For five days the sergeant kept the letter in the inside pocket of his uniform. There was something hard in the letter but his desire to open it was matched by his fear of what it might contain. Her letters, in recent times, without ever changing course, had taken on a different tone and he had heard that another man, a schoolteacher, was grazing a pony on her father’s land. Her father’s fields were on the mountain. What grazing would be there was poor and daubed with rushes. If the sergeant was to do as he had intended, there was but little time. Life, he felt, was pushing him into a corner.
All that day, he went about his duties. If Doherty, the guard in the dayroom, found him short, he did not pass any remarks, for the length of the sergeant’s fuse was never disputed. It was a wet December day and there was nothing to be done. Doherty kept his