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SO you like it, Will? You like this sort of thing?"
Martin Howe was stretched on the grass of a hillside a little above a cross-roads. Beside him squatted a ruddy-faced youth with a smudge of grease on his faintly-hooked nose. A champagne bottle rested against his knees.
"Yes. I've never been happier in my life. It's a coarse boozing sort of a life, but I like it."
They looked over the landscape of greyish rolling hills scarred everywhere by new roads and ranks of wooden shacks. Along the road beneath them crawled like beetles convoy after convoy of motor trucks. The wind came to them full of a stench of latrines and of the exhaust of motors.
"The last time I saw you," said Martin, after a pause, "was early one morning on the Cambridge bridge. I was walking out from Boston, and we talked of the Eroica they'd played at the Symphony, and you said it was silly to have a great musician try to play soldier. D'you remember?"
"No. That was in another incarnation. Have some fizz."
He poured from the bottle into a battered tin cup.
"But talking about playing soldier, Howe, I must tell you about how our lieutenant got the Croix de Guerre.
Somebody ought to write a book called Heroisms of the Great War. . . ."
"I am sure that many people have, and will. You probably'll do it yourself, Will. But go on."
The sun burst from the huddled clouds for a moment, mottling the hills and the scarred valleys with light. The shadow of an aeroplane flying low passed across the field, and the snoring of its motors cut out all other sound.
"Well, our louie's name's Duval, but he spells it with a small 'd' and a big 'V.' He's been wanting a Croix de Guerre for a hell of a time because lots of fellows in the section have been getting 'em. He tried giving dinners to the General Staff and everything, but that didn't seem to work. So there was nothing to it but to get wounded. So he took to going to the front posts; but the trouble was that it was a hell of a quiet sector and no shells ever came within a mile of it. At last somebody made a mistake and a little Austrian eighty-eight came tumbling in and popped about fifty yards from his staff car. He showed the most marvellous presence of mind, cause he clapped his hand over his eye and sank back in the seat with a groan. The doctor asked what was the matter, but old Duval just kept his hand tight over his eye and said, 'Nothing, nothing; just a scratch,' and went off to inspect the posts. Of course the posts didn't need inspecting. And he rode round all day with a handkerchief over one eye and a look of heroism in the other. But never would he let the doctor even peep at it. Next morning he came out with a bandage round his head as big as a sheik's turban. He went to see headquarters in that get-up and lunched with the staff-officers. Well, he got his Croix de Guerre all right--cited for assuring the evacuation of the wounded under fire and all the rest of it."
"Some bird. He'll probably get to be a general before the war's over."
Howe poured out the last of the champagne, and threw the bottle listlessly off into the grass, where it struck an empty shell-case and broke.
"But, Will, you can't like this," he said. "It's all so like an ash-heap, a huge garbage-dump of men and equipment."
"I suppose it is . . ." said the ruddy-faced youth, discovering the grease on his nose and rubbing it off with the back of his hand.
"Damn those dirty Fords. They get grease all over you! I suppose it is that life was so dull in America that anything seems better. I worked a year in an office before leaving home. Give me the garbage-dump."
"Look," said Martin, shading his eyes with his hand and staring straight up into the sky. "There are two planes fighting."
They both screwed up their eyes to stare into the sky, where two bits of mica were circling. Below them, like wads of cotton-wool, some white and others black, were rows of the smoke-puffs of shrapnel from anti-aircraft guns.
The two boys watched the specks in silence. At last one began to grow larger, seemed to be falling in wide spirals. The other had vanished. The falling aeroplane started rising again into the middle sky, then stopped suddenly, burst into flames, and fluttered down behind the hills, leaving an irregular trail of smoke.
"More garbage," said the ruddy-faced youth, as he rose to his feet.
"Shrapnel. What a funny place to shoot shrapnel!"
"They must have got the bead on that bunch of material the genie's bringing in."
There was an explosion and a vicious whine of shrapnel bullets among the trees. On the road a staff-car turned round hastily and speeded back.
Martin got up from where he was lying on the grass under a pine tree, looking at the sky, and put his helmet on; as he did so there was another sharp bang overhead and a little reddish-brown cloud that suddenly spread and drifted away among the quiet tree-tops. He took off his helmet and examined it quizzically.
"Tom, I've got a dent in the helmet."
