The Red Badge of Courage HTML version
The youth awakened slowly. He came gradually back to a position from which he could
regard himself. For moments he had been scrutinizing his person in a dazed way as if he
had never before seen himself. Then he picked up his cap from the ground. He wriggled
in his jacket to make a more comfortable fit, and kneeling relaced his shoe. He
thoughtfully mopped his reeking features.
So it was all over at last! The supreme trial had been passed. The red, formidable
difficulties of war had been vanquished.
He went into an ecstasy of self-satisfaction. He had the most delightful sensations of his
life. Standing as if apart from himself, he viewed that last scene. He perceived that the
man who had fought thus was magnificent.
He felt that he was a fine fellow. He saw himself even with those ideals which he had
considered as far beyond him. He smiled in deep gratification.
Upon his fellows he beamed tenderness and good will. "Gee! ain't it hot, hey?" he said
affably to a man who was polishing his streaming face with his coat sleeves.
"You bet!" said the other, grinning sociably. "I never seen sech dumb hotness." He
sprawled out luxuriously on the ground. "Gee, yes! An' I hope we don't have no more
fightin' till a week from Monday."
There were some handshakings and deep speeches with men whose features were
familiar, but with whom the youth now felt the bonds of tied hearts. He helped a cursing
comrade to bind up a wound of the shin.
But, of a sudden, cries of amazement broke out along the ranks of the new regiment.
"Here they come ag'in! Here they come ag'in!" The man who had sprawled upon the
ground started up and said, "Gosh!"
The youth turned quick eyes upon the field. He discerned forms begin to swell in masses
out of a distant wood. He again saw the tilted flag speeding forward.
The shells, which had ceased to trouble the regiment for a time, came swirling again, and
exploded in the grass or among the leaves of the trees. They looked to be strange war
flowers bursting into fierce bloom.
The men groaned. The luster faded from their eyes. Their smudged countenances now
expressed a profound dejection. They moved their stiffened bodies slowly, and watched
in sullen mood the frantic approach of the enemy. The slaves toiling in the temple of this
god began to feel rebellion at his harsh tasks.