Sample K02 from Clayton C. Barbeau, The Ikon. New York: Coward McCann, Inc., 1961. Pp. 80-85. A part of the XML version of the Brown Corpus2,004 words 248 (12.4%) quotes 3 symbolsK02

Used by permission of Clayton Barbeau. 0010-1690

Clayton C. Barbeau, The Ikon. New York: Coward McCann, Inc., 1961. Pp. 80-85.

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Where their sharp edges seemed restless as sea waves thrusting themselves upward in angry motion , Papa-san sat glacier-like , his smooth solidity , his very immobility defying all the turmoil about him . `` Our objective '' , the colonel had said that day of the briefing , `` is Papa-san '' . There the objective sat , brooding over all . Gouge , burn , blast , insult it as they would , could anyone really take Papa-san ? ?

Between the ponderous hulk and himself , in the valley over which Papa-san reigned , men had hidden high explosives , booby traps , and mines . The raped valley was a pregnant womb awaiting abortion . On the forward slope in front of his own post stretched two rows of barbed wire . At the slope's base coils of concertina stretched out of eye range like a wild tangle of children's hoops , stopped simultaneously , weirdly poised as if awaiting the magic of the child's touch to start them all rolling again . Closer still , regular barricades of barbed wire hung on timber supports . Was it all vain labor ? ? Who would clean up the mess when the war was over ? ? Smiling at his quixotic thoughts , Warren turned back from the opening and lit a cigarette before sitting down . Tonight a group of men , tomorrow night he himself , would go out there somewhere and wait . If he were to go with White , he would be out there two days , not just listening in the dark at some point between here and Papa-san , but moving ever deeper into enemy land -- behind Papa-san -- itself . Was this what he had expected ? ? He hadn't realized that there would be so much time to think , so many lulls . Somehow he had forgotten what he must have been told , that combat was an intermittent activity . Now he knew that the moment illuminated by the vision on the train would have to be approached . It could take place tomorrow night , or it might occur months from now . There was just too much time . Time to become afraid . White's suggestion flattered , but he did not like the identity . He did not spill over with hatred for the enemy . He hadn't even seen him yet

Pressing his cigarette out in the earth , Warren walked to the slit and scanned the jagged hills . He saw no life , but still stood there for a time peering at the unlovely hills , his gaze continually returning to Papa-san . He had come here in order to test himself . While most of his beliefs were still unsettled , he knew that he did not believe in killing . Yet , he was here . He had come because he could not live out his life feeling that he had been a coward .

There were ten men on the patrol which Sergeant Prevot led out that next night . The beaming ROK was carrying a thirty-caliber machine gun ; ; another man lugged the tripod and a box of ammunition . Warren and White each carried , in addition to their own weapons and ammo , a box of ammo for the ROK's machine gun . Others carried extra clips for the Browning Automatic Rifle , which was in the hands of a little Mexican named Martinez . Prevot had briefed the two new men that afternoon . `` We just sit quiet and wait '' , Prevot had said . `` Be sure the man nearest you is awake . If Joe doesn't show up , we'll all be back here at 0600 hours . Otherwise , we hold a reception . Then we pull out under our mortar and artillery cover , but nobody pulls out until I say so . Remember what I said about going out to get anybody left behind ? ? That still holds . We bring back all dead and wounded '' .

At 2130 hours they had passed through the barbed wire at the point of departure . Then began the journey through their own mine fields . Mines . Ours were kinder than theirs , some said . They set bouncing betties to jump and explode at testicle level while we more mercifully had them go off at the head . Mines . Big ones and little . The crude wooden boxes of the enemy , our nicely turned gray metal disks . But theirs defied the detectors . Mines . A foot misplaced , a leg missing . Mines . All sizes : big ones , some wired to set off a whole field , little ones , hand grenade size . Booby traps to fill the head with chunks of metal . Warren tried to shake off the jumble of his fears by looking at the sky . It was dark . Prevot had said that the searchlights would be bounced off the clouds at 2230 hours , `` which gives us time to get settled in position '' .

Because they were new men and to be sure that they didn't get lost , Prevot had placed Warren and White in the center of the patrol as it filed out . His eyes now fixed on White's solid figure , Warren could hear behind him the tread of another . He could also hear the stream which he had seen from his position . They were going to follow it for part of their journey . `` It's safe '' , Prevot had said , `` and it provides cover for our noise '' .

