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Ch. 1: A Matter of Civilization

At a frantic command from some invisible source, Anthony groped his way
inside. He was thinking that for the first time in more than three years
he was to remain longer than a night away from Gloria. The finality of
it appealed to him drearily. It was his clean and lovely girl that he
was leaving.

They had arrived, he thought, at the most practical financial
settlement: she was to have three hundred and seventy-five dollars a
month--not too much considering that over half of that would go in
rent--and he was taking fifty to supplement his pay. He saw no need for
more: food, clothes, and quarters would be provided--there were no
social obligations for a private.

The car was crowded and already thick with breath. It was one of the
type known as "tourist" cars, a sort of brummagem Pullman, with a bare
floor, and straw seats that needed cleaning. Nevertheless, Anthony
greeted it with relief. He had vaguely expected that the trip South
would be made in a freight-car, in one end of which would stand eight
horses and in the other forty men. He had heard the "hommes 40, chevaux
8" story so often that it had become confused and ominous.

As he rocked down the aisle with his barrack-bag slung at his shoulder
like a monstrous blue sausage, he saw no vacant seats, but after a
moment his eye fell on a single space at present occupied by the feet of
a short swarthy Sicilian, who, with his hat drawn over his eyes, hunched
defiantly in the corner. As Anthony stopped beside him he stared up with
a scowl, evidently intended to be intimidating; he must have adopted it
as a defense against this entire gigantic equation. At Anthony's sharp
"That seat taken?" he very slowly lifted the feet as though they were a
breakable package, and placed them with some care upon the floor. His
eyes remained on Anthony, who meanwhile sat down and unbuttoned the
uniform coat issued him at Camp Upton the day before. It chafed him
under the arms.

Before Anthony could scrutinize the other occupants of the section a
young second lieutenant blew in at the upper end of the car and wafted
airily down the aisle, announcing in a voice of appalling acerbity:

"There will be no smoking in this car! No smoking! Don't smoke, men, in
this car!"

As he sailed out at the other end a dozen little clouds of expostulation
arose on all sides.

"Oh, cripe!"

"Jeese!"

"No _smokin'_?"

"Hey, come back here, fella!"

"What's 'ee idea?"

Two or three cigarettes were shot out through the open windows. Others
were retained inside, though kept sketchily away from view. From here
and there in accents of bravado, of mockery, of submissive humor, a few
remarks were dropped that soon melted into the listless and
pervasive silence.

The fourth occupant of Anthony's section spoke up suddenly.

"G'by, liberty," he said sullenly. "G'by, everything except bein' an
officer's dog."

Anthony looked at him. He was a tall Irishman with an expression moulded
of indifference and utter disdain. His eyes fell on Anthony, as though
he expected an answer, and then upon the others. Receiving only a
defiant stare from the Italian he groaned and spat noisily on the floor
by way of a dignified transition back into taciturnity.

A few minutes later the door opened again and the second lieutenant was
borne in upon his customary official zephyr, this time singing out a
different tiding:

"All right, men, smoke if you want to! My mistake, men! It's all right,
men! Go on and smoke--my mistake!"

This time Anthony had a good look at him. He was young, thin, already
faded; he was like his own mustache; he was like a great piece of shiny
straw. His chin receded, faintly; this was offset by a magnificent and
unconvincing scowl, a scowl that Anthony was to connect with the faces
of many young officers during the ensuing year.

Immediately every one smoked--whether they had previously desired to or
not. Anthony's cigarette contributed to the hazy oxidation which seemed
to roll back and forth in opalescent clouds with every motion of the
train. The conversation, which had lapsed between the two impressive
visits of the young officer, now revived tepidly; the men across the
aisle began making clumsy experiments with their straw seats' capacity
for comparative comfort; two card games, half-heartedly begun, soon drew
several spectators to sitting positions on the arms of seats. In a few
minutes Anthony became aware of a persistently obnoxious sound--the
small, defiant Sicilian had fallen audibly asleep. It was wearisome to
contemplate that animate protoplasm, reasonable by courtesy only, shut
up in a car by an incomprehensible civilization, taken somewhere, to do
a vague something without aim or significance or consequence. Anthony
sighed, opened a newspaper which he had no recollection of buying, and
began to read by the dim yellow light.

Ten o'clock bumped stuffily into eleven; the hours clogged and caught
and slowed down. Amazingly the train halted along the dark countryside,
from time to time indulging in short, deceitful movements backward or
forward, and whistling harsh paeans into the high October night. Having
read his newspaper through, editorials, cartoons, and war-poems, his eye
fell on a half-column headed _Shakespeareville, Kansas_. It seemed that
the Shakespeareville Chamber of Commerce had recently held an
enthusiastic debate as to whether the American soldiers should be known
as "Sammies" or "Battling Christians." The thought gagged him. He
dropped the newspaper, yawned, and let his mind drift off at a tangent.
He wondered why Gloria had been late. It seemed so long ago already--he
had a pang of illusive loneliness. He tried to imagine from what angle
she would regard her new position, what place in her considerations he
would continue to hold. The thought acted as a further depressant--he
opened his paper and began to read again.

The members of the Chamber of Commerce in Shakespeareville had decided
upon "Liberty Lads."

For two nights and two days they rattled southward, making mysterious
inexplicable stops in what were apparently arid wastes, and then rushing
through large cities with a pompous air of hurry. The whimsicalities of
this train foreshadowed for Anthony the whimsicalities of all army
administration.

In the arid wastes they were served from the baggage-car with beans and
bacon that at first he was unable to eat--he dined scantily on some milk
chocolate distributed by a village canteen. But on the second day the
baggage-car's output began to appear surprisingly palatable. On the
third morning the rumor was passed along that within the hour they would
arrive at their destination, Camp Hooker.

It had become intolerably hot in the car, and the men were all in shirt
sleeves. The sun came in through the windows, a tired and ancient sun,
yellow as parchment and stretched out of shape in transit. It tried to
enter in triumphant squares and produced only warped splotches--but it
was appallingly steady; so much so that it disturbed Anthony not to be
the pivot of all the inconsequential sawmills and trees and telegraph
poles that were turning around him so fast. Outside it played its heavy
tremolo over olive roads and fallow cotton-fields, back of which ran a
ragged line of woods broken with eminences of gray rock. The foreground
was dotted sparsely with wretched, ill-patched shanties, among which
there would flash by, now and then, a specimen of the languid yokelry of
South Carolina, or else a strolling darky with sullen and
bewildered eyes.

Then the woods moved off and they rolled into a broad space like the
baked top of a gigantic cake, sugared with an infinity of tents arranged
in geometric figures over its surface. The train came to an uncertain
stop, and the sun and the poles and the trees faded, and his universe
rocked itself slowly back to its old usualness, with Anthony Patch in
the centre. As the men, weary and perspiring, crowded out of the car, he
smelt that unforgetable aroma that impregnates all permanent camps--the
odor of garbage.

Camp Hooker was an astonishing and spectacular growth, suggesting "A
Mining Town in 1870--The Second Week." It was a thing of wooden shacks
and whitish-gray tents, connected by a pattern of roads, with hard tan
drill-grounds fringed with trees. Here and there stood green Y.M.C.A.
houses, unpromising oases, with their muggy odor of wet flannels and
closed telephone-booths--and across from each of them there was usually
a canteen, swarming with life, presided over indolently by an officer
who, with the aid of a side-car, usually managed to make his detail a
pleasant and chatty sinecure.

Up and down the dusty roads sped the soldiers of the quartermaster
corps, also in side-cars. Up and down drove the generals in their
government automobiles, stopping now and then to bring unalert details
to attention, to frown heavily upon captains marching at the heads of
companies, to set the pompous pace in that gorgeous game of showing off
which was taking place triumphantly over the entire area.

