Chapters 25-26 Summary
The previous summer, the platoon’s first mission was to the mountains. Sidney Martin was the lieutenant, and he warned that there would be no malingering. He believed in “mission” above all else. The road was difficult, going straight up into the mountains. The dryness and heat make the march torturous.
The platoon of thirty-eight men is led by a thirteen-year-old native scout. All the men are tired and drag themselves along the road. Paul Berlin struggles to keep walking. He decides to stop, lie down along the road, and sip the Coke in his backpack. However, he can’t make his legs go along with this decision, so he keeps walking.
In Delhi, Cacciato does not show himself again, although the soldiers check every day at police headquarters. Eddie spends most of his time in the air-conditioned theater. The others find ways around the city to keep themselves amused. Paul Berlin passes his time with Sarkin Aung Wan. When it rains, they stay inside and watch from the lobby window. When the weather clears, they walk along the streets, holding hands and shopping. Sarkin Aung Wan tells Paul Berlin about her life in Cholon, where her father ran a restaurant. She asks him about life in Fort Dodge. She thinks it is a typical cow town in the Old West and asks if it is hard to walk in spurs. Paul jokes that there are many broken legs and ankles; next to gunshot wounds, it is the hospitals’ biggest business.
In the evenings, the two of them play cards and then go to their room. Paul pretends that they make love. They talk about Paris; Sarkin Aung Wan would like to open a beauty salon there. The men worry about Corson. He spends all his time with Jolly. Doc Peret says the lieutenant has transferred loyalties. Mostly it is a waiting game until one morning when Doc Peret shows Paul a picture of a train in the newspaper. He says the train is bound for Kabul in Afghanistan and predicts that this is where Cacciato is heading. They decide to get on the train and follow him. Trouble arises when the lieutenant says he is not going. He is done with the war and is staying in Delhi. However, that evening, when the lieutenant is passed out drunk, the men carry him to the train station.