Somehow, Alphonso smelled of roses that night, as the two lay together in that little plaza, where the mules were picketed and the satisfied infantry slept. In the jungle (which seemed very close in the moonlight), bamboo stalks creaked soothingly and stroked each other in the soft night winds, and the zenith sky boiled with millions of white-hot worlds.... Are not the best dreams of this earth to be heard from two rare boys whispering in the night? They have not been frightened by their first real failure, and the latest, most delicate bloom of the race has not yet been brushed from their thoughts. Curled within their minds, like an endless scroll, are the marvellous scriptures of millenniums, and yet their brain-surfaces are fresh for earth’s newest concept.... What are they whispering? Their voices falter with emotion over vague bits of dreaming. They ask no greater stimulus to fly to the uttermost bounds of their limitations—than each other and the night. Reason dawns upon their stammered expressions, and farther they fly—thrilling like young birds, when their wings for the first time catch the sustaining cushions of air.... These are the vessels of the future—seals yet unbroken.
RED PIGMENT OF SERVICE
Bedient explained that he had come to the Philippines pleased with the thought of seeing his own people, the Americans. He realized that he was not seeing them at their best under martial law. The pair exchanged narratives of action. Cairns pictured his first time under fire, ending:
“... First you see the smoke; then you hear the bullets—then the sound of the guns last——”
“Yes, that’s the order,” said Bedient, who laughed softly, and presently was telling of a recent and terrible baptism of fire. The Pack-train had spurred to the rescue of a small party of sick and footsore, making their way to garrison.
“Why that was the Pony Pack Massacre!” Cairns exclaimed. “I heard about it—one of the worst affairs we’ve had over here—and you saw it?”
“I wish I hadn’t,” Bedient answered. “The little party of Americans were down when I first saw them. Six or seven of the sixteen were dead; nearly all the rest wounded. The natives had fired from three sides—and would have finished their work with knives, except for Thirteen. The American lieutenant in charge was clear-grained. He had been trying to withdraw toward the town and carry his wounded—think of that. There were not two others besides himself unscathed. I’ll never forget him—striding up and down praying and cursing—his first fight, you know—and his boy’s voice—’Be cock sure they’re dead, fellows, before you leave ’em behind for the bolos!... For the love of God don’t leave your bunkies behind for the butchers!’
“In a half minute, I saw it all—what a thing for white men to be gathered for slaughter on a trail over here. The boys knew it—and fought horribly against it....”