Sunday, May 18, 2008

An Unpleasant Sound


Short Story of the Civil War Told by an Old Soldier.

"I was certainly more or less scared a number of times when I was in the army," said an old soldier — "in fact, I think soldiering in time of war is a more or less harassing occupation anyway, but I never was any more scared than I was once for a minute by something that had nothing to do with fighting whatever. This happened once when I was on picket in Virginia. The post was in a piece of woods. It was bad enough in the daytime, but at night, when you couldn't see anything at all, it was worse. It seemed as though it got darker and darker and stiller and stiller, and it seemed as though it would never end.

"Suddenly it was busted wide open by the awfulest sound I ever heard. Scared? Well!

"If you've ever felt the feeling that a man has before he actually gets under fire, when he's lying back somewhere in reserve and pretty safe, but hearing the crackle up ahead, and seeing the wounded brought back, and thinking that pretty soon he's got to go in himself, why, you know what it is to have one of the most unpleasant feelings a man ever had, but there you know what's coming. This came with a shock. I think it was the worst scare I ever had. It came right out of the air square overhead and close, too, where I hadn't been looking for anything, the frightfulest, most unearthly sound I ever heard, and all I could do was to stand there in the black dark and wait. A minute later it came again. What a tremendous relief! A screech owl! I'd never heard one before, but I knew now what it was." — New York Sun.

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