Tom Randolph made a grab for the little piece of jagged iron that had rebounded from the helmet and lay at his feet.
"God damn, it's hot," he cried, dropping it; "anyway, finding's keepings." He put his foot on the shrapnel splinter.
"That ought to be mine, I swear, Tom."
"You've got the dent, Howe; what more do you want?"
Martin sat on the top step of the dugout, diving down whenever he heard a shell-shriek loudening in the distance. Beside him was a tall man with the crossed cannon of the artillery in his helmet, and a shrunken brown face with crimson-veined cheeks and very long silky black moustaches.
"A dirty business," he said. "It's idiotic. . . . Name of a dog!"
Grabbing each other's arms, they tumbled down the steps together as a shell passed overhead to burst in a tree down the road.
"Now look at that." The man held up his musette to Howe. "I've broken the bottle of Bordeaux I had in my musette. It's idiotic."
"Been on permission?"
"Don't I look it?"
They sat at the top of the steps again; the man took out bits of wet glass dripping red wine from his little bag, swearing all the while.
"I was bringing it to the little captain. He's a nice little old chap, the little captain, and he loves good wine."
"Can't you smell it? It's Medoc, 1900, from my own vines. . . . Look, taste it, there's still a little." He held up the neck of the bottle and Martin took a sip.
The artilleryman drank the rest of it, twisted his long moustaches and heaved a deep sigh.
"Go there, my poor good old wine." He threw the remnants of the bottle into the underbrush. Shrapnel burst a little down the road. "Oh, this is a dirty business! I am a Gascon. . . . I like to live." He put a dirty brown hand on Martin's arm.
"How old do you think I am?"
"I am twenty-four. Look at the picture." From a tattered black note-book held together by an elastic band he pulled a snapshot of a jolly-looking young man with a fleshy face and his hands tucked into the top of a wide, tightly-wound sash. He looked at the picture, smiling and tugging at one of his long moustaches. "Then I was twenty. It's the war." He shrugged his shoulders and put the picture carefully back into his inside pocket. "Oh, it's idiotic!"
"You must have had a tough time."
"It's just that people aren't meant for this sort ofthing," said the artilleryman quietly. "You don't get accustomed. The more you see the worse it is. Then you end by going crazy. Oh, it's idiotic!"
"How did you find things at home?"
"Oh, at home! Oh, what do I care about that now? They get on without you. . . . But we used to know how to live, we Gascons. We worked so hard on the vines and on the fruit-trees, and we kept a horse and carriage. I had the best-looking rig in the department. Sunday it was fun; we'd play bowls and I'd ride about with my wife. Oh, she was nice in those days! She was young and fat and laughed all the time. She was something a man could put his arms around, she was. We'd go out in my rig. It was click-clack of the whip in the air and off we were in the broad road. . . . Sacred name of a pig, that one was close. . . . And the Marquis of Montmarieul had a rig, too, but not so good as mine, and my horse would always pass his in the road. Oh, it was funny, and he'd look so sour to have common people like us pass him in the road. . . . Boom, there's another. . . . And the Marquis now is nicely embusqué in the automobile service. He is stationed at Versailles. . . . And look at me. . . . But what do I care about all that now?"
"But after the war . . ."
"After the war?" He spat savagely on the first step of the dugout. "They learn to get on without you."
"But we'll be free to do as we please."
"We'll never forget."
"I shall go to Spain . . ." A piece of shrapnel ripped past Martin's ear, cutting off the sentence.
"Name of God! It's getting hot. . . . Spain: I know Spain." The artilleryman jumped up and began dancing, Spanish fashion, snapping his fingers, his big moustaches swaying and trembling. Several shells burst down the road in quick succession, filling the air with a whine of fragments.
"A cook waggon got it!" the artilleryman shouted, dancing on. "Tra-la la la-la-la-la, la-la la," he sang, snapping his fingers.
He stopped and spat again.
"What do I care?" he said. "Well, so long, old chap. I must go. . . . Say, let's change knives--a little souvenir."
The artilleryman strode off through the woods, past the portable fence that surrounded the huddled wooden crosses of the graveyard.
