In the Name of Kentucky
IN THE NAME OF KENTUCKY
Twice in the night comes the cry: “Corporal of the guard—post four.” And each time the corporal of the guard turns out the relief and finds only an empty hut and signs of a struggle at post four.
TORFELD put down his empty beer mug and beckoned to a newsvender. Guben drank the last of his own lager, laced his pudgy fingers together on the little table and began to watch his companion’s face. He saw Torfeld’s shaggy brows knit as he bent closer to the paper.
“What is it, mein freund?" asked Guben.
The other pushed back his helmet and looked over the sheet. “One of ourhas sunk a big liner, the Lusitania, with Americans on board,” said Torfeld, “and that may bring America into the war against us.”
“Bah!” laughed Guben. “The Americans can’t fight, won’t fight. But here comes— Ah, how is it with you, Father Faubreville?”
Guben rose, and so did Torfeld, to shake the hand of the wizened little padre. Faubreville was a Spaniard, and an adventurer of a strange sort; he was at home anywhere in the world; and whenever there was a war, there one was very likely to find him whom a dozen nations knew as the Little Padre. He never fought; he was still the man of God. Germany and her allies loved him, as did France and her allies. I do not know how it happened that he was in Berlin; by all the laws of precedence, he should have been ministering to the wounded and dying in some field hospital.
When greetings had been exchanged, the Little Padre seated himself with the two members of the Imperial Guard, and fresh lager was ordered. The Lusitania episode was promptly brought up.
“But it will amount to nothing,” declared Torfeld. “As Guben there has just said, the Americans won’t fight; they are weaklings.”
“You are mistaken, amigo mia," quickly replied the Little Padre. Faubreville enjoyed rare freedom Of speech, even in Germany. “I myself have seen them fight. It was in the Philippines. I was with a regiment there for months, a regiment noted for its dare-deviltry, which called itself whimsically, ‘The Suicide Outfit.’ Now let me tell you the story of one American; it will illustrate the real American spirit. His name was Munford, and he was from that Estado that they call Kentucky. And bear in mind as I tell you, my friends Torfeld and Guben, that America has millions upon millions of men like Munford; and remember also, remember especially, that those like the fellow Carlin, are a precious few.”
The Little Padre calmly drank half his mug of beer and began his story of one American, and that one a private soldier:
“The Suicide Outfit was in camp at Catbalogan, which is on the island that was known very aptly as Bloody Samar. One thick, black night the cry of a sentry rang out from the waterfront:
“‘Corporal o’ the guard—post four—double time! Corporal o’ the guard—post four—’
“The words sounded sharp and distinct in the tomblike stillness, like stones thrown against a hollow, metallic wall. The sentries between post four and the guardhouse relayed the call to the ears of Corporal Winton, who was a very good friend of mine.
“Winton had but that moment looked at his wrist watch, having noted sleepily that the hour was close upon that of midnight. He caught up his rifle by its its muzzle and went, dragging the weapon behind him, to the low doorway of the guard’s quarters; and quick beside him was private Munford, who was six feet tall, rawboned and serious, all of a soldier and a perfect marksman, and very proud of the fact that he was from that Estado that they have named Kentucky.
“‘Carlin is on number four,’ Winton muttered sourly. I am almost decided not to go. Ten chances to one, he is deceiving us again.’
“‘Yes, Carlin is on number four,’ said private Munford. ‘He relieved me there an hour ago. But there is something wrong; it is as certain as that we are a foot in height, my corporal. Did you notice how the latter part of the call faded out to nothing?’
“‘I did not hear the original,’ growled the corporal of the guard. ‘Something wrong? Your honorable grandmother!’ exclaimed Winton, in disgust. ‘Carlin is merely too sleepy to do his turn, that’s all! He will declare that he is sick. You wait, and you will see. But let us go!’
“With that, he roused two others of the guard, and they set out hastily for post number four.
“Let me tell you about the fellow Carlin before I proceed farther, mis amigos. Carlin had enlisted as what is known as a low private in the rear rank, and there he had stayed—but with some difficulty. He had been by no means a soldier; he had avoided all the marches possible; he had lied out of duty; he had nothing whatever to his credit, either with the officers or with the enlisted men—with a single exception.
“That exception was big Private Munford. For Carlin, who was oily and heavy and dark, had on the day of his enlistment walked up to Munford and said with outstretched hand:
“‘I, too, am from Kentucky.’
“And Munford firmly believed that, since the two of them were the sole representatives his Estado had in the company, the company would judge the whole of Kentucky by the doings of himself and Carlin!
“All was dark and silent when Corporal Winton and the three privates approached post number four. There was no breath of challenge as they walked straight up to the nipa and bamboo hut that served as a sentry’s box by night and as an office for the officer of the port by day. Winton called Carlin’s name softly, but got no response. Then he leaned in at the open doorway and scratched a Chinese match.
“The place was empty!
“But on the ground he found the hilt of a broken bolo and a scrap of pinacloth. Munford bent over, his keen gray eyes as hard as the steel of his bayonet, and picked up Carlin’s battered campaign hat. He held it toward his corporal; his corporal held toward him the rough hilt of Carabao-horn and brass.
