Puslapio vaizdai

dell. This cholera can be stopped if the The song was lost in a clattering breaksurgeons have a show. You may recon- down and a roar of good-natured laughter. centrate those hill people, you may do any- Smith bounded angrily up the steps. thing the end seems to justify,-- always There was no doubt of the perpetrator. remembering that you are Americans, - The troop was sitting in a grinning circle but you will stop this cholera thing. on the bare floor, and in the center, his That 's all, gentlemen.”

crooked mouth half open in startled surIt was something of an order. It placed prise, his body still crouched in the final the power of an absolute monarch over posture of the "pigeon-wing” he had trisome thousands of twisted little aborigines umphantly finished, his cockatoo's crest of in the hands of the two youngsters, and stubbly mouse-colored hair comically erect, prophecy and speculation and wonder stood Private Dornikee, late of Whowere rife in the official and military col- knows-where. Upon him his captain's ony. This was the concensus of the wrath descended in a torrent of angry three:

words. “They 'll stop it, all right; but Smith 'll “You're a tramp and a bummer," he ruin his troop. It 's a ghastly country said, among other things. "I know all and a terrible task. He realizes that and about you. You were a hobo before you his importance. He 'll nag his men into a enlisted -a homeless, feckless hobo. You funk; they 'll desert, they'll get cholera sing songs, you joke from morning to and die, and the troop will come back here night, you laugh and giggle and smirk, a wreck. Now, Wendell will be different. and fools laugh at you." The fire of He 'll jolly his men, he'll blarney and Smith's anger was gradually dying in the bullyrag 'em; they 'll do their work, and face of the ludicrous caricature of fear in they'll come out of that pestiferous hole the round, freckled visage and china-blue as fit as fiddles.”

eyes of Private Dornikee. “Seriousness is Now, as this is precisely what did not not in you. To my knowledge, you have happen, it is worth a paragraph.

never passed an inspection. You lose your Smith marched his troop to Boc-boc, equipment, your uniform is in tatters, you lined them up in the plaza, and there, un- are not, and never will be, a soldier. der the sweltering sun, with the tired men “If it were n't that you take good care sitting cramped upon the worn-out horses, of your horse, I 'd have gotten rid of you he read them a two-hours' lecture, couched long ago. Now I 'll give you a fair warnin terms they did not understand, about ing, Dornikee.

Be a soldier if you can; the terror of their task and his own deter- but every time you miss a stroke, I 'm mination.

going to send you before the summary “Men," he finished, “I have a will of court. The law says that when you have iron and a hand of steel. See that you been there five times, out you go from the never give me cause to show it.” Then service-a military convict. It 's your last the troop filed off to dismount and un- chance, Dornikee. I give you three saddle, sullen, sore, angry, and thoroughly months' time to hang yourself. That 's rebellious. Smith could not but feel their all.” air of resentment, and he countered against There was no routine in the cholera it immediately. The Boc-boc day had fight at Boc-boc. It was a succession of started miserably, and it ended stormily nightmares. It is impossible to describe when the captain came down to inspect the morbid effect of jungle service upon his commandeered barracks at sunset. He white men unless the country has been heard a rhythmic clatter of feet on the pol- seen; then a faint glimmering of underished foor that kept clever cadence with standing may come. a shrill “Turkey in the Straw," whistled The Candayra River, running through in chorus, and indescribably enunciated the hills by Boc-boc and Bato, is flanked words to the same tune:

by forests; but they are not such forests as

America knows anything about. Great "Oh, there was a metal skeezicks, and he mahogany- and nara-trees, twice as high had a metal mitt,

as the tallest pines, rise out of a perennial But you had to be a guard-house bird to ooze that is slimy black with decaying get a look at it-"

leaves, and pitted with dark pools and tarns. Their foliage lies like a blanket "Herd yerself together, Dornikee! overhead, and beneath it the sun never for Herd yerself! Yer belt 's unbuckled, one a moment strikes; but in that gloom the of yer spurs is gone, they 's a hole in yer rank air steams venomously, long creepers hat, an' yer hair 's stickin' through it. hang in moss-bearded festoons, and all un- Sure, if pride o' bearin' in you was strychderfoot is enmeshed with brakes of giant nine, it would n't poison a louse." grass and opener spaces covered with cling- To this Captain Smith had added advice: ing, thorny vines or thickets of bamboo, “This is the third time, Dornikee; only and crisscrossing it all, like a great tangle two more chances for you. As sure as you of struggling serpents and lizards and stand there, I'll show you no mercy. scale-backed monsters, the roots of the You 're no soldier. You 're a trifler and trees stand high from the earth in weird worthless, a disgrace to the troop and a and uncanny convolutions.

