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مجموعه: کتاب های متوسط / کتاب: نشان قرمز شجاعت / درس 14

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Chapter 13 “It’s finished!”

The last gray soldiers threw down their rifles and sat on the ground. They watched with unhappy faces as the blue soldiers shouted happily. Some of the blue soldiers tried to talk to them.

One man didn’t look up or reply. A wounded man cursed them loudly. A young gray soldier answered their questions. They talked calmly about marching and fighting. The blue soldiers watched and listened with interest. The enemy was a mystery when he was far away. Now they could see his face and listen to his voice. They saw that he wasn’t very different from them. He was an ordinary man.

Henry and Wilson shook hands and smiled happily. They sat together in the long grass. resting. They were still proudly holding the two flags.

The men could still hear the faraway crash of cannon, but the sounds of rifle fire were getting weaker. The young soldier and his friend watched a long line of blue soldiers. They were marching over a hill, with their rifles on their shoulders. Behind them came officers on horseback and horses pulling cannon.

“What now?” Henry asked himself. “Another battle?” The order came to move. There was loud cursing. They were too tired. They stood up and formed a line. They marched slowly back across the battlefield. As they went into the forest, they joined another regiment.

They passed a big white house. Groups of their comrades lay there with their rifles ready. Cannon fired at the faraway enemy.

Enemy shells answered. Horsemen rode along the line.

When they reached the road, they turned toward the river. The young soldier understood. He looked behind him at the battlefield. Bodies were still lying everywhere. He suddenly felt calm. He turned to his friend. “It’s finished! We’re going back to camp!”

Wilson looked back over his shoulder. “You’re right,” he agreed. “It’s finished.”

“I’m still alive!” Henry thought happily. “I’ve been to war. and I’ve come back.” When he was fighting, he didn’t have any time to think. Now he remembered everything. “I’ve done a lot of brave things,” he thought proudly. The sun shone and music played in his head. Beautiful pictures passed through his mind.

He heard an officer’s voice. “Give me ten thousand more like you, and I’ll win the war in a week!”

Then another voice spoke. “Those two are excellent soldiers!

They’ll be generals one day!” His comrades heard these words and smiled at him. He gave them a little smile. He watched himself running toward the enemy position. He wasn’t afraid. He held the flag high, and the rest of the regiment followed him.

He looked into the future. He was at home. His mother and the neighbors were there. He was telling them about his adventures.

He was the hero of his stories, and they were listening with wide eves. He went into town. His friends asked him questions: “What was it like? ’Tell us, Henry.” A girl with dark hair was watching him.

Then, a different kind of picture came into his mind. He wasn’t happy to see it. but it stayed with him. The tall soldier stood in front of him. He was holding his side. Blood poured out through his fingers. ”Where have you been, Henry?” he asked. “I was worried. I thought that you were dead.”

Then he saw the thin man. There was blood on his head, and a bullet hole in his arm. His dying voice was weak. “Don’t go away.” he said. “You’re hurt. I’ll look after you.” Then he saw himself running away from the battle. He was looking behind him with tear on his face. But he went back to his regiment with his red badge of courage. I le was telling Wilson his story. “I was lost, and I couldn’t find the regiment. I was far from here, on the right. It was a terrible light. I was shot in the head.” Henry felt very bad.

He looked nervously at the men marching beside him. “Can they see into my mind?” he asked himself. “Do they know my secret?”

As he marched away from the battlefield, the terrible thoughts stayed with him. “Will they stay with me all my life? I just want to forget them.”

Then he grew calmer. “I was brave sometimes “he thought. “I faced death. I was afraid sometimes, but I didn’t die of fear.” He looked at his comrades with different eyes. “I guess they were afraid, too” he thought. “They’re not perfect either. We’re all the same.” He felt stronger now. He wasn’t afraid to look his comrades in the eye. He didn’t realize it, but he was now a man.

A light rain fell on the tired soldiers. It washed away their anger and their bad dreams. In Henry’s mind, he saw soft, green fields under a blue sky. A little stream ran through a valley.

Over the river, the golden sun shone through the gray rain clouds.

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