“‘He has given a good account of himself!’ Munford cried, in a voice that impressed the non-commissioned officer. ‘See there—the wall there is broken through; look at these marks of a struggle, my corporal! I have often told you there was undug gold in Carlin! You cannot wish for more proof that he was a fighter when there was real necessity for it. Had they not stolen upon him, he would have taken some heads, too!’
“Winton very thoughtfully and silently dropped the burnt match.
“‘He has been made a prisoner,’ Munford continued. ‘I am most certain that our company will speak his name without laughing when the truth of the affair be comes known.’
"How anxious was Munford that Carlin should be looked upon as a brave man! To me it was almost pitiful.
“‘You are familiar with the orders for this post,’ muttered the corporal. ‘Take it, and keep a sharp watch on all sides.’
"Munford obediently stepped inside the hut. The corporal of the guard and the two others shouldered their rifles and went back to the guardhouse.
“Winton jabbed the butt of his rifle down in a corner with a lowly spoken imprecation. Captain Gunter was sour because of his malaria, and there was a great chance that he would not like to be awakened at that hour to listen to a report that would say merely that Carlin had been captured. Had it been anyone except the poltroon, it would have been different. Any other man of the company was worth an uproar, and perhaps a quick march into the treacherous interior of the island; but Carlin was not.
“He stopped turning the question over in his mind and bent an ear toward the doorway. He heard a voice from post number four, a voice so big that there was small necessity for a relay.
“‘Corporal o’ the guard—the enemy!’
“And close after it there came three rifle shots. Then the thick silence of the Philippine night settled down again.
“Winton roused out the two reliefs that were off duty and hastened with them to the hut on the bay shore. Again he met with not a breath of challenge; again there was no response to his questioning voice. A lighted match showed him a rifle’s strap that had been cut away, and a handful of Spanish silver, lying on the ground just inside the door. The walls of the hut had been almost completely demolished, as though in a desperate struggle.
“‘Now,’ said Corporal Winton, a little pale under his deep tan, ‘now I can wake the captain. The Filipinos have captured a man who is a real American soldier.’
“Daybreak found private Munford sitting alone among the gray stones that covered the crest of a mountain that rose precipitously behind Catbalogan. In the crooked streets below him half the regiment was hurrying hither and thither, no doubt making preparations for a march to rescue him. Stretched out across the miles that lay between him and the other side of the island, he could see a dense deep-green, jungle-wilderness of bamboo and coconut palm and wild banana; this, be knew, was the stamping ground of the insurgents under General Ramon Invar.
"Munford tipped his canteen and took a swallow of very warm water, than he looked again toward the village below. He saw a thin line of khaki-clad men leaving it, coming directly toward him: to save time they were going to cross the mountain barrier. Munford frowned and rose, and once more began to search the interior with his keen eyes.
“A mile inward, he caught a glimpse of a dirty-white serpent of men creeping over a low hill.
“There was a minute, perhaps, of indecision; then, stooping, darting from one stone to another stone, Munford began the descent of the rugged slope in the direction in which he had seen the insurgents. Soon he had reached the thicker growth of the lower ground, where he quickened his pace despite the tangle of vines, guiding his footsteps toward the hostile forces with the wonderful accuracy of the born woodsman. When at the point which he regarded best for his purpose, he hid himself well in a clump of bamboos and waited.
“A few minutes later, the dirty-white serpent of men appeared in full view before him, about a hundred feet away; they were coming as silently as spirits, and all but two of them were armed with Mauser rifles. At the head of the serpent he saw a figure that was very familiar to his gaze; it was a figure that was low and heavy, and it was garbed in the flimsy uniform of an insurgent officer; in short, it was Carlin, the degenerate, now a deserter and a traitor. Close behind Carlin, brown and wiry, a naked sword in his hand, was General Ramon Invar, who was a very bad mixture of Visayau ignorance, Moro fanaticism, and pure devil.
"But Munford did not evince the slightest astonishment at that which he saw. He moved not a muscle, but waited patiently until Invar’s forces were very near to him. Then he called out sharply:
“‘Don’t let them shoot me, Carlin, my friend.’
“The natives and their white leader halted, and more than a score of rifles were leveled toward the bamboos that hid Munford.
“‘Is it you, Munford?’ asked Carlin.
“‘Yes, it is I,’ was the quick answer. ‘Why did you not tell me? I would have gone with you! Do you not think the gibes they gave you—cut me to the heart, too? I have always taken your part, my comrade. And now I have deserted for the privilege of being with you!’
“Carlin’s eyes brightened under their villainous brows.
“‘That is correct,’ he replied; ‘you have always been my friend. I am glad you came, Munford.’
“He turned to Invar, who stood wondering, his long sword resting uneasily against his thin shoulder. ‘General,’ said this fellow Carlin, ‘that man and I are from the same Estado—which is called Kentucky. He is a good man, and he wishes to join you in your fight for independence. Order your men not to fire upon him, General.’
“Invar stepped out of the ranks and looked down the long line of brown faces. He raised his sword and forbade anyone to fire upon Munford. Then Munford, red-faced and perspiring, crawled from his hiding-place and received an introduction to the Filipino chieftain.
