Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
WOUNDS IN THE RAIN - WAR STORIES
By STEPHEN CRANE
TO Moreton Frewen
THIS SMALL TOKEN OF THINGS
WELL REMEMBERED BY HIS FRIEND
BREDE PLACE, SUSSEX, April, 1900
THE PRICE OF THE HARNESS 1
THE LONE CHARGE OF WILLIAM B. PERKINS 33
THE CLAN OF NO-NAME 42
GOD REST YE, MERRY GENTLEMEN 74
THE REVENGE OF THE ADOLPHUS 107
THE SERGEANT'S PRIVATE MADHOUSE 138
VIRTUE IN WAR 152
MARINES SIGNALLING UNDER FIRE AT GUANTANAMO 178
THIS MAJESTIC LIE 190
WAR MEMORIES 229
THE SECOND GENERATION 309
WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
THE PRICE OF THE HARNESS
Twenty-five men were making a road out of a path up the hillside. The
light batteries in the rear were impatient to advance, but first must
be done all that digging and smoothing which gains no encrusted medals
from war. The men worked like gardeners, and a road was growing from
the old pack-animal trail.
Trees arched from a field of guinea-grass which resembled young wild
corn. The day was still and dry. The men working were dressed in the
consistent blue of United States regulars. They looked indifferent,
almost stolid, despite the heat and the labour. There was little
talking. From time to time a Government pack-train, led by a
sleek-sided tender bell-mare, came from one way or the other way, and
the men stood aside as the strong, hard, black-and-tan animals crowded
eagerly after their curious little feminine leader.
A volunteer staff-officer appeared, and, sitting on his horse in the
middle of the work, asked the sergeant in command some questions which
were apparently not relevant to any military business. Men straggling
along on various duties almost invariably spun some kind of a joke as
A corporal and four men were guarding boxes of spare ammunition at the
top of the hill, and one of the number often went to the foot of the
hill swinging canteens.
The day wore down to the Cuban dusk, in which the shadows are all grim
and of ghostly shape. The men began to lift their eyes from the shovels
and picks, and glance in the direction of their camp. The sun threw his
last lance through the foliage. The steep mountain-range on the right
turned blue and as without detail as a curtain. The tiny ruby of light
ahead meant that the ammunition-guard were cooking their supper. From
somewhere in the world came a single rifle-shot.
Figures appeared, dim in the shadow of the trees. A murmur, a sigh of
quiet relief, arose from the working party. Later, they swung up the
hill in an unformed formation, being always like soldiers, and unable
even to carry a spade save like United States regular soldiers. As they
passed through some fields, the bland white light of the end of the day
feebly touched each hard bronze profile.
"Wonder if we'll git anythin' to eat," said Watkins, in a low voice.
"Should think so," said Nolan, in the same tone. They betrayed no
impatience; they seemed to feel a kind of awe of the situation.
The sergeant turned. One could see the cool grey eye flashing under the
brim of the campaign hat. "What in hell you fellers kickin' about?" he
asked. They made no reply, understanding that they were being
As they moved on, a murmur arose from the tall grass on either hand. It
was the noise from the bivouac of ten thousand men, although one saw
practically nothing from the low-cart roadway. The sergeant led his
party up a wet clay bank and into a trampled field. Here were scattered
tiny white shelter tents, and in the darkness they were luminous like
the rearing stones in a graveyard. A few fires burned blood-red, and
the shadowy figures of men moved with no more expression of detail than
there is in the swaying of foliage on a windy night.
The working party felt their way to where their tents were pitched. A
man suddenly cursed; he had mislaid something, and he knew he was not
going to find it that night. Watkins spoke again with the monotony of a
clock, "Wonder if we'll git anythin' to eat."
Martin, with eyes turned pensively to the stars, began a treatise.
"Oh, quit it," cried Nolan. "What th' piper do you know about th'
Spaniards, you fat-headed Dutchman? Better think of your belly, you
blunderin' swine, an' what you're goin' to put in it, grass or dirt."
A laugh, a sort of a deep growl, arose from the prostrate men. In the
meantime the sergeant had reappeared and was standing over them. "No
rations to-night," he said gruffly, and turning on his heel, walked
This announcement was received in silence. But Watkins had flung
himself face downward, and putting his lips close to a tuft of grass,
he formulated oaths. Martin arose and, going to his shelter, crawled in
sulkily. After a long interval Nolan said aloud, "Hell!" Grierson,
enlisted for the war, raised a querulous voice. "Well, I wonder when we
"will" git fed?"
From the ground about him came a low chuckle, full of ironical comment
upon Grierson's lack of certain qualities which the other men felt
themselves to possess.
In the cold light of dawn the men were on their knees, packing,
strapping, and buckling. The comic toy hamlet of shelter-tents had been
wiped out as if by a cyclone. Through the trees could be seen the
crimson of a light battery's blankets, and the wheels creaked like the
sound of a musketry fight. Nolan, well gripped by his shelter tent, his
blanket, and his cartridge-belt, and bearing his rifle, advanced upon a
small group of men who were hastily finishing a can of coffee.
"Say, give us a drink, will yeh?" he asked, wistfully. He was as
sad-eyed as an orphan beggar.
Every man in the group turned to look him straight in the face. He had
asked for the principal ruby out of each one's crown. There was a grim
silence. Then one said, "What fer?" Nolan cast his glance to the
ground, and went away abashed.
But he espied Watkins and Martin surrounding Grierson, who had gained
three pieces of hard-tack by mere force of his audacious inexperience.
Grierson was fending his comrades off tearfully.
"Now, don't be damn pigs," he cried. "Hold on a minute." Here Nolan
asserted a claim. Grierson groaned. Kneeling piously, he divided the
hard-tack with minute care into four portions. The men, who had had
their heads together like players watching a wheel of fortune, arose
suddenly, each chewing. Nolan interpolated a drink of water, and sighed
The whole forest seemed to be moving. From the field on the other side
of the road a column of men in blue was slowly pouring; the battery had
creaked on ahead; from the rear came a hum of advancing regiments. Then
from a mile away rang the noise of a shot; then another shot; in a
moment the rifles there were drumming, drumming, drumming. The
artillery boomed out suddenly. A day of battle was begun.
The men made no exclamations. They rolled their eyes in the direction
of the sound, and then swept with a calm glance the forests and the
hills which surrounded them, implacably mysterious forests and hills
which lent to every rifle-shot the ominous quality which belongs to
secret assassination. The whole scene would have spoken to the private
soldiers of ambushes, sudden flank attacks, terrible disasters, if it
were not for those cool gentlemen with shoulder-straps and swords who,
the private soldiers knew, were of another world and omnipotent for the
The battalions moved out into the mud and began a leisurely march in
the damp shade of the trees. The advance of two batteries had churned
the black soil into a formidable paste. The brown leggings of the men,
stained with the mud of other days, took on a deeper colour.
Perspiration broke gently out on the reddish faces. With his heavy roll
of blanket and the half of a shelter-tent crossing his right shoulder
and under his left arm, each man presented the appearance of being
clasped from behind, wrestler fashion, by a pair of thick white arms.
There was something distinctive in the way they carried their rifles.
There was the grace of an old hunter somewhere in it, the grace of a
man whose rifle has become absolutely a part of himself. Furthermore,
almost every blue shirt sleeve was rolled to the elbow, disclosing
fore-arms of almost incredible brawn. The rifles seemed light, almost
fragile, in the hands that were at the end of these arms, never fat but
always with rolling muscles and veins that seemed on the point of
bursting. And another thing was the silence and the marvellous
impassivity of the faces as the column made its slow way toward where
the whole forest spluttered and fluttered with battle.
Opportunely, the battalion was halted a-straddle of a stream, and
before it again moved, most of the men had filled their canteens. The
firing increased. Ahead and to the left a battery was booming at
methodical intervals, while the infantry racket was that continual
drumming which, after all, often sounds like rain on a roof. Directly
ahead one could hear the deep voices of field-pieces.
Some wounded Cubans were carried by in litters improvised from hammocks
swung on poles. One had a ghastly cut in the throat, probably from a
fragment of shell, and his head was turned as if Providence
particularly wished to display this wide and lapping gash to the long
column that was winding toward the front. And another Cuban, shot
through the groin, kept up a continual wail as he swung from the tread
of his bearers. "Ay--ee! Ay--ee! Madre mia! Madre mia!" He sang this
bitter ballad into the ears of at least three thousand men as they
slowly made way for his bearers on the narrow wood-path. These wounded
insurgents were, then, to a large part of the advancing army, the
visible messengers of bloodshed and death, and the men regarded them
with thoughtful awe. This doleful sobbing cry--"Madre mia"--was a
tangible consequent misery of all that firing on in front into which
the men knew they were soon to be plunged. Some of them wished to
inquire of the bearers the details of what had happened; but they could
not speak Spanish, and so it was as if fate had intentionally sealed
the lips of all in order that even meagre information might not leak
out concerning this mystery--battle. On the other hand, many unversed
private soldiers looked upon the unfortunate as men who had seen
thousands maimed and bleeding, and absolutely could not conjure any
further interest in such scenes.
A young staff-officer passed on horseback. The vocal Cuban was always
wailing, but the officer wheeled past the bearers without heeding
anything. And yet he never before had seen such a sight. His case was
different from that of the private soldiers. He heeded nothing because
he was busy--immensely busy and hurried with a multitude of reasons and
desires for doing his duty perfectly. His whole life had been a mere
period of preliminary reflection for this situation, and he had no
clear idea of anything save his obligation as an officer. A man of this
kind might be stupid; it is conceivable that in remote cases certain
bumps on his head might be composed entirely of wood; but those
traditions of fidelity and courage which have been handed to him from
generation to generation, and which he has tenaciously preserved
despite the persecution of legislators and the indifference of his
country, make it incredible that in battle he should ever fail to give
his best blood and his best thought for his general, for his men, and
for himself. And so this young officer in the shapeless hat and the
torn and dirty shirt failed to heed the wails of the wounded man, even
as the pilgrim fails to heed the world as he raises his illumined face
toward his purpose--rightly or wrongly, his purpose--his sky of the
ideal of duty; and the wonderful part of it is, that he is guided by an
ideal which he has himself created, and has alone protected from
attack. The young man was merely an officer in the United States
The column swung across a shallow ford and took a road which passed the
right flank of one of the American batteries. On a hill it was booming
and belching great clouds of white smoke. The infantry looked up with
interest. Arrayed below the hill and behind the battery were the horses
and limbers, the riders checking their pawing mounts, and behind each
rider a red blanket flamed against the fervent green of the bushes. As
the infantry moved along the road, some of the battery horses turned at
the noise of the trampling feet and surveyed the men with eyes as deep
as wells, serene, mournful, generous eyes, lit heart-breakingly with
something that was akin to a philosophy, a religion of self-sacrifice--oh,
gallant, gallant horses!
"I know a feller in that battery," said Nolan, musingly. "A driver."
"Dam sight rather be a gunner," said Martin.
"Why would ye?" said Nolan, opposingly.
"Well, I'd take my chances as a gunner b'fore I'd sit way up in th' air
on a raw-boned plug an' git shot at."
"Aw----" began Nolan.
"They've had some losses t'-day all right," interrupted Grierson.
"Horses?" asked Watkins.
"Horses and men too," said Grierson.
"How d'yeh know?"
"A feller told me there by the ford."
They kept only a part of their minds bearing on this discussion because
they could already hear high in the air the wire-string note of the
The road taken by this battalion as it followed other battalions is
something less than a mile long in its journey across a heavily-wooded
plain. It is greatly changed now,--in fact it was metamorphosed in two
days; but at that time it was a mere track through dense shrubbery,
from which rose great dignified arching trees. It was, in fact, a path
through a jungle.
The battalion had no sooner left the battery in rear when bullets began
to drive overhead. They made several different sounds, but as these
were mainly high shots it was usual for them to make the faint note of
a vibrant string, touched elusively, half-dreamily.
The military balloon, a fat, wavering, yellow thing, was leading the
advance like some new conception of war-god. Its bloated mass shone
above the trees, and served incidentally to indicate to the men at the
rear that comrades were in advance. The track itself exhibited for all
its visible length a closely-knit procession of soldiers in blue with
breasts crossed with white shelter-tents. The first ominous order of
battle came down the line. "Use the cut-off. Don't use the magazine
until you're ordered." Non-commissioned officers repeated the command
gruffly. A sound of clicking locks rattled along the columns. All men
knew that the time had come.
The front had burst out with a roar like a brush-fire. The balloon was
dying, dying a gigantic and public death before the eyes of two armies.
It quivered, sank, faded into the trees amid the flurry of a battle
that was suddenly and tremendously like a storm.
The American battery thundered behind the men with a shock that seemed
likely to tear the backs of their heads off. The Spanish shrapnel fled
on a line to their left, swirling and swishing in supernatural
velocity. The noise of the rifle bullets broke in their faces like the
noise of so many lamp-chimneys or sped overhead in swift cruel
spitting. And at the front the battle-sound, as if it were simply
music, was beginning to swell and swell until the volleys rolled like a
The officers shouted hoarsely, "Come on, men! Hurry up, boys! Come on
now! Hurry up!" The soldiers, running heavily in their accoutrements,
dashed forward. A baggage guard was swiftly detailed; the men tore
their rolls from their shoulders as if the things were afire. The
battalion, stripped for action, again dashed forward.
"Come on, men! Come on!" To them the battle was as yet merely a road
through the woods crowded with troops, who lowered their heads
anxiously as the bullets fled high. But a moment later the column
wheeled abruptly to the left and entered a field of tall green grass.
The line scattered to a skirmish formation. In front was a series of
knolls treed sparsely like orchards; and although no enemy was visible,
these knolls were all popping and spitting with rifle-fire. In some
places there were to be seen long grey lines of dirt, intrenchments.
