TWT logo

Together We Teach
Reading Room

Take time to read.
Reading is the
fountain of wisdom.

| Home | Reading Room The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage
An Episode of the American Civil War
by Stephen Crane

< BACK    NEXT >




THE tattered man stood musing.

"Well, he was reg'lar jim-dandy fer nerve,

wa'n't he," said he finally in a little awestruck

voice. "A reg'lar jim-dandy." He thoughtfully

poked one of the docile hands with his foot. "I

wonner where he got 'is stren'th from? I never

seen a man do like that before. It was a funny

thing. Well, he was a reg'lar jim-dandy."

The youth desired to screech out his grief.

He was stabbed, but his tongue lay dead in the

tomb of his mouth. He threw himself again

upon the ground and began to brood.

The tattered man stood musing.

"Look-a-here, pardner," he said, after a time.

He regarded the corpse as he spoke. "He 's up

an' gone, ain't 'e, an' we might as well begin t'

look out fer ol' number one. This here thing is

all over. He 's up an' gone, ain't 'e? An' he 's all

right here. Nobody won't bother 'im. An' I

must say I ain't enjoying any great health m'self

these days."

The youth, awakened by the tattered soldier's

tone, looked quickly up. He saw that he was

swinging uncertainly on his legs and that his face

had turned to a shade of blue.

"Good Lord!" he cried, "you ain't goin' t'--

not you, too."

The tattered man waved his hand. "Nary

die," he said. "All I want is some pea soup an'

a good bed. Some pea soup," he repeated dreamfully.

The youth arose from the ground. "I wonder

where he came from. I left him over there."

He pointed. "And now I find 'im here. And

he was coming from over there, too." He in-

dicated a new direction. They both turned

toward the body as if to ask of it a question.

"Well," at length spoke the tattered man,

"there ain't no use in our stayin' here an' tryin' t'

ask him anything."

The youth nodded an assent wearily. They

both turned to gaze for a moment at the corpse.

The youth murmured something.

"Well, he was a jim-dandy, wa'n't 'e?" said

the tattered man as if in response.

They turned their backs upon it and started

away. For a time they stole softly, treading

with their toes. It remained laughing there in the grass.

"I'm commencin' t' feel pretty bad," said the

tattered man, suddenly breaking one of his little

silences. "I'm commencin' t' feel pretty damn' bad."

The youth groaned. "O Lord!" He won-

dered if he was to be the tortured witness of

another grim encounter.

But his companion waved his hand reassur-

ingly. "Oh, I'm not goin' t' die yit! There too

much dependin' on me fer me t' die yit. No, sir!

Nary die! I CAN'T! Ye'd oughta see th' swad

a' chil'ren I've got, an' all like that."

The youth glancing at his companion could

see by the shadow of a smile that he was making

some kind of fun.

As they plodded on the tattered soldier con-

tinued to talk. "Besides, if I died, I wouldn't

die th' way that feller did. That was th' funniest

thing. I'd jest flop down, I would. I never seen

a feller die th' way that feller did.

"Yeh know Tom Jamison, he lives next door

t' me up home. He's a nice feller, he is, an' we

was allus good friends. Smart, too. Smart as a

steel trap. Well, when we was a-fightin' this

atternoon, all-of-a-sudden he begin t' rip up an'

cuss an' beller at me. 'Yer shot, yeh blamed

infernal!'--he swear horrible--he ses t' me. I

put up m' hand t' m' head an' when I looked at

m' fingers, I seen, sure 'nough, I was shot. I

give a holler an' begin t' run, but b'fore I could

git away another one hit me in th' arm an' whirl'

me clean 'round. I got skeared when they was

all a-shootin' b'hind me an' I run t' beat all,

but I cotch it pretty bad. I've an idee I'd

a' been fightin' yit, if t'was n't fer Tom Jamison."

Then he made a calm announcement: "There's

two of 'em--little ones--but they 're beginnin' t'

have fun with me now. I don't b'lieve I kin walk

much furder."