The first week after the arrival of Anthony's draft was filled with a
series of interminable inoculations and physical examinations, and with
the preliminary drilling. The days left him desperately tired. He had
been issued the wrong size shoes by a popular, easy-going
supply-sergeant, and in consequence his feet were so swollen that the
last hours of the afternoon were an acute torture. For the first time in
his life he could throw himself down on his cot between dinner and
afternoon drill-call, and seeming to sink with each moment deeper into a
bottomless bed, drop off immediately to sleep, while the noise and
laughter around him faded to a pleasant drone of drowsy summer sound. In
the morning he awoke stiff and aching, hollow as a ghost, and hurried
forth to meet the other ghostly figures who swarmed in the wan company
streets, while a harsh bugle shrieked and spluttered at the
gray heavens.

He was in a skeleton infantry company of about a hundred men. After the
invariable breakfast of fatty bacon, cold toast, and cereal, the entire
hundred would rush for the latrines, which, however well-policed, seemed
always intolerable, like the lavatories in cheap hotels. Out on the
field, then, in ragged order--the lame man on his left grotesquely
marring Anthony's listless efforts to keep in step, the platoon
sergeants either showing off violently to impress the officers and
recruits, or else quietly lurking in close to the line of march,
avoiding both labor and unnecessary visibility.

When they reached the field, work began immediately--they peeled off
their shirts for calisthenics. This was the only part of the day that
Anthony enjoyed. Lieutenant Kretching, who presided at the antics, was
sinewy and muscular, and Anthony, followed his movements faithfully,
with a feeling that he was doing something of positive value to himself.
The other officers and sergeants walked about among the men with the
malice of schoolboys, grouping here and there around some unfortunate
who lacked muscular control, giving him confused instructions and
commands. When they discovered a particularly forlorn, ill-nourished
specimen, they would linger the full half-hour making cutting remarks
and snickering among themselves.

One little officer named Hopkins, who had been a sergeant in the regular
army, was particularly annoying. He took the war as a gift of revenge
from the high gods to himself, and the constant burden of his harangues
was that these rookies did not appreciate the full gravity and
responsibility of "the service." He considered that by a combination of
foresight and dauntless efficiency he had raised himself to his current
magnificence. He aped the particular tyrannies of every officer under
whom he had served in times gone by. His frown was frozen on his
brow--before giving a private a pass to go to town he would ponderously
weigh the effect of such an absence upon the company, the army, and the
welfare of the military profession the world over.

Lieutenant Kretching, blond, dull and phlegmatic, introduced Anthony
ponderously to the problems of attention, right face, about face, and at
ease. His principal defect was his forgetfulness. He often kept the
company straining and aching at attention for five minutes while he
stood out in front and explained a new movement--as a result only the men
in the centre knew what it was all about--those on both flanks had been
too emphatically impressed with the necessity of staring straight ahead.

The drill continued until noon. It consisted of stressing a succession
of infinitely remote details, and though Anthony perceived that this was
consistent with the logic of war, it none the less irritated him. That
the same faulty blood-pressure which would have been indecent in an
officer did not interfere with the duties of a private was a
preposterous incongruity. Sometimes, after listening to a sustained
invective concerned with a dull and, on the face of it, absurd subject
known as military "courtesy," he suspected that the dim purpose of the
war was to let the regular army officers--men with the mentality and
aspirations of schoolboys--have their fling with some real slaughter. He
was being grotesquely sacrificed to the twenty-year patience of
a Hopkins!

Of his three tent-mates--a flat-faced, conscientious objector from
Tennessee, a big, scared Pole, and the disdainful Celt whom he had sat
beside on the train--the two former spent the evenings in writing
eternal letters home, while the Irishman sat in the tent door whistling
over and over to himself half a dozen shrill and monotonous bird-calls.
It was rather to avoid an hour of their company than with any hope of
diversion that, when the quarantine was lifted at the end of the week,
he went into town. He caught one of the swarm of jitneys that overran
the camp each evening, and in half an hour was set down in front of the
Stonewall Hotel on the hot and drowsy main street.

Under the gathering twilight the town was unexpectedly attractive. The
sidewalks were peopled by vividly dressed, overpainted girls, who
chattered volubly in low, lazy voices, by dozens of taxi-drivers who
assailed passing officers with "Take y' anywheh, _Lieu_tenant," and by
an intermittent procession of ragged, shuffling, subservient negroes.
Anthony, loitering along through the warm dusk, felt for the first time
in years the slow, erotic breath of the South, imminent in the hot
softness of the air, in the pervasive lull, of thought and time.

He had gone about a block when he was arrested suddenly by a harsh
command at his elbow.

"Haven't you been taught to salute officers?"

He looked dumbly at the man who addressed him, a stout, black-haired
captain, who fixed him menacingly with brown pop-eyes.

"_Come to attention!_" The words were literally thundered. A few
pedestrians near by stopped and stared. A soft-eyed girl in a lilac
dress tittered to her companion.

Anthony came to attention.

"What's your regiment and company?"

Anthony told him.

"After this when you pass an officer on the street you straighten up and
salute!"

"All right!"

"Say 'Yes, sir!'"

"Yes, sir."

The stout officer grunted, turned sharply, and marched down the street.
After a moment Anthony moved on; the town was no longer indolent and
exotic; the magic was suddenly gone out of the dusk. His eyes were
turned precipitately inward upon the indignity of his position. He hated
that officer, every officer--life was unendurable.

After he had gone half a block he realized that the girl in the lilac
dress who had giggled at his discomfiture was walking with her friend
about ten paces ahead of him. Several times she had turned and stared at
Anthony, with cheerful laughter in the large eyes that seemed the same
color as her gown.

At the corner she and her companion visibly slackened their pace--he
must make his choice between joining them and passing obliviously by. He
passed, hesitated, then slowed down. In a moment the pair were abreast
of him again, dissolved in laughter now--not such strident mirth as he
would have expected in the North from actresses in this familiar comedy,
but a soft, low rippling, like the overflow from some subtle joke, into
which he had inadvertently blundered.

"How do you do?" he said.

Her eyes were soft as shadows. Were they violet, or was it their blue
darkness mingling with the gray hues of dusk?

"Pleasant evening," ventured Anthony uncertainly.

"Sure is," said the second girl.

"Hasn't been a very pleasant evening for you," sighed the girl in lilac.
Her voice seemed as much a part of the night as the drowsy breeze
stirring the wide brim of her hat.

"He had to have a chance to show off," said Anthony with a scornful
laugh.

"Reckon so," she agreed.

They turned the corner and moved lackadaisically up a side street, as if
following a drifting cable to which they were attached. In this town it
seemed entirely natural to turn corners like that, it seemed natural to
be bound nowhere in particular, to be thinking nothing.... The side
street was dark, a sudden offshoot into a district of wild rose hedges
and little quiet houses set far back from the street.

"Where're you going?" he inquired politely.

"Just goin'." The answer was an apology, a question, an explanation.

"Can I stroll along with you?"

"Reckon so."

It was an advantage that her accent was different. He could not have
determined the social status of a Southerner from her talk--in New York
a girl of a lower class would have been raucous, unendurable--except
through the rosy spectacles of intoxication.

Dark was creeping down. Talking little--Anthony in careless, casual
questions, the other two with provincial economy of phrase and
burden--they sauntered past another corner, and another. In the middle
of a block they stopped beneath a lamp-post.

"I live near here," explained the other girl.

"I live around the block," said the girl in lilac.

"Can I see you home?"

"To the corner, if you want to."

The other girl took a few steps backward. Anthony removed his hat.

"You're supposed to salute," said the girl in lilac with a laugh. "All
the soldiers salute."

"I'll learn," he responded soberly.

The other girl said, "Well--" hesitated, then added, "call me up
to-morrow, Dot," and retreated from the yellow circle of the
street-lamp. Then, in silence, Anthony and the girl in lilac walked the
three blocks to the small rickety house which was her home. Outside the
wooden gate she hesitated.

"Well--thanks."

"Must you go in so soon?"

"I ought to."

"Can't you stroll around a little longer?" She regarded him
dispassionately.

"I don't even know you."

Anthony laughed.

"It's not too late."

"I reckon I better go in."

"I thought we might walk down and see a movie."

"I'd like to."

"Then I could bring you home. I'd have just enough time. I've got to be
in camp by eleven."

It was so dark that he could scarcely see her now. She was a dress
swayed infinitesimally by the wind, two limpid, reckless eyes ...