The American shells were kicking up reddish clouds of dust from the
brow of one of the knolls, where stood a pagoda-like house. It was not
much like a battle with men; it was a battle with a bit of charming
scenery, enigmatically potent for death.
Nolan knew that Martin had suddenly fallen. "What----" he began.
"They've hit me," said Martin.
"Jesus!" said Nolan.
Martin lay on the ground, clutching his left forearm just below the
elbow with all the strength of his right hand. His lips were pursed
ruefully. He did not seem to know what to do. He continued to stare at
Then suddenly the bullets drove at them low and hard. The men flung
themselves face downward in the grass. Nolan lost all thought of his
friend. Oddly enough, he felt somewhat like a man hiding under a bed,
and he was just as sure that he could not raise his head high without
being shot as a man hiding under a bed is sure that he cannot raise his
head without bumping it.
A lieutenant was seated in the grass just behind him. He was in the
careless and yet rigid pose of a man balancing a loaded plate on his
knee at a picnic. He was talking in soothing paternal tones.
"Now, don't get rattled. We're all right here. Just as safe as being in
church.... They're all going high. Don't mind them.... Don't mind
them.... They're all going high. We've got them rattled and they can't
shoot straight. Don't mind them."
The sun burned down steadily from a pale blue sky upon the crackling
woods and knolls and fields. From the roar of musketry it might have
been that the celestial heat was frying this part of the world.
Nolan snuggled close to the grass. He watched a grey line of
intrenchments, above which floated the veriest gossamer of smoke. A
flag lolled on a staff behind it. The men in the trench volleyed
whenever an American shell exploded near them. It was some kind of
infantile defiance. Frequently a bullet came from the woods directly
behind Nolan and his comrades. They thought at the time that these
bullets were from the rifle of some incompetent soldier of their own
There was no cheering. The men would have looked about them, wondering
where was the army, if it were not that the crash of the fighting for
the distance of a mile denoted plainly enough where was the army.
Officially, the battalion had not yet fired a shot; there had been
merely some irresponsible popping by men on the extreme left flank. But
it was known that the lieutenant-colonel who had been in command was
dead--shot through the heart--and that the captains were thinned down
to two. At the rear went on a long tragedy, in which men, bent and
hasty, hurried to shelter with other men, helpless, dazed, and bloody.
Nolan knew of it all from the hoarse and affrighted voices which he
heard as he lay flattened in the grass. There came to him a sense of
exultation. Here, then, was one of those dread and lurid situations,
which in a nation's history stand out in crimson letters, becoming a
tale of blood to stir generation after generation. And he was in it,
and unharmed. If he lived through the battle, he would be a hero of the
desperate fight at ----; and here he wondered for a second what fate
would be pleased to bestow as a name for this battle.
But it is quite sure that hardly another man in the battalion was
engaged in any thoughts concerning the historic. On the contrary, they
deemed it ill that they were being badly cut up on a most unimportant
occasion. It would have benefited the conduct of whoever were weak if
they had known that they were engaged in a battle that would be famous
Martin had picked himself up from where the bullet had knocked him and
addressed the lieutenant. "I'm hit, sir," he said.
The lieutenant was very busy. "All right, all right," he said, just
heeding the man enough to learn where he was wounded. "Go over that
way. You ought to see a dressing-station under those trees."
Martin found himself dizzy and sick. The sensation in his arm was
distinctly galvanic. The feeling was so strange that he could wonder at
times if a wound was really what ailed him. Once, in this dazed way, he
examined his arm; he saw the hole. Yes, he was shot; that was it. And
more than in any other way it affected him with a profound sadness.
As directed by the lieutenant, he went to the clump of trees, but he
found no dressing-station there. He found only a dead soldier lying
with his face buried in his arms and with his shoulders humped high as
if he were convulsively sobbing. Martin decided to make his way to the
road, deeming that he thus would better his chances of getting to a
surgeon. But he suddenly found his way blocked by a fence of barbed
wire. Such was his mental condition that he brought up at a rigid halt
before this fence, and stared stupidly at it. It did not seem to him
possible that this obstacle could be defeated by any means. The fence
was there, and it stopped his progress. He could not go in that
But as he turned he espied that procession of wounded men, strange
pilgrims, that had already worn a path in the tall grass. They were
passing through a gap in the fence. Martin joined them. The bullets
were flying over them in sheets, but many of them bore themselves as
men who had now exacted from fate a singular immunity. Generally there
were no outcries, no kicking, no talk at all. They too, like Martin,
seemed buried in a vague but profound melancholy.
But there was one who cried out loudly. A man shot in the head was
being carried arduously by four comrades, and he continually yelled one
word that was terrible in its primitive strength,--"Bread! Bread!
Bread!" Following him and his bearers were a limping crowd of men less
cruelly wounded, who kept their eyes always fixed on him, as if they
gained from his extreme agony some balm for their own sufferings.
"Bread! Give me bread!"
Martin plucked a man by the sleeve. The man had been shot in the foot,
and was making his way with the help of a curved, incompetent stick. It
is an axiom of war that wounded men can never find straight sticks.
"What's the matter with that feller?" asked Martin.
"Nutty," said the man.
"Why is he?"
"Shot in th' head," answered the other, impatiently.
The wail of the sufferer arose in the field amid the swift rasp of
bullets and the boom and shatter of shrapnel. "Bread! Bread! Oh, God,
can't you give me bread? Bread!" The bearers of him were suffering
exquisite agony, and often they exchanged glances which exhibited their
despair of ever getting free of this tragedy. It seemed endless.
"Bread! Bread! Bread!"
But despite the fact that there was always in the way of this crowd a
wistful melancholy, one must know that there were plenty of men who
laughed, laughed at their wounds whimsically, quaintly inventing odd
humours concerning bicycles and cabs, extracting from this shedding of
their blood a wonderful amount of material for cheerful badinage, and,
with their faces twisted from pain as they stepped, they often joked
like music-hall stars. And perhaps this was the most tearful part of
They trudged along a road until they reached a ford. Here under the
eave of the bank lay a dismal company. In the mud and in the damp shade
of some bushes were a half-hundred pale-faced men prostrate. Two or
three surgeons were working there. Also, there was a chaplain,
grim-mouthed, resolute, his surtout discarded. Overhead always was that
incessant maddening wail of bullets.
Martin was standing gazing drowsily at the scene when a surgeon grabbed
him. "Here, what's the matter with you?" Martin was daunted. He
wondered what he had done that the surgeon should be so angry with him.
"In the arm," he muttered, half-shamefacedly.
After the surgeon had hastily and irritably bandaged the injured member
he glared at Martin and said, "You can walk all right, can't you?"
"Yes, sir," said Martin.
"Well, now, you just make tracks down that road."
"Yes, sir." Martin went meekly off. The doctor had seemed exasperated
almost to the point of madness.
The road was at this time swept with the fire of a body of Spanish
sharpshooters who had come cunningly around the flanks of the American
army, and were now hidden in the dense foliage that lined both sides of
the road. They were shooting at everything. The road was as crowded as
a street in a city, and at an absurdly short range they emptied their
rifles at the passing people. They were aided always by the over-sweep
from the regular Spanish line of battle.
Martin was sleepy from his wound. He saw tragedy follow tragedy, but
they created in him no feeling of horror.
A man with a red cross on his arm was leaning against a great tree.
Suddenly he tumbled to the ground, and writhed for a moment in the way
of a child oppressed with colic. A comrade immediately began to bustle
importantly. "Here," he called to Martin, "help me carry this man, will
Martin looked at him with dull scorn. "I'll be damned if I do," he
said. "Can't carry myself, let alone somebody else."
This answer, which rings now so inhuman, pitiless, did not affect the
other man. "Well, all right," he said. "Here comes some other fellers."
The wounded man had now turned blue-grey; his eyes were closed; his
body shook in a gentle, persistent chill.
Occasionally Martin came upon dead horses, their limbs sticking out and
up like stakes. One beast mortally shot, was besieged by three or four
men who were trying to push it into the bushes, where it could live its
brief time of anguish without thrashing to death any of the wounded men
in the gloomy procession.
The mule train, with extra ammunition, charged toward the front, still
led by the tinkling bell-mare.
An ambulance was stuck momentarily in the mud, and above the crack of
battle one could hear the familiar objurgations of the driver as he
whirled his lash.
Two privates were having a hard time with a wounded captain, whom they
were supporting to the rear, He was half cursing, half wailing out the
information that he not only would not go another step toward the rear,
but that he was certainly going to return at once to the front. They
begged, pleaded at great length as they continually headed him off.
They were not unlike two nurses with an exceptionally bad and
headstrong little duke.
The wounded soldiers paused to look impassively upon this struggle.
They were always like men who could not be aroused by anything further.
The visible hospital was mainly straggling thickets intersected with
narrow paths, the ground being covered with men. Martin saw a busy
person with a book and a pencil, but he did not approach him to become
officially a member of the hospital. All he desired was rest and
immunity from nagging. He took seat painfully under a bush and leaned
his back upon the trunk. There he remained thinking, his face wooden.
"My Gawd," said Nolan, squirming on his belly in the grass, "I can't
stand this much longer."
Then suddenly every rifle in the firing line seemed to go off of its
own accord. It was the result of an order, but few men heard the order;
in the main they had fired because they heard others fire, and their
sense was so quick that the volley did not sound too ragged. These
marksmen had been lying for nearly an hour in stony silence, their
sights adjusted, their fingers fondling their rifles, their eyes
staring at the intrenchments of the enemy. The battalion had suffered
heavy losses, and these losses had been hard to bear, for a soldier
always reasons that men lost during a period of inaction are men badly
The line now sounded like a great machine set to running frantically in
the open air, the bright sunshine of a green field. To the prut of the
magazine rifles was added the under-chorus of the clicking mechanism,
steady and swift, as if the hand of one operator was controlling it
all. It reminds one always of a loom, a great grand steel loom,
clinking, clanking, plunking, plinking, to weave a woof of thin red
threads, the cloth of death. By the men's shoulders under their eager
hands dropped continually the yellow empty shells, spinning into the
crushed grass blades to remain there and mark for the belated eye the
line of a battalion's fight.
All impatience, all rebellious feeling, had passed out of the men as
soon as they had been allowed to use their weapons against the enemy.
They now were absorbed in this business of hitting something, and all
the long training at the rifle ranges, all the pride of the marksman
which had been so long alive in them, made them forget for the time
everything but shooting. They were as deliberate and exact as so many
A new sense of safety was rightfully upon them. They knew that those
mysterious men in the high far trenches in front were having the
bullets sping in their faces with relentless and remarkable precision;
they knew, in fact, that they were now doing the thing which they had
been trained endlessly to do, and they knew they were doing it well.
Nolan, for instance, was overjoyed. "Plug 'em," he said: "Plug 'em." He
laid his face to his rifle as if it were his mistress. He was aiming
under the shadow of a certain portico of a fortified house: there he
could faintly see a long black line which he knew to be a loop-hole cut
for riflemen, and he knew that every shot of his was going there under
the portico, mayhap through the loop-hole to the brain of another man
like himself. He loaded the awkward magazine of his rifle again and
again. He was so intent that he did not know of new orders until he saw
the men about him scrambling to their feet and running forward,
crouching low as they ran.
He heard a shout. "Come on, boys! We can't be last! We're going up!
We're going up." He sprang to his feet and, stooping, ran with the
others. Something fine, soft, gentle, touched his heart as he ran. He
had loved the regiment, the army, because the regiment, the army, was
his life,--he had no other outlook; and now these men, his comrades,
were performing his dream-scenes for him; they were doing as he had
ordained in his visions. It is curious that in this charge he
considered himself as rather unworthy. Although he himself was in the
assault with the rest of them, it seemed to him that his comrades were
dazzlingly courageous. His part, to his mind, was merely that of a man
who was going along with the crowd.
He saw Grierson biting madly with his pincers at a barbed-wire fence.
They were half-way up the beautiful sylvan slope; there was no enemy to
be seen, and yet the landscape rained bullets. Somebody punched him
violently in the stomach. He thought dully to lie down and rest, but
instead he fell with a crash.
The sparse line of men in blue shirts and dirty slouch hats swept on up
the hill. He decided to shut his eyes for a moment because he felt very
dreamy and peaceful. It seemed only a minute before he heard a voice
say, "There he is." Grierson and Watkins had come to look for him. He
searched their faces at once and keenly, for he had a thought that the
line might be driven down the hill and leave him in Spanish hands. But
he saw that everything was secure, and he prepared no questions.
"Nolan," said Grierson clumsily, "do you know me?"
The man on the ground smiled softly. "Of course I know you, you
chowder-faced monkey. Why wouldn't I know you?"
Watkins knelt beside him. "Where did they plug you, old boy?"
Nolan was somewhat dubious. "It ain't much. I don't think but it's
somewheres there." He laid a finger on the pit of his stomach. They
lifted his shirt, and then privately they exchanged a glance of horror.
"Does it hurt, Jimmie?" said Grierson, hoarsely.
"No," said Nolan, "it don't hurt any, but I feel sort of
dead-to-the-world and numb all over. I don't think it's very bad."
"Oh, it's all right," said Watkins.
"What I need is a drink," said Nolan, grinning at them. "I'm
chilly--lying on this damp ground."
"It ain't very damp, Jimmie," said Grierson.
"Well, it is damp," said Nolan, with sudden irritability. "I can feel
it. I'm wet, I tell you--wet through--just from lying here."
They answered hastily. "Yes, that's so, Jimmie. It "is" damp. That's
"Just put your hand under my back and see how wet the ground is," he
"No," they answered. "That's all right, Jimmie. We know it's wet."
"Well, put your hand under and see," he cried, stubbornly.