They went slowly on in silence. "Yeh look

pretty peek-ed yerself," said the tattered man at

last. "I bet yeh 've got a worser one than yeh

think. Ye'd better take keer of yer hurt. It

don't do t' let sech things go. It might be inside

mostly, an' them plays thunder. Where is it

located?" But he continued his harangue with-

out waiting for a reply. "I see 'a feller git hit

plum in th' head when my reg'ment was a-standin'

at ease onct. An' everybody yelled out to 'im:

Hurt, John? Are yeh hurt much? 'No," ses he.

He looked kinder surprised, an' he went on tellin'

'em how he felt. He sed he didn't feel nothin'.

But, by dad, th' first thing that feller knowed he

was dead. Yes, he was dead--stone dead. So,

yeh wanta watch out. Yeh might have some

queer kind 'a hurt yerself. Yeh can't never tell.

Where is your'n located?"

The youth had been wriggling since the intro-

duction of this topic. He now gave a cry of ex-

asperation and made a furious motion with his

hand. "Oh, don't bother me!" he said. He was

enraged against the tattered man, and could have

strangled him. His companions seemed ever to

play intolerable parts. They were ever uprais-

ing the ghost of shame on the stick of their

curiosity. He turned toward the tattered man as

one at bay. "Now, don't bother me," he re-

peated with desperate menace.

"Well, Lord knows I don't wanta bother any-

body," said the other. There was a little accent

of despair in his voice as he replied, "Lord

knows I 've gota 'nough m' own t' tend to."

The youth, who had been holding a bitter de-

bate with himself and casting glances of hatred

and contempt at the tattered man, here spoke in

a hard voice. "Good-by," he said.

The tattered man looked at him in gaping

amazement. "Why--why, pardner, where yeh

goin'?" he asked unsteadily. The youth looking

at him, could see that he, too, like that other one,

was beginning to act dumb and animal-like. His

thoughts seemed to be floundering about in his

head. "Now--now--look--a--here, you Tom

Jamison--now--I won't have this--this here

won't do. Where--where yeh goin'?"

The youth pointed vaguely. "Over there," he replied.

"Well, now look--a--here--now," said the

tattered man, rambling on in idiot fashion. His

head was hanging forward and his words were

slurred. "This thing won't do, now, Tom Jami-

son. It won't do. I know yeh, yeh pig-headed

devil. Yeh wanta go trompin' off with a bad

hurt. It ain't right--now--Tom Jamison--it ain't.

Yeh wanta leave me take keer of yeh, Tom Jami-

son. It ain't--right--it ain't--fer yeh t' go--

trompin' off--with a bad hurt--it ain't--ain't--

ain't right--it ain't."

In reply the youth climbed a fence and

started away. He could hear the tattered man

bleating plaintively.

Once he faced about angrily. "What?"

"Look--a--here, now, Tom Jamison--now--it ain't--"

The youth went on. Turning at a distance he

saw the tattered man wandering about helplessly

in the field.

He now thought that he wished he was dead.

He believed that he envied those men whose

bodies lay strewn over the grass of the fields and

on the fallen leaves of the forest.

The simple questions of the tattered man had

been knife thrusts to him. They asserted a

society that probes pitilessly at secrets until all is

apparent. His late companion's chance persist-

ency made him feel that he could not keep his

crime concealed in his bosom. It was sure to be

brought plain by one of those arrows which

cloud the air and are constantly pricking, dis-

covering, proclaiming those things which are

willed to be forever hidden. He admitted that

he could not defend himself against this agency.

It was not within the power of vigilance.



Top of Page

< BACK    NEXT >

| Home | Reading Room The Red Badge of Courage





Why not spread the word about Together We Teach?
Simply copy & paste our home page link below into your emails... 

Want the Together We Teach link to place on your website?
Copy & paste either home page link on your webpage...
Together We Teach 






Use these free website tools below for a more powerful experience at Together We Teach!

****Google™ search****

For a more specific search, try using quotation marks around phrases (ex. "You are what you read")


*** Google Translate™ translation service ***

 Translate text:


  Translate a web page:

****What's the Definition?****
(Simply insert the word you want to lookup)

 Search:   for   

S D Glass Enterprises

Privacy Policy

Warner Robins, GA, USA