Against the red glare of the dawn the wilderness of shattered trees stands out purple, hidden by grey mist in the hollows, looped and draped fantastically with strands of telephone wire and barbed wire, tangled like leafless creepers, that hang in clots against the red sky. Here and there guns squat among piles of shells covered with mottled green cheese-cloth, and spit long tongues of yellow flame against the sky. The ambulance waits by the side of the rutted road littered with tin cans and brass shell-cases, while a doctor and two stretcher-bearers bend over a man on a stretcher laid among the underbrush. The man groans and there is a sound of ripping bandages. On the other side of the road a fallen mule feebly wags its head from side to side, a mass of purple froth hanging from its mouth and wide-stretched scarlet nostrils.
There is a new smell in the wind, a smell unutterably sordid, like the smell of the poor immigrants landing at Ellis Island. Martin Howe glances round and sees advancing down the road ranks and ranks of strange grey men whose mushroom-shaped helmets give an eerie look as of men from the moon in a fairy tale.
"Why, they're Germans," he says to himself; "I'd quite forgotten they existed."
"Ah, they're prisoners." The doctor gets to his feet and glances down the road and then turns to his work again.
The tramp of feet marching in unison on the rough shell-pitted road, and piles and piles of grey men clotted with dried mud, from whom comes the new smell, the sordid, miserable smell of the enemy.
"Things going well?" Martin asks a guard, a man with ashen face and eyes that burn out of black sockets.
"How should I know?"
"How should I know?"
The captain and the aumonier are taking their breakfast, each sitting on a packing-box with their tin cups and tin plates ranged on the board propped up between them. All round red clay, out of which the abri was excavated. A smell of antiseptics from the door of the dressing-station and of lime and latrines mingling with the greasy smell of the movable kitchen not far away. They are eating dessert, slices of pineapple speared with a knife out of a can. In their manner there is something that makes Martin see vividly two gentlemen in frock-coats dining at a table under the awning of a café on the boulevards. It has a leisurely ceremoniousness, an ease that could exist nowhere else.
"No, my friend," the doctor is saying, "I do not think that an apprehension of religion existed in the mind of palaeolithic man."
"But, my captain, don't you think that you scientific people sometimes lose a little of the significance of things, insisting always on their scientific, in this case on their anthropological, aspect?"
"Not in the least; it is the only way to look at them."
"There are other ways," says the aumonier, smiling.
"One moment. . . ." From under the packing-box the captain produced a small bottle of anisette. "You'll have a little glass, won't you?"
"With the greatest pleasure. What a rarity here, anisette."
"But, as I was about to say, take our life here, for an example." . . . A shell shrieks overhead and crashes hollowly in the woods behind the dugout. Another follows it, exploding nearer. The captain picks a few bits of gravel off the table, reaches for his helmet and continues. "For example, our life here, which is, as was the life of palaeolithic man, taken up only with the bare struggle for existence against overwhelming odds. You know yourself that it is not conducive to religion or any emotion except that of preservation."
"I hardly admit that. . . . Ah, I saved it," the aumonier announces, catching the bottle of anisette as it is about to fall off the table. An exploding shell rends the air about them. There is a pause, and a shower of earth and gravel tumbles about their ears.
"I must go and see if anyone was hurt," says the aumonier, clambering up the clay bank to the level of the ground; "but you will admit, my captain, that the sentiment of preservation is at least akin to the fundamental feelings of religion."
"My dear friend, I admit nothing. . . . Till this evening, good-bye." He waves his hand and goes into the dugout.
Martin and two French soldiers drinking sour wine in the doorway of a deserted house. It was raining outside and now and then a dripping camion passed along the road, slithering through the mud.
"This is the last summer of the war. . . . It must be," said the little man with large brown eyes and a childish, chubby brown face, who sat on Martin's left.
"Oh, I don't know. Everyone feels like that."
"I don't see," said Martin, "why it shouldn't last for ten or twenty years. Wars have before. . ."
"How long have you been at the front?"
"Six months, off and on."
"After another six months you'll know why it can't go on."
"I don't know; it suits me all right," said the man on the other side of Martin, a man with a jovial red rabbit-like face. "Of course, I don't like being dirty and smelling and all that, but one gets accustomed to it."
"But you are an Alsatian; you don't care."
"I was a baker. They're going to send me to Dijon soon to bake army bread. It'll be a change. There'll be wine and lots of little girls. Good God, how drunk I'll be; and, old chap, you just watch me with the women. . . "
"I should just like to get home and not be ordered about," said the first man. "I've been lucky, though," he went on; "I've been kept most of the time in reserve. I only had to use my bayonet once."
