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Peace Manoeuvres - Richard Harding Davis

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PEACE MANOEUVRES


The scout stood where three roads cut three green tunnels in the
pine woods, and met at his feet.  Above his head an aged sign-post
pointed impartially to East Carver, South Carver, and Carver
Centre, and left the choice to him.

The scout scowled and bit nervously at his gauntlet.  The choice
was difficult, and there was no one with whom he could take
counsel.  The three sun-shot roads lay empty, and the other scouts,
who, with him, had left the main column at sunrise, he had ordered
back.  They were to report that on the right flank, so far, at
least, as Middleboro, there was no sign of the enemy.  What lay
beyond, it now was his duty to discover.  The three empty roads
spread before him like a picture puzzle, smiling at his
predicament.  Whichever one he followed left two unguarded.  Should
he creep upon for choice Carver Centre, the enemy, masked by a mile
of fir trees, might advance from Carver or South Carver, and
obviously he could not follow three roads at the same time.  He
considered the better strategy would be to wait where he was, where
the three roads met, and allow the enemy himself to disclose his
position.  To the scout this course was most distasteful.  He
assured himself that this was so because, while it were the safer
course, it wasted time and lacked initiative.  But in his heart he
knew that was not the reason, and to his heart his head answered
that when one's country is at war, when fields and fire-sides are
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