"Why don't you come--Dot? Don't you like movies? Better come."

She shook her head.

"I oughtn't to."

He liked her, realizing that she was temporizing for the effect on him.
He came closer and took her hand.

"If we get back by ten, can't you? just to the movies?"

"Well--I reckon so--"

Hand in hand they walked back toward down-town, along a hazy, dusky
street where a negro newsboy was calling an extra in the cadence of the
local venders' tradition, a cadence that was as musical as song.

Dot

Anthony's affair with Dorothy Raycroft was an inevitable result of his
increasing carelessness about himself. He did not go to her desiring to
possess the desirable, nor did he fall before a personality more vital,
more compelling than his own, as he had done with Gloria four years
before. He merely slid into the matter through his inability to make
definite judgments. He could say "No!" neither to man nor woman;
borrower and temptress alike found him tender-minded and pliable. Indeed
he seldom made decisions at all, and when he did they were but
half-hysterical resolves formed in the panic of some aghast and
irreparable awakening.

The particular weakness he indulged on this occasion was his need of
excitement and stimulus from without. He felt that for the first time in
four years he could express and interpret himself anew. The girl
promised rest; the hours in her company each evening alleviated the
morbid and inevitably futile poundings of his imagination. He had become
a coward in earnest--completely the slave of a hundred disordered and
prowling thoughts which were released by the collapse of the authentic
devotion to Gloria that had been the chief jailer of his insufficiency.

On that first night, as they stood by the gate, he kissed Dorothy and
made an engagement to meet her the following Saturday. Then he went out
to camp, and with the light burning lawlessly in his tent, he wrote a
long letter to Gloria, a glowing letter, full of the sentimental dark,
full of the remembered breath of flowers, full of a true and exceeding
tenderness--these things he had learned again for a moment in a kiss
given and taken under a rich warm moonlight just an hour before.

When Saturday night came he found Dot waiting at the entrance of the
Bijou Moving Picture Theatre. She was dressed as on the preceding
Wednesday in her lilac gown of frailest organdy, but it had evidently
been washed and starched since then, for it was fresh and unrumpled.
Daylight confirmed the impression he had received that in a sketchy,
faulty way she was lovely. She was clean, her features were small,
irregular, but eloquent and appropriate to each other. She was a dark,
unenduring little flower--yet he thought he detected in her some quality
of spiritual reticence, of strength drawn from her passive acceptance of
all things. In this he was mistaken.

Dorothy Raycroft was nineteen. Her father had kept a small, unprosperous
corner store, and she had graduated from high school in the lowest
fourth of her class two days before he died. At high school she had
enjoyed a rather unsavory reputation. As a matter of fact her behavior
at the class picnic, where the rumors started, had been merely
indiscreet--she had retained her technical purity until over a year
later. The boy had been a clerk in a store on Jackson Street, and on the
day after the incident he departed unexpectedly to New York. He had been
intending to leave for some time, but had tarried for the consummation
of his amorous enterprise.

After a while she confided the adventure to a girl friend, and later, as
she watched her friend disappear down the sleepy street of dusty
sunshine she knew in a flash of intuition that her story was going out
into the world. Yet after telling it she felt much better, and a little
bitter, and made as near an approach to character as she was capable of
by walking in another direction and meeting another man with the honest
intention of gratifying herself again. As a rule things happened to Dot.
She was not weak, because there was nothing in her to tell her she was
being weak. She was not strong, because she never knew that some of the
things she did were brave. She neither defied nor conformed nor
compromised.

She had no sense of humor, but, to take its place, a happy disposition
that made her laugh at the proper times when she was with men. She had
no definite intentions--sometimes she regretted vaguely that her
reputation precluded what chance she had ever had for security. There
had been no open discovery: her mother was interested only in starting
her off on time each morning for the jewelry store where she earned
fourteen dollars a week. But some of the boys she had known in high
school now looked the other way when they were walking with "nice
girls," and these incidents hurt her feelings. When they occurred she
went home and cried.

Besides the Jackson Street clerk there had been two other men, of whom
the first was a naval officer, who passed through town during the early
days of the war. He had stayed over a night to make a connection, and
was leaning idly against one of the pillars of the Stonewall Hotel when
she passed by. He remained in town four days. She thought she loved
him--lavished on him that first hysteria of passion that would have gone
to the pusillanimous clerk. The naval officer's uniform--there were few
of them in those days--had made the magic. He left with vague promises
on his lips, and, once on the train, rejoiced that he had not told her
his real name.

Her resultant depression had thrown her into the arms of Cyrus Fielding,
the son of a local clothier, who had hailed her from his roadster one
day as she passed along the sidewalk. She had always known him by name.
Had she been born to a higher stratum he would have known her before.
She had descended a little lower--so he met her after all. After a month
he had gone away to training-camp, a little afraid of the intimacy, a
little relieved in perceiving that she had not cared deeply for him, and
that she was not the sort who would ever make trouble. Dot romanticized
this affair and conceded to her vanity that the war had taken these men
away from her. She told herself that she could have married the naval
officer. Nevertheless, it worried her that within eight months there had
been three men in her life. She thought with more fear than wonder in
her heart that she would soon be like those "bad girls" on Jackson
Street at whom she and her gum-chewing, giggling friends had stared with
fascinated glances three years before.

For a while she attempted to be more careful. She let men "pick her up";
she let them kiss her, and even allowed certain other liberties to be
forced upon her, but she did not add to her trio. After several months
the strength of her resolution--or rather the poignant expediency of her
fears--was worn away. She grew restless drowsing there out of life and
time while the summer months faded. The soldiers she met were either
obviously below her or, less obviously, above her--in which case they
desired only to use her; they were Yankees, harsh and ungracious; they
swarmed in large crowds.... And then she met Anthony.

On that first evening he had been little more than a pleasantly unhappy
face, a voice, the means with which to pass an hour, but when she kept
her engagement with him on Saturday she regarded him with consideration.
She liked him. Unknowingly she saw her own tragedies mirrored in
his face.

Again they went to the movies, again they wandered along the shadowy,
scented streets, hand in hand this time, speaking a little in hushed
voices. They passed through the gate--up toward the little porch--

"I can stay a while, can't I?"

"Sh!" she whispered, "we've got to be very quiet. Mother sits up reading
Snappy Stories." In confirmation he heard the faint crackling inside as
a page was turned. The open-shutter slits emitted horizontal rods of
light that fell in thin parallels across Dorothy's skirt. The street was
silent save for a group on the steps of a house across the way, who,
from time to time, raised their voices in a soft, bantering song.

"--_When you wa-ake
You shall ha-ave
All the pretty little hawsiz_--"

Then, as though it had been waiting on a near-by roof for their arrival,
the moon came slanting suddenly through the vines and turned the girl's
face to the color of white roses.

Anthony had a start of memory, so vivid that before his closed eyes
there formed a picture, distinct as a flashback on a screen--a spring
night of thaw set out of time in a half-forgotten winter five years
before--another face, radiant, flower-like, upturned to lights as
transforming as the stars--

Ah, _la belle dame sans merci_ who lived in his heart, made known to him
in transitory fading splendor by dark eyes in the Ritz-Carlton, by a
shadowy glance from a passing carriage in the Bois de Boulogne! But
those nights were only part of a song, a remembered glory--here again
were the faint winds, the illusions, the eternal present with its
promise of romance.

"Oh," she whispered, "do you love me? Do you love me?"

The spell was broken--the drifted fragments of the stars became only
light, the singing down the street diminished to a monotone, to the
whimper of locusts in the grass. With almost a sigh he kissed her
fervent mouth, while her arms crept up about his shoulders.


THE MAN-AT-ARMS

As the weeks dried up and blew away, the range of Anthony's travels
extended until he grew to comprehend the camp and its environment. For
the first time in his life he was in constant personal contact with the
waiters to whom he had given tips, the chauffeurs who had touched their
hats to him, the carpenters, plumbers, barbers, and farmers who had
previously been remarkable only in the subservience of their
professional genuflections. During his first two months in camp he did
not hold ten minutes' consecutive conversation with a single man.

