The Last Shot eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 469 pages of information about The Last Shot.

This aroused her afresh; the flame was back in her eyes.

“Yes.  I have all the memories of my journeys to enjoy, all their lessons to study,” she said.  “There is the big world, and you want to have had the breath of all its climates in your lungs, the visions of all its peoples yours.  Then the other thing is three acres and a cow.  If you could only have the solidarity of the Japanese, their public spirit, with the old Chinese love of family and peace, and a cathedral near-by on a hill!  Patriotism?  Why, it is in the soil of your three acres.  I love to feel the warm, rich earth of our own garden in my hands!  Hereafter I shall be a stay-at-home; and if my children win,” she held out her hand in parting with the same frank, earnest grip of her greeting, “why, you will find that tea is, as usual, at four-thirty.”

He had found the women of his high official world—­a narrower world than he realized—­much alike.  Striking certain keys, certain chords responded.  He could probe the depths of their minds, he thought, in a single evening.  Then he passed on, unless it was in the interest of pleasure or of his career to linger.  This meeting had left his curiosity baffled.  He understood how Marta’s vitality demanded action, which exerted itself in a feminine way for a feminine cause.  The cure for such a fad was most clear to his masculine-perception.  What if all the power she had shown in her appeal for peace could be made to serve another ambition?  He knew that he was a great man.  More than once he had wondered what would happen if he were to meet a great woman.  And he should not see Marta Galland again unless war came.

VII

TIMES HAVE CHANGED

A prodigious brown worm, its body turning and rising and falling with the grade and throbbing with the march of its centipede feet, wound its way along a rising mountain road.  In the strong, youthful figures set in the universal type of military mould it might have been a regiment of any one of many nations’ but the tint of its uniform was the brown of the nine hundred regiments that prepared for war against the gray of the fifteen hundred under Hedworth Westerling.

The 53d of the Browns had started for La Tir on the same day that the 128th of the Grays had started for South La Tir.  While the 128th was going to new scenes, the 53d was returning to familiar ground.  It had detrained in the capital of the province from which its ranks had been recruited.  After a steep incline, there was a welcome bugle note and with shouts of delight the centipede’s legs broke apart!  Bankers’, laborers’, doctors’, valets’, butchers’, manufacturers’, and judges’ sons threw themselves down on the greensward of the embankment to rest.  With their talk of home, of relatives whom they had met at the station, and of the changes in the town was mingled talk of the crisis.

Meanwhile, an aged man was approaching.  At times he would break into a kind of trot that ended, after a few steps, in shortness of breath.  He was quite withered, his bright eyes twinkling out of an area of moth patches, and he wore a frayed uniform coat with a medal on the breast.

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The Last Shot from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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