Under Two Flags eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 714 pages of information about Under Two Flags.
every soldier the rhythm familiar from his infancy, the melody of his mother’s cradle-song and of his first love’s lips.  And there had been times when those songs, suddenly breaking through the darkness of night, suddenly lulling the fiery anguish of wounds, had made the men who one hour before had been like mad dogs, like goaded tigers—­men full of the lusts of slaughter and the lust of the senses, and chained powerless and blaspheming to a bed of agony—­tremble and shudder at themselves, and turn their faces to the wall and weep like children, and fall asleep, at length, with wondering dreams of God.

“V’la ce que c’est la gloire—­au grabat!” said Cigarette, now grinding her pretty teeth.  She was in her most revolutionary and reckless mood, drumming the rataplan with her spurred heels, and sitting smoking on the corner of old Miou-Matou’s mattress.  Miou-Matou, who had acquired that title among the joyeux for his scientific powers of making a tomcat into a stew so divine that you could not tell it from rabbit, being laid up with a ball in his hip, a spear-head between his shoulders, a rib or so broken, and one or two other little trifling casualties.

Miou-Matou, who looked very like an old grizzly bear, laughed in the depths of his great, hairy chest.  “Dream of glory, and end on a grabat!  Just so, just so.  And yet one has pleasures—­to sweep off an Arbico’s neck nice and clean—­swish!” and he described a circle with his lean, brawny arm with as infinite a relish as a dilettante, grown blind, would listen thirstily to the description of an exquisite bit of Faience or Della Quercia work.

“Pleasures!  My God!  Infinite, endless misery!” murmured a man on her right hand.  He was not thirty years of age; with a delicate, dark, beautiful head that might have passed as model to a painter for a St. John.  He was dying fast of the most terrible form of pulmonary maladies.

Cigarette flashed her bright, falcon glance over him.

“Well! is it not misery that is glory?”

“We think that it is when we are children.  God help me!” murmured the man who lay dying of lung-disease.

“Ouf!  Then we think rightly!  Glory!  Is it the cross, the star, the baton?  No![*] He who wins those runs his horse up on a hill, out of shot range, and watches through his glass how his troops surge up, wave on wave, in the great sea of blood.  It is misery that is glory—­the misery that toils with bleeding feet under burning suns without complaint; that lies half-dead through the long night with but one care—­to keep the torn flag free from the conqueror’s touch; that bears the rain of blows in punishment, rather than break silence and buy release by betrayal of a comrade’s trust; that is beaten like the mule, and galled like the horse, and starved like the camel, and housed like the dog, and yet does the thing which is right, and the thing which is brave, despite all; that suffers, and endures, and pours out his blood

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Under Two Flags from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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