On the service record his occupation stood as "student"; on the original
questionnaire he had prematurely written "author"; but when men in his
company asked his business he commonly gave it as bank clerk--had he
told the truth, that he did no work, they would have been suspicious of
him as a member of the leisure class.

His platoon sergeant, Pop Donnelly, was a scraggly "old soldier," worn
thin with drink. In the past he had spent unnumbered weeks in the
guard-house, but recently, thanks to the drill-master famine, he had
been elevated to his present pinnacle. His complexion was full of
shell-holes--it bore an unmistakable resemblance to those aerial
photographs of "the battle-field at Blank." Once a week he got drunk
down-town on white liquor, returned quietly to camp and collapsed upon
his bunk, joining the company at reveille looking more than ever like a
white mask of death.

He nursed the astounding delusion that he was astutely "slipping it
over" on the government--he had spent eighteen years in its service at a
minute wage, and he was soon to retire (here he usually winked) on the
impressive income of fifty-five dollars a month. He looked upon it as a
gorgeous joke that he had played upon the dozens who had bullied and
scorned him since he was a Georgia country boy of nineteen.

At present there were but two lieutenants--Hopkins and the popular
Kretching. The latter was considered a good fellow and a fine leader,
until a year later, when he disappeared with a mess fund of eleven
hundred dollars and, like so many leaders, proved exceedingly difficult
to follow.

Eventually there was Captain Dunning, god of this brief but
self-sufficing microcosm. He was a reserve officer, nervous, energetic,
and enthusiastic. This latter quality, indeed, often took material form
and was visible as fine froth in the corners of his mouth. Like most
executives he saw his charges strictly from the front, and to his
hopeful eyes his command seemed just such an excellent unit as such an
excellent war deserved. For all his anxiety and absorption he was having
the time of his life.

Baptiste, the little Sicilian of the train, fell foul of him the second
week of drill. The captain had several times ordered the men to be
clean-shaven when they fell in each morning. One day there was disclosed
an alarming breech of this rule, surely a case of Teutonic
connivance--during the night four men had grown hair upon their faces.
The fact that three of the four understood a minimum of English made a
practical object-lesson only the more necessary, so Captain Dunning
resolutely sent a volunteer barber back to the company street for a
razor. Whereupon for the safety of democracy a half-ounce of hair was
scraped dry from the cheeks of three Italians and one Pole.

Outside the world of the company there appeared, from time to time, the
colonel, a heavy man with snarling teeth, who circumnavigated the
battalion drill-field upon a handsome black horse. He was a West
Pointer, and, mimetically, a gentleman. He had a dowdy wife and a dowdy
mind, and spent much of his time in town taking advantage of the army's
lately exalted social position. Last of all was the general, who
traversed the roads of the camp preceded by his flag--a figure so
austere, so removed, so magnificent, as to be scarcely comprehensible.

December. Cool winds at night now, and damp, chilly mornings on the
drill-grounds. As the heat faded, Anthony found himself increasingly
glad to be alive. Renewed strangely through his body, he worried little
and existed in the present with a sort of animal content. It was not
that Gloria or the life that Gloria represented was less often in his
thoughts--it was simply that she became, day by day, less real, less
vivid. For a week they had corresponded passionately, almost
hysterically--then by an unwritten agreement they had ceased to write
more than twice, and then once, a week. She was bored, she said; if his
brigade was to be there a long time she was coming down to join him. Mr.
Haight was going to be able to submit a stronger brief than he had
expected, but doubted that the appealed case would come up until late
spring. Muriel was in the city doing Red Cross work, and they went out
together rather often. What would Anthony think if _she_ went into the
Red Cross? Trouble was she had heard that she might have to bathe
negroes in alcohol, and after that she hadn't felt so patriotic. The
city was full of soldiers and she'd seen a lot of boys she hadn't laid
eyes on for years....

Anthony did not want her to come South. He told himself that this was
for many reasons--he needed a rest from her and she from him. She would
be bored beyond measure in town, and she would be able to see Anthony
for only a few hours each day. But in his heart he feared that it was
because he was attracted to Dorothy. As a matter of fact he lived in
terror that Gloria should learn by some chance or intention of the
relation he had formed. By the end of a fortnight the entanglement began
to give him moments of misery at his own faithlessness. Nevertheless, as
each day ended he was unable to withstand the lure that would draw him
irresistibly out of his tent and over to the telephone at the Y.M.C.A.

"Dot."

"Yes?"

"I may be able to get in to-night."

"I'm so glad."

"Do you want to listen to my splendid eloquence for a few starry hours?"

"Oh, you funny--" For an instant he had a memory of five years
before--of Geraldine. Then--

"I'll arrive about eight."

At seven he would be in a jitney bound for the city, where hundreds of
little Southern girls were waiting on moonlit porches for their lovers.
He would be excited already for her warm retarded kisses, for the amazed
quietude of the glances she gave him--glances nearer to worship than any
he had ever inspired. Gloria and he had been equals, giving without
thought of thanks or obligation. To this girl his very caresses were an
inestimable boon. Crying quietly she had confessed to him that he was
not the first man in her life; there had been one other--he gathered
that the affair had no sooner commenced than it had been over.

Indeed, so far as she was concerned, she spoke the truth. She had
forgotten the clerk, the naval officer, the clothier's son, forgotten
her vividness of emotion, which is true forgetting. She knew that in
some opaque and shadowy existence some one had taken her--it was as
though it had occurred in sleep.

Almost every night Anthony came to town. It was too cool now for the
porch, so her mother surrendered to them the tiny sitting room, with its
dozens of cheaply framed chromos, its yard upon yard of decorative
fringe, and its thick atmosphere of several decades in the proximity of
the kitchen. They would build a fire--then, happily, inexhaustibly, she
would go about the business of love. Each evening at ten she would walk
with him to the door, her black hair in disarray, her face pale without
cosmetics, paler still under the whiteness of the moon. As a rule it
would be bright and silver outside; now and then there was a slow warm
rain, too indolent, almost, to reach the ground.

"Say you love me," she would whisper.

"Why, of course, you sweet baby."

"Am I a baby?" This almost wistfully.

"Just a little baby."

She knew vaguely of Gloria. It gave her pain to think of it, so she
imagined her to be haughty and proud and cold. She had decided that
Gloria must be older than Anthony, and that there was no love between
husband and wife. Sometimes she let herself dream that after the war
Anthony would get a divorce and they would be married--but she never
mentioned this to Anthony, she scarcely knew why. She shared his
company's idea that he was a sort of bank clerk--she thought that he was
respectable and poor. She would say:

"If I had some money, darlin', I'd give ev'y bit of it to you.... I'd
like to have about fifty thousand dollars."

"I suppose that'd be plenty," agreed Anthony.

--In her letter that day Gloria had written: "I suppose if we _could_
settle for a million it would be better to tell Mr. Haight to go ahead
and settle. But it'd seem a pity...."

... "We could have an automobile," exclaimed Dot, in a final burst of
triumph.


AN IMPRESSIVE OCCASION

Captain Dunning prided himself on being a great reader of character.
Half an hour after meeting a man he was accustomed to place him in one
of a number of astonishing categories--fine man, good man, smart fellow,
theorizer, poet, and "worthless." One day early in February he caused
Anthony to be summoned to his presence in the orderly tent.

"Patch," he said sententiously, "I've had my eye on you for several
weeks."

Anthony stood erect and motionless.

"And I think you've got the makings of a good soldier."

He waited for the warm glow, which this would naturally arouse, to
cool--and then continued:

"This is no child's play," he said, narrowing his brows.

Anthony agreed with a melancholy "No, sir."

"It's a man's game--and we need leaders." Then the climax, swift, sure,
and electric: "Patch, I'm going to make you a corporal."

At this point Anthony should have staggered slightly backward,
overwhelmed. He was to be one of the quarter million selected for that
consummate trust. He was going to be able to shout the technical phrase,
"Follow me!" to seven other frightened men.

"You seem to be a man of some education," said Captain Dunning.

"Yes, Sir."

"That's good, that's good. Education's a great thing, but don't let it
go to your head. Keep on the way you're doing and you'll be a
good soldier."

