The next morning, Robert and Regis emerge from the hold as the S.S. Massanabie approaches the harbor, crashing through the stormy water and narrowly missing the surrounding rocks. Robert falls on the steps, badly bruising his legs, so he and Harris are disembarked together on stretchers.
Like Harris’s pneumonia, Robert’s injuries demonstrate the grueling conditions that soldiers are forced to endure in war. The fact that he and Harris have suffered before even seeing combat implies that their time in battle will be even more harrowing.
From the quay, Robert and Harris watch the soldiers round up the horses and drive them toward the nearest street. The townspeople excitedly run out of their houses and shops to see the animals. In a letter to Tom and Mrs. Ross, Robert minimizes the negative aspects of the voyage and writes that the war seems “even further off than when we were at home.”
Although Robert was forced to endure terrible living conditions aboard the S.S. Massanabie and was traumatized by the horse incident, he is hesitant to reveal any sign of weakness in the letter to his parents. This mindset demonstrates Robert’s ongoing fixation on acting honorably and earning respect.