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Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
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The Red Badge of Courage

Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

An Episode of the American Civil War

Chapter 1

The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring
fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting.
As the landscape changed from brown to green, the army awakened,
and began to tremble with eagerness at the noise of rumors.
It cast its eyes upon the roads, which were growing from long
troughs of liquid mud to proper thoroughfares. A river,
amber-tinted in the shadow of its banks, purled at the army's
feet; and at night, when the stream had become of a sorrowful
blackness, one could see across it the red, eyelike gleam of
hostile camp-fires set in the low brows of distant hills.

Once a certain tall soldier developed virtues and went resolutely
to wash a shirt. He came flying back from a brook waving his
garment bannerlike. He was swelled with a tale he had heard from
a reliable friend, who had heard it from a truthful cavalryman,
who had heard it from his trustworthy brother, one of the
orderlies at division headquarters. He adopted the important air
of a herald in red and gold.

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