With these parting words lingering in his ears, Corporal Patch saluted,
executed a right about face, and left the tent.

Though the conversation amused Anthony, it did generate the idea that
life would be more amusing as a sergeant or, should he find a less
exacting medical examiner, as an officer. He was little interested in
the work, which seemed to belie the army's boasted gallantry. At the
inspections one did not dress up to look well, one dressed up to keep
from looking badly.

But as winter wore away--the short, snowless winter marked by damp
nights and cool, rainy days--he marvelled at how quickly the system had
grasped him. He was a soldier--all who were not soldiers were civilians.
The world was divided primarily into those two classifications.

It occurred to him that all strongly accentuated classes, such as the
military, divided men into two kinds: their own kind--and those without.
To the clergyman there were clergy and laity, to the Catholic there were
Catholics and non-Catholics, to the negro there were blacks and whites,
to the prisoner there were the imprisoned and the free, and to the sick
man there were the sick and the well.... So, without thinking of it once
in his lifetime, he had been a civilian, a layman, a non-Catholic, a
Gentile, white, free, and well....

As the American troops were poured into the French and British trenches
he began to find the names of many Harvard men among the casualties
recorded in the Army and Navy Journal. But for all the sweat and blood
the situation appeared unchanged, and he saw no prospect of the war's
ending in the perceptible future. In the old chronicles the right wing
of one army always defeated the left wing of the other, the left wing
being, meanwhile, vanquished by the enemy's right. After that the
mercenaries fled. It had been so simple, in those days, almost as if
prearranged....

Gloria wrote that she was reading a great deal. What a mess they had
made of their affairs, she said. She had so little to do now that she
spent her time imagining how differently things might have turned out.
Her whole environment appeared insecure--and a few years back she had
seemed to hold all the strings in her own little hand....

In June her letters grew hurried and less frequent. She suddenly ceased
to write about coming South.


DEFEAT

March in the country around was rare with jasmine and jonquils and
patches of violets in the warming grass. Afterward he remembered
especially one afternoon of such a fresh and magic glamour that as he
stood in the rifle-pit marking targets he recited "Atalanta in Calydon"
to an uncomprehending Pole, his voice mingling with the rip, sing, and
splatter of the bullets overhead.

"When the hounds of spring ..."

_Spang!_

"Are on winter's traces ..."

_Whirr-r-r-r!_ ...

"The mother of months ..."

_"Hey!_ Come to! Mark three-e-e! ..."

In town the streets were in a sleepy dream again, and together Anthony
and Dot idled in their own tracks of the previous autumn until he began
to feel a drowsy attachment for this South--a South, it seemed, more of
Algiers than of Italy, with faded aspirations pointing back over
innumerable generations to some warm, primitive Nirvana, without hope or
care. Here there was an inflection of cordiality, of comprehension, in
every voice. "Life plays the same lovely and agonizing joke on all of
us," they seemed to say in their plaintive pleasant cadence, in the
rising inflection terminating on an unresolved minor.

He liked his barber shop where he was "Hi, corporal!" to a pale,
emaciated young man, who shaved him and pushed a cool vibrating machine
endlessly over his insatiable head. He liked "Johnston's Gardens" where
they danced, where a tragic negro made yearning, aching music on a
saxophone until the garish hall became an enchanted jungle of barbaric
rhythms and smoky laughter, where to forget the uneventful passage of
time upon Dorothy's soft sighs and tender whisperings was the
consummation of all aspiration, of all content.

There was an undertone of sadness in her character, a conscious evasion
of all except the pleasurable minutiae of life. Her violet eyes would
remain for hours apparently insensate as, thoughtless and reckless, she
basked like a cat in the sun. He wondered what the tired, spiritless
mother thought of them, and whether in her moments of uttermost cynicism
she ever guessed at their relationship.

On Sunday afternoons they walked along the countryside, resting at
intervals on the dry moss in the outskirts of a wood. Here the birds had
gathered and the clusters of violets and white dogwood; here the hoar
trees shone crystalline and cool, oblivious to the intoxicating heat
that waited outside; here he would talk, intermittently, in a sleepy
monologue, in a conversation of no significance, of no replies.

July came scorching down. Captain Dunning was ordered to detail one of
his men to learn blacksmithing. The regiment was filling up to war
strength, and he needed most of his veterans for drill-masters, so he
selected the little Italian, Baptiste, whom he could most easily spare.
Little Baptiste had never had anything to do with horses. His fear made
matters worse. He reappeared in the orderly room one day and told
Captain Dunning that he wanted to die if he couldn't be relieved. The
horses kicked at him, he said; he was no good at the work. Finally he
fell on his knees and besought Captain Dunning, in a mixture of broken
English and scriptural Italian, to get him out of it. He had not slept
for three days; monstrous stallions reared and cavorted through
his dreams.

Captain Dunning reproved the company clerk (who had burst out laughing),
and told Baptiste he would do what he could. But when he thought it over
he decided that he couldn't spare a better man. Little Baptiste went
from bad to worse. The horses seemed to divine his fear and take every
advantage of it. Two weeks later a great black mare crushed his skull in
with her hoofs while he was trying to lead her from her stall.

In mid-July came rumors, and then orders, that concerned a change of
camp. The brigade was to move to an empty cantonment, a hundred miles
farther south, there to be expanded into a division. At first the men
thought they were departing for the trenches, and all evening little
groups jabbered in the company street, shouting to each other in
swaggering exclamations: "Su-u-ure we are!" When the truth leaked out,
it was rejected indignantly as a blind to conceal their real
destination. They revelled in their own importance. That night they told
their girls in town that they were "going to get the Germans." Anthony
circulated for a while among the groups--then, stopping a jitney, rode
down to tell Dot that he was going away.

She was waiting on the dark veranda in a cheap white dress that
accentuated the youth and softness of her face.

"Oh," she whispered, "I've wanted you so, honey. All this day."

"I have something to tell you."

She drew him down beside her on the swinging seat, not noticing his
ominous tone.

"Tell me."

"We're leaving next week."

Her arms seeking his shoulders remained poised upon the dark air, her
chin tipped up. When she spoke the softness was gone from her voice.

"Leaving for France?"

"No. Less luck than that. Leaving for some darn camp in Mississippi."

She shut her eyes and he could see that the lids were trembling.

"Dear little Dot, life is so damned hard."

She was crying upon his shoulder.

"So damned hard, so damned hard," he repeated aimlessly; "it just hurts
people and hurts people, until finally it hurts them so that they can't
be hurt ever any more. That's the last and worst thing it does."

Frantic, wild with anguish, she strained him to her breast.

"Oh, God!" she whispered brokenly, "you can't go way from me. I'd die."

He was finding it impossible to pass off his departure as a common,
impersonal blow. He was too near to her to do more than repeat "Poor
little Dot. Poor little Dot."

"And then what?" she demanded wearily.

"What do you mean?"

"You're my whole life, that's all. I'd die for you right now if you said
so. I'd get a knife and kill myself. You can't leave me here."

Her tone frightened him.

"These things happen," he said evenly.

"Then I'm going with you." Tears were streaming down her checks. Her
mouth was trembling in an ecstasy of grief and fear.

"Sweet," he muttered sentimentally, "sweet little girl. Don't you see
we'd just be putting off what's bound to happen? I'll be going to France
in a few months--"

She leaned away from him and clinching her fists lifted her face toward
the sky.

"I want to die," she said, as if moulding each word carefully in her
heart.

"Dot," he whispered uncomfortably, "you'll forget. Things are sweeter
when they're lost. I know--because once I wanted something and got it.
It was the only thing I ever wanted badly, Dot. And when I got it it
turned to dust in my hands."

"All right."

Absorbed in himself, he continued:

"I've often thought that if I hadn't got what I wanted things might have
been different with me. I might have found something in my mind and
enjoyed putting it in circulation. I might have been content with the
work of it, and had some sweet vanity out of the success. I suppose that
at one time I could have had anything I wanted, within reason, but that
was the only thing I ever wanted with any fervor. God! And that taught
me you can't have _any_thing, you can't have anything at _all_. Because
desire just cheats you. It's like a sunbeam skipping here and there
about a room. It stops and gilds some inconsequential object, and we
poor fools try to grasp it--but when we do the sunbeam moves on to
something else, and you've got the inconsequential part, but the glitter
that made you want it is gone--" He broke off uneasily. She had risen
and was standing, dry-eyed, picking little leaves from a dark vine.