"Oh, never mind, Jimmie."
"No," he said, in a temper. "See for yourself." Grierson seemed to be
afraid of Nolan's agitation, and so he slipped a hand under the
prostrate man, and presently withdrew it covered with blood. "Yes," he
said, hiding his hand carefully from Nolan's eyes, "you were right,
"Of course I was," said Nolan, contentedly closing his eyes. "This
hillside holds water like a swamp." After a moment he said, "Guess I
ought to know. I'm flat here on it, and you fellers are standing up."
He did not know he was dying. He thought he was holding an argument on
the condition of the turf.
"Cover his face," said Grierson, in a low and husky voice afterwards.
"What'll I cover it with?" said Watkins.
They looked at themselves. They stood in their shirts, trousers,
leggings, shoes; they had nothing.
"Oh," said Grierson, "here's his hat." He brought it and laid it on the
face of the dead man. They stood for a time. It was apparent that they
thought it essential and decent to say or do something. Finally Watkins
said in a broken voice, "Aw, it's a dam shame." They moved slowly off
toward the firing line.
* * * * *
In the blue gloom of evening, in one of the fever-tents, the two rows
of still figures became hideous, charnel. The languid movement of a
hand was surrounded with spectral mystery, and the occasional painful
twisting of a body under a blanket was terrifying, as if dead men were
moving in their graves under the sod. A heavy odour of sickness and
medicine hung in the air.
"What regiment are you in?" said a feeble voice.
"Twenty-ninth Infantry," answered another voice.
"Twenty-ninth! Why, the man on the other side of me is in the
"He is?... Hey, there, partner, are you in the Twenty-ninth?"
A third voice merely answered wearily. "Martin of C Company."
"What? Jack, is that you?"
"It's part of me.... Who are you?"
"Grierson, you fat-head. I thought you were wounded."
There was the noise of a man gulping a great drink of water, and at its
conclusion Martin said, "I am."
"Well, what you doin' in the fever-place, then?"
Martin replied with drowsy impatience. "Got the fever too."
"Gee!" said Grierson.
Thereafter there was silence in the fever-tent, save for the noise made
by a man over in a corner--a kind of man always found in an American
crowd--a heroic, implacable comedian and patriot, of a humour that has
bitterness and ferocity and love in it, and he was wringing from the
situation a grim meaning by singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" with all
the ardour which could be procured from his fever-stricken body.
"Billie," called Martin in a low voice, "where's Jimmy Nolan?"
"He's dead," said Grierson.
A triangle of raw gold light shone on a side of the tent. Somewhere in
the valley an engine's bell was ringing, and it sounded of peace and
home as if it hung on a cow's neck.
"And where's Ike Watkins?"
"Well, he ain't dead, but he got shot through the lungs. They say he
ain't got much show."
Through the clouded odours of sickness and medicine rang the dauntless
voice of the man in the corner.
THE LONE CHARGE OF WILLIAM B. PERKINS
He could not distinguish between a five-inch quick-firing gun and a
nickle-plated ice-pick, and so, naturally, he had been elected to fill
the position of war-correspondent. The responsible party was the editor
of the "Minnesota Herald." Perkins had no information of war, and no
particular rapidity of mind for acquiring it, but he had that rank and
fibrous quality of courage which springs from the thick soil of Western
It was morning in Guantanamo Bay. If the marines encamped on the hill
had had time to turn their gaze seaward, they might have seen a small
newspaper despatch-boat wending its way toward the entrance of the
harbour over the blue, sunlit waters of the Caribbean. In the stern of
this tug Perkins was seated upon some coal bags, while the breeze
gently ruffled his greasy pajamas. He was staring at a brown line of
entrenchments surmounted by a flag, which was Camp McCalla. In the
harbour were anchored two or three grim, grey cruisers and a transport.
As the tug steamed up the radiant channel, Perkins could see men moving
on shore near the charred ruins of a village. Perkins was deeply moved;
here already was more war than he had ever known in Minnesota.
Presently he, clothed in the essential garments of a war-correspondent,
was rowed to the sandy beach. Marines in yellow linen were handling an
ammunition supply. They paid no attention to the visitor, being morose
from the inconveniences of two days and nights of fighting. Perkins
toiled up the zigzag path to the top of the hill, and looked with eager
eyes at the trenches, the field-pieces, the funny little Colts, the
flag, the grim marines lying wearily on their arms. And still more, he
looked through the clear air over 1,000 yards of mysterious woods from
which emanated at inopportune times repeated flocks of Mauser bullets.
Perkins was delighted. He was filled with admiration for these jaded
and smoky men who lay so quietly in the trenches waiting for a
resumption of guerilla enterprise. But he wished they would heed him.
He wanted to talk about it. Save for sharp inquiring glances, no one
acknowledged his existence.
Finally he approached two young lieutenants, and in his innocent
Western way he asked them if they would like a drink. The effect on the
two young lieutenants was immediate and astonishing. With one voice
they answered, "Yes, we would." Perkins almost wept with joy at this
amiable response, and he exclaimed that he would immediately board the
tug and bring off a bottle of Scotch. This attracted the officers, and
in a burst of confidence one explained that there had not been a drop
in camp. Perkins lunged down the hill, and fled to his boat, where in
his exuberance he engaged in a preliminary altercation with some
whisky. Consequently he toiled again up the hill in the blasting sun
with his enthusiasm in no ways abated. The parched officers were very
gracious, and such was the state of mind of Perkins that he did not
note properly how serious and solemn was his engagement with the
whisky. And because of this fact, and because of his antecedents, there
happened the lone charge of William B. Perkins.
Now, as Perkins went down the hill, something happened. A private in
those high trenches found that a cartridge was clogged in his rifle. It
then becomes necessary with most kinds of rifles to explode the
cartridge. The private took the rifle to his captain, and explained the
case. But it would not do in that camp to fire a rifle for mechanical
purposes and without warning, because the eloquent sound would bring
six hundred tired marines to tension and high expectancy. So the
captain turned, and in a loud voice announced to the camp that he found
it necessary to shoot into the air. The communication rang sharply from
voice to voice. Then the captain raised the weapon and fired.
Whereupon--and whereupon--a large line of guerillas lying in the bushes
decided swiftly that their presence and position were discovered, and
swiftly they volleyed.
In a moment the woods and the hills were alive with the crack and
sputter of rifles. Men on the warships in the harbour heard the old
familiar flut-flut-fluttery-fluttery-flut-flut-flut from the
entrenchments. Incidentally the launch of the "Marblehead," commanded
by one of our headlong American ensigns, streaked for the strategic
woods like a galloping marine dragoon, peppering away with its
blunderbuss in the bow.
Perkins had arrived at the foot of the hill, where began the arrangement
of 150 marines that protected the short line of communication between the
main body and the beach. These men had all swarmed into line behind
fortifications improvised from the boxes of provisions. And to them were
gathering naked men who had been bathing, naked men who arrayed themselves
speedily in cartridge belts and rifles. The woods and the hills went
flut-flut-flut-fluttery-fluttery-flut-fllllluttery-flut. Under the
boughs of a beautiful tree lay five wounded men thinking vividly.
And now it befell Perkins to discover a Spaniard in the bush. The
distance was some five hundred yards. In a loud voice he announced his
perception. He also declared hoarsely, that if he only had a rifle, he
would go and possess himself of this particular enemy. Immediately an
amiable lad shot in the arm said: "Well, take mine." Perkins thus
acquired a rifle and a clip of five cartridges.
"Come on!" he shouted. This part of the battalion was lying very tight,
not yet being engaged, but not knowing when the business would swirl
around to them.
To Perkins they replied with a roar. "Come back here, you ---- fool. Do
you want to get shot by your own crowd? Come back, ---- ----!" As a
detail, it might be mentioned that the fire from a part of the hill
swept the journey upon which Perkins had started.
Now behold the solitary Perkins adrift in the storm of fighting, even
as a champagne jacket of straw is lost in a great surf. He found it out
quickly. Four seconds elapsed before he discovered that he was an
almshouse idiot plunging through hot, crackling thickets on a June
morning in Cuba. Sss-s-swing-sing-ing-pop went the lightning-swift
metal grasshoppers over him and beside him. The beauties of rural
Minnesota illuminated his conscience with the gold of lazy corn, with
the sleeping green of meadows, with the cathedral gloom of pine
forests. Sshsh-swing-pop! Perkins decided that if he cared to extract
himself from a tangle of imbecility he must shoot. The entire situation
was that he must shoot. It was necessary that he should shoot. Nothing
would save him but shooting. It is a law that men thus decide when the
waters of battle close over their minds. So with a prayer that the
Americans would not hit him in the back nor the left side, and that the
Spaniards would not hit him in the front, he knelt like a supplicant
alone in the desert of chaparral, and emptied his magazine at his
Spaniard before he discovered that his Spaniard was a bit of dried palm
Then Perkins flurried like a fish. His reason for being was a Spaniard
in the bush. When the Spaniard turned into a dried palm branch, he
could no longer furnish himself with one adequate reason.
Then did he dream frantically of some anthracite hiding-place, some
profound dungeon of peace where blind mules live placidly chewing the
"Sss-swing-win-pop! Prut-prut-prrrut!" Then a field-gun spoke.
""Boom"-ra-swow-ow-ow-ow-"pum"." Then a Colt automatic began to bark.
"Crack-crk-crk-crk-crk-crk" endlessly. Raked, enfiladed, flanked,
surrounded, and overwhelmed, what hope was there for William B. Perkins
of the "Minnesota Herald?"
But war is a spirit. War provides for those that it loves. It provides
sometimes death and sometimes a singular and incredible safety. There
were few ways in which it was possible to preserve Perkins. One way was
by means of a steam-boiler.
Perkins espied near him an old, rusty steam-boiler lying in the bushes.
War only knows how it was there, but there it was, a temple shining
resplendent with safety. With a moan of haste, Perkins flung himself
through that hole which expressed the absence of the steam-pipe.
Then ensconced in his boiler, Perkins comfortably listened to the ring
of a fight which seemed to be in the air above him. Sometimes bullets
struck their strong, swift blow against the boiler's sides, but none
entered to interfere with Perkins's rest.
Time passed. The fight, short anyhow, dwindled to prut ... prut ...
prut-prut ... prut. And when the silence came, Perkins might have been
seen cautiously protruding from the boiler. Presently he strolled back
toward the marine lines with his hat not able to fit his head for the
new bumps of wisdom that were on it.
The marines, with an annoyed air, were settling down again when an
apparitional figure came from the bushes. There was great excitement.
"It's that crazy man," they shouted, and as he drew near they gathered
tumultuously about him and demanded to know how he had accomplished it.
Perkins made a gesture, the gesture of a man escaping from an
unintentional mud-bath, the gesture of a man coming out of battle, and
then he told them.
The incredulity was immediate and general. "Yes, you did! What? In an
old boiler? An old boiler? Out in that brush? Well, we guess not." They
did not believe him until two days later, when a patrol happened to
find the rusty boiler, relic of some curious transaction in the ruin of
the Cuban sugar industry. The patrol then marvelled at the truthfulness
of war-correspondents until they were almost blind.
Soon after his adventure Perkins boarded the tug, wearing a countenance
of poignant thoughtfulness.
THE CLAN OF NO-NAME
Unwind my riddle.
Cruel as hawks the hours fly;
Wounded men seldom come home to die;
The hard waves see an arm flung high;
Scorn hits strong because of a lie;
Yet there exists a mystic tie.
Unwind my riddle.
She was out in the garden. Her mother came to her rapidly. "Margharita!
Margharita, Mister Smith is here! Come!" Her mother was fat and
commercially excited. Mister Smith was a matter of some importance to
all Tampa people, and since he was really in love with Margharita he
was distinctly of more importance to this particular household.
Palm trees tossed their sprays over the fence toward the rutted sand of
the street. A little foolish fish-pond in the centre of the garden
emitted a sound of red-fins flipping, flipping. "No, mamma," said the
girl, "let Mr. Smith wait. I like the garden in the moonlight."
Her mother threw herself into that state of virtuous astonishment which
is the weapon of her kind. "Margharita!"
The girl evidently considered herself to be a privileged belle, for she
answered quite carelessly, "Oh, let him wait."
The mother threw abroad her arms with a semblance of great high-minded
suffering and withdrew. Margharita walked alone in the moonlit garden.
Also an electric light threw its shivering gleam over part of her
There was peace for a time. Then suddenly through the faint brown
palings was struck an envelope white and square. Margharita approached
this envelope with an indifferent stride. She hummed a silly air, she
bore herself casually, but there was something that made her grasp it
hard, a peculiar muscular exhibition, not discernible to indifferent
eyes. She did not clutch it, but she took it--simply took it in a way
that meant everything, and, to measure it by vision, it was a picture
of the most complete disregard.
She stood straight for a moment; then she drew from her bosom a
photograph and thrust it through the palings. She walked rapidly into
A man in garb of blue and white--something relating to what we call
bed-ticking--was seated in a curious little cupola on the top of a
Spanish blockhouse. The blockhouse sided a white military road that
curved away from the man's sight into a blur of trees. On all sides of
him were fields of tall grass, studded with palms and lined with fences
of barbed wire. The sun beat aslant through the trees and the man sped
his eyes deep into the dark tropical shadows that seemed velvet with
coolness. These tranquil vistas resembled painted scenery in a theatre,
and, moreover, a hot, heavy silence lay upon the land.
The soldier in the watching place leaned an unclean Mauser rifle in a
corner, and, reaching down, took a glowing coal on a bit of palm bark
handed up to him by a comrade. The men below were mainly asleep. The
sergeant in command drowsed near the open door, the arm above his head,
showing his long keen-angled chevrons attached carelessly with
safety-pins. The sentry lit his cigarette and puffed languorously.
