But the talk was ignored. And as for the officers--well, the old
United States Civil War tried a democratic army for a while, on both
sides. Unfortunately, electing your officers is not an efficient way
to run things. The most popular man makes the best officer about as
often as the most popular man makes the best criminal-law judge. Or
engineer, for that matter. War's not a democratic business.
This one, however, seemed to be. Mass election of officers was one of
the rules, along with the voting on staff decisions. The new men
out-numbered the older hands. New officers were elected--and that
stopped the orders.
Hollerith was about two-thirds of the way out of his mind when the
three days were up and the attack time came around. When night fell,
the atmosphere around the cave was as tense as it could get without
turning into actual lightning. It was a warm, still night; the single
moon was quarter-full but it shed a lot more light than Earth's moon;
we blacked ourselves and Hollerith went over the plans. We were still
divided into two groups--ragged groups, but groups. The first wave was
to come around on the depot from the left, attacking in full force
with all armaments and some of that dynamite. When things were getting
toward a peak in that direction, the second force was to come in from
the right and set off its own fireworks. Result (Hollerith hoped):
demolition, confusion, catastrophe.
It was a good plan. Hollerith obviously wasn't sure of his own men
any more--and neither would I have been, in his spot. But he had the
advantage of surprise and superior arms; he was clearly hoping that
would overbalance the lack of discipline, training and order in his
force. Besides, there was nothing else he could do; he was outvoted,
all the way down the line.
* * * * *
I set out, with hardly a qualm, along with the second attack group. We
were under the command of a shy, tall man with spectacles who didn't
look like much, he'd been a trapper before the war, though, and was
one of the original guerrillas, for a wonder, and that meant he was
probably a hell of a lot tougher and more knowledgeable than he
seemed. Setting traps for Wohlen's animals, for instance, was
emphatically not a job for the puny or the frightened. The first group
was under Huey's command.
Hollerith stayed with a small group of his own as a "reserve";
actually, he wanted to oversee the battle, and the men were perfectly
willing to let him, having gotten one idea into their democratic
heads: Hollerith was too valuable a man for the guerrillas to lose.
But I wasn't, of course. I'd done my bit; I'd gotten the volunteers.
Now I could go and die for glory like the rest of them.
* * * * *
The trouble was, I couldn't see any way out. I marched in the dimness
with the rest, and we managed to make surprisingly little noise.Download<<BackPagesMainNext>>