"Dot--"

"Go way," she said coldly. "What? Why?"

"I don't want just words. If that's all you have for me you'd better
go."

"Why, Dot--"

"What's death to me is just a lot of words to you. You put 'em together
so pretty."

"I'm sorry. I was talking about you, Dot."

"Go way from here."

He approached her with arms outstretched, but she held him away.

"You don't want me to go with you," she said evenly; "maybe you're going
to meet that--that girl--" She could not bring herself to say wife. "How
do I know? Well, then, I reckon you're not my fellow any more. So
go way."

For a moment, while conflicting warnings and desires prompted Anthony,
it seemed one of those rare times when he would take a step prompted
from within. He hesitated. Then a wave of weariness broke against him.
It was too late--everything was too late. For years now he had dreamed
the world away, basing his decisions upon emotions unstable as water.
The little girl in the white dress dominated him, as she approached
beauty in the hard symmetry of her desire. The fire blazing in her dark
and injured heart seemed to glow around her like a flame. With some
profound and uncharted pride she had made herself remote and so achieved
her purpose.

"I didn't--mean to seem so callous, Dot."

"It don't matter."

The fire rolled over Anthony. Something wrenched at his bowels, and he
stood there helpless and beaten.

"Come with me, Dot--little loving Dot. Oh, come with me. I couldn't
leave you now--"

With a sob she wound her arms around him and let him support her weight
while the moon, at its perennial labor of covering the bad complexion of
the world, showered its illicit honey over the drowsy street.


THE CATASTROPHE

Early September in Camp Boone, Mississippi. The darkness, alive with
insects, beat in upon the mosquito-netting, beneath the shelter of which
Anthony was trying to write a letter. An intermittent chatter over a
poker game was going on in the next tent, and outside a man was
strolling up the company street singing a current bit of doggerel about
"K-K-K-Katy."

With an effort Anthony hoisted himself to his elbow and, pencil in hand,
looked down at his blank sheet of paper. Then, omitting any heading,
he began:

_I can't imagine what the matter is, Gloria. I haven't had a line from
you for two weeks and it's only natural to be worried--_

He threw this away with a disturbed grunt and began again:

_I don't know what to think, Gloria. Your last letter, short, cold,
without a word of affection or even a decent account of what you've been
doing, came two weeks ago. It's only natural that I should wonder. If
your love for me isn't absolutely dead it seems that you'd at least keep
me from worry--_

Again he crumpled the page and tossed it angrily through a tear in the
tent wall, realizing simultaneously that he would have to pick it up in
the morning. He felt disinclined to try again. He could get no warmth
into the lines--only a persistent jealousy and suspicion. Since
midsummer these discrepancies in Gloria's correspondence had grown more
and more noticeable. At first he had scarcely perceived them. He was so
inured to the perfunctory "dearest" and "darlings" scattered through her
letters that he was oblivious to their presence or absence. But in this
last fortnight he had become increasingly aware that there was
something amiss.

He had sent her a night-letter saying that he had passed his
examinations for an officers' training-camp, and expected to leave for
Georgia shortly. She had not answered. He had wired again--when he
received no word he imagined that she might be out of town. But it
occurred and recurred to him that she was not out of town, and a series
of distraught imaginings began to plague him. Supposing Gloria, bored
and restless, had found some one, even as he had. The thought terrified
him with its possibility--it was chiefly because he had been so sure of
her personal integrity that he had considered her so sparingly during
the year. And now, as a doubt was born, the old angers, the rages of
possession, swarmed back a thousandfold. What more natural than that she
should be in love again?

He remembered the Gloria who promised that should she ever want
anything, she would take it, insisting that since she would act entirely
for her own satisfaction she could go through such an affair
unsmirched--it was only the effect on a person's mind that counted,
anyhow, she said, and her reaction would be the masculine one, of
satiation and faint dislike.

But that had been when they were first married. Later, with the
discovery that she could be jealous of Anthony, she had, outwardly at
least, changed her mind. There were no other men in the world for her.
This he had known only too surely. Perceiving that a certain
fastidiousness would restrain her, he had grown lax in preserving the
completeness of her love--which, after all, was the keystone of the
entire structure.

Meanwhile all through the summer he had been maintaining Dot in a
boarding-house down-town. To do this it had been necessary to write to
his broker for money. Dot had covered her journey south by leaving her
house a day before the brigade broke camp, informing her mother in a
note that she had gone to New York. On the evening following Anthony had
called as though to see her. Mrs. Raycroft was in a state of collapse
and there was a policeman in the parlor. A questionnaire had ensued,
from which Anthony had extricated himself with some difficulty.

In September, with his suspicions of Gloria, the company of Dot had
become tedious, then almost intolerable. He was nervous and irritable
from lack of sleep; his heart was sick and afraid. Three days ago he had
gone to Captain Dunning and asked for a furlough, only to be met with
benignant procrastination. The division was starting overseas, while
Anthony was going to an officers' training-camp; what furloughs could be
given must go to the men who were leaving the country.

Upon this refusal Anthony had started to the telegraph office intending
to wire Gloria to come South--he reached the door and receded
despairingly, seeing the utter impracticability of such a move. Then he
had spent the evening quarrelling irritably with Dot, and returned to
camp morose and angry with the world. There had been a disagreeable
scene, in the midst of which he had precipitately departed. What was to
be done with her did not seem to concern him vitally at present--he was
completely absorbed in the disheartening silence of his wife....

The flap of the tent made a sudden triangle back upon itself, and a dark
head appeared against the night.

"Sergeant Patch?" The accent was Italian, and Anthony saw by the belt
that the man was a headquarters orderly.

"Want me?"

"Lady call up headquarters ten minutes ago. Say she have speak with you.
Ver' important."

Anthony swept aside the mosquito-netting and stood up. It might be a
wire from Gloria telephoned over.

"She say to get you. She call again ten o'clock."

"All right, thanks." He picked up his hat and in a moment was striding
beside the orderly through the hot, almost suffocating, darkness. Over
in the headquarters shack he saluted a dozing night-service officer.

"Sit down and wait," suggested the lieutenant nonchalantly. "Girl seemed
awful anxious to speak to you."

Anthony's hopes fell away.

"Thank you very much, sir." And as the phone squeaked on the side-wall
he knew who was calling.

"This is Dot," came an unsteady voice, "I've got to see you."

"Dot, I told you I couldn't get down for several days."

"I've got to see you to-night. It's important."

"It's too late," he said coldly; "it's ten o'clock, and I have to be in
camp at eleven."

"All right." There was so much wretchedness compressed into the two
words that Anthony felt a measure of compunction.

"What's the matter?"

"I want to tell you good-by.

"Oh, don't be a little idiot!" he exclaimed. But his spirits rose. What
luck if she should leave town this very night! What a burden from his
soul. But he said: "You can't possibly leave before to-morrow."

Out of the corner of his eye he saw the night-service officer regarding
him quizzically. Then, startlingly, came Dot's next words:

"I don't mean 'leave' that way."

Anthony's hand clutched the receiver fiercely. He felt his nerves
turning cold as if the heat was leaving his body.

"What?"

Then quickly in a wild broken voice he heard:

"Good-by--oh, good-by!"

Cul-_lup!_ She had hung up the receiver. With a sound that was half a
gasp, half a cry, Anthony hurried from the headquarters building.
Outside, under the stars that dripped like silver tassels through the
trees of the little grove, he stood motionless, hesitating. Had she
meant to kill herself?--oh, the little fool! He was filled with bitter
hate toward her. In this dénouement he found it impossible to realize
that he had ever begun such an entanglement, such a mess, a sordid
mélange of worry and pain.