Suddenly he heard from the air around him the querulous, deadly-swift
spit of rifle-bullets, and, an instant later, the poppety-pop of a
small volley sounded in his face, close, as if it were fired only ten
feet away. Involuntarily he threw back his head quickly as if he were
protecting his nose from a falling tile. He screamed an alarm and fell
into the blockhouse. In the gloom of it, men with their breaths coming
sharply between their teeth, were tumbling wildly for positions at the
loop-holes. The door had been slammed, but the sergeant lay just
within, propped up as when he drowsed, but now with blood flowing
steadily over the hand that he pressed flatly to his chest. His face
was in stark yellow agony; he chokingly repeated: "Fuego! Por Dios,
The men's ill-conditioned weapons were jammed through the loop-holes
and they began to fire from all four sides of the blockhouse from the
simple data, apparently, that the enemy were in the vicinity. The fumes
of burnt powder grew stronger and stronger in the little square
fortress. The rattling of the magazine locks was incessant, and the
interior might have been that of a gloomy manufactory if it were not
for the sergeant down under the feet of the men, coughing out: "Por
Dios, hombres! Por Dios! Fuego!"
A string of five Cubans, in linen that had turned earthy brown in
colour, slid through the woods at a pace that was neither a walk nor a
run. It was a kind of rack. In fact the whole manner of the men, as
they thus moved, bore a rather comic resemblance to the American pacing
horse. But they had come many miles since sun-up over mountainous and
half-marked paths, and were plainly still fresh. The men were all
practicos--guides. They made no sound in their swift travel, but moved
their half-shod feet with the skill of cats. The woods lay around them
in a deep silence, such as one might find at the bottom of a lake.
Suddenly the leading practico raised his hand. The others pulled up
short and dropped the butts of their weapons calmly and noiselessly to
the ground. The leader whistled a low note and immediately another
practico appeared from the bushes. He moved close to the leader without
a word, and then they spoke in whispers.
"There are twenty men and a sergeant in the blockhouse."
"And the road?"
"One company of cavalry passed to the east this morning at seven
o'clock. They were escorting four carts. An hour later, one horseman
rode swiftly to the westward. About noon, ten infantry soldiers with a
corporal were taken from the big fort and put in the first blockhouse,
to the east of the fort. There were already twelve men there. We saw a
Spanish column moving off toward Mariel."
"Good. But the cavalry?"
"It is all right. They were going a long march."
"The expedition is a half league behind. Go and tell the general."
The scout disappeared. The five other men lifted their guns and resumed
their rapid and noiseless progress. A moment later no sound broke the
stillness save the thump of a mango, as it dropped lazily from its tree
to the grass. So strange had been the apparition of these men, their
dress had been so allied in colour to the soil, their passing had so
little disturbed the solemn rumination of the forest, and their going
had been so like a spectral dissolution, that a witness could have
wondered if he dreamed.
A small expedition had landed with arms from the United States, and had
now come out of the hills and to the edge of a wood. Before them was a
long-grassed rolling prairie marked with palms. A half-mile away was
the military road, and they could see the top of a blockhouse. The
insurgent scouts were moving somewhere off in the grass. The general
sat comfortably under a tree, while his staff of three young officers
stood about him chatting. Their linen clothing was notable from being
distinctly whiter than those of the men who, one hundred and fifty in
number, lay on the ground in a long brown fringe, ragged--indeed, bare
in many places--but singularly reposeful, unworried, veteran-like.
The general, however, was thoughtful. He pulled continually at his
little thin moustache. As far as the heavily patrolled and guarded
military road was concerned, the insurgents had been in the habit of
dashing across it in small bodies whenever they pleased, but to safely
scoot over it with a valuable convoy of arms, was decidedly a more
important thing. So the general awaited the return of his practicos
with anxiety. The still pampas betrayed no sign of their existence.
The general gave some orders and an officer counted off twenty men to
go with him, and delay any attempt of the troop of cavalry to return
from the eastward. It was not an easy task, but it was a familiar
task--checking the advance of a greatly superior force by a very hard
fire from concealment. A few rifles had often bayed a strong column for
sufficient length of time for all strategic purposes. The twenty men
pulled themselves together tranquilly. They looked quite indifferent.
Indeed, they had the supremely casual manner of old soldiers, hardened
to battle as a condition of existence.
Thirty men were then told off, whose function it was to worry and rag
at the blockhouse, and check any advance from the westward. A hundred
men, carrying precious burdens--besides their own equipment--were to
pass in as much of a rush as possible between these two wings, cross
the road and skip for the hills, their retreat being covered by a
combination of the two firing parties. It was a trick that needed both
luck and neat arrangement. Spanish columns were for ever prowling
through this province in all directions and at all times. Insurgent
bands--the lightest of light infantry--were kept on the jump, even when
they were not incommoded by fifty boxes, each one large enough for the
coffin of a little man, and heavier than if the little man were in it;
and fifty small but formidable boxes of ammunition.
The carriers stood to their boxes and the firing parties leaned on
their rifles. The general arose and strolled to and fro, his hands
behind him. Two of his staff were jesting at the third, a young man
with a face less bronzed, and with very new accoutrements. On the strap
of his cartouche were a gold star and a silver star, placed in a
horizontal line, denoting that he was a second lieutenant. He seemed
very happy; he laughed at all their jests, although his eye roved
continually over the sunny grass-lands, where was going to happen his
first fight. One of his stars was bright, like his hopes, the other was
pale, like death.
Two practicos came racking out of the grass. They spoke rapidly to the
general; he turned and nodded to his officers. The two firing parties
filed out and diverged toward their positions. The general watched them
through his glasses. It was strange to note how soon they were dim to
the unaided eye. The little patches of brown in the green grass did not
look like men at all.
Practicos continually ambled up to the general. Finally he turned and
made a sign to the bearers. The first twenty men in line picked up
their boxes, and this movement rapidly spread to the tail of the line.
The weighted procession moved painfully out upon the sunny prairie. The
general, marching at the head of it, glanced continually back as if he
were compelled to drag behind him some ponderous iron chain. Besides
the obvious mental worry, his face bore an expression of intense
physical strain, and he even bent his shoulders, unconsciously tugging
at the chain to hurry it through this enemy-crowded valley.
The fight was opened by eight men who, snuggling in the grass, within
three hundred yards of the blockhouse, suddenly blazed away at the
bed-ticking figure in the cupola and at the open door where they could
see vague outlines. Then they laughed and yelled insulting language,
for they knew that as far as the Spaniards were concerned, the surprise
was as much as having a diamond bracelet turn to soap. It was this
volley that smote the sergeant and caused the man in the cupola to
scream and tumble from his perch.
The eight men, as well as all other insurgents within fair range, had
chosen good positions for lying close, and for a time they let the
blockhouse rage, although the soldiers therein could occasionally hear,
above the clamour of their weapons, shrill and almost wolfish calls,
coming from men whose lips were laid against the ground. But it is not
in the nature of them of Spanish blood, and armed with rifles, to long
endure the sight of anything so tangible as an enemy's blockhouse
without shooting at it--other conditions being partly favourable.
Presently the steaming soldiers in the little fort could hear the sping
and shiver of bullets striking the wood that guarded their bodies.
A perfectly white smoke floated up over each firing Cuban, the penalty
of the Remington rifle, but about the blockhouse there was only the
lightest gossamer of blue. The blockhouse stood always for some big,
clumsy and rather incompetent animal, while the insurgents, scattered
on two sides of it, were little enterprising creatures of another
species, too wise to come too near, but joyously raging at its easiest
flanks and drilling the lead into its sides in a way to make it fume,
and spit and rave like the tom-cat when the glad, free-band fox-hound
pups catch him in the lane.
The men, outlying in the grass, chuckled deliriously at the fury of the
Spanish fire. They howled opprobrium to encourage the Spaniards to fire
more ill-used, incapable bullets. Whenever an insurgent was about to
fire, he ordinarily prefixed the affair with a speech. "Do you want
something to eat? Yes? All right." Bang! "Eat that." The more common
expressions of the incredibly foul Spanish tongue were trifles light as
air in this badinage, which was shrieked out from the grass during the
spin of bullets, and the dull rattle of the shooting.
But at some time there came a series of sounds from the east that began
in a few disconnected pruts and ended as if an amateur was trying to
play the long roll upon a muffled drum. Those of the insurgents in the
blockhouse attacking party, who had neighbours in the grass, turned and
looked at them seriously. They knew what the new sound meant. It meant
that the twenty men who had gone to the eastward were now engaged. A
column of some kind was approaching from that direction, and they knew
by the clatter that it was a solemn occasion.
In the first place, they were now on the wrong side of the road. They
were obliged to cross it to rejoin the main body, provided of course
that the main body succeeded itself in crossing it. To accomplish this,
the party at the blockhouse would have to move to the eastward, until
out of sight or good range of the maddened little fort. But judging
from the heaviness of the firing, the party of twenty who protected the
east were almost sure to be driven immediately back. Hence travel in
that direction would become exceedingly hazardous. Hence a man looked
seriously at his neighbour. It might easily be that in a moment they
were to become an isolated force and woefully on the wrong side of the
Any retreat to the westward was absurd, since primarily they would have
to widely circle the blockhouse, and more than that, they could hear,
even now in that direction, Spanish bugle calling to Spanish bugle, far
and near, until one would think that every man in Cuba was a trumpeter,
and had come forth to parade his talent.
The insurgent general stood in the middle of the road gnawing his lips.
Occasionally, he stamped a foot and beat his hands passionately
together. The carriers were streaming past him, patient, sweating
fellows, bowed under their burdens, but they could not move fast enough
for him when others of his men were engaged both to the east and to the
west, and he, too, knew from the sound that those to the east were in a
sore way. Moreover, he could hear that accursed bugling, bugling,
bugling in the west.
He turned suddenly to the new lieutenant who stood behind him, pale and
quiet. "Did you ever think a hundred men were so many?" he cried,
incensed to the point of beating them. Then he said longingly: "Oh, for
a half an hour! Or even twenty minutes!"
A practico racked violently up from the east. It is characteristic of
these men that, although they take a certain roadster gait and hold it
for ever, they cannot really run, sprint, race. "Captain Rodriguez is
attacked by two hundred men, señor, and the cavalry is behind them. He
wishes to know----"
The general was furious; he pointed. "Go! Tell Rodriguez to hold his
place for twenty minutes, even if he leaves every man dead."
The practico shambled hastily off.
The last of the carriers were swarming across the road. The
rifle-drumming in the east was swelling out and out, evidently coming
slowly nearer. The general bit his nails. He wheeled suddenly upon the
young lieutenant. "Go to Bas at the blockhouse. Tell him to hold the
devil himself for ten minutes and then bring his men out of that
The long line of bearers was crawling like a dun worm toward the safety
of the foot-hills. High bullets sang a faint song over the aide as he
saluted. The bugles had in the west ceased, and that was more ominous
than bugling. It meant that the Spanish troops were about to march, or
perhaps that they had marched.
The young lieutenant ran along the road until he came to the bend which
marked the range of sight from the blockhouse. He drew his machete, his
stunning new machete, and hacked feverishly at the barbed wire fence
which lined the north side of the road at that point. The first wire
was obdurate, because it was too high for his stroke, but two more cut
like candy, and he stepped over the remaining one, tearing his trousers
in passing on the lively serpentine ends of the severed wires. Once out
in the field and bullets seemed to know him and call for him and speak
their wish to kill him. But he ran on, because it was his duty, and
because he would be shamed before men if he did not do his duty, and
because he was desolate out there all alone in the fields with death.
A man running in this manner from the rear was in immensely greater
danger than those who lay snug and close. But he did not know it. He
thought because he was five hundred--four hundred and fifty--four
hundred yards away from the enemy and the others were only three
hundred yards away that they were in far more peril. He ran to join
them because of his opinion. He did not care to do it, but he thought
that was what men of his kind would do in such a case. There was a
standard and he must follow it, obey it, because it was a monarch, the
Prince of Conduct.
A bewildered and alarmed face raised itself from the grass and a voice
cried to him: "Drop, Manolo! Drop! Drop!" He recognised Bas and flung
himself to the earth beside him.
"Why," he said panting, "what's the matter?"
"Matter?" said Bas. "You are one of the most desperate and careless
officers I know. When I saw you coming I wouldn't have given a peseta
for your life."
"Oh, no," said the young aide. Then he repeated his orders rapidly. But
he was hugely delighted. He knew Bas well; Bas was a pupil of Maceo;
Bas invariably led his men; he never was a mere spectator of their
battle; he was known for it throughout the western end of the island.
The new officer had early achieved a part of his ambition--to be called
a brave man by established brave men.
"Well, if we get away from here quickly it will be better for us," said
Bas, bitterly. "I've lost six men killed, and more wounded. Rodriguez
can't hold his position there, and in a little time more than a
thousand men will come from the other direction."
He hissed a low call, and later the young aide saw some of the men
sneaking off with the wounded, lugging them on their backs as porters
carry sacks. The fire from the blockhouse had become a-weary, and as
the insurgent fire also slackened, Bas and the young lieutenant lay in
the weeds listening to the approach of the eastern fight, which was
sliding toward them like a door to shut them off.
Bas groaned. "I leave my dead. Look there." He swung his hand in a
gesture and the lieutenant looking saw a corpse. He was not stricken as
he expected; there was very little blood; it was a mere thing.
"Time to travel," said Bas suddenly. His imperative hissing brought his
men near him; there were a few hurried questions and answers; then,
characteristically, the men turned in the grass, lifted their rifles,
and fired a last volley into the blockhouse, accompanying it with their
shrill cries. Scrambling low to the ground, they were off in a winding
line for safety. Breathing hard, the lieutenant stumbled his way
forward. Behind him he could hear the men calling each to each: "Segue!
