Volume 2, Chapter 16
Xu Jun lightly walked over to them.
A man was sitting on the wall, writing letters. He stood up and saw Xu Jun. The soldier was shocked and quickly straightened his clothes, jumped up and shouted.
“My General!” The sound was loud and clear in the quiet night. Not only did all the nearby German soldiers around spring up, but it also awakened a lot of people who were sleeping in the trenches.
Xu Jun regretted not having enough time to stop them, causing the current mess. He was a bit embarrassed to stand there and receive all the attention. Part of him was unsure at what to do.
A young officer on duty also ran over to see the commotion. When he saw Xu Jun he was as shocked as the rest. The young lieutenant was speechless and immediately tried to make himself as straight as a javelin.
Xu Jun sighed, this was a bit too excessive, right? He said to the lieutenant, “Relax, Second Lieutenant. I just came out to get a breath. You order the others to continue to rest. Don’t concern yourself with me, understood?”
The lieutenant fiercely nodded his head and quickly replied: “Obey, General! Do you want me to accompany you as you inspect the positions?”
” No, I just wanted to take a look. I saw that this was a good spot. I’ll stay here and listen to the chatter. I am quite fine here.”
Xu Jun nodded to the young man. The Second Lieutenant quickly rushed to the soldiers who still stood there and drove them back to their own positions. Shouted, “Do not mind, do not mind! The General has ordered you to rest. Go back to your original places, hurry! You, Terhalle! If you don’t go to sleep the penalty is that you go to the kitchen to cut potatoes for a week! If you do not give me honest lying down, I’ll make sure you sleep here forever…” The Second Lieutenant’s voice soon died down. Surrounded by an artificial silence.
Xu Jun went to the corner of the trench to find an empty metal grenade box. He took the metal box and brought it to the side of the fire. Looking around to the soldiers and saw that they were still standing with a blank expression. Xu Jun sat down on the box and looked at the soldiers. Then smiled and gave a short wave. “Everyone sit down, I just wanted to talk with everyone casually.” However, the soldiers are still at a loss and looked at each other. Then immediately all sat around Xu Jun.
Everyone gave a respectful look at Xu Jun, their eyes full of worship and awe. Xu Jun was not blind, of course, he could see everyone’ looks. However, it made him feel very uncomfortable. He quickly said with a smile, “Everyone relax, we can just talk casually, no need for formalities. Let’s continue with the sergeant’s story.”
Xu Jun looked to the old sergeant and asked, “What is it? Continue, I want to hear the story.”
The old sergeant quickly stood up: “Reporting to the General….”
“Stop, stop, do not restrain yourself. Well, now I’m commanding you, tell me the story. There is no general, no superior, only trench comrades, friends. I’m saying, who still treats me like one will be cutting potatoes in the kitchen for a month.”
The soldiers all laughed and the atmosphere relaxed. Only the old man was standing there scratching his head, not sure what to do. The soldiers looked at his embarrassing expression and burst out in laughter again.
“Hush, or you’ll awaken the British! haha” Xu Jun laughed along with the rest of the soldiers.
“Well, well, no trouble, but it would really be troublesome to really wake up the others.” Xu Jun smiled to them as he shook his hand. The soldiers hurriedly covered their mouths.
Xu Jun then turned to the old sergeant said: “Well, quickly sit down and talk about what you talked to them about. Oh, I have not asked your name yet.”
The old sergeant replied quickly: “General, my name is Stephen Blackwell, General, you can call me Old Chief, that’s what everyone calls me.”
“Oh, but do not call me general, Old Chief. Remember I’ve already said that there is no general and superior, only comrades in arms. Friends, no need to be so anxious, I know that we are all German warriors. I am part of this Third Reich, no matter my position in it. Everyone should call me by my name, Reinhardt. This proves that I and everyone here are equal comrades.” Xu Jun said with a smile.
“That damn Jack, he wanted to have followers but he was so unapproachable. Making me deal with this mess. No wonder he hardly had any allies, only pawns.” Xu Jun secretly cursed Jack in his mind.
Old Chief was stunned. A general, the Deputy Führer, a figure that sits among the clouds would have a small sergeant directly call his name, even calling him, friend. Old Chief was excited beyond belief. His face turning red and voice started stammering.
The Germans emphasized rigorous character, absolute obedience, and fear of authority. Never allowing the slightest arrogance in front of their superiors. Xu Jun having inherited Jack’s memory, of course, understood this hierarchy very well. But Xu Jun was still a Chinese person in his mentality and was taught ancient Chinese culture from childhood. So that the traditional Chinese morals were deep-rooted into his mind. So now that he’s in Germany with its strict hierarchy, he felt a little strange and slight disapproval. His own character was to always be approachable, always respecting the old, and reward and punishment to be clearly defined.
Xu Jun looked at the excitement of the Old Chief, and strangely asked: “Old Chief, continue, you have not continued with your story.”
“He told us that he fought here in 1917.” A nearby soldier said to Xu Jun.
“Oh, Old Chief, you’ve been here before?”
“It was a long time ago, Gen….” Old Chief finally recovered, and he wanted to call Xu Jun General but then remembered the order. He had also really wanted to call him directly by his name but he did not dare.
Xu Jun did not pay much attention that, he’s now more interested in that period of history. Although he read some about that time, it could not compare to a veteran’s oral account of it. Xu Jun’s interest was raised.
Xu Jun and Old Chief began to talk enthusiastically about the Great War. The Old Chief’s vivid stories also made the other soldiers finally put down their fear. Eagerly listening to the questions and comments from their General. They sometimes exclaimed upon mention of a particularly bloody battle, sometimes sadness for the sacrifice of many heroic soldiers.
“German soldiers are really simple soldiers. I hope I can lead them to victory rather than an early death.” Xu Jun looked at the young faces and secretly sigh.
The conversation went deep into the night until finally, Xu Jun interrupted the talk. After all, there will be an important battle tomorrow and the soldiers need a good rest. He could not allow the soldiers to be killed by lack of sleep. Although the other soldiers still wanted to continue to listen but were ordered to lie down.
Xu Jun looked to the opposite side’s British positions. Right now, the British must still be licking their wounds in the darkness. Xu Jun did not prepare to go back to the headquarters. He also sat beside the fire, next to the soldiers. Closed his eyes and fell asleep.
Then, Hans came out from the shadows, he sighed slightly, shook his head, squatted and gently put a blanket on Xu Jun. Hans gazed for a while at Xu Jun’s child-like face, his mouth softly showing a smile.
Then Hans stood up and stretched out his arms, and returned into the darkness.