The Review as a Form of Welcome
ONE summer night a man stood on a low hill overlooking a wide expanse of
forest and field. By the full moon hanging low in the west he knew what
might not have known otherwise:
that it was near the hour of dawn. A light mist lay along the earth, partly
veiling the lower features of the landscape, but above
it the taller trees showed in well-defined
masses against a clear sky. Two or three farmhouses were visible through
the haze, but in none of them, naturally, was a
light. Nowhere, indeed, was any
sign or suggestion of life except the barking of a distant dog, which,
repeated with mechanical iteration, served rather to
accentuate than dispel the loneliness
of the scene.
The man looked curiously about him on all sides, as one who among familiar
surroundings is unable to determine his exact place and part in the scheme
things. It is so, perhaps, that
we shall act when, risen from the dead, we await the call to judgment.
A hundred yards away was a straight road, showing white in the moonlight.
Endeavouring to orient himself, as a surveyor or navigator might say, the
moved his eyes slowly along its
visible length and at a distance of a quarter-mile to the south of his
station saw, dim and grey in the haze, a group of horsemen
riding to the north. Behind them
were men afoot, marching in column, with dimly gleaming rifles aslant above
their shoulders. They moved slowly and in silence.
Another group of horsemen, another
regiment of infantry, another and another -all in unceasing motion toward
the man's point of view, past it, and beyond. A
battery of artillery followed,
the cannoneers riding with folded arms on limber and caisson. And still
the interminable procession came out of the obscurity to
south and passed into the obscurity
to north, with never a sound of voice, nor hoof, nor wheel.
The man could not rightly understand: he thought himself deaf; said so,
and heard his own voice, although it had an unfamiliar quality that almost
him; it disappointed his ear's
expectancy in the matter of timbre and resonance. But he was not deaf,
and that for the moment sufficed.
Then he remembered that there are natural phenomena to which some one has
given the name “acoustic shadows.” If you stand in an acoustic shadow
there is one direction from which
you will hear nothing. At the battle of Gaines's Mill, one of the fiercest
conflicts of the Civil War, with a hundred guns in play,
spectators a mile and a half away
on the opposite side of the C hickahominy Valley heard nothing of what
they clearly saw. The bombardment of Port Royal,
heard and felt at St. Augustine,
a hundred and fifty miles to the south, was inaudible two miles to the
north in a still atmosphere. A few days before the surrender
at Appomattox a thunderous engagement
between the commands of Sheridan and Pickett was unknown to the latter
commander, a mile in the rear of his own
These instances were not known to the man of whom we write, but less striking
ones of the same character had not escaped his observation. He was
profoundly disquieted, but for
another reason than the uncanny silence of that moonlight march.
“Good Lord!” he said to himself-and again it was as if another had spoken
his thought-“if those people are what I take them to be we have lost the
and they are moving on Nashville!”
Then came a thought of self-an apprehension -a strong sense of personal
peril, such as in another we call fear. He stepped quickly into the shadow
tree. And still the silent battalions
moved slowly forward in the haze.
The chill of a sudden breeze upon the back of his neck drew his attention
to the quarter whence it came, and turning to the east he saw a faint grey
along the horizon-the first sign
of returning day. This increased his apprehension.
“I must get away from here,” he thought, “or I shall be discovered and
He moved out of the shadow, walking rapidly toward the greying east. From
the safer seclusion of a clump of cedars he looked back. The entire column
had passed out of sight: the straight
white road lay bare and desolate in the moonlight!
Puzzled before, he was now inexpressibly astonished. So swift a passing
of so slow an army!-he could not comprehend it. Minute after minute passed
unnoted; he had lost his sense
of time. He sought with a terrible earnestness a solution of the mystery,
but sought in vain. When at last he roused himself from his
abstraction the sun's rim was visible
above the hills, but in the new conditions he found no other light than
that of day; his understanding was involved as darkly
in doubt as before.
On every side lay cultivated fields showing no sign of war and war's ravages.
From the chimneys of the farmhouses thin ascensions of blue smoke signalled
preparations for a day's peaceful
toil. Having stilled its immemorial allocution to the moon, the watch-dog
was assisting a negro who, prefixing a team of mules
to the plough, was flatting and
sharping contentedly at his task. The hero of this tale stared stupidly
at the pastoral picture as if he had never seen such a thing in
all his life; then he put his hand
to his head, passed it through his hair and, withdrawing it, attentively
considered the palm-a singular thing to do. Apparently
reassured by the act, he walked
confidently toward the road.