Segue! Segue! Go on! Get out! Git!" Everybody understood that the peril
of crossing the road was compounding from minute to minute.
When they reached the gap through which the expedition had passed, they
fled out upon the road like scared wild-fowl tracking along a
sea-beach. A cloud of blue figures far up this dignified shaded avenue,
fired at once. The men already had begun to laugh as they shied one by
one across the road. "Segue! Segue!" The hard part for the nerves had
been the lack of information of the amount of danger. Now that they
could see it, they accounted it all the more lightly for their previous
Over in the other field, Bas and the young lieutenant found Rodriguez,
his machete in one hand, his revolver in the other, smoky, dirty,
sweating. He shrugged his shoulders when he saw them and pointed
disconsolately to the brown thread of carriers moving toward the
foot-hills. His own men were crouched in line just in front of him
blazing like a prairie fire.
Now began the fight of a scant rear-guard to hold back the pressing
Spaniards until the carriers could reach the top of the ridge, a mile
away. This ridge by the way was more steep than any roof; it conformed,
more, to the sides of a French war-ship. Trees grew vertically from it,
however, and a man burdened only with his rifle usually pulled himself
wheezingly up in a sort of ladder-climbing process, grabbing the slim
trunks above him. How the loaded carriers were to conquer it in a
hurry, no one knew. Rodriguez shrugged his shoulders as one who would
say with philosophy, smiles, tears, courage: "Isn't this a mess!"
At an order, the men scattered back for four hundred yards with the
rapidity and mystery of a handful of pebbles flung in the night. They
left one behind who cried out, but it was now a game in which some were
sure to be left behind to cry out.
The Spaniards deployed on the road and for twenty minutes remained
there pouring into the field such a fire from their magazines as was
hardly heard at Gettysburg. As a matter of truth the insurgents were at
this time doing very little shooting, being chary of ammunition. But it
is possible for the soldier to confuse himself with his own noise and
undoubtedly the Spanish troops thought throughout their din that they
were being fiercely engaged. Moreover, a firing-line--particularly at
night or when opposed to a hidden foe--is nothing less than an
emotional chord, a chord of a harp that sings because a puff of air
arrives or when a bit of down touches it. This is always true of new
troops or stupid troops and these troops were rather stupid troops.
But, the way in which they mowed the verdure in the distance was a
sight for a farmer.
Presently the insurgents slunk back to another position where they
fired enough shots to stir again the Spaniards into an opinion that
they were in a heavy fight. But such a misconception could only endure
for a number of minutes. Presently it was plain that the Spaniards were
about to advance and, moreover, word was brought to Rodriguez that a
small band of guerillas were already making an attempt to worm around
the right flank. Rodriguez cursed despairingly; he sent both Bas and
the young lieutenant to that end of the line to hold the men to their
work as long as possible.
In reality the men barely needed the presence of their officers. The
kind of fighting left practically everything to the discretion of the
individual and they arrived at concert of action mainly because of the
equality of experience, in the wisdoms of bushwhacking.
The yells of the guerillas could plainly be heard and the insurgents
answered in kind. The young lieutenant found desperate work on the
right flank. The men were raving mad with it, babbling, tearful, almost
frothing at the mouth. Two terrible bloody creatures passed him,
creeping on all fours, and one in a whimper was calling upon God, his
mother, and a saint. The guerillas, as effectually concealed as the
insurgents, were driving their bullets low through the smoke at sight
of a flame, a movement of the grass or sight of a patch of dirty brown
coat. They were no column-o'-four soldiers; they were as slinky and
snaky and quick as so many Indians. They were, moreover, native Cubans
and because of their treachery to the one-star flag, they never by any
chance received quarter if they fell into the hands of the insurgents.
Nor, if the case was reversed, did they ever give quarter. It was life
and life, death and death; there was no middle ground, no compromise.
If a man's crowd was rapidly retreating and he was tumbled over by a
slight hit, he should curse the sacred graves that the wound was not
through the precise centre of his heart. The machete is a fine broad
blade but it is not so nice as a drilled hole in the chest; no man
wants his death-bed to be a shambles. The men fighting on the
insurgents' right knew that if they fell they were lost.
On the extreme right, the young lieutenant found five men in a little
saucer-like hollow. Two were dead, one was wounded and staring blankly
at the sky and two were emptying hot rifles furiously. Some of the
guerillas had snaked into positions only a hundred yards away.
The young man rolled in among the men in the saucer. He could hear the
barking of the guerillas and the screams of the two insurgents. The
rifles were popping and spitting in his face, it seemed, while the
whole land was alive with a noise of rolling and drumming. Men could
have gone drunken in all this flashing and flying and snarling and din,
but at this time he was very deliberate. He knew that he was thrusting
himself into a trap whose door, once closed, opened only when the black
hand knocked and every part of him seemed to be in panic-stricken
revolt. But something controlled him; something moved him inexorably in
one direction; he perfectly understood but he was only sad, sad with a
serene dignity, with the countenance of a mournful young prince. He was
of a kind--that seemed to be it--and the men of his kind, on peak or
plain, from the dark northern ice-fields to the hot wet jungles,
through all wine and want, through all lies and unfamiliar truth, dark
or light, the men of his kind were governed by their gods, and each man
knew the law and yet could not give tongue to it, but it was the law
and if the spirits of the men of his kind were all sitting in critical
judgment upon him even then in the sky, he could not have bettered his
conduct; he needs must obey the law and always with the law there is
only one way. But from peak and plain, from dark northern ice-fields
and hot wet jungles, through wine and want, through all lies and
unfamiliar truth, dark or light, he heard breathed to him the approval
and the benediction of his brethren.
He stooped and gently took a dead man's rifle and some cartridges. The
battle was hurrying, hurrying, hurrying, but he was in no haste. His
glance caught the staring eye of the wounded soldier, and he smiled at
him quietly. The man--simple doomed peasant--was not of his kind, but
the law on fidelity was clear.
He thrust a cartridge into the Remington and crept up beside the two
unhurt men. Even as he did so, three or four bullets cut so close to
him that all his flesh tingled. He fired carefully into the smoke. The
guerillas were certainly not now more than fifty yards away.
He raised him coolly for his second shot, and almost instantly it was
as if some giant had struck him in the chest with a beam. It whirled
him in a great spasm back into the saucer. As he put his two hands to
his breast, he could hear the guerillas screeching exultantly, every
throat vomiting forth all the infamy of a language prolific in the
phrasing of infamy.
One of the other men came rolling slowly down the slope, while his
rifle followed him, and, striking another rifle, clanged out. Almost
immediately the survivor howled and fled wildly. A whole volley missed
him and then one or more shots caught him as a bird is caught on the
The young lieutenant's body seemed galvanised from head to foot. He
concluded that he was not hurt very badly, but when he tried to move he
found that he could not lift his hands from his breast. He had turned
to lead. He had had a plan of taking a photograph from his pocket and
looking at it.
There was a stir in the grass at the edge of the saucer, and a man
appeared there, looking where lay the four insurgents. His negro face
was not an eminently ferocious one in its lines, but now it was lit
with an illimitable blood-greed. He and the young lieutenant exchanged
a singular glance; then he came stepping eagerly down. The young
lieutenant closed his eyes, for he did not want to see the flash of the
The Spanish colonel was in a rage, and yet immensely proud; immensely
proud, and yet in a rage of disappointment. There had been a fight and
the insurgents had retreated leaving their dead, but still a valuable
expedition had broken through his lines and escaped to the mountains.
As a matter of truth, he was not sure whether to be wholly delighted or
wholly angry, for well he knew that the importance lay not so much in
the truthful account of the action as it did in the heroic prose of the
official report, and in the fight itself lay material for a purple
splendid poem. The insurgents had run away; no one could deny it; it
was plain even to whatever privates had fired with their eyes shut.
This was worth a loud blow and splutter. However, when all was said and
done, he could not help but reflect that if he had captured this
expedition, he would have been a brigadier-general, if not more.
He was a short, heavy man with a beard, who walked in a manner common
to all elderly Spanish officers, and to many young ones; that is to
say, he walked as if his spine was a stick and a little longer than his
body; as if he suffered from some disease of the backbone, which
allowed him but scant use of his legs. He toddled along the road,
gesticulating disdainfully and muttering: "Ca! Ca! Ca!"
He berated some soldiers for an immaterial thing, and as he approached
the men stepped precipitately back as if he were a fire-engine. They
were most of them young fellows, who displayed, when under orders, the
manner of so many faithful dogs. At present, they were black,
tongue-hanging, thirsty boys, bathed in the nervous weariness of the
Whatever he may truly have been in character, the colonel closely
resembled a gluttonous and libidinous old pig, filled from head to foot
with the pollution of a sinful life. "Ca!" he snarled, as he toddled.
"Ca! Ca!" The soldiers saluted as they backed to the side of the road.
The air was full of the odour of burnt rags. Over on the prairie
guerillas and regulars were rummaging the grass. A few unimportant
shots sounded from near the base of the hills.
A guerilla, glad with plunder, came to a Spanish captain. He held in
his hand a photograph. "Mira, señor. I took this from the body of an
officer whom I killed machete to machete."
The captain shot from the corner of his eye a cynical glance at the
guerilla, a glance which commented upon the last part of the statement.
"M-m-m," he said. He took the photograph and gazed with a slow faint
smile, the smile of a man who knows bloodshed and homes and love, at
the face of a girl. He turned the photograph presently, and on the back
of it was written: "One lesson in English I will give you--this: I love
you, Margharita." The photograph had been taken in Tampa.
The officer was silent for a half-minute, while his face still wore the
slow faint smile. "Pobrecetto," he murmured finally, with a philosophic
sigh, which was brother to a shrug. Without deigning a word to the
guerilla he thrust the photograph in his pocket and walked away.
High over the green earth, in the dizzy blue heights, some great birds
were slowly circling with down-turned beaks.
Margharita was in the gardens. The blue electric rays shone through the
plumes of the palm and shivered in feathery images on the walk. In the
little foolish fish-pond some stalwart fish was apparently bullying the
others, for often there sounded a frantic splashing.
Her mother came to her rapidly. "Margharita! Mister Smith is here!
"Oh, is he?" cried the girl. She followed her mother to the house. She
swept into the little parlor with a grand air, the egotism of a savage.
Smith had heard the whirl of her skirts in the hall, and his heart, as
usual, thumped hard enough to make him gasp. Every time he called, he
would sit waiting with the dull fear in his breast that her mother
would enter and indifferently announce that she had gone up to heaven
or off to New York, with one of his dream-rivals, and he would never
see her again in this wide world. And he would conjure up tricks to
then escape from the house without any one observing his face break up
into furrows. It was part of his love to believe in the absolute
treachery of his adored one. So whenever he heard the whirl of her
skirts in the hall he felt that he had again leased happiness from a
She was rosily beaming and all in white. "Why, Mister Smith," she
exclaimed, as if he was the last man in the world she expected to see.
"Good-evenin'," he said, shaking hands nervously. He was always awkward
and unlike himself, at the beginning of one of these calls. It took him
some time to get into form.
She posed her figure in operatic style on a chair before him, and
immediately galloped off a mile of questions, information of herself,
gossip and general outcries which left him no obligation, but to look
beamingly intelligent and from time to time say: "Yes?" His personal
joy, however, was to stare at her beauty.
When she stopped and wandered as if uncertain which way to talk, there
was a minute of silence, which each of them had been educated to feel
was very incorrect; very incorrect indeed. Polite people always babbled
at each other like two brooks.
He knew that the responsibility was upon him, and, although his mind
was mainly upon the form of the proposal of marriage which he intended
to make later, it was necessary that he should maintain his reputation
as a well-bred man by saying something at once. It flashed upon him to
ask: "Won't you please play?" But the time for the piano ruse was not
yet; it was too early. So he said the first thing that came into his
head: "Too bad about young Manolo Prat being killed over there in Cuba,
"Wasn't it a pity?" she answered.
"They say his mother is heart-broken," he continued. "They're afraid
she's goin' to die."
"And wasn't it queer that we didn't hear about it for almost two
"Well, it's no use tryin' to git quick news from there."
Presently they advanced to matters more personal, and she used upon him
a series of star-like glances which rumpled him at once to squalid
slavery. He gloated upon her, afraid, afraid, yet more avaricious than
a thousand misers. She fully comprehended; she laughed and taunted him
with her eyes. She impressed upon him that she was like a
will-o'-the-wisp, beautiful beyond compare but impossible, almost
impossible, at least very difficult; then again, suddenly,
impossible--impossible--impossible. He was glum; he would never dare
propose to this radiance; it was like asking to be pope.
A moment later, there chimed into the room something that he knew to be
a more tender note. The girl became dreamy as she looked at him; her
voice lowered to a delicious intimacy of tone. He leaned forward; he
was about to outpour his bully-ragged soul in fine words,
when--presto--she was the most casual person he had ever laid eyes
upon, and was asking him about the route of the proposed trolley line.
But nothing short of a fire could stop him now. He grabbed her hand.
"Margharita," he murmured gutturally, "I want you to marry me."
She glared at him in the most perfect lie of astonishment. "What do you
He arose, and she thereupon arose also and fled back a step. He could
only stammer out her name. And thus they stood, defying the principles
of the dramatic art.
"I love you," he said at last.
"How--how do I know you really--truly love me?" she said, raising her
eyes timorously to his face and this timorous glance, this one timorous
glance, made him the superior person in an instant. He went forward as
confident as a grenadier, and, taking both her hands, kissed her.
