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and legs stiffen until everything would be effaced in the blackness
of death. But the roar of the wind and the lash of the spray as he
staggered back along the deck drowned all other thought.

Fuselli and another man carried the dripping garbage-can up the ladder
that led up from the mess hall. It smelt of rancid grease and coffee
grounds and greasy juice trickled over their fingers as they struggled
with it. At last they burst out on to the deck where a free wind blew
out of the black night. They staggered unsteadily to the rail and
emptied the pail into the darkness. The splash was lost in the sound of
the waves and of churned water fleeing along the sides. Fuselli leaned
over the rail and looked down at the faint phosphorescence that was
the only light in the whole black gulf. He had never seen such darkness
before. He clutched hold of the rail with both hands, feeling lost and
terrified in the blackness, in the roaring of the wind in his ears
and the sound of churned water fleeing astern. The alternative was the
stench of below decks.

"I'll bring down the rosie, don't you bother," he said to the other man,
kicking the can that gave out a ringing sound as he spoke.

He strained his eyes to make out something. The darkness seemed to press
in upon his eyeballs, blinding him. Suddenly he noticed voices near him.
Two men were talking.

"I ain't never seen the sea before this, I didn't know it was like

"We're in the zone, now."

"That means we may go down any minute."


"Christ, how black it is.... It'ld be awful to drown in the dark like

"It'ld be over soon."

"Say, Fred, have you ever been so skeered that...?"

"D'you feel a-skeert?"

"Feel my hand, Fred.... No.... There it is. God, it's so hellish black
you can't see yer own hand."

"It's cold. Why are you shiverin' so? God, I wish I had a drink."

"I ain't never seen the sea before...I didn't know..."

Fuselli heard distinctly the man's teeth chattering in the darkness.

"God, pull yerself together, kid. You can't be skeered like this."

"O God."

There was a long pause. Fuselli heard nothing but the churned water
speeding along the ship's side and the wind roaring in his ears.

"I ain't never seen the sea before this time, Fred, an' it sort o'
gits my goat, all this sickness an' all.... They dropped three of 'em
overboard yesterday."

"Hell, kid, don't think of it."

"Say, Fred, if I... if I... if you're saved, Fred, an' not me, you'll
write to my folks, won't you?"

"Indeed I will. But I reckon you an' me'll both go down together."

"Don't say that. An' you won't forget to write that girl I gave you the
address of?"

"You'll do the same for me."

"Oh, no, Fred, I'll never see land.... Oh, it's no use. An' I feel so
well an' husky.... I don't want to die. I can't die like this."

"If it only wasn't so goddam black."


It was purplish dusk outside the window. The rain fell steadily making
long flashing stripes on the cracked panes, beating a hard monotonous
tattoo on the tin roof overhead. Fuselli had taken off his wet slicker
and stood in front of the window looking out dismally at the rain.
Behind him was the smoking stove into which a man was poking wood, and
beyond that a few broken folding chairs on which soldiers sprawled in
attitudes of utter boredom, and the counter where the "Y" man stood with
a set smile doling out chocolate to a line of men that filed past.

"Gee, you have to line up for everything here, don't you?" Fuselli

"That's about all you do do in this hell-hole, buddy," said a man beside

The man pointed with his thumb at the window and said again:

"See that rain? Well, I been in this camp three weeks and it ain't
stopped rainin' once. What d'yer think of that fer a country?"

"It certainly ain't like home," said Fuselli. "I'm going to have some

"It's damn rotten."

"I might as well try it once."

Fuselli slouched over to the end of the line and stood waiting his turn.
He was thinking of the steep streets of San Francisco and the glimpses
he used to get of the harbor full of yellow lights, the color of amber
in a cigarette holder, as he went home from work through the blue dusk.
He had begun to think of Mabe handing him the five-pound box of candy
when his attention was distracted by the talk of the men behind him. The
man next to him was speaking with hurried nervous intonation. Fuselli
could feel his breath on the back of his neck.

"I'll be goddamned," the man said, "was you there too? Where d'you get

"In the leg; it's about all right, though."

"I ain't. I won't never be all right. The doctor says I'm all right now,
but I know I'm not, the lyin' fool."

"Some time, wasn't it?"

"I'll be damned to hell if I do it again. I can't sleep at night
thinkin' of the shape of the Fritzies' helmets. Have you ever thought
that there was somethin' about the shape of them goddam helmets...?"

