7:41 pm - Saturday May 26, 2018

The End of Battle-by Stephen Crane-Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name:The End Of The Battle

Written by: Stephen Crane

Category:Fiction, Classics, Fairytales, Children

Page 1:

A sergeant, a corporal, and fourteen men of the Twelfth Regiment of the
Line had been sent out to occupy a house on the main highway. They would
be at least a half of a mile in advance of any other picket of their own
people. Sergeant Morton was deeply angry at being sent on this duty. He
said that he was over-worked. There were at least two sergeants, he
claimed furiously, whose turn it should have been to go on this arduous
mission. He was treated unfairly; he was abused by his superiors; why
did any damned fool ever join the army? As for him he would get out of
it as soon as possible; he was sick of it; the life of a dog. All this
he said to the corporal, who listened attentively, giving grunts of
respectful assent. On the way to this post two privates took occasion to
drop to the rear and pilfer in the orchard of a deserted plantation.
When the sergeant discovered this absence, he grew black with a rage
which was an accumulation of all his irritations. “Run, you!” he howled.
“Bring them here! I’ll show them–” A private ran swiftly to the rear.
The remainder of the squad began to shout nervously at the two
delinquents, whose figures they could see in the deep shade of the
orchard, hurriedly picking fruit from the ground and cramming it within
their shirts, next to their skins. The beseeching cries of their
comrades stirred the criminals more than did the barking of the
sergeant. They ran to rejoin the squad, while holding their loaded
bosoms and with their mouths open with aggrieved explanations.

Jones faced the sergeant with a horrible cancer marked in bumps on his
left side. The disease of Patterson showed quite around the front of his
waist in many protuberances. “A nice pair!” said the sergeant, with
sudden frigidity. “You’re the kind of soldiers a man wants to choose for
a dangerous outpost duty, ain’t you?”

The two privates stood at attention, still looking much aggrieved. “We
only–” began Jones huskily.

“Oh, you ‘only!'” cried the sergeant. “Yes, you ‘only.’ I know all about
that. But if you think you are going to trifle with me–“

A moment later the squad moved on towards its station. Behind the
sergeant’s back Jones and Patterson were slyly passing apples and pears
to their friends while the sergeant expounded eloquently to the
corporal. “You see what kind of men are in the army now. Why, when I
joined the regiment it was a very different thing, I can tell you. Then
a sergeant had some authority, and if a man disobeyed orders, he had a
very small chance of escaping something extremely serious. But now! Good
God! If I report these men, the captain will look over a lot of beastly
orderly sheets and say–‘Haw, eh, well, Sergeant Morton, these men seem
to have very good records; very good records, indeed. I can’t be too
hard on them; no, not too hard.'” Continued the sergeant: “I tell you,
Flagler, the army is no place for a decent man.”

Flagler, the corporal, answered with a sincerity of appreciation which
with him had become a science. “I think you are right, sergeant,” he
answered.

Behind them the privates mumbled discreetly. “Damn this sergeant of
ours. He thinks we are made of wood. I don’t see any reason for all this
strictness when we are on active service. It isn’t like being at home in
barracks! There is no great harm in a couple of men dropping out to raid
an orchard of the enemy when all the world knows that we haven’t had a
decent meal in twenty days.”

The reddened face of Sergeant Morton suddenly showed to the rear. “A
little more marching and less talking,” he said.

When he came to the house he had been ordered to occupy the sergeant
sniffed with disdain. “These people must have lived like cattle,” he
said angrily. To be sure, the place was not alluring. The ground floor
had been used for the housing of cattle, and it was dark and terrible. A
flight of steps led to the lofty first floor, which was denuded but
respectable. The sergeant’s visage lightened when he saw the strong
walls of stone and cement. “Unless they turn guns on us, they will never
get us out of here,” he said cheerfully to the squad. The men, anxious
to keep him in an amiable mood, all hurriedly grinned and seemed very
appreciative and pleased. “I’ll make this into a fortress,” he
announced. He sent Jones and Patterson, the two orchard thieves, out on
sentry-duty. He worked the others, then, until he could think of no more
things to tell them to do. Afterwards he went forth, with a major-
general’s serious scowl, and examined the ground in front of his
position. In returning he came upon a sentry, Jones, munching an apple.
He sternly commanded him to throw it away.

The men spread their blankets on the floors of the bare rooms, and
putting their packs under their heads and lighting their pipes, they
lived an easy peace. Bees hummed in the garden, and a scent of flowers
came through the open window. A great fan-shaped bit of sunshine smote
the face of one man, and he indolently cursed as he moved his primitive
bed to a shadier place.

Another private explained to a comrade: “This is all nonsense anyhow. No
sense in occupying this post. They–“

“But, of course,” said the corporal, “when she told me herself that she
cared more for me than she did for him, I wasn’t going to stand any of
his talk–” The corporal’s listener was so sleepy that he could only
grunt his sympathy.

There was a sudden little spatter of shooting. A cry from Jones rang
out. With no intermediate scrambling, the sergeant leaped straight to
his feet. “Now,” he cried, “let us see what you are made of! If,” he
added bitterly, “you are made of anything!”

A man yelled: “Good God, can’t you see you’re all tangled up in my
cartridge belt?”

Another man yelled: “Keep off my legs! Can’t you walk on the floor?”

To the windows there was a blind rush of slumberous men, who brushed
hair from their eyes even as they made ready their rifles. Jones and
Patterson came stumbling up the steps, crying dreadful information.
Already the enemy’s bullets were spitting and singing over the house.

The sergeant suddenly was stiff and cold with a sense of the importance
of the thing. “Wait until you see one,” he drawled loudly and calmly,
“then shoot.”

Filed in: Classics, Fantasy, Fiction

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