THE GOD OF BATTLES BY ROBT. W. CHAMBERS
(Copyright, 1898, by Robert W. Chambers.)
ILLUSTRATED BY DAN SAYRE GROESBECK
Y" It happened so unexpectedly , so
abruptly, that she forgot to scream.
A moment before she had glanced
out of the pantry window and seen
the tall oats motionless in the field
and the sunlight sifting through the
corn. It was scarcely a moment; she
bent over her flour pan, wistful, sad
dened by the summer silence,
thinking of-her brother; then again
she raised jber eyes to the window.
It was ;too sudden; she did not
scream. Had they dropped from the
sky, these men in blue these tramp
ing, crowdijigcreatures? The corn
was full ofthem, the pasture, the
road; they were in the garden, tear
ing tendrils from the vines, then
great shoes, plodding across the po
tato hills, and leveling it to a waste of
beaten mould and green stuff. They
passed, hundreds, thousands she
could not tell she heard a harmony,
subtle, vast as winds at sea a name
less murmur that sweeps through
brains of marching men the voice
less prophecy of battle.
Breathless, spellbound, she moved
on tiptoe to the porch, one hand
pressed trembling across her lips.
The men in blue covered the earth",
the world, her world, which stretched
from the orchard to Benson's Hill.
There was something on Benson's
Hill that she had never before .seen.
It looked like a brook in the sunshine;
it was a column of infantry, rifles
slanting in the sun.
Somebody had been speaking to
her a minute or two, and now she
looked down and saw a boy, slim,
sunburnt. His dusty uniform glittered
with yellow braid; he touched his cap
and fingered his sword hilt. She look
ed at him listless, her hand still press
ed to her lips.
"Is there a well near the house?"
i Something tugged gently at her
apron, and, "show me the well,
please," repeated the boy beside her.
She started and turned trembling
to him, but he gravely motioned her
on, and she went, passing swiftly un
der the trees to the vine-covered well
curb. He thanked her; she pointed at the
dipper and rope; but already blue
clad, red-faced soldiers were lowering
Soldiers passed in the sunshine.
She began to remember that her
brother, too, was a soldier, some
where out in the world; he had been
a soldier for nearly a week, ever-since
Jim Bemis had taken him to Willow
Corners to enlist. She remembered
that first night, how she had been
afraid to sleep in the house, how at
dusk she had gone into the parlor to
be near her mother. Her mother was
dead, but her picture hung in the
She began to watch the flags; she
saw a regiment plunge into the tram
pled corn, but she knew it was not
her brother's because the trousers of
the men were scarlet and the caps
hung to the shoulders, tasseled and
crimson. As she looked a belt of flame
encircled the forest and through the
outrushing smoke, the crash! crash!
crash! of rifles echoed across the val
ley. In the orchard the rattle of the
well bucket never ceased. A very
young officer sat oh His horse, eating
an unripe apple and watching the
men around the well.
The girl went into the kitchen,
reached up for her sun-bonnet, dang
ling on a peg,-tied it-under her chin,
and walked gravely into the orchard.
The very young officer wheeled in his
saddle and leaned toward her defer
entially as she came up.
Before she spoke she saw that it
was the same officer who had asked
xml | txt