When You have Lost Your Life Consult a Physician
Dr. Stilling Malson, of Murfreesboro, having visited a patient six or seven
miles away, on the Nashville road, had remained with him all night. At
he set out for home on horseback,
as was the custom of doctors of the time and region. He had passed into
the neighbourhood of Stone's River battlefield when a
man approached him from the roadside
and saluted in the military fashion, with a movement of the right hand
to the hat-brim. But the hat was not a military hat,
the man was not in uniform and
had not a martial bearing. The doctor nodded civilly, half thinking that
the stranger's uncommon greeting was perhaps in
deference to the historic surroundings.
As the stranger evidently desired speech with him he courteously reined
in his horse and waited.
“Sir,” said the stranger, “although a civilian, you are perhaps an enemy.”
“I am a physician,” was the non-committal reply.
“Thank you,” said the other. “I am a lieutenant, of the staff of General
Hazen.” He paused a moment and looked sharply at the person whom he was
addressing, then added, “Of the
Federal army.” The physician merely nodded.
“Kindly tell me,” continued the other, “what has happened here. Where are
the armies? Which has won the battle?”
The physician regarded his questioner curiously with half-shut eyes. After
a professional scrutiny, prolonged to the limit of politeness, “Pardon
said; “one asking information should
be willing to impart it. Are you wounded?” he added, smiling.
“Not seriously-it seems.”
The man removed the unmilitary hat, put his hand to his head, passed it
through his hair and, withdrawing it, attentively considered the palm.
“I was struck by a bullet and have been unconscious. It must have been
a light, glancing blow: I find no blood and feel no pain. I will not trouble
treatment, but will you kindly
direct me to my command-to any part of the Federal army-if you know?”
Again the doctor did not immediately reply: he was recalling much that
is recorded in the books of his profession-something about lost identity
effect of familiar scenes in restoring
it. At length he looked the man in the face, smiled, and said:
“Lieutenant, you are not wearing the uniform of your rank and service.”
At this the man glanced down at his civilian attire, lifted his eyes, and
said with hesitation:
“That is true. I-I don't quite understand.”
Still regarding him sharply but not unsympathetically, the man of science
“How old are you?”
“Twenty-three-if that has anything to do with it.”
“You don't look it; I should hardly have guessed you to be just that.”
The man was growing impatient. “We need not discuss that,” he said: “I
want to know about the army. Not two hours ago I saw a column of troops
moving northward on this road.
You must have met them. Be good enough to tell me the colour of their clothing,
which I was unable to make out, and I'll
trouble you no more.”
“You are quite sure that you saw them?”
“Sure? My God, sir, I could have counted them!”
“Why, really,” said the physician, with an amusing consciousness of his
own resemblance to the loquacious barber of the Arabian Nights, “this is
interesting. I met no troops.”
The man looked at him coldly, as if he had himself observed the likeness
to the barber. “It is plain,” he said, “that you do not care to assist
me. Sir, you
may go to the devil!”
He turned and strode away, very much at random, across the dewy fields,
his half-penitent tormentor quietly watching him from his point of vantage
saddle till he disappeared beyond
an array of trees.
The Danger of Looking into a Pool of Water
After leaving the road the man slackened his pace, and now went forward,
rather deviously, with a distinct feeling of fatigue. He could not account
this, though truly the interminable
loquacity of that country doctor offered itself in explanation. Seating
himself upon a rock, he laid one hand upon his knee, back
upward, and casually looked at
it. It was lean and withered. He lifted both hands to his face. It was
seamed and furrowed; he could trace the lines with the tips of
his fingers. How strange!-a mere
bullet-stroke and a brief unconsciousness should not make one a physical
“I must have been a long time in hospital,” he said aloud. “Why, what a
fool I am! The battle was in December, and it is now summer!” He laughed.
wonder that fellow thought me an
escaped lunatic. He was wrong: I am only an escaped patient.”
At a little distance a small plot of ground enclosed by a stone wall caught
his attention. With no very definite intent he rose and went to it. In
was a square, solid monument of
hewn stone. It was brown with age, weather-worn at the angles, spotted
with moss and lichen. Between the massive blocks
were strips of grass the leverage
of whose roots had pushed them apart. In answer to the challenge of this
ambitious structure Time had laid his destroying hand
upon it, and it would soon be “one
with Nineveh and Tyre.” In an inscription on one side his eye caught a
familiar name. Shaking with excitement, he craned his
body across the wall and read:
The Memory of Its Soldiers
who fell at
Stone River, Dec. 31, 1862.
The man fell back from the wall, faint and sick. Almost within an arm's
length was a little depression in the earth; it had been filled by a recent
of clear water. He crept to it
to revive himself, lifted the upper part of his body on his trembling arms,
thrust forward his head and saw the reflection of his face,
as in a mirror. He uttered a terrible
cry. His arms gave way; he fell, face downward, into the pool and yielded
up the life that had spanned another life.