6:47 pm - Friday June 22, 2018

An Episode of War-by Stephen Crane- Novel and Ebooks

Novel Name:An Episode of War

Written by:Stephen Crane

Category:Short Novel, Fantasy,Classics


The lieutenant’s rubber blanket lay on the ground, and upon it he had
poured the company’s supply of coffee. Corporals and other
representatives of the grimy and hot-throated men who lined the
breastwork had come for each squad’s portion.

The lieutenant was frowning and serious at this task of division. His
lips pursed as he drew with his sword various crevices in the heap until
brown squares of coffee, astoundingly equal in size, appeared on the
blanket. He was on the verge of a great triumph in mathematics, and the
corporals were thronging forward, each to reap a little square, when
suddenly the lieutenant cried out and looked quickly at a man near him
as if he suspected it was a case of personal assault. The others cried
out also when they saw blood upon the lieutenant’s sleeve.

He had winced like a man stung, swayed dangerously, and then
straightened. The sound of his hoarse breathing was plainly audible. He
looked sadly, mystically, over the breastwork at the green face of a
wood, where now were many little puffs of white smoke. During this
moment the men about him gazed statue-like and silent, astonished and
awed by this catastrophe which happened when catastrophes were not
expected–when they had leisure to observe it.

As the lieutenant stared at the wood, they too swung their heads, so
that for another instant all hands, still silent, contemplated the
distant forest as if their minds were fixed upon the mystery of a
bullet’s journey.

The officer had, of course, been compelled to take his sword into his
left hand. He did not hold it by the hilt. He gripped it at the middle
of the blade, awkwardly. Turning his eyes from the hostile wood, he
looked at the sword as he held it there, and seemed puzzled as to what
to do with it, where to put it. In short, this weapon had of a sudden
become a strange thing to him. He looked at it in a kind of
stupefaction, as if he had been endowed with a trident, a sceptre, or a

Finally he tried to sheath it. To sheath a sword held by the left hand,
at the middle of the blade, in a scabbard hung at the left hip, is a
feat worthy of a sawdust ring. This wounded officer engaged in a
desperate struggle with the sword and the wobbling scabbard, and during
the time of it he breathed like a wrestler.

But at this instant the men, the spectators, awoke from their stone-like
poses and crowded forward sympathetically. The orderly-sergeant took the
sword and tenderly placed it in the scabbard. At the time, he leaned
nervously backward, and did not allow even his finger to brush the body
of the lieutenant. A wound gives strange dignity to him who bears it.
Well men shy from this new and terrible majesty. It is as if the wounded
man’s hand is upon the curtain which hangs before the revelations of all
existence–the meaning of ants, potentates, wars, cities, sunshine,
snow, a feather dropped from a bird’s wing; and the power of it sheds
radiance upon a bloody form, and makes the other men understand
sometimes that they are little. His comrades look at him with large eyes
thoughtfully. Moreover, they fear vaguely that the weight of a finger
upon him might send him headlong, precipitate the tragedy, hurl him at
once into the dim, grey unknown. And so the orderly-sergeant, while
sheathing the sword, leaned nervously backward.

There were others who proffered assistance. One timidly presented his
shoulder and asked the lieutenant if he cared to lean upon it, but the
latter waved him away mournfully. He wore the look of one who knows he
is the victim of a terrible disease and understands his helplessness. He
again stared over the breastwork at the forest, and then turning went
slowly rearward. He held his right wrist tenderly in his left hand as if
the wounded arm was made of very brittle glass.

Filed in: Classics, Fantasy, Short Novel

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