Upon repeating the official French commendation for valor, General Joseph Jacques Cesaire Joffre reached over to pin the medal upon the soldier's lapel.
No Longer Have the CourageM. Stanley Bubien
The soldier's head followed the motion.
Joffre sucked a breath, for briefly the soldier's scar---cutting from his brow down through both eyes, and raking away the bridge of his nose---had given the impression that, though completely blind, he watched the decoration being attached. It was, Joffre realized suppressing a shudder, an illusion.
Afterward, he made an opportunity to address his Staff.
"Never again," he stated. "I mustn't be shown any more spectacles..." Pausing, he rubbed his brow, sighing as fingers ran upon the smooth flesh which stretched there. "I fear I would no longer have the courage to give the order to attack."
Based on a true story.
Copyright ©1998 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.
Please contact the editor for free text versions of this very short story formatted for e-mail, usenet news, or ftp.