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Henry's fears of being exposed as a coward have disappeared thanks to the injury that he received while on the run. It is believed to be a battle wound by the other members of his company, so his secret--that he ran away when the action got too hot--is safe. But Henry seems to have also convinced himself that his skedaddling never actually happened. He sneers at the way other members of the regiment ran away in terror; he tells himself that he had merely retreated, not actually run away.
He remembered how some of the men had run from the battle. As he recalled their terror-struck faces he felt a scorn for them. They had surely been more fleet and more wild than was absolutely necessary. They were weak mortals. As for himself, he had fled with discretion and dignity.
His previous uncertainties had changed to extreme overconfidence and vanity, and he now judged himself an experienced veteran.
He had license to be pompous and veteranlike...
And, furthermore, how could they kill him who was the chosen of gods and doomed to greatness?
Great things were ahead of him, Henry told himself, and when he returned home a hero, his mother and his relatives would "gape"
... as they drank his recitals. Their vague feminine formula for beloved ones doing brave deeds on the field of battle without risk of life would be destroyed.
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