"Ain't they just or'nary shapes?" asked Fuselli, half turning round. "I
seen 'em in the movies." He laughed apologetically.

"Listen to the rookie, Tub, he's seen 'em in the movies!" said the man
with the nervous twitch in his voice, laughing a croaking little laugh.
"How long you been in this country, buddy?"

"Two days."

"Well, we only been here two months, ain't we, Tub?"

"Four months; you're forgettin', kid."

The "Y" man turned his set smile on Fuselli while he filled his tin cup
up with chocolate.

"How much?"

"A franc; one of those looks like a quarter," said the "Y" man, his
well-fed voice full of amiable condescension.

"That's a hell of a lot for a cup of chauclate," said Fuselli.

"You're at the war, young man, remember that," said the "Y" man
severely. "You're lucky to get it at all."

A cold chill gripped Fuselli's spine as he went back to the stove to
drink the chocolate. Of course he mustn't crab. He was in the war
now. If the sergeant had heard him crabbing, it might have spoiled his
chances for a corporalship. He must be careful. If he just watched out
and kept on his toes, he'd be sure to get it.

"And why ain't there no more chocolate, I want to know?" the nervous
voice of the man who had stood in line behind Fuselli rose to a sudden
shriek. Everybody looked round. The "Y" man was moving his head from
side to side in a flustered way, saying in a shrill little voice:

"I've told you there's no more. Go away!"

"You ain't got no right to tell me to go away. You got to get me some
chocolate. You ain't never been at the front, you goddam slacker." The
man was yelling at the top of his lungs. He had hold of the counter with
two hands and swayed from side to side. His friend was trying to pull
him away.

"Look here, none of that, I'll report you," said the "Y" man. "Is there
a non-commissioned officer in the hut?"

"Go ahead, you can't do nothin'. I can't never have nothing done worse
than what's been done to me already." The man's voice had reached a
sing-song fury.

"Is there a non-commissioned officer in the room?" The "Y" man kept
looking from side to side. His little eyes were hard and spiteful and
his lips were drawn up in a thin straight line.

"Keep quiet, I'll get him away," said the other man in a low voice.
"Can't you see he's not...?"

A strange terror took hold of Fuselli. He hadn't expected things to be
like that. When he had sat in the grandstand in the training camp
and watched the jolly soldiers in khaki marching into towns, pursuing
terrified Huns across potato fields, saving Belgian milk-maids against
picturesque backgrounds.

"Does many of 'em come back that way?" he asked a man beside him.

"Some do. It's this convalescent camp." The man and his friend stood
side by side near the stove talking in low voices.

"Pull yourself together, kid," the friend was saying.

"All right, Tub; I'm all right now, Tub. That slacker got my goat, that
was all."

Fuselli was looking at him curiously. He had a yellow parchment face and
a high, gaunt forehead going up to sparse, curly brown hair. His eyes
had a glassy look about them when they met Fuselli's. He smiled amiably.

"Oh, there's the kid who's seen Fritzies' helmets in the movies.... Come
on, buddy, come and have a beer at the English canteen."

"Can you get beer?"

"Sure, over in the English camp." They went out into the slanting
rain. It was nearly dark, but the sky had a purplish-red color that was
reflected a little on the slanting sides of tents and on the roofs
of the rows of sheds that disappeared into the rainy mist in every
direction. A few lights gleamed, a very bright polished yellow. They
followed a board-walk that splashed mud up from the puddles under the
tramp of their heavy boots.

At one place they flattened themselves against the wet flap of a tent
and saluted as an officer passed waving a little cane jauntily.

"How long does a fellow usually stay in these rest camps?" asked

"Depends on what's goin' on out there," said Tub, pointing carelessly to
the sky beyond the peaks of the tents.

"You'll leave here soon enough. Don't you worry, buddy," said the man
with the nervous voice. "What you in?"

"Medical Replacement Unit."

"A medic are you? Those boys didn't last long at the Chateau, did they,

"No, they didn't."

Something inside Fuselli was protesting; "I'll last out though. I'll
last out though."

"Do you remember the fellers went out to get poor ole Corporal Jones,
Tub? I'll be goddamned if anybody ever found a button of their pants."
He laughed his creaky little laugh. "They got in the way of a torpedo."

The "wet" canteen was full of smoke and a cosy steam of beer. It was
crowded with red-faced men, with shiny brass buttons on their khaki
uniforms, among whom was a good sprinkling of lanky Americans.

