A Mystery of Heroism
“A Mystery of Heroism” is a short military story written by Stephen Crane who was an American novelist, journalist, poet and short story writer. He was one of the most prominent authors of the Realist American Literature.
The story “A Mystery of Heroism” begins with a description of two armies battling against each other. The protagonist Fred Collins was a union soldier in the Civil War who served in the A Company and is described is a simple and ordinary man. During the battle when the dead bodies and injured soldiers are lying around him, the ground is full of holes dug by explosive shells Fred Collins is feeling very thirsty. “Thunder! I wish I had a drink. Ain´t there any water round here?” The battle was taking place on a meadow near a ruins of a barn that was standing there before and now was blown to smithereens with a smoke coming out of it. Smith and Ferguson were other privates that served in the same Company as Fred and currently they were discussing the questions of the national existence. The battle continued as another fight on the hill was taking place. One soldier was hit and fell down on the ground and his companions were trying to save him from the danger and death. Then the colonel, seeing his company being exposed, ordered to move into the shelter. As a result of which, the lieutenant went down from the hill smiling with the men staring at him. Meanwhile Fred Collins kept longing for a sip of water. “I wish a I had a drink. I bet there´s in that there ol´ well yonder!” The battle carried on as another bomb craters were dug and blades of grass were slowly disappearing from the Earth´s surface. And the number of men lying on the ground with their white trousers on was increasing. During all the firing and exploding some Collins´ comrades make fun of him about his thirst: “Well, if yeh want a drink so bad, why don’t yeh go git it?”
Whereupon Fred simply replied:
“Well, I will in a minnet, if...