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The Coward’s Lesson
Tom was easily frightened. He enlisted in the army because he thought the military would teach him courage. And although he needed courage, he never imagined how he would learn it.
During a march across a tract of wilderness to practice guerilla warfare near his country’s frontier,Tom strayed from his squad. He had stopped to gaze at a splendid view of a lush valley. When he turned around, his squad was gone. He searched for them, but because their outfits had camouflage, he couldn’t find them.
It was getting dark, and Tom grew weary. All he had was a knife and his handbook. He made camp for the night. It was cold, and the ground was hard. He wished he had his cot and a blanket. Instead, he made a fire, wrapped himself tightly in his jacket, and fell asleep.
A loud noise roused him from his sleep. “What was that?” he wondered. Then he noticed it. An animal of substantial size had left a print from its paw in the dirt. He sat closer to the fire and looked into the darkness. He imagined a large beast jumping from the gloom and attacking him. He shook with fear.
Tom contemplated many different plans. He was hesitant to act. He decided to stay by the fire, but during his vigil, he heard more noises.
He couldn’t contend with his fear any longer. He knew what he had to do. He made a torch and followed the prints. He heard a twig snap very close ahead, but he bravely went on. Seconds later, he discovered what had scared him. It was only a sheep.
Tom went back to his camp and slept. In the morning, he found his squad. He had finally learned courage. He learned that he had to confront his fear in order to conquer it.
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