The Red Badge of Courage Chapter 10
The Tattered Soldier mused on the nerves and strength of being shown by the Tall Soldier. The Youthful Soldier brooded, but his companion reminded him that Tall Soldier was gone, and that the most important thing was to save themselves. The Tattered Soldier motioned to his wounded arm and the youth asked him haltingly if he, too, was going to die. The man responded by saying that all he needed was a bed and some pea soup.
The two left the Tall Soldier's body in the grass; as they walked, the Tattered Soldier began to complain about his wounds. He assured the youth that he would not die - he could not die, he said, not on account of all the children he had back home. The man smiled at this as if in fun. He said if he did die, he wouldn't do it like the Tall Soldier had - he would just flop down instead. The man kept talking and asked again where the youth was shot; he went on without giving the youth a chance to answer. He said the youth's wound might be mostly internal and that he should watch out; he recounted a story of a man named John, who had been shot right in the head and had insisted that nothing was wrong right up until he fell down dead.
The youth angered at the rambling speech, and embarrassed at his lack of a wound, told the Tattered Soldier to leave him alone. He hated his perceived accuser then - he said goodbye and walked off. The man, flustered and reeling from his wounds, stammered incoherently. He muttered about Tom Jamison, the man in his company who had told him he was shot. He called the youth Tom Jamison; in reply, the youth left him wandering aimlessly alone in the fields.
"He [the youth] now thought that he wished he was dead. He believed that he envied those men whose bodies lay strewn over the grass of the fields and on the fallen leaves of the forest.
The simple questions of the tattered man had been knife thrusts to him. They asserted a society that probes pitilessly at secrets until all is apparent. His late companion's chance persistency made him feel that he could not keep his crime concealed in his bosom. It was sure to be brought plain by one of those arrows that which cloud that air and are constantly pricking, discovering, proclaiming, those things which are willed forever to be hidden. He admitted that he could not defend himself against this agency. It was not within the power of vigilance." Chapter 10, pg. 63