"When was that?" asked Martin.
"Near Mont Cornélien, last year. We put them to the bayonet and I was running and a man threw his arms up just in front of me saying, 'Mon ami, mon ami,' in French. I ran on because I couldn't stop, and I heard my bayonet grind as it went through his chest. I tripped over something and fell down."
"You were scared," said the Alsatian.
"Of course I was scared. I was trembling all over like an old dog in a thunderstorm. When I got up, he was lying on his side with his mouth open and blood running out, my bayonet still sticking into him. You know you have to put your foot against a man and pull hard to get the bayonet out."
"And if you're good at it," cried the Alsatian, "you ought to yank it out as your Boche falls and be ready for the next one. The time they gave me the Croix de Guerre I got three in succession, just like at drill."
"Oh, I was so sorry I had killed him," went on the other Frenchman. "When I went through his pockets I found a post-card. Here it is; I have it." He pulled out a cracked and worn leather wallet, from which he took a photograph and a bunch of pictures. "Look, this photograph was there, too. It hurt my heart. You see, it s a woman and two little girls. They look so nice. . . . It's strange, but I have two children, too, only one's a boy. I lay down on the ground beside him--I was all in--and listened to the machine-guns tapping put, put, put, put, put, all round. I wished I'd let him kill me instead. That was funny, wasn't it?"
"It's idiotic to feel like that. Put them to the bayonet, all of them, the dirty Boches. Why, the only money I've had since the war began, except my five sous, was fifty francs I found on a German officer. I wonder where he got it, the old corpse-stripper."
"Oh, it's shameful! I am ashamed of being a man. Oh, the shame, the shame . . ." The other man buried his face in his hands.
"I wish they were serving out gniolle for an attack right now," said the Alsatian, "or the gniolle without the attack'd be better yet."
"Wait here," said Martin, "I'll go round to the copé and get a bottle of fizzy. We'll drink to peace or war, as you like. Damn this rain!"
"It's a shame to bury those boots," said the sergeant of the stretcher-bearers.
From the long roll of blanket on the ground beside the hastily-dug grave protruded a pair of high boots, new and well polished as if for parade. All about the earth was scarred with turned clay like raw wounds, and the tilting arms of little wooden crosses huddled together, with here and there a bent wreath or a faded bunch of flowers.
Overhead in the stripped trees a bird was singing.
"Shall we take them off? It's a shame to bury a pair of boots like that."
"So many poor devils need boots."
"Boots cost so dear."
Already two men were lowering the long bundle into the grave.
"Wait a minute; we've got a coffin for him."
A white board coffin was brought.
The boots thumped against the bottom as they put the big bundle in.
An officer strode into the enclosure of the graveyard, flicking his knees with a twig.
"Is this Lieutenant Dupont?" he asked of the sergeant.
"Yes, my lieutenant."
"Can you see his face?" The officer stooped and pulled apart the blanket where the head was.
"Poor Ren," he said. "Thank you. Good-bye," and strode out of the graveyard.
The yellowish clay fell in clots on the boards of the coffin. The sergeant bared his head and the aumonier came up, opening his book with a vaguely professional air.
"It was a shame to bury those boots. Boots are so dear nowadays," said the sergeant, mumbling to himself as he walked back towards the little broad shanty they used as a morgue.
Of the house, a little pale salmon-coloured villa, only a shell remained, but the garden was quite untouched; fall roses and bunches of white and pink and violet phlox bloomed there among the long grass and the intruding nettles. In the centre the round concrete fountain was no longer full of water, but a few brownish-green toads still inhabited it. The place smelt of box and sweetbriar and yew, and when you lay down on the grass where it grew short under the old yew tree by the fountain, you could see nothing but placid sky and waving green leaves. Martin Howe and Tom Randolph would spend there the quiet afternoons when they were off duty, sleeping in the languid sunlight, or chatting lazily, pointing out to each other tiny things, the pattern of snail-shells, the glitter of insects' wings, colours, fragrances that made vivid for them suddenly beauty and life, all that the shells that shrieked overhead, to explode on the road behind them, threatened to wipe out.
One afternoon Russell joined them, a tall young man with thin face and aquiline nose and unexpectedly light hair.
"Chef says we may go en repos in three days," he said, throwing himself on the ground beside the other two.
"We've heard that before," said Tom Randolph.
