy for you! There was irony in his voice as he surveyed me, but it fell away at once into sadness. Both was miscreants. But if Steve had played the coward, too, it would have been a whole heap easier for me. He paused before adding, And Steve was not a miscreant once. His voice had trembled, and I felt the deep emotion that seemed to gain upon him now that action was over and he had nothing to do but think. And his view was simple enough: you must die brave. Failure is a sort of
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