He found himself walking slowly away, repeating over and over that it
was futile to worry. He had best go back to his tent and sleep. He
needed sleep. God! Would he ever sleep again? His mind was in a vast
clamor and confusion; as he reached the road he turned around in a panic
and began running, not toward his company but away from it. Men were
returning now--he could find a taxicab. After a minute two yellow eyes
appeared around a bend. Desperately he ran toward them.

"Jitney! Jitney!" ... It was an empty Ford.... "I want to go to town."

"Cost you a dollar."

"All right. If you'll just hurry--"

After an interminable time he ran up the steps of a dark ramshackle
little house, and through the door, almost knocking over an immense
negress who was walking, candle in hand, along the hall.

"Where's my wife?" he cried wildly.

"She gone to bed."

Up the stairs three at a time, down the creaking passage. The room was
dark and silent, and with trembling fingers he struck a match. Two wide
eyes looked up at him from a wretched ball of clothes on the bed.

"Ah, I knew you'd come," she murmured brokenly.

Anthony grew cold with anger.

"So it was just a plan to get me down here, get me in trouble!" he said.
"God damn it, you've shouted 'wolf' once too often!"

She regarded him pitifully.

"I had to see you. I couldn't have lived. Oh, I had to see you--"

He sat down on the side of the bed and slowly shook his head.

"You're no good," he said decisively, talking unconsciously as Gloria
might have talked to him. "This sort of thing isn't fair to me,
you know."

"Come closer." Whatever he might say Dot was happy now. He cared for
her. She had brought him to her side.

"Oh, God," said Anthony hopelessly. As weariness rolled along its
inevitable wave his anger subsided, receded, vanished. He collapsed
suddenly, fell sobbing beside her on the bed.

"Oh, my darling," she begged him, "don't cry! Oh, don't cry!"

She took his head upon her breast and soothed him, mingled her happy
tears with the bitterness of his. Her hand played gently with his
dark hair.

"I'm such a little fool," she murmured brokenly, "but I love you, and
when you're cold to me it seems as if it isn't worth while to go
on livin'."

After all, this was peace--the quiet room with the mingled scent of
women's powder and perfume, Dot's hand soft as a warm wind upon his
hair, the rise and fall of her bosom as she took breath--for a moment it
was as though it were Gloria there, as though he were at rest in some
sweeter and safer home than he had ever known.

An hour passed. A clock began to chime in the hall. He jumped to his
feet and looked at the phosphorescent hands of his wrist watch. It was
twelve o'clock.

He had trouble in finding a taxi that would take him out at that hour.
As he urged the driver faster along the road he speculated on the best
method of entering camp. He had been late several times recently, and he
knew that were he caught again his name would probably be stricken from
the list of officer candidates. He wondered if he had not better dismiss
the taxi and take a chance on passing the sentry in the dark. Still,
officers often rode past the sentries after midnight....

"Halt!" The monosyllable came from the yellow glare that the headlights
dropped upon the changing road. The taxi-driver threw out his clutch and
a sentry walked up, carrying his rifle at the port. With him, by an ill
chance, was the officer of the guard.

"Out late, sergeant."

"Yes, sir. Got delayed."

"Too bad. Have to take your name."

As the officer waited, note-book and pencil in hand, something not fully
intended crowded to Anthony's lips, something born of panic, of muddle,
of despair.

"Sergeant R.A. Foley," he answered breathlessly.

"And the outfit?"

"Company Q, Eighty-third Infantry."

"All right. You'll have to walk from here, sergeant."

Anthony saluted, quickly paid his taxi-driver, and set off for a run
toward the regiment he had named. When he was out of sight he changed
his course, and with his heart beating wildly, hurried to his company,
feeling that he had made a fatal error of judgment.

Two days later the officer who had been in command of the guard
recognized him in a barber shop down-town. In charge of a military
policeman he was taken back to the camp, where he was reduced to the
ranks without trial, and confined for a month to the limits of his
company street.

With this blow a spell of utter depression overtook him, and within a
week he was again caught down-town, wandering around in a drunken daze,
with a pint of bootleg whiskey in his hip pocket. It was because of a
sort of craziness in his behavior at the trial that his sentence to the
guard-house was for only three weeks.


NIGHTMARE

Early in his confinement the conviction took root in him that he was
going mad. It was as though there were a quantity of dark yet vivid
personalities in his mind, some of them familiar, some of them strange
and terrible, held in check by a little monitor, who sat aloft somewhere
and looked on. The thing that worried him was that the monitor was sick,
and holding out with difficulty. Should he give up, should he falter for
a moment, out would rush these intolerable things--only Anthony could
know what a state of blackness there would be if the worst of him could
roam his consciousness unchecked.

The heat of the day had changed, somehow, until it was a burnished
darkness crushing down upon a devastated land. Over his head the blue
circles of ominous uncharted suns, of unnumbered centres of fire,
revolved interminably before his eyes as though he were lying constantly
exposed to the hot light and in a state of feverish coma. At seven in
the morning something phantasmal, something almost absurdly unreal that
he knew was his mortal body, went out with seven other prisoners and two
guards to work on the camp roads. One day they loaded and unloaded
quantities of gravel, spread it, raked it--the next day they worked with
huge barrels of red-hot tar, flooding the gravel with black, shining
pools of molten heat. At night, locked up in the guard-house, he would
lie without thought, without courage to compass thought, staring at the
irregular beams of the ceiling overhead until about three o'clock, when
he would slip into a broken, troubled sleep.

During the work hours he labored with uneasy haste, attempting, as the
day bore toward the sultry Mississippi sunset, to tire himself
physically so that in the evening he might sleep deeply from utter
exhaustion.... Then one afternoon in the second week he had a feeling
that two eyes were watching him from a place a few feet beyond one of
the guards. This aroused him to a sort of terror. He turned his back on
the eyes and shovelled feverishly, until it became necessary for him to
face about and go for more gravel. Then they entered his vision again,
and his already taut nerves tightened up to the breaking-point. The eyes
were leering at him. Out of a hot silence he heard his name called in a
tragic voice, and the earth tipped absurdly back and forth to a babel of
shouting and confusion.

When next he became conscious he was back in the guard-house, and the
other prisoners were throwing him curious glances. The eyes returned no
more. It was many days before he realized that the voice must have been
Dot's, that she had called out to him and made some sort of disturbance.
He decided this just previous to the expiration of his sentence, when
the cloud that oppressed him had lifted, leaving him in a deep,
dispirited lethargy. As the conscious mediator, the monitor who kept
that fearsome ménage of horror, grew stronger, Anthony became physically
weaker. He was scarcely able to get through the two days of toil, and
when he was released, one rainy afternoon, and returned to his company,
he reached his tent only to fall into a heavy doze, from which he awoke
before dawn, aching and unrefreshed. Beside his cot were two letters
that had been awaiting him in the orderly tent for some time. The first
was from Gloria; it was short and cool:

* * * * *

_The case is coming to trial late in November. Can you possibly get
leave?_

_I've tried to write you again and again but it just seems to make
things worse. I want to see you about several matters, but you know that
you have once prevented me from coming and I am disinclined to try
again. In view of a number of things it seems necessary that we have a
conference. I'm very glad about your appointment._

GLORIA.

* * * * *

He was too tired to try to understand--or to care. Her phrases, her
intentions, were all very far away in an incomprehensible past. At the
second letter he scarcely glanced; it was from Dot--an incoherent,
tear-swollen scrawl, a flood of protest, endearment, and grief. After a
page he let it slip from his inert hand and drowsed back into a nebulous
hinterland of his own. At drill-call he awoke with a high fever and
fainted when he tried to leave his tent--at noon he was sent to the base
hospital with influenza.

He was aware that this sickness was providential. It saved him from a
hysterical relapse--and he recovered in time to entrain on a damp
November day for New York, and for the interminable massacre beyond.

When the regiment reached Camp Mills, Long Island, Anthony's single idea
was to get into the city and see Gloria as soon as possible. It was now
evident that an armistice would be signed within the week, but rumor had
it that in any case troops would continue to be shipped to France until
the last moment. Anthony was appalled at the notion of the long voyage,
of a tedious debarkation at a French port, and of being kept abroad for
a year, possibly, to replace the troops who had seen actual fighting.