That night she took a stained photograph from her dressing-table and
holding it over the candle burned it to nothing, her red lips meanwhile
parted with the intentness of her occupation. On the back of the
photograph was written: "One lesson in English I will give you--this: I
For the word is clear only to the kind who on peak or plain, from dark
northern ice-fields to the hot wet jungles, through all wine and want,
through lies and unfamiliar truth, dark or light, are governed by the
unknown gods, and though each man knows the law, no man may give tongue
GOD REST YE, MERRY GENTLEMEN
Little Nell, sometimes called the Blessed Damosel, was a war
correspondent for the "New York Eclipse", and at sea on the despatch
boats he wore pajamas, and on shore he wore whatever fate allowed him,
which clothing was in the main unsuitable to the climate. He had been
cruising in the Caribbean on a small tug, awash always, habitable
never, wildly looking for Cervera's fleet; although what he was going
to do with four armoured cruisers and two destroyers in the event of
his really finding them had not been explained by the managing editor.
The cable instructions read:--"Take tug; go find Cervera's fleet." If
his unfortunate nine-knot craft should happen to find these great
twenty-knot ships, with their two spiteful and faster attendants,
Little Nell had wondered how he was going to lose them again. He had
marvelled, both publicly and in secret, on the uncompromising asininity
of managing editors at odd moments, but he had wasted little time. The
"Jefferson G. Johnson" was already coaled, so he passed the word to his
skipper, bought some tinned meats, cigars, and beer, and soon the
"Johnson" sailed on her mission, tooting her whistle in graceful
farewell to some friends of hers in the bay.
So the "Johnson" crawled giddily to one wave-height after another, and
fell, aslant, into one valley after another for a longer period than
was good for the hearts of the men, because the "Johnson" was merely a
harbour-tug, with no architectural intention of parading the high-seas,
and the crew had never seen the decks all white water like a mere
sunken reef. As for the cook, he blasphemed hopelessly hour in and hour
out, meanwhile pursuing the equipment of his trade frantically from
side to side of the galley. Little Nell dealt with a great deal of
grumbling, but he knew it was not the real evil grumbling. It was
merely the unhappy words of men who wished expression of comradeship
for their wet, forlorn, half-starved lives, to which, they explained,
they were not accustomed, and for which, they explained, they were not
properly paid. Little Nell condoled and condoled without difficulty. He
laid words of gentle sympathy before them, and smothered his own misery
behind the face of a reporter of the "New York Eclipse". But they
tossed themselves in their cockleshell even as far as Martinique; they
knew many races and many flags, but they did not find Cervera's fleet.
If they had found that elusive squadron this timid story would never
have been written; there would probably have been a lyric. The
"Johnson" limped one morning into the Mole St. Nicholas, and there
Little Nell received this despatch:--"Can't understand your inaction.
What are you doing with the boat? Report immediately. Fleet transports
already left Tampa. Expected destination near Santiago. Proceed there
immediately. Place yourself under orders.--ROGERS, "Eclipse"."
One day, steaming along the high, luminous blue coast of Santiago
province, they fetched into view the fleets, a knot of masts and
funnels, looking incredibly inshore, as if they were glued to the
mountains. Then mast left mast, and funnel left funnel, slowly, slowly,
and the shore remained still, but the fleets seemed to move out toward
the eager "Johnson". At the speed of nine knots an hour the scene
separated into its parts. On an easily rolling sea, under a crystal
sky, black-hulled transports--erstwhile packets--lay waiting, while
grey cruisers and gunboats lay near shore, shelling the beach and some
woods. From their grey sides came thin red flashes, belches of white
smoke, and then over the waters sounded boom--boom--boom-boom. The crew
of the "Jefferson G. Johnson" forgave Little Nell all the suffering of
a previous fortnight.
To the westward, about the mouth of Santiago harbour, sat a row of
castellated grey battleships, their eyes turned another way, waiting.
The "Johnson" swung past a transport whose decks and rigging were
aswarm with black figures, as if a tribe of bees had alighted upon a
log. She swung past a cruiser indignant at being left out of the game,
her deck thick with white-clothed tars watching the play of their
luckier brethren. The cold blue, lifting seas tilted the big ships
easily, slowly, and heaved the little ones in the usual sinful way, as
if very little babes had surreptitiously mounted sixteen-hand trotting
hunters. The "Johnson" leered and tumbled her way through a community
of ships. The bombardment ceased, and some of the troopships edged in
near the land. Soon boats black with men and towed by launches were
almost lost to view in the scintillant mystery of light which appeared
where the sea met the land. A disembarkation had begun. The "Johnson"
sped on at her nine knots, and Little Nell chafed exceedingly, gloating
upon the shore through his glasses, anon glancing irritably over the
side to note the efforts of the excited tug. Then at last they were in
a sort of a cove, with troopships, newspaper boats, and cruisers on all
sides of them, and over the water came a great hum of human voices,
punctuated frequently by the clang of engine-room gongs as the steamers
manoeuvred to avoid jostling.
In reality it was the great moment--the moment for which men, ships,
islands, and continents had been waiting for months; but somehow it did
not look it. It was very calm; a certain strip of high, green, rocky
shore was being rapidly populated from boat after boat; that was all.
Like many preconceived moments, it refused to be supreme.
But nothing lessened Little Nell's frenzy. He knew that the army was
landing--he could see it; and little did he care if the great moment
did not look its part--it was his virtue as a correspondent to
recognise the great moment in any disguise. The "Johnson" lowered a
boat for him, and he dropped into it swiftly, forgetting everything.
However, the mate, a bearded philanthropist, flung after him a
mackintosh and a bottle of whisky. Little Nell's face was turned toward
those other boats filled with men, all eyes upon the placid, gentle,
noiseless shore. Little Nell saw many soldiers seated stiffly beside
upright rifle barrels, their blue breasts crossed with white shelter
tent and blanket-rolls. Launches screeched; jack-tars pushed or pulled
with their boathooks; a beach was alive with working soldiers, some of
them stark naked. Little Nell's boat touched the shore amid a babble of
tongues, dominated at that time by a single stern voice, which was
repeating, "Fall in, B Company!"
He took his mackintosh and his bottle of whisky and invaded Cuba. It
was a trifle bewildering. Companies of those same men in blue and brown
were being rapidly formed and marched off across a little open
space--near a pool--near some palm trees--near a house--into the hills.
At one side, a mulatto in dirty linen and an old straw hat was
hospitably using a machete to cut open some green cocoanuts for a group
of idle invaders. At the other side, up a bank, a blockhouse was
burning furiously; while near it some railway sheds were smouldering,
with a little Roger's engine standing amid the ruins, grey, almost
white, with ashes until it resembled a ghost. Little Nell dodged the
encrimsoned blockhouse, and proceeded where he saw a little village
street lined with flimsy wooden cottages. Some ragged Cuban cavalrymen
were tranquilly tending their horses in a shed which had not yet grown
cold of the Spanish occupation. Three American soldiers were trying to
explain to a Cuban that they wished to buy drinks. A native rode by,
clubbing his pony, as always. The sky was blue; the sea talked with a
gravelly accent at the feet of some rocks; upon its bosom the ships sat
quiet as gulls. There was no mention, directly, of invasion--invasion
for war--save in the roar of the flames at the blockhouse; but none
even heeded this conflagration, excepting to note that it threw out a
great heat. It was warm, very warm. It was really hard for Little Nell
to keep from thinking of his own affairs: his debts, other misfortunes,
loves, prospects of happiness. Nobody was in a flurry; the Cubans were
not tearfully grateful; the American troops were visibly glad of being
released from those ill transports, and the men often asked, with
interest, "Where's the Spaniards?" And yet it must have been a great
moment! It was a "great" moment!
It seemed made to prove that the emphatic time of history is not the
emphatic time of the common man, who throughout the change of nations
feels an itch on his shin, a pain in his head, hunger, thirst, a lack
of sleep; the influence of his memory of past firesides, glasses of
beer, girls, theatres, ideals, religions, parents, faces, hurts, joy.
Little Nell was hailed from a comfortable veranda, and, looking up, saw
Walkley of the "Eclipse", stretched in a yellow and green hammock,
smoking his pipe with an air of having always lived in that house, in
that village. "Oh, dear little Nell, how glad I am to see your angel
face again! There! don't try to hide it; I can see it. Did you bring a
corkscrew too? You're superseded as master of the slaves. Did you know
it? And by Rogers, too! Rogers is a Sadducee, a cadaver and a pelican,
appointed to the post of chief correspondent, no doubt, because of his
rare gift of incapacity. Never mind."
"Where is he now?" asked Little Nell, taking seat on the steps.
"He is down interfering with the landing of the troops," answered
Walkley, swinging a leg. "I hope you have the "Johnson" well stocked
with food as well as with cigars, cigarettes and tobaccos, ales, wines
and liquors. We shall need them. There is already famine in the house
of Walkley. I have discovered that the system of transportation for our
gallant soldiery does not strike in me the admiration which I have
often felt when viewing the management of an ordinary bun-shop. A
hunger, stifling, jammed together amid odours, and everybody
irritable--ye gods, how irritable! And so I---- Look! look!"
The "Jefferson G. Johnson", well known to them at an incredible
distance, could be seen striding the broad sea, the smoke belching from
her funnel, headed for Jamaica. "The Army Lands in Cuba!" shrieked
Walkley. "Shafter's Army Lands near Santiago! Special type! Half the
front page! Oh, the Sadducee! The cadaver! The pelican!"
Little Nell was dumb with astonishment and fear. Walkley, however, was
at least not dumb. "That's the pelican! That's Mr. Rogers making his
first impression upon the situation. He has engraved himself upon us.
We are tattooed with him. There will be a fight to-morrow, sure, and we
will cover it even as you found Cervera's fleet. No food, no horses, no
money. I am transport lame; you are sea-weak. We will never see our
salaries again. Whereby Rogers is a fool."
"Anybody else here?" asked Little Nell wearily.
"Only young Point." Point was an artist on the "Eclipse". "But he has
nothing. Pity there wasn't an almshouse in this God-forsaken country.
Here comes Point now." A sad-faced man came along carrying much
luggage. "Hello, Point! lithographer "and" genius, have you food? Food.
Well, then, you had better return yourself to Tampa by wire. You are no
good here. Only one more little mouth to feed."
Point seated himself near Little Nell. "I haven't had anything to eat
since daybreak," he said gloomily, "and I don't care much, for I am
"Don' tell "me" you are dog-tired, my talented friend," cried Walkley
from his hammock. "Think of me. And now what's to be done?"
They stared for a time disconsolately at where, over the rim of the
sea, trailed black smoke from the "Johnson". From the landing-place
below and to the right came the howls of a man who was superintending
the disembarkation of some mules. The burning blockhouse still rendered
its hollow roar. Suddenly the men-crowded landing set up its cheer, and
the steamers all whistled long and raucously. Tiny black figures were
raising an American flag over a blockhouse on the top of a great hill.
"That's mighty fine Sunday stuff," said Little Nell. "Well, I'll go and
get the order in which the regiments landed, and who was first ashore,
and all that. Then I'll go and try to find General Lawton's
headquarters. His division has got the advance, I think."
"And, lo! I will write a burning description of the raising of the
flag," said Walkley. "While the brilliant Point buskies for food--and
makes damn sure he gets it," he added fiercely.
Little Nell thereupon wandered over the face of the earth, threading
out the story of the landing of the regiments. He only found about
fifty men who had been the first American soldier to set foot on Cuba,
and of these he took the most probable. The army was going forward in
detail, as soon as the pieces were landed. There was a house something
like a crude country tavern--the soldiers in it were looking over their
rifles and talking. There was a well of water quite hot--more palm
trees--an inscrutable background.
When he arrived again at Walkley's mansion he found the verandah
crowded with correspondents in khaki, duck, dungaree and flannel. They
wore riding-breeches, but that was mainly forethought. They could see
now that fate intended them to walk. Some were writing copy, while
Walkley discoursed from his hammock. Rhodes--doomed to be shot in
action some days later--was trying to borrow a canteen from men who had
one, and from men who had none. Young Point, wan, utterly worn out, was
asleep on the floor. Walkley pointed to him. "That is how he appears
after his foraging journey, during which he ran all Cuba through a
sieve. Oh, yes; a can of corn and a half-bottle of lime juice."
"Say, does anybody know, the name of the commander of the 26th
"Who commands the first brigade of Kent's Division?"
"What was the name of the chap that raised the flag?"
"What time is it?"
And a woeful man was wandering here and there with a cold pipe, saying
plaintively, "Who's got a match? Anybody here got a match?"
Little Nell's left boot hurt him at the heel, and so he removed it,
taking great care and whistling through his teeth. The heated dust was
upon them all, making everybody feel that bathing was unknown and
shattering their tempers. Young Point developed a snore which brought
grim sarcasm from all quarters. Always below, hummed the traffic of the
When night came Little Nell thought best not to go to bed until late,
because he recognised the mackintosh as but a feeble comfort. The
evening was a glory. A breeze came from the sea, fanning spurts of
flame out of the ashes and charred remains of the sheds, while overhead
lay a splendid summer-night sky, aflash with great tranquil stars. In
the streets of the village were two or three fires, frequently and
suddenly reddening with their glare the figures of low-voiced men who
moved here and there. The lights of the transports blinked on the
murmuring plain in front of the village; and far to the westward Little
Nell could sometimes note a subtle indication of a playing
search-light, which alone marked the presence of the invisible
battleships, half-mooned about the entrance of Santiago Harbour,
When Little Nell returned to the veranda he stumbled along a man-strewn
place, until he came to the spot where he left his mackintosh; but he
found it gone. His curses mingled then with those of the men upon whose
bodies he had trodden. Two English correspondents, lying awake to smoke
a last pipe, reared and looked at him lazily. "What's wrong, old chap?"
murmured one. "Eh? Lost it, eh? Well, look here; come here and take a
bit of my blanket. It's a jolly big one. Oh, no trouble at all, man.