"Tommies," said Fuselli to himself.

After standing in line a while, Fuselli's cup was handed back to him
across the counter, foaming with beer.

"Hello, Fuselli," Meadville clapped him on the shoulder. "You found the
liquor pretty damn quick, looks like to me."

Fuselli laughed.

"May I sit with you fellers?"

"Sure, come along," said Fuselli proudly, "these guys have been to the

"You have?" asked Meadville. "The Huns are pretty good scrappers, they
say. Tell me, do you use your rifle much, or is it mostly big gun work?"

"Naw; after all the months I spent learnin' how to drill with my goddam
rifle, I'll be a sucker if I've used it once. I'm in the grenade squad."

Someone at the end of the room had started singing:

"O Mademerselle from Armenteers, Parley voo!"

The man with the nervous voice went on talking, while the song roared
about them.

"I don't spend a night without thinkin' o' them funny helmets the
Fritzies wear. Have you ever thought that there was something goddam
funny about the shape o' them helmets?"

"Can the helmets, kid," said his friend. "You told us all about them

"I ain't told you why I can't forgit 'em, have I?"

"A German officer crossed the Rhine;
Parley voo?
A German officer crossed the Rhine;
He loved the women and liked the wine;
Hanky Panky, parley voo.... "

"Listen to this, fellers," said the man in his twitching nervous voice,
staring straight into Fuselli's eyes. "We made a little attack to
straighten out our trenches a bit just before I got winged. Our barrage
cut off a bit of Fritzie's trench an' we ran right ahead juss about dawn
an' occupied it. I'll be goddamned if it wasn't as quiet as a Sunday
morning at home."

"It was!" said his friend.

"An' I had a bunch of grenades an' a feller came runnin' up to me,
whisperin', 'There's a bunch of Fritzies playin' cards in a dugout. They
don't seem to know they're captured. We'd better take 'em pris'ners!"

"'Pris'ners, hell,' says I, 'We'll go and clear the buggars out.' So we
crept along to the steps and looked down.... "

The song had started again:

"O Mademerselle from Armenteers,
Parley voo?

"Their helmets looked so damn like toadstools I came near laughin'. An'
they sat round the lamp layin' down the cards serious-like, the way I've
seen Germans do in the Rathskeller at home."

"He loved the women and liked the wine,
Parley voo?

"I lay there lookin' at 'em for a hell of a time, an' then I clicked a
grenade an' tossed it gently down the steps. An' all those funny helmets
like toadstools popped up in the air an' somebody gave a yell an' the
light went out an' the damn grenade went off. Then I let 'em have the
rest of 'em an' went away 'cause one o' 'em was still moanin'-like. It
was about that time they let their barrage down on us and I got mine."

"The Yanks are havin' a hell of a time,
Parley voo?

"An' the first thing I thought of when I woke up was how those goddam
helmets looked. It upsets a feller to think of a thing like that." His
voice ended in a whine like the broken voice of a child that has been

"You need to pull yourself together, kid," said his friend.

"I know what I need, Tub. I need a woman."

"You know where you get one?" asked Meadville. "I'd like to get me a
nice little French girl a rainy night like this."

"It must be a hell of a ways to the town.... They say it's full of M.
P.'s too," said Fuselli.

"I know a way," said the man with the nervous voice, "Come on; Tub."

"No, I've had enough of these goddam frog women."

They all left the canteen.

As the two men went off down the side of the building, Fuselli heard the
nervous twitching voice through the metallic patter of the rain:

"I can't find no way of forgettin' how funny the helmets looked all
round the lamp... I can't find no way.... "

Bill Grey and Fuselli pooled their blankets and slept together. They lay
on the hard floor of the tent very close to each other, listening to the
rain pattering endlessly on the drenched canvas that slanted above their

"Hell, Bill, I'm gettin' pneumonia," said Fuselli, clearing his nose.

"That's the only thing that scares me in the whole goddam business. I'd
hate to die o' sickness... an' they say another kid's kicked off with
that - what d'they call it? - menegitis."

"Was that what was the matter with Stein?"

"The corporal won't say."

"Ole Corp. looks sort o' sick himself," said Fuselli.

"It's this rotten climate" whispered Bill Grey, in the middle of a fit
of coughing.

"For cat's sake quit that coughin'. Let a feller sleep," came a voice
from the other side of the tent.

"Go an' get a room in a hotel if you don't like it."

