or foreigners were present, with great freedom.
Gossip about men whom most of us had known came in, and tales of West Point
life were common.
But though familiar, the talk was by no means vulgar: no coarse language was ever used in the presence of the general-in-chief
, the most modest man in conversation in the army.
A profane word never passed his lips, and if by some rare chance a story a little broad was told before him, he blushed like a girl.
Yet he was entirely free from cant, and never rebuked in others the faults which he himself scrupulously avoided.
indeed rarely showed vexation at occurrences, great or small, which must have tried him hard.
Sometimes, in great emergencies, his lips became set and his mouth rigid, his expression stern; but even then his eye rarely flashed, and his voice betrayed no emotion.
His tones grew calmer and more distinct; his mind seemed to kindle, his intellectual vision quickened; the windows of his soul were opened, and he looked out, through and beyond whatever was obscure; but all this only those who knew him long and intimately, and watched him closely, could discern.
To others he was as impassive as ever.
I remember only twice during the war to have seen in him what might be called a shadow of excitement: once, when he was indignant at a great wrong put upon a friend; and once, in the field, when we passed a teamster who was ill-using a horse, he shook his clenched hand at the man, and threatened him with arrest for cruelty.
As the night wore on, one and another of the frequenters of the camp fire dropped away, and by midnight, the circle was winnowed to three or four,