There you are. Got enough? Comfy? Good-night."
A sleepy voice arose in the darkness. "If this hammock breaks, I shall
hit at least ten of those Indians down there. Never mind. This is war."
The men slept. Once the sound of three or four shots rang across the
windy night, and one head uprose swiftly from the verandah, two eyes
looked dazedly at nothing, and the head as swiftly sank. Again a sleepy
voice was heard. "Usual thing! Nervous sentries!" The men slept. Before
dawn a pulseless, penetrating chill came into the air, and the
correspondents awakened, shivering, into a blue world. Some of the
fires still smouldered. Walkley and Little Nell kicked vigorously into
Point's framework. "Come on, brilliance! Wake up, talent! Don't be
sodgering. It's too cold to sleep, but it's not too cold to hustle."
Point sat up dolefully. Upon his face was a childish expression. "Where
are we going to get breakfast?" he asked, sulking.
"There's no breakfast for you, you hound! Get up and hustle."
Accordingly they hustled. With exceeding difficulty they learned that
nothing emotional had happened during the night, save the killing
of two Cubans who were so secure in ignorance that they could not
understand the challenge of two American sentries. Then Walkley ran a
gamut of commanding officers, and Little Nell pumped privates for their
impressions of Cuba. When his indignation at the absence of breakfast
allowed him, Point made sketches. At the full break of day the
"Adolphus", and "Eclipse" despatch boat, sent a boat ashore with Tailor
and Shackles in it, and Walkley departed tearlessly for Jamaica, soon
after he had bestowed upon his friends much tinned goods and blankets.
"Well, we've got our stuff off," said Little Nell. "Now Point and I
Shackles, for some reason, carried a great hunting-knife, and with it
Little Nell opened a tin of beans.
"Fall to," he said amiably to Point.
There were some hard biscuits. Afterwards they--the four of
them--marched off on the route of the troops. They were well loaded
with luggage, particularly young Point, who had somehow made a great
gathering of unnecessary things. Hills covered with verdure soon
enclosed them. They heard that the army had advanced some nine miles
with no fighting. Evidences of the rapid advance were here and
there--coats, gauntlets, blanket rolls on the ground. Mule-trains came
herding back along the narrow trail to the sound of a little tinkling
bell. Cubans were appropriating the coats and blanket-rolls.
The four correspondents hurried onward. The surety of impending battle
weighed upon them always, but there was a score of minor things more
intimate. Little Nell's left heel had chafed until it must have been
quite raw, and every moment he wished to take seat by the roadside and
console himself from pain. Shackles and Point disliked each other
extremely, and often they foolishly quarrelled over something, or
nothing. The blanket-rolls and packages for the hand oppressed
everybody. It was like being burned out of a boarding-house, and having
to carry one's trunk eight miles to the nearest neighbour. Moreover,
Point, since he had stupidly overloaded, with great wisdom placed
various cameras and other trifles in the hands of his three
less-burdened and more sensible friends. This made them fume and gnash,
but in complete silence, since he was hideously youthful and innocent
and unaware. They all wished to rebel, but none of them saw their way
clear, because--they did not understand. But somehow it seemed a
barbarous project--no one wanted to say anything--cursed him privately
for a little ass, but--said nothing. For instance, Little Nell wished
to remark, "Point, you are not a thoroughbred in a half of a way. You
are an inconsiderate, thoughtless little swine." But, in truth, he
said, "Point, when you started out you looked like a Christmas-tree. If
we keep on robbing you of your bundles there soon won't be anything
left for the children." Point asked dubiously, "What do you mean?"
Little Nell merely laughed with deceptive good-nature.
They were always very thirsty. There was always a howl for the
half-bottle of lime juice. Five or six drops from it were simply
heavenly in the warm water from the canteens. Point seemed to try to
keep the lime juice in his possession, in order that he might get more
benefit of it. Before the war was ended the others found themselves
declaring vehemently that they loathed Point, and yet when men asked
them the reason they grew quite inarticulate. The reasons seemed then
so small, so childish, as the reasons of a lot of women. And yet at the
time his offences loomed enormous.
The surety of impending battle still weighed upon them. Then it came
that Shackles turned seriously ill. Suddenly he dropped his own and
much of Point's traps upon the trail, wriggled out of his blanket-roll,
flung it away, and took seat heavily at the roadside. They saw with
surprise that his face was pale as death, and yet streaming with sweat.
"Boys," he said in his ordinary voice, "I'm clean played out. I can't
go another step. You fellows go on, and leave me to come as soon as I
"Oh, no, that wouldn't do at all," said Little Nell and Tailor
Point moved over to a soft place, and dropped amid whatever traps he
was himself carrying.
"Don't know whether it's ancestral or merely from the--sun--but I've
got a stroke," said Shackles, and gently slumped over to a prostrate
position before either Little Nell or Tailor could reach him.
Thereafter Shackles was parental; it was Little Nell and Tailor who
were really suffering from a stroke, either ancestral or from the sun.
"Put my blanket-roll under my head, Nell, me son," he said gently.
"There now! That is very nice. It is delicious. Why, I'm all right,
only--only tired." He closed his eyes, and something like an easy
slumber came over him. Once he opened his eyes. "Don't trouble about
me," he remarked.
But the two fussed about him, nervous, worried, discussing this plan
and that plan. It was Point who first made a business-like statement.
Seated carelessly and indifferently upon his soft place, he finally
"Say! Look here! Some of us have got to go on. We can't all stay here.
Some of us have got to go on."
It was quite true; the "Eclipse" could take no account of strokes.
In the end Point and Tailor went on, leaving Little Nell to bring on
Shackles as soon as possible. The latter two spent many hours in the
grass by the roadside. They made numerous abrupt acquaintances with
passing staff officers, privates, muleteers, many stopping to inquire
the wherefore of the death-faced figure on the ground. Favours were
done often and often, by peer and peasant--small things, of no
consequence, and yet warming.
It was dark when Shackles and Little Nell had come slowly to where they
could hear the murmur of the army's bivouac.
"Shack," gasped Little Nell to the man leaning forlornly upon him, "I
guess we'd better bunk down here where we stand."
"All right, old boy. Anything you say," replied Shackles, in the bass
and hollow voice which arrives with such condition.
They crawled into some bushes, and distributed their belongings upon
the ground. Little Nell spread out the blankets, and generally played
housemaid. Then they lay down, supperless, being too weary to eat. The
At dawn Little Nell awakened and looked wildly for Shackles, whose
empty blanket was pressed flat like a wet newspaper on the ground. But
at nearly the same moment Shackles appeared, elate.
"Come on," he cried; "I've rustled an invitation for breakfast."
Little Nell came on with celerity.
"Where? Who?" he said.
"Oh! some officers," replied Shackles airily. If he had been ill the
previous day, he showed it now only in some curious kind of deference
he paid to Little Nell.
Shackles conducted his comrade, and soon they arrived at where a
captain and his one subaltern arose courteously from where they were
squatting near a fire of little sticks. They wore the wide white
trouser-stripes of infantry officers, and upon the shoulders of their
blue campaign shirts were the little marks of their rank; but otherwise
there was little beyond their manners to render them different from the
men who were busy with breakfast near them. The captain was old,
grizzled--a common type of captain in the tiny American army--overjoyed
at the active service, confident of his business, and yet breathing out
in some way a note of pathos. The war was come too late. Age was
grappling him, and honours were only for his widow and his
children--merely a better life insurance policy. He had spent his life
policing Indians with much labour, cold and heat, but with no glory for
him nor his fellows. All he now could do was to die at the head of his
men. If he had youthfully dreamed of a general's stars, they were now
impossible to him, and he knew it. He was too old to leap so far; his
sole honour was a new invitation to face death. And yet, with his
ambitions lying half-strangled, he was going to take his men into any
sort of holocaust, because his traditions were of gentlemen and
soldiers, and because--he loved it for itself--the thing itself--the
whirl, the unknown. If he had been degraded at that moment to be a
pot-wrestler, no power could have starved him from going through the
campaign as a spectator. Why, the army! It was in each drop of his
The lieutenant was very young. Perhaps he had been hurried out of West
Point at the last moment, upon a shortage of officers appearing. To
him, all was opportunity. He was, in fact, in great luck. Instead of
going off in 1898 to grill for an indefinite period on some
God-forgotten heap of red-hot sand in New Mexico, he was here in Cuba,
on real business, with his regiment. When the big engagement came he
was sure to emerge from it either horizontally or at the head of a
company, and what more could a boy ask? He was a very modest lad, and
talked nothing of his frame of mind, but an expression of blissful
contentment was ever upon his face. He really accounted himself the
most fortunate boy of his time; and he felt almost certain that he
would do well. It was necessary to do well. He would do well.
And yet in many ways these two were alike; the grizzled captain with
his gently mournful countenance--"Too late"--and the elate young second
lieutenant, his commission hardly dry. Here again it was the influence
of the army. After all they were both children of the army.
It is possible to spring into the future here and chronicle what
happened later. The captain, after thirty-five years of waiting for his
chance, took his Mauser bullet through the brain at the foot of San
Juan Hill in the very beginning of the battle, and the boy arrived on
the crest panting, sweating, but unscratched, and not sure whether he
commanded one company or a whole battalion. Thus fate dealt to the
hosts of Shackles and Little Nell.
The breakfast was of canned tomatoes stewed with hard bread, more hard
bread, and coffee. It was very good fare, almost royal. Shackles and
Little Nell were absurdly grateful as they felt the hot bitter coffee
tingle in them. But they departed joyfully before the sun was fairly
up, and passed into Siboney. They never saw the captain again.
The beach at Siboney was furious with traffic, even as had been the
beach at Daqueri. Launches shouted, jack-tars prodded with their
boathooks, and load of men followed load of men. Straight, parade-like,
on the shore stood a trumpeter playing familiar calls to the
troop-horses who swam towards him eagerly through the salt seas.
Crowding closely into the cove were transports of all sizes and ages.
To the left and to the right of the little landing-beach green hills
shot upward like the wings in a theatre. They were scarred here and
there with blockhouses and rifle-pits. Up one hill a regiment was
crawling, seemingly inch by inch. Shackles and Little Nell walked among
palms and scrubby bushes, near pools, over spaces of sand holding
little monuments of biscuit-boxes, ammunition-boxes, and supplies of
all kinds. Some regiment was just collecting itself from the ships, and
the men made great patches of blue on the brown sand.
Shackles asked a question of a man accidentally: "Where's that regiment
going to?" He pointed to the force that was crawling up the hill. The
man grinned, and said, "They're going to look for a fight!"
"Looking for a fight!" said Shackles and Little Nell together. They
stared into each other's eyes. Then they set off for the foot of the
hill. The hill was long and toilsome. Below them spread wider and wider
a vista of ships quiet on a grey sea; a busy, black disembarkation-place;
tall, still, green hills; a village of well separated cottages; palms;
a bit of road; soldiers marching. They passed vacant Spanish trenches;
little twelve-foot blockhouses. Soon they were on a fine upland near
the sea. The path, under ordinary conditions, must have been a
beautiful wooded way. It wound in the shade of thickets of fine trees,
then through rank growths of bushes with revealed and fantastic roots,
then through a grassy space which had all the beauty of a neglected
orchard. But always from under their feet scuttled noisy land-crabs,
demons to the nerves, which in some way possessed a semblance of
moon-like faces upon their blue or red bodies, and these faces were
turned with expressions of deepest horror upon Shackles and Little
Nell as they sped to overtake the pugnacious regiment. The route
was paved with coats, hats, tent and blanket rolls, ration-tins,
haversacks--everything but ammunition belts, rifles and canteens.
They heard a dull noise of voices in front of them--men talking too
loud for the etiquette of the forest--and presently they came upon two
or three soldiers lying by the roadside, flame-faced, utterly spent
from the hurried march in the heat. One man came limping back along the
path. He looked to them anxiously for sympathy and comprehension. "Hurt
m' knee. I swear I couldn't keep up with th' boys. I had to leave 'm.
Wasn't that tough luck?" His collar rolled away from a red, muscular
neck, and his bare forearms were better than stanchions. Yet he was
almost babyishly tearful in his attempt to make the two correspondents
feel that he had not turned back because he was afraid. They gave him
scant courtesy, tinctured with one drop of sympathetic yet cynical
understanding. Soon they overtook the hospital squad; men addressing
chaste language to some pack-mules; a talkative sergeant; two amiable,
cool-eyed young surgeons. Soon they were amid the rear troops of the
dismounted volunteer cavalry regiment which was moving to attack. The
men strode easily along, arguing one to another on ulterior matters. If
they were going into battle, they either did not know it or they
concealed it well. They were more like men going into a bar at one
o'clock in the morning. Their laughter rang through the Cuban woods.
And in the meantime, soft, mellow, sweet, sang the voice of the Cuban
wood-dove, the Spanish guerilla calling to his mate--forest music; on
the flanks, deep back on both flanks, the adorable wood-dove, singing
only of love. Some of the advancing Americans said it was beautiful. It
"was" beautiful. The Spanish guerilla calling to his mate. What could
be more beautiful?
Shackles and Little Nell rushed precariously through waist-high bushes
until they reached the centre of the single-filed regiment. The firing
then broke out in front. All the woods set up a hot sputtering; the
bullets sped along the path and across it from both sides. The thickets
presented nothing but dense masses of light green foliage, out of which
these swift steel things were born supernaturally.
