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a bid for praise

2015-Aug-3 - His words came slowly


????????????It???????s a curse???????this not wanting to look on naked realities. Until the war, life was never more real to me than a shadow show on a curtain. And I preferred it so. I do not like the outlines of things to be too sharp. I like them gently blurred, a little hazy.?????
???????He stopped and smiled faintly, shivering a little as the cold wind went through his thin shirt.
????????????In other words, Scarlett, I am a coward.?????
???????His talk of shadow shows and hazy outlines conveyed-no meaning to her but his last words were in language she could understand. She knew they were untrue. Cowardice was not in him. Every line of his slender body spoke of generations of brave and gallant men and Scarlett knew his war record by heart.
????????????Why, that???????s not so! Would a coward have climbed on the cannon at Gettysburg and rallied the men? Would the General himself have written Melanie a letter about a coward? And????????????
????????????That???????s not courage,????? he said tiredly. ?????Fighting is like champagne. It goes to the heads of cowards as quickly as of heroes. Any fool can be brave on a battle field when it???????s be brave or else be killed. I???????m talking of something else. And my kind of cowardice is infinitely worse than if I had run the first time I heard a cannon fired.?????
???????His words came slowly and with difficulty as if it hurt to speak them and he seemed to stand off and look with a sad heart at what he had said. Had any other man spoken so, Scarlett would have dismissed such protestations contemptuously as mock modesty and a bid for praise. But Ashley seemed to mean them and there was a look in his eyes which eluded her???????not fear, not apology, but the bracing to a strain which was inevitable and overwhelming. The wintry wind swept her damp ankles and she shivered again but her shiver was less from the wind than from the dread his words evoked in her heart.
????????????But, Ashley, what are you afraid of??????
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