"Division hasn't started out yet, ole boy; an' we're the last of the division.
"God, I'll be glad to go. . . I'm dead," said Russell.
"I was up all last night with dysentery."
"So was I. . . . It was not funny; first it'd be vomiting, and then diarrhoea, and then the shells'd start coming in. Gave me a merry time of it."
"They say it's the gas," said Martin.
"God, the gas! Turns me sick to think of it," said Russell, stroking his forehead with his hand. "Did I tell you about what happened to me the night after the attack, up in the woods?"
"Well, I was bringing a load of wounded down from P.J. right and I'd got just beyond the corner where the little muddy hill is--you know, where they're always shelling--when I found the road blocked. It was so God-damned black you couldn't see your hand in front of you. A camion'd gone off the road and another had run into it, and everything was littered with boxes of shells spilt about."
"Must have been real nice," said Randolph.
"The devilish part of it was that I was all alone. Coney was too sick with diarrhoea to be any use, so I left him up at the post, running out at both ends like he'd die. Well . . . I yelled and shouted like hell in my bad French and blew my whistle and sweated, and the damned wounded inside moaned and groaned. And the shells were coming in so thick I thought my number'd turn up any time. An' I couldn't get anybody. So I just climbed up in the second camion and backed it off into the bushes. . . . God, I bet it'll take a wrecking crew to get it out. .
"That was one good job.
"But there I was with another square in the road and no chance to pass that I could see in that darkness. Then what I was going to tell you about happened. I saw a little bit of light in a ditch beside a big car that seemed to be laying on its side, and I went down to it and there was a bunch of camion drivers, sitting round a lantern drinking.
"'Hello, have a drink!' they called out to me, and one of them got up, waving his arms, ravin' drunk, and threw his arms around me and kissed me on the mouth. His hair and beard were full of wet mud. . . . Then he dragged me into the crowd.
"'Ha, here's a copain come to die with us,' he cried.
"I gave him a shove and he fell down. But another one got up and handed me a tin cup full of that God-damned gniolle, that I drank not to make 'em sore. Then they all shouted, and stood about me, sayin', 'American's goin' to die with us. He's goin' to drink with us. He's goin' to die with us.' And the shells comin' in all the while. God, I was scared.
"'I want to get a camion moved to the side of the road. . . . Good-bye,' I said. There didn't seem any use talkin' to them.
"'But you've come to stay with us,' they said, and made me drink some more booze. 'You've come to die with us. Remember you said so.'
"The sweat was running into my eyes so's I could hardly see. I told 'em I'd be right back and slipped away into the dark. Then I thought I'd never get the second camion cranked. At last I managed it and put it so I could squeeze past, but they saw me and jumped up on the running-board of the ambulance, tried to stop the car, all yellin' at once, 'It's no use, the road's blocked both ways. You can't pass. You'd better stay and die with us. Caput.'
"Well, I put my foot on the accelerator and hit one of them so hard with the mud-guard he fell into the lantern and put it out. Then I got away. An' how I got past the stuff in that road afterwards was just luck. I couldn't see a God-damn thing; it was so black and I was so nerved up. God, I'll never forget these chaps' shoutin', 'Here's a feller come to die with us.' "
"Whew! That's some story," said Randolph.
"That'll make a letter home, won't it?" said Russell, smiling. "Guess my girl'll think I'm heroic enough after that."
Martin's eyes were watching a big dragonfly with brown body and cream and rainbow wings that hovered over the empty fountain and the three boys stretched on the grass, and was gone against the azure sky.
The prisoner had grey flesh, so grimed with mud that you could not tell if he were young or old. His uniform hung in a formless clot of mud about a slender frame. They had treated him at the dressing-station for a gash in his upper arm, and he was being used to help the stretcher-bearers. Martin sat in the front seat of the ambulance, watching him listlessly as he walked down the rutted road under the torn shreds of camouflage that fluttered a little in the wind. Martin wondered what he was thinking. Did he accept all this stench and filth and degradation of slavery as part of the divine order of things? Or did he too burn with loathing and revolt?
And all those men beyond the hill and the wood, what were they thinking? But how could they think? The lies they were drunk on would keep them eternally from thinking. They had never had any chance to think until they were hurried into the jaws of it, where was no room but for laughter and misery and the smell of blood.
