He moved out of the shadow, walking rapidly toward the graying east. From the safer seclusion of a clump of cedars he looked back. The entire column had passed out of sight: the straight white road lay bare and desolate in the moonlight!
Puzzled before, he was now inexpressibly astonished. So swift a passing of so slow an army!he could not comprehend it. Minute after minute passed unnoted; he had lost his sense of time. He sought with a terrible earnestness a solution of the mystery, but sought in vain. When at last he roused himself from his abstraction the suns rim was visible above the hills, but in the new conditions he found no other light than that of day; his understanding was involved as darkly in doubt as before.
On every side lay cultivated fields showing no sign of war and wars ravages. From the chimneys of the farmhouses thin ascensions of blue smoke signaled preparations for a days peaceful toil. Having stilled its immemorial allocution to the moon, the watchdog was assisting a Negro who, prefixing a team of mules to the plow, was flatting and sharping contentedly at his task. The hero of this tale stared stupidly at the pastoral picture as if he had never seen such a thing in all his life; then he put his hand to his head, passed it through his hair and, withdrawing it, attentively considered the palma singular thing to do. Apparently reassured by the act, he walked confidently toward the road.
When You Have Lost Your Life Consult A Physician
Dr. Stilling Malson, of Murfreesboro, having visited a patient six or seven miles away, on the Nashville road, had remained with him all night. At daybreak he set out for home on horse-back, as was the custom of doctors of the time and region. He had passed into the neighborhood of Stones River battlefield when a man approached him from the roadside and saluted in the military fashion, with a movement of the right hand to the hat-brim. But the hat was not a military hat, the man was not in uniform and had not a martial bearing. The doctor nodded civilly, half thinking that the strangers uncommon greeting was perhaps in deference to the historic surroundings. As the stranger evidently desired speech with him he courteously reined in his horse and waited.
Sir, said the stranger, although a civilian, you are perhaps an enemy.
I am a physician, was the non-committal reply.
Thank you, said the other. I am a lieutenant, of the staff of General Hazen. He paused a moment and looked sharply at the person whom he was addressing, then added, of the Federal army.
The physician merely nodded.
Kindly tell me, continued the other, what has happened here. Where are the armies? Which has won the battle?
The physician regarded his questioner curiously with half shut eyes. After a professional scrutiny, prolonged to the limit of politeness, Pardon me, he said; one asking information should be willing to impart it. Are you wounded? he added, smiling.
Not seriouslyit seems.
The man removed the unmilitary hat, put his hand to his head, passed it through his hair and, withdrawing it, attentively considered the palm.
I was struck by a bullet and have been unconscious. It must have been a light, glancing blow: I find no blood and feel no pain. I will not trouble you for treatment, but will you kindly direct me to my commandto any part of the Federal armyif you know?
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|