thorn in my side." This was the country where the troop But the men would gather about Priworked, herding the naked people in vil- vate Dornikee when he returned from lages, dragging them sometimes by force, these interviews to hear his whimsical, persuading them sometimes by promises, wistful accounts of them, given in dialect, but bringing them always. Here, or in the with much gesture and mimicry. Then villages, where the plague was fiercest, the they would shriek with laughter, and formen slaved night and day, cleaning, bury- get their own aching bones and lacerated ing, or directing the funeral-parties that feelings, while Dornikee, who was irremade the night hideous under the trees, pressible and tireless, sang for them, or howling over their dead their ceremonial danced out the whole history of a balland propitiating chants to the gods that game or the matrimonial infelicities of send the cholera. A day of this was strange Misther and Missis O'Flaherty. He and fascinating, a week was uncanny,

and could play any instrument of strings or then the horror and dread of it began to stops or pistons. He had a clear, sweet strike in on the men's nerves. They were voice and a perfect genius for mimicry. physically exhausted, ill-fed, and in con- Attention and appreciation seemed as necstant danger of an unseen and unfightable essary and as grateful to him as the air he death.

breathed. His troubles lay lightly across Captain Smith was tireless, and he his shoulders. If Smith sent the men to spared himself not at all, working side by quarters in the doldrums, Dornikee side with his men, and longer and harder laughed them out again in thirty minutes than any of them. But he did exactly as of tom foolery, and his side remarks on the had been foretold: he treated his toiling work of the day as it progressed were troop like children, he nagged and hec- something that the men waited and listored them early and late. He exagger- tened for always. But his own work was ated and cried against faults, and he was boggled, and the older men began to fear blind to virtue and good work.

From a

for him. day under his eye the men always came back to quarters sullen and rebellious-all CAPTAIN WENDELL at Bato was pro

In Dornikee, Smith could see ceeding about the same work and under no good.

identical conditions, attaining the same The man

was utterly careless and ends, but in a wholly different manner. quite irresponsible, and he stood before the His soldiers loved the ground he trod, and summary court three times in as many they went about their duties eagerly, avoidweeks, once for failing to prevent an iso- ing his displeasure, and striving for his lated suspect-she was a very frightened ready approval and encouragement. In mother- from seeing her three-year-old, the first week they accomplished wonders. naked, brown baby. Dornikee pleaded Perhaps Bato was one degree more horguilty without a word of explanation, rible than Boc-boc. Its effects certainly once, while on patrol, for allowing a child showed quicker. In the second week Wento eat a mango that had not been steri- dell had a case of cholera in his own troop. lized, and once for smiling while being It appeared while the men were waiting, reprimanded by a sergeant. The repri- worn-out and smileless, for mess-call to mand had been:

sound in their barracks. A white-faced

save one.

orderly reported it to Wendell, and he shirked and growled and grumbled. Two hurried to quarters, to find the troopers deserted-deserted in the jungle with as sitting about, awed, scared, and silent, little chance for escape as there would every man, at his own bunk, watching the have been from a transport in mid-Pacific. writhings of their stricken comrade; for There were many sick, and Wendell was well they knew they could do nothing. worn to exhaustion.

Something in that very silence and the But the hill people of the upper Canstrange aloofness of the men troubled dayra had been almost all rounded into Wendell. In three days there was another the two villages. They were watched case, and the work of the troop began to and disciplined and cared for. Wendell fall off noticeably. The men were grow- scanned the surgeons' daily report from ing peaked and wan and pale. Wendell both places, and smiled wryly, called upon his veteran first sergeant for “They 're beating us over at Boc-bocadvice.

two per cent. of cases and one and a fourth “Why is it, Sergeant, that our men get deaths to our four and two. It 's fallen it? The troop at Boc-boc is scot-free. in both places from ten and eight. We 're Surely they can't take better care than we choking the life out of it; but to think of do. And Captain Smith writes that his old Smith beating us! He'll never get men seem to be in excellent spirits. Look over it-and neither will I. I wonder if at ours. They drag themselves about like there's anything in the sergeant's theory; men without hope. I don't understand. it sounds like a fairy-tale,” he added as he I don't understand.”

took an official envelop that his orderly The sergeant was ready with his theory. handed him.

"Captain, I've been with Uncle Sam “Great ghost of Julius!" It was an thirty years. I've seen lots of troops, and order from the regiment transferring the I know what 's the matter with ours. We two officers, and a note from the adjutant ain't got no funny man-none of them explaining. minstrelly people. Nearly always they 's “The colonel's doing this in anticipasome man--sometimes two or three--- tion of our going back to the States. He that 's jest nacheral-born, God-made mon- wants you at headquarters with him. It keys. The Cap'n knows what I mean. may be a little inconvenient now, but it's It 's somethin' a man can't learn. When the best in the end, and it 's satisfactory to he tries, he's a fool.