Soon they were picking their way along the edge of the stream which glowed in the night . On their right rose the embankment covered with brush and trees . If a branch extended out too far , each man held it back for the next , and if they met a low overhang , each warned the other . Thus , stealthily they advanced upstream ; ; then they turned to the right , climbed the embankment , and walked into the valley again . There was no cover here , only grass sighing against pant-legs . And with each sigh , like a whip in the hand of an expert , the grass stripped something from Warren . The gentle whir of each footstep left him more naked than before , until he felt his unprotected flesh tremble , chilled by each new sound . The shapes of the men ahead of him lacked solidity , as if the whip had stripped them of their very flesh . The dark forms moved like mourners on some nocturnal pilgrimage , their dirge unsung for want of vocal chords . The warped , broken trees in the valley assumed wraith-like shapes . Clumps of brush that they passed were so many enchained demons straining in anger to tear and gnaw on his bones . Looming over all , Papa-san leered down at him , threatening a hundred hidden malevolencies . Off in the distance a searchlight flashed on , its beam slashing the sky . The sharp ray was absorbed by a cloud , then reflected to the earth in a softer , diffused radiance . Somewhere over there another patrol had need of light . Warren thought of all the men out that night who , like himself , had left their protective ridge and -- fear working at their guts -- picked their way into the area beyond . From the east to the west coast of the Korean peninsula was a strip of land in which fear-filled men were at that same moment furtively crawling through the night , sitting in sweaty anticipation of any movement or sound , or shouting amidst confused rifle flashes and muzzle blasts . White's arm went up and Warren raised his own . The patrol was stopping .

Prevot came up `` . Take that spot over there '' , he whispered , pointing to a small clump of blackness . `` Give me your machine gun ammo '' . Warren handed him the metal box and Prevot quietly disappeared down the line .

Lying in the grass behind the brush clump , Warren looked about . The others likewise had hidden themselves in the grass and the brush . Over his shoulder he could see Prevot with the machine gun crew . Even at this short distance they were only vague shapes , setting up the machine gun on a small knoll so that it could fire above the heads of the rest of the patrol .

Warren eased his rifle's safety off and gently , slowly sneaked another clip of ammunition from one of the cloth bandoleers that marked the upper part of his body with an Aj . This he placed within quick reach . The walk and his fears had served to overheat him and his sweaty armpits cooled at the touch of the night air . Although the armored vest fitted the upper part of his body snugly , he felt no security . Figures seemed to crouch in the surrounding dark ; ; in the distance he saw a band of men who seemed to advance and retreat even as he watched . Certain this menace was only imaginary , he yet stared in fascinated horror , his hand sticky against the stock of his weapon . He was aware of insistent inner beatings , as if prisoners within sought release from his rigid body .

Above , the glowing ivory baton of their searchlight pointed at the clouds , diluting the valley's dark to a pallid light . Then the figures which held his attention became a group of shattered trees , standing like the grotesques of a medieval damnation scene . Even so , he could not ease the tension of his body ; ; the rough surface of the earth itself seemed to resist every attempt on his part to relax . Sensing the unseen presence of the other men in the patrol , he felt mutely united to these nine near-strangers sharing this pinpoint of being with him . He sensed something precious in the perilous moment , something akin to the knowledge gained on his bicycle trip through the French countryside , a knowledge imprisoned in speechlessness .

-- In France he had puzzled the meaning of the great stone monuments men had thrown up to the sky , and always as he wandered , he felt a stranger to their exultation . They were poems in a strange language , of which he could barely touch a meaning -- enough to make his being ache with the desire for the fullness he sensed there . Brittany , that stone-gray mystery through which he traveled for thirty days , sleeping in the barns of farmers or alongside roads , had worked some subtle change in him , he knew , and it was in Brittany that he had met Pierre .

Pierre had no hands ; ; they had been severed at the wrists . With leather cups fitted in his handlebars , he steered his bicycle . He and Warren had traveled together for four days . They visited the shipyards at Brest and Pierre had to sign the register , vouching for the integrity of the visiting foreigner . He took the pen in his stumps and began to write .

`` Wait ! ! Wait '' ! ! Cried the guard who ran from the hut to shout to other men standing about outside . They crowded the small room and peered over one another's shoulders to watch the handless man write his name in the book .

`` C'est formidable '' , they exclaimed .

`` Mais , oui . C'est merveilleux '' .

And then the questions came , eager , interested questions , and many compliments on his having overcome his infirmity .

`` Doesn't it ever bother you '' , Warren had asked , `` to have people always asking you about your hands '' ? ?

`` Oh , the French are a very curious people '' , Pierre had laughed . `` They are also honest seekers after truth . Now the English are painfully silent about my missing hands . They refuse to mention or to notice that they are not there . The Americans , like yourself , take the fact for granted , try to be helpful , but don't ask questions . I'm used to all three , but I think the French have the healthiest attitude '' .

That was the day that Pierre had told Warren about the Abbey of Solesmes . `` You are looking tired and there you can rest . It will be good for you . I think , too '' , he said , his dark eyes mischievous , `` that you will find there some clue to the secret of the cathedrals about which you have spoken '' .

Within two weeks Warren was ringing the bell at the abbey gate . The monk who opened the door immediately calmed his worries about his reception : `` I speak English '' , the old man said , `` but I do not hear it very well '' . He smiled and stuck a large finger with white hairs sprouting on it into his ear as though that might help . Smiling at Warren's protestations , the old monk took his grip from him and led him down a corridor to a small parlor . `` Will you please wait in here .