His intention had been to obtain a two-day furlough, but Camp Mills
proved to be under a strict influenza quarantine--it was impossible for
even an officer to leave except on official business. For a private it
was out of the question.

The camp itself was a dreary muddle, cold, wind-swept, and filthy, with
the accumulated dirt incident to the passage through of many divisions.
Their train came in at seven one night, and they waited in line until
one while a military tangle was straightened out somewhere ahead.
Officers ran up and down ceaselessly, calling orders and making a great
uproar. It turned out that the trouble was due to the colonel, who was
in a righteous temper because he was a West Pointer, and the war was
going to stop before he could get overseas. Had the militant governments
realized the number of broken hearts among the older West Pointers
during that week, they would indubitably have prolonged the slaughter
another month. The thing was pitiable!

Gazing out at the bleak expanse of tents extending for miles over a
trodden welter of slush and snow, Anthony saw the impracticability of
trudging to a telephone that night. He would call her at the first
opportunity in the morning.

Aroused in the chill and bitter dawn he stood at reveille and listened
to a passionate harangue from Captain Dunning:

"You men may think the war is over. Well, let me tell you, it isn't!
Those fellows aren't going to sign the armistice. It's another trick,
and we'd be crazy to let anything slacken up here in the company,
because, let me tell you, we're going to sail from here within a week,
and when we do we're going to see some real fighting." He paused that
they might get the full effect of his pronouncement. And then: "If you
think the war's over, just talk to any one who's been in it and see if
_they_ think the Germans are all in. They don't. Nobody does. I've
talked to the people that _know_, and they say there'll be, anyways, a
year longer of war. _They_ don't think it's over. So you men better not
get any foolish ideas that it is."

Doubly stressing this final admonition, he ordered the company
dismissed.

At noon Anthony set off at a run for the nearest canteen telephone. As
he approached what corresponded to the down-town of the camp, he noticed
that many other soldiers were running also, that a man near him had
suddenly leaped into the air and clicked his heels together. The
tendency to run became general, and from little excited groups here and
there came the sounds of cheering. He stopped and listened--over the
cold country whistles were blowing and the chimes of the Garden City
churches broke suddenly into reverberatory sound.

Anthony began to run again. The cries were clear and distinct now as
they rose with clouds of frosted breath into the chilly air:

_"Germany's surrendered! Germany's surrendered!"_


THE FALSE ARMISTICE

That evening in the opaque gloom of six o'clock Anthony slipped between
two freight-cars, and once over the railroad, followed the track along
to Garden City, where he caught an electric train for New York. He stood
some chance of apprehension--he knew that the military police were often
sent through the cars to ask for passes, but he imagined that to-night
the vigilance would be relaxed. But, in any event, he would have tried
to slip through, for he had been unable to locate Gloria by telephone,
and another day of suspense would have been intolerable.

After inexplicable stops and waits that reminded him of the night he had
left New York, over a year before, they drew into the Pennsylvania
Station, and he followed the familiar way to the taxi-stand, finding it
grotesque and oddly stimulating to give his own address.

Broadway was a riot of light, thronged as he had never seen it with a
carnival crowd which swept its glittering way through scraps of paper,
piled ankle-deep on the sidewalks. Here and there, elevated upon benches
and boxes, soldiers addressed the heedless mass, each face in which was
clear cut and distinct under the white glare overhead. Anthony picked
out half a dozen figures--a drunken sailor, tipped backward and
supported by two other gobs, was waving his hat and emitting a wild
series of roars; a wounded soldier, crutch in hand, was borne along in
an eddy on the shoulders of some shrieking civilians; a dark-haired girl
sat cross-legged and meditative on top of a parked taxicab. Here surely
the victory had come in time, the climax had been scheduled with the
uttermost celestial foresight. The great rich nation had made triumphant
war, suffered enough for poignancy but not enough for bitterness--hence
the carnival, the feasting, the triumph. Under these bright lights
glittered the faces of peoples whose glory had long since passed away,
whose very civilizations were dead-men whose ancestors had heard the
news of victory in Babylon, in Nineveh, in Bagdad, in Tyre, a hundred
generations before; men whose ancestors had seen a flower-decked,
slave-adorned cortege drift with its wake of captives down the avenues
of Imperial Rome....

Past the Rialto, the glittering front of the Astor, the jewelled
magnificence of Times Square ... a gorgeous alley of incandescence
ahead.... Then--was it years later?--he was paying the taxi-driver in
front of a white building on Fifty-seventh Street. He was in the
hall--ah, there was the negro boy from Martinique, lazy, indolent,
unchanged.

"Is Mrs. Patch in?"

"I have just came on, sah," the man announced with his incongruous
British accent.

"Take me up--"

Then the slow drone of the elevator, the three steps to the door, which
swung open at the impetus of his knock.

"Gloria!" His voice was trembling. No answer. A faint string of smoke
was rising from a cigarette-tray--a number of Vanity Fair sat astraddle
on the table.

"Gloria!"

He ran into the bedroom, the bath. She was not there. A negligée of
robin's-egg blue laid out upon the bed diffused a faint perfume,
illusive and familiar. On a chair were a pair of stockings and a street
dress; an open powder box yawned upon the bureau. She must just
have gone out.

The telephone rang abruptly and he started--answered it with all the
sensations of an impostor.

"Hello. Is Mrs. Patch there?"

"No, I'm looking for her myself. Who is this?"

"This is Mr. Crawford."

"This is Mr. Patch speaking. I've just arrived unexpectedly, and I don't
know where to find her."

"Oh." Mr. Crawford sounded a bit taken aback. "Why, I imagine she's at
the Armistice Ball. I know she intended going, but I didn't think she'd
leave so early."

"Where's the Armistice Ball?"

"At the Astor."

"Thanks."

Anthony hung up sharply and rose. Who was Mr. Crawford? And who was it
that was taking her to the ball? How long had this been going on? All
these questions asked and answered themselves a dozen times, a dozen
ways. His very proximity to her drove him half frantic.

In a frenzy of suspicion he rushed here and there about the apartment,
hunting for some sign of masculine occupation, opening the bathroom
cupboard, searching feverishly through the bureau drawers. Then he found
something that made him stop suddenly and sit down on one of the twin
beds, the corners of his mouth drooping as though he were about to weep.
There in a corner of her drawer, tied with a frail blue ribbon, were all
the letters and telegrams he had written her during the year past. He
was suffused with happy and sentimental shame.

"I'm not fit to touch her," he cried aloud to the four walls. "I'm not
fit to touch her little hand."

Nevertheless, he went out to look for her.

In the Astor lobby he was engulfed immediately in a crowd so thick as to
make progress almost impossible. He asked the direction of the ballroom
from half a dozen people before he could get a sober and intelligible
answer. Eventually, after a last long wait, he checked his military
overcoat in the hall.

It was only nine but the dance was in full blast. The panorama was
incredible. Women, women everywhere--girls gay with wine singing shrilly
above the clamor of the dazzling confetti-covered throng; girls set off
by the uniforms of a dozen nations; fat females collapsing without
dignity upon the floor and retaining self-respect by shouting "Hurraw
for the Allies!"; three women with white hair dancing hand in hand
around a sailor, who revolved in a dizzying spin upon the floor,
clasping to his heart an empty bottle of champagne.

Breathlessly Anthony scanned the dancers, scanned the muddled lines
trailing in single file in and out among the tables, scanned the
horn-blowing, kissing, coughing, laughing, drinking parties under the
great full-bosomed flags which leaned in glowing color over the
pageantry and the sound.

Then he saw Gloria. She was sitting at a table for two directly across
the room. Her dress was black, and above it her animated face, tinted
with the most glamourous rose, made, he thought, a spot of poignant
beauty on the room. His heart leaped as though to a new music. He
jostled his way toward her and called her name just as the gray eyes
looked up and found him. For that instant as their bodies met and
melted, the world, the revel, the tumbling whimper of the music faded to
an ecstatic monotone hushed as a song of bees.

"Oh, my Gloria!" he cried.

Her kiss was a cool rill flowing from her heart.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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