"He continued to climb up, over the dead bodies of his superiors. Then, in the hottest moment of one battle down went our colonel. My heart jumped into my mouth, for
Scoresby was the next in line to take his place. Now, we are in for it, I said.
"The battle grew hotter. The English and their allies were steadily retreating all over the field. Our regiment occupied a position that was extremely important. One mistake now would bring total disaster. And what did Scoresby do this time? He just mistook his left hand for his right hand…that was all. An order came for him to fall back and support our right. Instead, he moved forward and went over the hill to the left.
We were over the hill before this insane movement could be discovered and stopped. And what did we find? A large and unsuspecting Russian army waiting! And what happened? Were we all killed? That is exactly what would have happened in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred. But no – those surprised Russians thought that no one regiment by itself would come around there at such a time.
"It must be the whole British army, they thought. They turned tail. Away they went over the hill and down into the field in wild disorder, and we after them. In no time, there was the greatest turn-around you ever saw. The allies turned defeat into a sweeping and shining victory.
"The allied commander looked on, his head spinning with wonder, surprise and joy. He sent right off for Scoresby, and put his arms around him and hugged him on the field in front of all the armies.
"Scoresby became famous that day as a great military leader, honored throughout the world. That honor will never disappear while history books last.
"He is just as nice and pleasant as ever, but he still does not know enough to come in, out of the rain. He is the stupidest man in the universe.
"Until now, nobody knew it but Scoresby and myself. He has been followed, day by day, year by year, by a strange luck. He has been a shining soldier in all our wars for years. He has filled his whole military life with mistakes. Every one of them brought him another honorary title.
"Look at his chest, flooded with British and foreign medals. Well, sir, every one of them is the record of some great stupidity or other. They are proof that the best thing that can happen to a man is to be born lucky. I say again, as I did at the dinner, Scoresby's a complete fool."
You have just heard the story "Luck." It was written by Mark Twain and adapted for Special English by Harold Berman. Your narrator was Shep O'Neal. Listen again next week at this same time for another AMERICAN STORY told in Special English, on the Voice of America. This is Susan Clark.