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[128] and many a rural champion owes his title to the hours he spent playing checkers in a military prison. Major Putnam tells us that some of his companions in Libby Prison became so intensely interested in chess that they fainted from excitement, induced of course by their weakened condition, and that the senior officer present forbade further indulgence.

Cards were used long after the corners disappeared and the number and shape of the spots upon their faces became more or less a matter of uncertainty. In some prisons there was a positive mania for making jewelry of gutta-percha buttons, though often a pocket-knife was the only tool. Sometimes, where there were no iron bars which might be cut, the commander allowed the prisoners to own jewelers' saws. Almost any piece of metal could be tortured into some sort of tool. Just as the Eskimos spend a part of the Arctic night carving walrus' teeth, so the prisoners exhibited their skill and expended their patience upon beef bones. Where wood was procurable prisoners whittled. Some made fans really surprising in the delicacy of the carving. This work and play prevented them at least from going mad.

Another popular occupation was discussing the probability of being exchanged. There were always those who would discuss this question from morning to night. Occasionally an officer possessed a work on international law, and the principles set forth in its pages afforded material for endless discussions. There were always those who took different sides on any question. The optimists believed that exchange was a matter of only a few days. The pessimists were sure that only the incompetence of their Government prevented their immediate release, but of this incompetence they were so strongly convinced that they did not expect release under any circumstances.

Though the laws of war permit the imposition of labor, in rare instances was any work other than police duty or the preparation of their own food required of prisoners. They were always glad, however, to volunteer, deeming themselves amply paid by slightly increased rations or by the few cents

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George Haven Putnam (1)
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