CHAPTER I

     HE officer whose collar ornaments were the
     winged staff and serpents of the medical
     branch, held what was left of the deck in his
right hand and moistened the tip of his thumb against
the tip of his tongue.
  "ReEnforcements, major " he inquired with a
glance to the man at his left, and the poker face of
the gentleman so addressed remained impervious to
expression as the answer was given back:
  "No, I'll stand by what I've got here."
  If the utterance hung on a quarter second of in-
decision it was a circumstance that went unnoted, save
possibly by a young man with the single bars of a
lieutenant on his shoulder straps-and Spurrier gave
no flicker of recognition of what had escaped the
  Between the whitewashed walls of the room where
the little group of officers sat at cards the Philippine
night breeze stirred faintly with a fevered breath that
scarcely disturbed the jalousies.
  The pile of poker chips had grown to a bulkiness
and value out of just proportion to the means of army
officers below field rank-and except for the battalion.