Smith.” “They ain't never good soldiers them Wendell met. Smith at Boc-boc, and minstrel people, but they 're the fellers they talked over their new commands that starts the singin' on marches, an' it 's while the sergeants prepared the papers. them the troop sits aroun' in camp, lis- “You 'll find it a good troop,” Smi tenin' to the monkey-business an' forgettin' said proudly. “Of course there are exthey 're tired. It 's them that keeps up life ceptions. There 's a little man named an' sperits, an' this troop ain't got none. Dornikee who 'll have to go. I 've given

" The men sit round the squad-room, him every chance and warning-utterly an' 'cause they ain't got nothin' else to do, worthless, Wendell, utterly. He won't be they feel sorry for themselves. They must a soldier in a million years. No trouble have somethin' to keep their minds off to ship him, though. He has four pretheir troubles, so they sneak out after taps vious convictions by summary court, and an’ fool aroun' the natives. Work 's only you 'll find charges here for his fifth. That hard, black work for them, with nothin' finishes him. When you get rid of him, to ease an’ spice it. That 's what 's the

That 's what 's the you 'll have a ripping troop. Now, what matter, Cap'n.”

am I getting?" Wendell did his best. He tried to or- “You 're getting, I 'm sorry to say," ganize a troop jinks. But the work had to Wendell confessed ruefully, "a tiptop orgo on, and the show was a pallid failure, ganization with the bottom all dropped falling fat, and by its very failing doing out. This Candayra business has been far more harm than good through its sheer too much for it. It can fight insurrectos ghastliness.

all right, and it has proved it, but these The troop was really suffering. The Candayra woods and the cholera-bug have men had grown to hate their work; they been more than its measure, and you 'll have to handle 'em gently. Good-by, old Dornikee for the fifth time on those fellow. I 'll clean up the sheet with Mr. charges you left when some little technical Dornikee, never fear."

point about his pay came up, so I sent for Cholera disappeared in Boc-boc just two him. months prior to the last case in Bato, and "He was ragged and unkempt, and I Smith's new troop had failed dismally. It laughed when I saw him. Then he had to be brought out of the Candayra laughed, and the sight of it set me off country, and Wendell's sent to take its again. I asked him what he did with his place. The sick-list grew alarmingly, and money, for there was a monthly allotment the desertions were appalling. The men of two thirds of his pay recorded to some had not taken kindly to their new captain, woman in 'Frisco, a Mrs. Renshaw. and he gave them no cause to repent their 'Sister?' I asked; but it was n't. first impression. When it was all over, < 'Sweetheart, then?' part of a letter from Wendell to Smith “Smith, you 'd never guess. It was just read:

an old widow that the boy had talked to “They say the troubadours are dead, for perhaps an hour while the regiment and they sing about the last of them. was going through 'Frisco. She had a Don't ever believe it, old fellow. When crippled child to support, she was n't very you find some rantipole, foolish, irrespon- well, and she could see only starvation sible, penniless sort of chap in your troop, ahead for both of them, and told Dornikee who sings a little, dances perhaps, laughs so. I had fairly to drag the story from all the time, and lives a life that 's in him. itself a joke, he 's one. Hang on to him “He lied to her-told her he was the as you would to hope. He 's what we son of a Chicago banker (Dornikee, mind call worthless, and he's been kicked from you), and next day allotted ten dollars of pillar to post. He's probably a vagabond, his pay for two years to her. and no one will admit that he has any "Irresponsible and impossible, yes; but excuse for living. Let me tell you,

think of it!-I thought of it, and susSmithie, I would n't want a troop of him, pended charges to watch the man. but never again give me a troop without "No, Smith, I did n't get rid of Dornihim. He's more important in some ways kee. If I could, I 'd raise his pay ten than the captain, the first sergeant, and times over. He would n't have any more ten of the men. He serves his purpose,

money than he has now, for he 'd find ten and a sweet purpose it is. It 's more than other Mrs. Renshaws as fast as ever he just making spruce soldiers with shining could; but I 'd like to watch him. If I buttons and tight-fitting coats, or drilling could bestow the Medal of Honor, the neatly, or shooting people to pieces featly Iron Cross, and the Double Eagle, I'd with lead so much more, that muckle- pin them on that boy. I'd cover him with headed soldiers like you and me don't even garlands, and lead him through the cities appreciate it. He makes people happy, in honor; for if there is one man that saved Smithie; that's what he does. He us all along the Candayra and averted the smoothes troubles, and the world is better plague from the capital, -- the whole East, for him- ten times more than we can for all I know,- that man is Private imagine. And he does n't even suspect it; Thomas Dornikee-knife, fork, roll, and that's the beauty of it.

rifle come a-runnin'. Your friend, “I was getting ready to try your friend


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