Warpryer by mark twain

By Mark Twain

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country
Was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the
Holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands
Playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers
Hissing and spluttering; on every hand and far down the
Receding and fading spread of roofs and balconies a
Fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the
Young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in
Their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters
And sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy
Emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings
Listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the
Deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at
The briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears
Running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the
Pasters preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the
God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in
Outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.
It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half-dozen
Rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast
Doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and
Angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they
Quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning – came – the next day the battalions would
Leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers
Were there, their young faces alight with martial dreams –
Visions of the stern advance, the gathering momentum, the
Rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe,
The tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the
Surrender! – then home from the war, bronzed heroes,

adored, submerged in golden proud, happy, and
Envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and
Brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win
For the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths.
The service proceeded; a war prayer was said; it was followed
By an organ burst that with glowing eyes and beating hearts,
And poured out that tremendous invocation –

“God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest,
Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!”

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of
It for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language.
The burden of its supplication was that an ever-merciful and
Benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young
Soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their
Patriotic work; bless them, shield them in the day of battle
And the hour of peril, bear them in His mighty hand, make
Them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset;
Help them crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and
Country imperishable honor and glory –

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless
Step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his
Long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his
Head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to
His shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to
Ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he
Made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the
Preacher’s side and stood there, waiting. With shut lids the
Preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving
Prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in
Fervent appeal, “Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord

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Warpryer by mark twain