The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on
the hills, resting. As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened, and began to
tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors. It cast its eyes upon the roads, which were growing
from long troughs of liquid mud to proper thoroughfares. A river, amber-tinted in the shadow of its
banks, purled at the army’s feet; and at night, when the stream had become of a sorrowful blackness,
one could see across it the red, eyelike gleam of hostile camp-fires set in the low brows of distant
Once a certain tall soldier developed virtues and went resolutely to wash a shirt. He came flying
back from a brook waving his garment bannerlike. He was swelled with a tale he had heard from a
reliable friend, who had heard it from a truthful cavalryman, who had heard it from his trustworthy
brother, one of the orderlies at division headquarters. He adopted the important air of a herald in red
“We’re goin’ t’ move t’morrah–sure,” he said pompously to a group in the company street. “We’re
goin’ ‘way up the river, cut across, an’ come around in behint ’em.”
To his attentive audience he drew a loud and elaborate plan of a very brilliant campaign. When he
had finished, the blue-clothed men scattered into small arguing groups between the rows of squat
brown huts. A negro teamster who had been dancing upon a cracker box with the hilarious
encouragement of twoscore soldiers was deserted. He sat mournfully down. Smoke drifted lazily
from a multitude of quaint chimneys.
“It’s a lie! that’s all it is–a thunderin’ lie!” said another private loudly. His smooth face was flushed,
and his hands were thrust sulkily into his trouser’s pockets. He took the matter as an affront to him.
“I don’t believe the derned old army’s ever going to move. We’re set. I’ve got ready to move eight
times in the last two weeks, and we ain’t moved yet.”
The tall soldier felT called upon to defend the truth of a rumor he himself had introduced. He and the
loud one came near to fighting over it.
A corporal began to swear before the assemblage. He had just put a costly board floor in his house,
sively to the comfort of his environment because he had felt that the army might start on the march at
any moment. Of late, however, he had been impressed that they were in a sort of eternal camp.
Many of the men engaged in a spirited debate. One outlined in a peculiarly lucid manner all the plans
of the commanding general. He was opposed by men who advocated that there were other plans of
campaign. They clamored at each other, numbers making futile bids for the popular attention.
Meanwhile, the soldier who had fetched the rumor bustled about with much importance. He was
“Ah, what yeh talkin’ about? How yeh know it is?”
“Well, yeh kin b’lieve me er not, jest as yeh like. I don’t care a hang.”
There was much food for thought in the manner in which he replied. He came near to convincing
them by disdaining to produce proofs. They grew much excited over it.
There was a youthful private who listened with eager ears to the words of the tall soldier and to the
varied comments of his comrades. After receiving a fill of discussions concerning marches and
attacks, he went to his hut and crawled through an intricate hole that served it as a door. He wished
to be alone with some new thoughts that had lately come to him.
He lay down on a wide bunk that stretched across the end of the room. In the other end, cracker
boxes were made to serve as furniture. They were grouped about the fireplace. A picture from an
illustrated weekly was upon the log walls, and three rifles were paralleled on pegs. Equipments hung
on handy projections, and some tin dishes lay upon a small pile of firewood. A folded tent was
serving as a roof. The sunlight, without, beating upon it, made it glow a light yellow shade. A small
window shot an oblique square of whiter light upon the cluttered floor. The smoke from the fire at
times neglected the clay chimney and wreathed into