It was a volunteer regiment going into its first action, against an
enemy of unknown force, in a country where the vegetation was thicker
than fur on a cat. There might have been a dreadful mess; but in
military matters the only way to deal with a situation of this kind is
to take it frankly by the throat and squeeze it to death. Shackles and
Little Nell felt the thrill of the orders. "Come ahead, men! Keep right
ahead, men! Come on!" The volunteer cavalry regiment, with all the
willingness in the world, went ahead into the angle of V-shaped Spanish
It seemed that every leaf had turned into a soda-bottle and was popping
its cork. Some of the explosions seemed to be against the men's very
faces, others against the backs of their necks. "Now, men! Keep goin'
ahead. Keep on goin'." The forward troops were already engaged. They,
at least, had something at which to shoot. "Now, captain, if you're
ready." "Stop that swearing there." "Got a match?" "Steady, now, men."
A gate appeared in a barbed-wire fence. Within were billowy fields of
long grass, dotted with palms and luxuriant mango trees. It was
Elysian--a place for lovers, fair as Eden in its radiance of sun, under
its blue sky. One might have expected to see white-robed figures
walking slowly in the shadows. A dead man, with a bloody face, lay
twisted in a curious contortion at the waist. Someone was shot in the
leg, his pins knocked cleanly from under him.
"Keep goin', men." The air roared, and the ground fled reelingly under
their feet. Light, shadow, trees, grass. Bullets spat from every side.
Once they were in a thicket, and the men, blanched and bewildered,
turned one way, and then another, not knowing which way to turn. "Keep
goin', men." Soon they were in the sunlight again. They could see the
long scant line, which was being drained man by man--one might say drop
by drop. The musketry rolled forth in great full measure from the
magazine carbines. "Keep goin', men." "Christ, I'm shot!" "They're
flankin' us, sir." "We're bein' fired into by our own crowd, sir."
"Keep goin', men." A low ridge before them was a bottling establishment
blowing up in detail. From the right--it seemed at that time to be the
far right--they could hear steady, crashing volleys--the United States
regulars in action.
Then suddenly--to use a phrase of the street--the whole bottom of the
thing fell out. It was suddenly and mysteriously ended. The Spaniards
had run away, and some of the regulars were chasing them. It was a
When the wounded men dropped in the tall grass they quite disappeared,
as if they had sunk in water. Little Nell and Shackles were walking
along through the fields, disputing.
"Well, damn it, man!" cried Shackles, "we "must" get a list of the
killed and wounded."
"That is not nearly so important," quoth little Nell, academically, "as
to get the first account to New York of the first action of the army in
They came upon Tailor, lying with a bared torso and a small red hole
through his left lung. He was calm, but evidently out of temper. "Good
God, Tailor!" they cried, dropping to their knees like two pagans; "are
you hurt, old boy?"
"Hurt?" he said gently. "No, 'tis not so deep as a well nor so wide as
a church-door, but 'tis enough, d'you see? You understand, do you?
Then he became very official. "Shackles, feel and see what's under my
leg. It's a small stone, or a burr, or something. Don't be clumsy now!
Be careful! Be careful!" Then he said, angrily, "Oh, you didn't find it
at all. Damn it!"
In reality there was nothing there, and so Shackles could not have
removed it. "Sorry, old boy," he said, meekly.
"Well, you may observe that I can't stay here more than a year," said
Tailor, with some oratory, "and the hospital people have their own work
in hand. It behoves you, Nell, to fly to Siboney, arrest a despatch
boat, get a cot and some other things, and some minions to carry me. If
I get once down to the base I'm all right, but if I stay here I'm dead.
Meantime Shackles can stay here and try to look as if he liked it."
There was no disobeying the man. Lying there with a little red hole in
his left lung, he dominated them through his helplessness, and through
their fear that if they angered him he would move and--bleed.
"Well?" said Little Nell.
"Yes," said Shackles, nodding.
Little Nell departed.
"That blanket you lent me," Tailor called after him, "is back there
somewhere with Point."
Little Nell noted that many of the men who were wandering among the
wounded seemed so spent with the toil and excitement of their first
action that they could hardly drag one leg after the other. He found
himself suddenly in the same condition, His face, his neck, even his
mouth, felt dry as sun-baked bricks, and his legs were foreign to him.
But he swung desperately into his five-mile task. On the way he passed
many things: bleeding men carried by comrades; others making their way
grimly, with encrimsoned arms; then the little settlement of the
hospital squad; men on the ground everywhere, many in the path; one
young captain dying, with great gasps, his body pale blue, and
glistening, like the inside of a rabbit's skin. But the voice of the
Cuban wood-dove, soft, mellow, sweet, singing only of love, was no
longer heard from the wealth of foliage.
Presently the hurrying correspondent met another regiment coming to
assist--a line of a thousand men in single file through the jungle.
"Well, how is it going, old man?" "How is it coming on?" "Are we doin'
'em?" Then, after an interval, came other regiments, moving out. He
had to take to the bush to let these long lines pass him, and he was
delayed, and had to flounder amid brambles. But at last, like a
successful pilgrim, he arrived at the brow of the great hill
overlooking Siboney. His practised eye scanned the fine broad brow of
the sea with its clustering ships, but he saw thereon no "Eclipse"
despatch boats. He zigzagged heavily down the hill, and arrived
finally amid the dust and outcries of the base. He seemed to ask a
thousand men if they had seen an "Eclipse" boat on the water, or an
"Eclipse" correspondent on the shore. They all answered, "No."
He was like a poverty-stricken and unknown suppliant at a foreign
Court. Even his plea got only ill-hearings. He had expected the news of
the serious wounding of Tailor to appal the other correspondents, but
they took it quite calmly. It was as if their sense of an impending
great battle between two large armies had quite got them out of focus
for these minor tragedies. Tailor was hurt--yes? They looked at Little
Nell, dazed. How curious that Tailor should be almost the first--how
"very" curious--yes. But, as far as arousing them to any enthusiasm of
active pity, it seemed impossible. He was lying up there in the grass,
was he? Too bad, too bad, too bad!
Little Nell went alone and lay down in the sand with his back against a
rock. Tailor was prostrate up there in the grass. Never mind. Nothing
was to be done. The whole situation was too colossal. Then into his
zone came Walkley the invincible.
"Walkley!" yelled Little Nell. Walkley came quickly, and Little Nell
lay weakly against his rock and talked. In thirty seconds Walkley
understood everything, had hurled a drink of whisky into Little Nell,
had admonished him to lie quiet, and had gone to organise and
manipulate. When he returned he was a trifle dubious and backward.
Behind him was a singular squad of volunteers from the "Adolphus",
carrying among them a wire-woven bed.
"Look here, Nell!" said Walkley, in bashful accents; "I've collected a
battalion here which is willing to go bring Tailor; but--they
say--you--can't you show them where he is?"
"Yes," said Little Nell, arising.
* * * * *
When the party arrived at Siboney, and deposited Tailor in the best
place, Walkley had found a house and stocked it with canned soups.
Therein Shackles and Little Nell revelled for a time, and then rolled
on the floor in their blankets. Little Nell tossed a great deal. "Oh,
I'm so tired. Good God, I'm tired. I'm--tired."
In the morning a voice aroused them. It was a swollen, important,
circus voice saying, "Where is Mr. Nell? I wish to see him
"Here I am, Rogers," cried Little Nell.
"Oh, Nell," said Rogers, "here's a despatch to me which I thought you
had better read."
Little Nell took the despatch. It was: "Tell Nell can't understand his
inaction; tell him come home first steamer from Port Antonio, Jamaica."
THE REVENGE OF THE ADOLPHUS
Shackles had come down from the bridge of the "Adolphus" and flung
this command at three fellow-correspondents who in the galley were
busy with pencils trying to write something exciting and interesting
from four days quiet cruising. They looked up casually. "What for?"
They did not intend to arouse for nothing. Ever since Shackles had
heard the men of the navy directing each other to stand by for this
thing and that thing, he had used the two words as his pet phrase and
was continually telling his friends to stand by. Sometimes its
portentous and emphatic reiteration became highly exasperating and men
were apt to retort sharply. "Well, I "am" standing by, ain't I?" On
this occasion they detected that he was serious. "Well, what for?"
they repeated. In his answer Shackles was reproachful as well as
impressive. "Stand by? Stand by for a Spanish gunboat. A Spanish
gunboat in chase! Stand by for "two" Spanish gunboats--"both" of them
The others looked at him for a brief space and were almost certain that
they saw truth written upon his countenance. Whereupon they tumbled out
of the galley and galloped up to the bridge. The cook with a mere
inkling of tragedy was now out on deck bawling, "What's the matter?
What's the matter? What's the matter?" Aft, the grimy head of a stoker
was thrust suddenly up through the deck, so to speak. The eyes flashed
in a quick look astern and then the head vanished. The correspondents
were scrambling on the bridge. "Where's my glasses, damn it? Here--let
me take a look. Are they Spaniards, Captain? Are you sure?"
The skipper of the "Adolphus" was at the wheel. The pilot-house was so
arranged that he could not see astern without hanging forth from one
of the side windows, but apparently he had made early investigation.
He did not reply at once. At sea, he never replied at once to
questions. At the very first, Shackles had discovered the merits of
this deliberate manner and had taken delight in it. He invariably
detailed his talk with the captain to the other correspondents. "Look
here. I've just been to see the skipper. I said 'I would like to put
into Cape Haytien.' Then he took a little think. Finally he said: 'All
right.' Then I said: 'I suppose we'll need to take on more coal
there?' He took another little think. I said: 'Ever ran into that port
before?' He took another little think. Finally he said: 'Yes.' I said
'Have a cigar?' He took another little think. See? There's where I
While the correspondents spun the hurried questions at him, the
captain of the "Adolphus" stood with his brown hands on the wheel and
his cold glance aligned straight over the bow of his ship.
"Are they Spanish gunboats, Captain? Are they, Captain?"
After a profound pause, he said: "Yes." The four correspondents hastily
and in perfect time presented their backs to him and fastened their
gaze on the pursuing foe. They saw a dull grey curve of sea going to
the feet of the high green and blue coast-line of north-eastern Cuba,
and on this sea were two miniature ships with clouds of iron-coloured
smoke pouring from their funnels.
One of the correspondents strolled elaborately to the pilot-house.
"Aw--Captain," he drawled, "do you think they can catch us?"
The captain's glance was still aligned over the bow of his ship.
Ultimately he answered: "I don't know."
From the top of the little "Adolphus'" stack, thick dark smoke swept
level for a few yards and then went rolling to leaward in great hot
obscuring clouds. From time to time the grimy head was thrust through
the deck, the eyes took the quick look astern and then the head
vanished. The cook was trying to get somebody to listen to him. "Well,
you know, damn it all, it won't be no fun to be ketched by them
Spaniards. Be-Gawd, it won't. Look here, what do you think they'll do
to us, hey? Say, I don't like this, you know. I'm damned if I do." The
sea, cut by the hurried bow of the "Adolphus", flung its waters astern
in the formation of a wide angle and the lines of the angle ruffled
and hissed as they fled, while the thumping screw tormented the water
at the stern. The frame of the steamer underwent regular convulsions
as in the strenuous sobbing of a child.
The mate was standing near the pilot-house. Without looking at him, the
captain spoke his name. "Ed!"
"Yes, sir," cried the mate with alacrity.
The captain reflected for a moment. Then he said: "Are they gainin' on
The mate took another anxious survey of the race. "No--o--yes, I think
they are--a little."
After a pause the captain said: "Tell the chief to shake her up more."
The mate, glad of an occupation in these tense minutes, flew down to
the engine-room door. "Skipper says shake 'er up more!" he bawled. The
head of the chief engineer appeared, a grizzly head now wet with oil
and sweat. "What?" he shouted angrily. It was as if he had been
propelling the ship with his own arms. Now he was told that his best
was not good enough. "What? shake 'er up more? Why she can't carry
another pound, I tell you! Not another ounce! We----" Suddenly he ran
forward and climbed to the bridge. "Captain," he cried in the loud
harsh voice of one who lived usually amid the thunder of machinery,
"she can't do it, sir! Be-Gawd, she can't! She's turning over now
faster than she ever did in her life and we'll all blow to hell----"
The low-toned, impassive voice of the captain suddenly checked the
chief's clamour. "I'll blow her up," he said, "but I won't git ketched
if I kin help it." Even then the listening correspondents found a
second in which to marvel that the captain had actually explained his
point of view to another human being.
The engineer stood blank. Then suddenly he cried: "All right, sir!" He
threw a hurried look of despair at the correspondents, the deck of the
"Adolphus", the pursuing enemy, Cuba, the sky and the sea; he vanished
in the direction of his post.
A correspondent was suddenly regifted with the power of prolonged
speech. "Well, you see, the game is up, damn it. See? We can't get out
of it. The skipper will blow up the whole bunch before he'll let his
ship be taken, and the Spaniards are gaining. Well, that's what comes
from going to war in an eight-knot tub." He bitterly accused himself,
the others, and the dark, sightless, indifferent world.
This certainty of coming evil affected each one differently. One was
made garrulous; one kept absent-mindedly snapping his fingers and
gazing at the sea; another stepped nervously to and fro, looking
everywhere as if for employment for his mind. As for Shackles he was
silent and smiling, but it was a new smile that caused the lines about
his mouth to betray quivering weakness. And each man looked at the
others to discover their degree of fear and did his best to conceal his
own, holding his crackling nerves with all his strength.
As the "Adolphus" rushed on, the sun suddenly emerged from behind grey
clouds and its rays dealt titanic blows so that in a few minutes the
sea was a glowing blue plain with the golden shine dancing at the tips
of the waves. The coast of Cuba gl
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corso 20 ORE fatta
apposta per chi come te passa tanto tempo viaggiando! Ideale per
chi fa il pendolare o compie ogni giorno lunghi tragitti sui
mezzi. Sfrutta anche tu i tempi morti per imparare o migliorare
il tuo inglese!
CORSI 20 ORE - I corsi di lingue più
completi per una preparazione di base superiore alla media in 5