The rutted road was empty now. Most of the batteries were quiet. Overhead in the brilliant sky aeroplanes snored monotonously.
The woods all about him were a vast rubbish-heap; the jagged, splintered boles of leafless trees rose in every direction from heaps of brass shell-cases, of tin cans, of bits of uniform and equipment. The wind came in puffs laden with an odour as of dead rats in an attic. And this was what all the centuries of civilisation had struggled for. For this had generations worn away their lives in mines and factories and forges, in fields and work-shops, toiling, screwing higher and higher the tension of their minds and muscles, polishing brighter and brighter the mirror of their intelligence. For this!
The German prisoner and another man had appeared in the road again, carrying a stretcher between them, walking with the slow, meticulous steps of great fatigue. A series of shells came in, like three cracks of a whip along the road. Martin followed the stretcher-bearers into the dugout.
The prisoner wiped the sweat from his grime-streaked forehead, and started up the step of the dugout again, a closed stretcher on his shoulder. Something made Martin look after him as he strolled down the rutted road. He wished he knew German so that he might call after the man and ask him what manner of a man he was.
Again, like snapping of a whip, three shells flashed yellow as they exploded in the brilliant sunlight of the road. The slender figure of the prisoner bent suddenly double, like a pocket-knife closing, and lay still. Martin ran out, stumbling in the hard ruts. In a soft child's voice the prisoner was babbling endlessly, contentedly. Martin kneeled beside him and tried to lift him, clasping him round the chest under the arms. He was very hard to lift, for his legs dragged limply in their soaked trousers, where the blood was beginning to saturate the muddy cloth, stickily. Sweat dripped from Martin's face, on the man's face, and he felt the arm-muscles and the ribs pressed against his body as he clutched the wounded man tightly to him in the effort of carrying him towards the dugout. The effort gave Martin a strange contentment. It was as if his body were taking part in the agony of this man's body. At last they were washed out, all the hatreds, all the lies, in blood and sweat. Nothing was left but the quiet friendliness of beings alike in every part, eternally alike.
Two men with a stretcher came from the dugout, and Martin laid the man's body, fast growing limper, less animated, down very carefully.
As he stood by the car, wiping the blood off his hands with an oily rag, he could still feel the man's ribs and the muscles of the man's arm against his side. It made him strangely happy.
At the end of the dugout a man was drawing short, hard breath as if he'd been running. There was the accustomed smell of blood and chloride and bandages and filthy miserable flesh. Howe lay on a stretcher wrapped in his blanket, with his coat over him, trying to sleep. There was very little light from a smoky lamp down at the end where the wounded were. The French batteries were fairly quiet, but the German shells were combing through the woods, coming in series of three and four, gradually nearing the dugout and edging away again. Howe saw the woods as a gambling table on which, throw after throw, scattered the random dice of death.
He pulled his blanket up round his head. He must sleep. How silly to think about it. It was luck. If a shell had his number on it he'd be gone before the words were out of his mouth. How silly that he might be dead any minute! What right had a nasty little piece of tinware to go tearing through his rich, feeling flesh, extinguishing it?
Like the sound of a mosquito in his ear, only louder, more vicious, a shell-shriek shrilled to the crash.
Damn! How foolish, how supremely silly that tired men somewhere away in the woods the other side of the lines should be shoving a shell into the breach of a gun to kill him, Martin Howe!
Like dice thrown on a table, shells burst about the dugout, now one side, now the other.
"Seem to have taken a fancy to us this evenin'," Howe heard Tom Randolph's voice from the bunk opposite.
"One," muttered Martin to himself, as he lay frozen with fear, flat on his back, biting his trembling lips, "two. . . . God, that was near!"
A dragging instant of suspense, and the shriek growing loud out of the distance.
"This is us." He clutched the sides of the stretcher.
A snorting roar rocked the dugout. Dirt fell in his face. He looked about, dazed. The lamp was still burning. One of the wounded men, with a bandage like an Arab's turban about his head, sat up in his stretcher with wide, terrified eyes.
"God watches over drunkards and the feeble-minded. Don't let's worry, Howe," shouted Randolph from his bunk.
"That probably bitched car No. 4 for evermore," he answered, turning on his stretcher, relieved for some reason from the icy suspense.
"We should worry! We'll foot it home, that's all." The casting of the dice began again, farther away this time.
"We won that throw," thought Martin to himself.