Unnamed Journal Volume 2, Issue 3 - Page 19

The Teutonic Beast "Leave it be, sir?" "You're too young to understand this," said Reynolds, lighting a cigarette, "but I have long suspected that some things we are better off not knowing." Henry saluted and turned to leave. Just at the door, he stopped and said "What happens if we make it back?" "If you survive, you'll be decorated and promoted. If any of your men survive, they'll be quietly discharged and sent on the first train to England. They've a place for them there, apparently." Just then the roar of artillery in the distance got close enough to rattle loose things. Major Reynolds smoked his cigarette. Henry left without another word. H enry found 3rd Platoon of D company dressed and equipped outside the prison. Except for Sgt. Matthews. With a few stern looks he managed to get one of the men to admit that Matthews had taken his leave to visit a soldier's brothel. He took that man, Corporal Smith by name, and he walked through a warren of muddy roads to a bright-painted red barn on the edge of a wood. He ignored the awkward salutes of men walking out with down feathers in their hair and on their uniform. Inside, the barn was swept out, with huge down quilts in place of straw and women in varying states of undress in place of the cattle. "Lieutenant," said Matthews, with a stiff salute, one boot on and one boot off. "Sergeant," said Henry, "Do you mind telling me your business?" "I'm sorry, sir," said Matthews, attending to his other boot, "I was told you were an educated man." "You're quick to be disrespectful for a man facing execution." Matthews took his time to adjust his boot, then stood, fully dressed. "I could say the same to you...sir." There was a long pause as Corporal Smith stared stoney-faced at a mademoiselle with dark curly hair, wearing jodhpurs and riding boots and nothing above the waist. "Sergeant, do you mind telling me what happened to Lt. Wagram?" "He's dead, sir." "How did he die?" The madamoiselle beckoned to Smith. She had a giggle that seemed very far away from war. "Go on, Smith," said Matthews, "She's the best one in the place." Smith continued to regard her warily.