“‘I will make you a major,’ smiled Invar. ‘As soon as we are again at my headquarters, you shall have a major's uniform.’
“‘We are now on our way to fire down upon Catbalogan from the mountain’s crest,’ Carlin explained. ‘Of course you will go with us, for you will be our very best marksman!’
“Muaford shook his head. ‘Half the regiment,’ said he; ‘is now nearly to the top of that mountain. They are looking for us; they think we have been captured, you know—which is just what we wished them to think.’
“‘Half the regiment!’ cried Carlin, going somewhat pale.
“He turned to Ramon Invar and spoke to him in Spanish. Another minute and Invar’s forces had faced about and were moving rapidly toward the thick interior of the island, and the two white men brought up the rear of the line. Invar was afraid to meet the half of that Suicide Outfit there in the jungle! The cowardly surprise attack, that was Invar’s way.
“A short time later, and the line had taken to a shallow river, which was the Filipino leader’s method of throwing the Americans off his trail in event they gave pursuit
“After two or three hours of rapid travelling, they entered a grassy and tree less dell, in which Munford saw a double row of nipa huts that had been built on bamboo framework.
“‘That,’ Carlin informed Munford, ‘is our stronghold and headquarters; what do you think of it, comrade?’
“‘Not a very strong stronghold,’ said Munford, ‘except that it would be extremely hard to find.’
“‘Hard to find!’ laughed Carlin. ‘I should say! You see, I had already made arrangement with a spy in the village, which explains how I found the place.’
“Invar led the two white men through the door of a hut that served as his quarters, and there the three seated themselves on a grass mat. Then Invar called to him his servant and ordered that food be set before them.
“‘And be quick, Ignatio,’ frowned Invar, ‘or I shall pass my sword between your head and your body.’
“In a remarkably short time, rice and fishes, with red bananas and yellow mangoes, were placed before the Americans and the insurgent general. The three fell to eating with their fingers, washing the food down with tuba from coconut shells.
“When the meal was finished, Invar rose and brought a flag, the flag of the sun and triangle.
“‘Major Munford,’ he announced, ‘will now take the oath of allegiance. You will kneel, Major Munford.’
“Now this was a thing that Private Munford had not bargained for. He swallowed hard and bitterly. Those Americans, they do not like to swear falsely. But in another moment he was on his knees and swearing by the one true God and by the Holy Virgin to be loyal forever to the flag of the triangle and the sun.
“In the afternoon, while the natives and their commander were taking their daily siestas, Munford lured Carlin to the bank of a small lake that lay not far from the so-called stronghold. Carlin sat down and began to remove his shoes, preparatory to bathing himself. Under pretense of following suit, Munford tied his shoes tighter.
“‘Carlin,’ very slowly said Munford, ‘what do you suppose the people back in the Estado of old Kentucky will think of you? What will your old mother, of whom you have told me more than once, say when she learns that you have turned deserter and traitor and pulled your heart wrong side out to follow the standard of the enemy?’
“‘What do you suppose,’ snapped Carlin, that dog, ‘they will think of your own deserting?’
“Munford gazed silently at the dark and evil face of the other for a full minute.
“‘I came to bring you back,’ he said. ‘There is time. We can tell them what they already believe, my comrade; that we were captured and brought here against our wills. If you will go back with me, Carlin, my friend, I will wound myself and tell them that you saved my life. I have here my bayonet; see? With it I will slash myself in the breast and on the arras. Will you not do that, Carlin?’
“‘No!’ cried Carlin. ‘I have chosen my path, and I shall keep it. You are afraid, Munford!’
“‘I am not afraid, Carlin,’ said Munford. ‘Oh, my comrade, can nothing dissuade you? Will you not go back with me?’
“‘Nothing can force me to go back with you,’ answered Carlin. ‘There I was a mere private soldier; here I shall be a major. Understand me now, Munford, I will not go back.’
“Munford knew he meant it. Munford rose, straight and grand, a human god, ready for the great sacrifice. His gray eyes burned into the other’s small, shriveled soul as though they would set it ablaze with the fire that it so richly deserved; his jaws were clamped against each other as with some terrible madness. Then Munford drew his long, knife-like bayonet from its scabbard at his hip.
“Carlin saw the flash of the shining metal and sprang to his feet with his own bayonet in his hand. Hand to hand they fought, minute after minute. Then Munford, his face and breast covered with bleeding gashes from the other’s weapon, saw his opportunity; straight through the heart of the deserter Carlin he sent the slender point of his bayonet.
“He did it in the name of that Estado that they call Kentucky. A minute later he put the body across his shoulder and hastened toward Catbalogan with it.
“It was late in the night when he reached the village. He dropped all that was left of Carlin at the guardhouse door, and drew himself up straight; but the corporal of the guard had to hold him that he might not fall.
“You should have seen the fight Carlin made!' said this Munford. ‘He killed dozens of them before they put him down. See the gashes—and that hole? See them, you men who laughed at Carlin—’
“He fainted, and they carried him away to the hospital. And that—listen to me, Torfeld and Guben, my friends—that is the spirit you will fight when you fight America!”