"That's it, Bill, tell him where to get off."

"If you fellers don't quit yellin', I'll put the whole blame lot of you
on K. P.," came the sergeant's good-natured voice.

"Don't you know that taps has blown?"

The tent was silent except for the fast patter of the rain and Bill
Grey's coughing.

"That sergeant gives me a pain in the neck," muttered Bill Grey
peevishly, when his coughing had stopped, wriggling about under the

After a while Fuselli said in a very low voice, so that no one but his
friend should hear:

"Say, Bill, ain't it different from what we thought it was going to be?"


"I mean fellers don't seem to think about beatin' the Huns at all,
they're so busy crabbin' on everything."

"It's the guys higher up that does the thinkin'," said Grey

"Hell, but I thought it'd be excitin' like in the movies."

"I guess that was a lot o' talk."


Fuselli went to sleep on the hard floor, feeling the comfortable warmth
of Grey's body along the side of him, hearing the endless, monotonous
patter of the rain on the drenched canvas above his head. He tried to
stay awake a minute to remember what Mabe looked like, but sleep closed
down on him suddenly.

The bugle wrenched them out of their blankets before it was light. It
was not raining. The air was raw and full of white mist that was cold as
snow against their faces still warm from sleep. The corporal called the
roll, lighting matches to read the list. When he dismissed the formation
the sergeant's voice was heard from the tent, where he still lay rolled
in his blankets.

"Say, Corp, go an' tell Fuselli to straighten out Lieutenant Stanford's
room at eight sharp in Officers' Barracks, Number Four."

"Did you hear, Fuselli?"

"All right," said Fuselli. His blood boiled up suddenly. This was the
first time he'd had to do servants' work. He hadn't joined the army to
be a slavey to any damned first loot. It was against army regulations
anyway. He'd go and kick. He wasn't going to be a slavey.... He walked
towards the door of the tent, thinking what he'd say to the sergeant.
But he noticed the corporal coughing into his handkerchief with an
expression of pain on his face. He turned and strolled away. It would
get him in wrong if he started kicking like that. Much better shut his
mouth and put up with it. The poor old corp couldn't last long at this
rate. No, it wouldn't do to get in wrong.

At eight, Fuselli, with a broom in his hand, feeling dull fury pounding
and fluttering within him, knocked on the unpainted board door.

"Who's that?"

"To clean the room, sir," said Fuselli. "Come back in about twenty
minutes," came the voice of the lieutenant.

"All right, sir."

Fuselli leaned against the back of the barracks and smoked a cigarette.
The air stung his hands as if they had been scraped by a nutmeg-grater.
Twenty minutes passed slowly. Despair seized hold of him. He was so far
from anyone who cared about him, so lost in the vast machine. He was
telling himself that he'd never get on, would never get up where he
could show what he was good for. He felt as if he were in a treadmill.
Day after day it would be like this, - the same routine, the same
helplessness. He looked at his watch. Twenty-five minutes had passed. He
picked up his broom and moved round to the lieutenant's room.

"Come in," said the lieutenant carelessly. He was in his shirtsleeves,
shaving. A pleasant smell of shaving soap filled the dark clapboard
room, which had no furniture but three cots and some officers' trunks.
He was a red-faced young man with flabby cheeks and dark straight
eyebrows. He had taken command of the company only a day or two before.

"Looks like a decent feller," thought Fuselli.

"What's your name?" asked the lieutenant, speaking into the small nickel
mirror, while he ran the safety razor obliquely across his throat. He
stuttered a little. To Fuselli he seemed to speak like an Englishman.


"Italian parentage, I presume?"

"Yes," said Fuselli sullenly, dragging one of the cots away from the

"Parla Italiano?"

"You mean, do I speak Eyetalian? Naw, sir," said Fuselli emphatically,
"I was born in Frisco."

"Indeed? But get me some more water, will you, please?"

When Fuselli came back, he stood with his broom between his knees,
blowing on his hands that were blue and stiff from carrying the heavy
bucket. The lieutenant was dressed and was hooking the top hook of the
uniform carefully. The collar made a red mark on his pink throat.

"All right; when you're through, report back to the Company." The
lieutenant went out, drawing on a pair of khaki-colored gloves with a
satisfied and important gesture.

Fuselli walked back slowly to the tents where the Company was quartered,
looking about him at the long lines of barracks, gaunt and dripping in
the mist, at the big tin sheds of the cook shacks where the cooks and K.
P.'s in greasy blue denims were slouching about amid a steam of cooking

Something of the gesture with which the lieutenant drew on his gloves
caught in the mind of Fuselli. He had seen peoople make gestures
like that in the movies, stout dignified people in evening suits. The
president of the Company that owned the optical goods store, where he
had worked, at home in Frisco, had had something of that gesture about

And he pictured himself drawing on a pair of gloves that way,
importantly, finger by finger, with a little wave, of self-satisfaction
when the gesture was completed.... He'd have to get that corporalship.

"There's a long, long trail a-winding Through no man's land in France."

The company sang lustily as it splashed through the mud down a grey road
between high fences covered with great tangles of barbed wire, above
which peeked the ends of warehouses and the chimneys of factories.

The lieutenant and the top sergeant walked side by side chatting, now
and then singing a little of the song in a deprecating way. The corporal
sang, his eyes sparkling with delight. Even the sombre sergeant who
rarely spoke to anyone, sang. The company strode along, its ninety-six
legs splashing jauntily through the deep putty-colored puddles. The
packs swayed merrily from side to side as if it were they and not the
legs that were walking.

"There's a long, long trail a-winding Through no man's land in France."

At last they were going somewhere. They had separated from the
contingent they had come over with. They were all alone now. They were
going to be put to work. The lieutenant strode along importantly.
The sergeant strode along importantly. The corporal strode along
importantly. The right guard strode along more importantly than anyone.
A sense of importance, of something tremendous to do, animated the
company like wine, made the packs and the belts seem less heavy, made
their necks and shoulders less stiff from struggling with the weight of
the packs, made the ninety-six legs tramp jauntily in spite of the oozy
mud and the deep putty-colored puddles.

It was cold in the dark shed of the freight station where they waited.
Some gas lamps flickered feebly high up among the rafters, lighting up
in a ghastly way white piles of ammunition boxes and ranks and ranks of
shells that disappeared in the darkness. The raw air was full of
coal smoke and a smell of freshly-cut boards. The captain and the top
sergeant had disappeared. The men sat about, huddled in groups, sinking
as far as they could into their overcoats, stamping their numb wet feet
on the mud-covered cement of the floor. The sliding doors were shut.
Through them came a monotonous sound of cars shunting, of buffers
bumping against buffers, and now and then the shrill whistle of an

"Hell, the French railroads are rotten," said someone.

"How d'you know?" snapped Eisenstein, who sat on a box away from the
rest with his lean face in his hands staring at his mud-covered boots.

"Look at this," Bill Grey made a disgusted gesture towards the ceiling.
"Gas. Don't even have electric light."

"Their trains run faster than ours," said Eisenstein.

"The hell they do. Why, a fellow back in that rest camp told me that it
took four or five days to get anywhere."

"He was stuffing you," said Eisenstein. "They used to run the fastest
trains in the world in France."

"Not so fast as the 'Twentieth Century.' Goddam, I'm a railroad man and
I know."

"I want five men to help me sort out the eats," said the top sergeant,
coming suddenly out of the shadows. "Fuselli, Grey, Eisenstein,
Meadville, Williams... all right, come along."

"Say, Sarge, this guy says that frog trains are faster than our trains.
What d'ye think o' that?"

The sergeant put on his comic expression. Everybody got ready to laugh.

"Well, if he'd rather take the side-door Pullmans we're going to get
aboard tonight than the 'Sunset Limited,' he's welcome. I've seen 'em.
You fellers haven't."

Everybody laughed. The top sergeant turned confidentially to the five
men who followed him into a small well-lighted room that looked like a
freight office.

"We've got to sort out the grub, fellers. See those cases? That's three
days' rations for the outfit. I want to sort it into three lots, one for
each car. Understand?"

Fuselli pulled open one of the boxes. The cans of bully beef flew under
his fingers. He kept looking out of the corner of his eye at Eisenstein,
who seemed very skilful in a careless way. The top sergeant stood
beaming at them with his legs wide apart. Once he said something in
a low voice to the corporal. Fuselli thought he caught the words:
"privates first-class," and his heart started thumping hard. In a few
minutes the job was done, and everybody stood about lighting cigarettes.

"Well, fellers," said Sergeant Jones, the sombre man who rarely spoke,
"I certainly didn't reckon when I used to be teachin' and preachin' and
tendin' Sunday School and the like that I'd come to be usin' cuss words,

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