(AnyBooksFree) CHAPTER 24 - MILO
April had been the best month of all for Milo. Lilacs bloomed in April and fruit
ripened on the vine. Heartbeats quickened and old appetites were renewed. In April a
livelier iris gleamed upon the burnished dove. April was spring, and in the spring Milo
Minderbinder's fancy had lightly turned to thoughts of tangerines.
'Yes, sir.'
'My men would love tangerines,' admitted the colonel in Sardinia who commanded
four squadrons of B-26s.
'There'll be all the tangerines they can eat that you're able to pay for with money
from your mess fund,' Milo assured him.
'Casaba melons?'
'Are going for a song in Damascus.'
'I have a weakness for casaba melons. I've always had a weakness for casaba melons.'
'Just lend me one plane from each squadron, just one plane, and you'll have all the
casabas you can eat that you've money to pay for.'
'We buy from the syndicate?'
'And everybody has a share.'
'It's amazing, positively amazing. How can you do it?'
'Mass purchasing power makes the big difference. For example,
breaded veal cutlets.'
'I'm not so crazy about breaded veal cutlets,' grumbled the skeptical B-25
commander in the north of Corsica.
'Breaded veal cutlets are very nutritious,' Milo admonished him piously. 'They contain
egg yolk and bread crumbs. And so are lamb chops.'
'Ah, lamb chops,' echoed the B-25 commander. 'Good lamb chops?'

'The best,' said Milo, 'that the black market has to offer.'
'Baby lamb chops?'
'In the cutest little pink paper panties you ever saw.
Are going for a song in Portugal.'
'I can't send a plane to Portugal. I haven't the authority.'
'I can, once you lend the plane to me. With a pilot to fly it.
And don't forget - you'll get General Dreedle.'
'Will General Dreedle eat in my mess hall again?'
'Like a pig, once you start feeding him my best white fresh eggs fried in my pure
creamery butter. There'll be tangerines too, and casaba melons, honeydews, filet of
Dover sole, baked Alaska, and cockles and mussels.'
'And everybody has a share?'
'That,' said Milo, 'is the most beautiful part of it.'
'I don't like it,' growled the unco-operative fighter-plane commander,
who didn't like Milo either.
'There's an unco-operative fighter-plane commander up north who's got it in for me,'
Milo complained to General Dreedle. 'It takes just one person to ruin the whole thing,
and then you wouldn't have your fresh eggs fried in my pure creamery butter
any more.'
General Dreedle had the unco-operative fighter-plane commander transferred to the
Solomon Islands to dig graves and replaced him with a senile colonel with bursitis and
a craving for litchi nuts who introduced Milo to the B-17 general on the mainland with
a yearning for Polish sausage.
'Polish sausage is going for peanuts in Cracow,' Milo informed him.
'Polish sausage,' sighed the general nostalgically. 'You know, I'd give just about
anything for a good hunk of Polish sausage. Just about anything.'
'You don't have to give anything. Just give me one plane for each mess hall and a pilot
who will do what he's told. And a small down payment on your initial order as a token
of good faith.'

'But Cracow is hundreds of miles behind the enemy lines.
How will you get to the sausage?'
'There's an international Polish sausage exchange in Geneva. I'll just fly the peanuts
into Switzerland and exchange them for Polish sausage at the open market rate.
They'll fly the peanuts back to Cracow and I'll fly the Polish sausage back to you. You
buy only as much Polish sausage as you want through the syndicate. There'll be
tangerines too, with only a little artificial coloring added. And eggs from Malta and
Scotch from Sicily. You'll be paying the money to yourself when you buy from the
syndicate, since you'll own a share, so you'll really be getting everything you buy for
nothing. Doesn't that makes sense?'
'Sheer genius. How in the world did you ever think of it?'
'My name is Milo Minderbinder. I am twenty-seven years old.'
Milo Minderbinder's planes flew in from everywhere, the pursuit planes, bombers,
and cargo ships streaming into Colonel Cathcart's field with pilots at the controls
who would do what they were told. The planes were decorated with flamboyant
squadron emblems illustrating such laudable ideals as Courage, Might, Justice, Truth,
Liberty, Love, Honor and Patriotism that were painted out at once by Milo's
mechanics with a double coat of flat white and replaced in garish purple with the
In 'M & M ENTERPRISES' stood for Milo & Minderbinder, and the & was inserted,
Milo revealed candidly, to nullify any impression that the syndicate was a one-man
operation. Planes arrived for Milo from airfields in Italy, North Africa and England,
and from Air Transport Command stations in Liberia, Ascension Island, Cairo, and
Karachi. Pursuit planes were traded for additional cargo ships or retained for
emergency invoice duty and small-parcel service; trucks and tanks were procured
from the ground forces and used for short-distance road hauling. Everybody had a
share, and men got fat and moved about tamely with toothpicks in their greasy lips.
Milo supervised the whole expanding operation by himself. Deep otter-brown lines of
preoccupation etched themselves permanently into his careworn face and gave him a
harried look of sobriety and mistrust. Everybody but Yossarian thought Milo was a
jerk, first for volunteering for the job of mess officer and next for taking it so
seriously. Yossarian also thought that Milo was a jerk; but he also knew that
Milo was a genius.
One day Milo flew away to England to pick up a load of Turkish halvah and came flying
back from Madagascar leading four German bombers filled with yams, collards,
mustard greens and black-eyed Georgia peas. Milo was dumbfounded when he stepped
down to the ground and found a contingent of armed M.P.s waiting to imprison the
German pilots and confiscate their planes. *Confiscate!*

The mere word was anathema to him, and he stormed back and forth in excoriating
condemnation, shaking a piercing finger of rebuke in the guilt-ridden faces of Colonel
Cathcart, Colonel Korn and the poor battle-scarred captain with the submachine gun
who commanded the M.P.s.
'Is this Russia?' Milo assailed them incredulously at the top of his voice.
*'Confiscate?'* he shrieked, as though he could not believe his own ears. 'Since when
is it the policy of the American government to confiscate the private property of its
citizens? Shame on you! Shame on all of you for even thinking such a horrible
'But Milo,' Major Danby interrupted timidly, 'we're at war with Germany, and those
are German planes.'
'They are no such thing!' Milo retorted furiously. 'Those planes belong to the
syndicate, and everybody has a share. *Confiscate?* How can you possibly confiscate
your own private property? *Confiscate*, indeed! I've never heard anything so
depraved in my whole life.'
And sure enough, Milo was right, for when they looked, his mechanics had painted out
the German swastikas on the wings, tails and fuselages with double coats of flat
white and stenciled in the words M & M ENTERPRISES, FINE FRUITS AND
PRODUCE. Right before their eyes he had transformed his syndicate into an
international cartel.
Milo's argosies of plenty now filled the air. Planes poured in from Norway, Denmark,
France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, Sweden, Finland,
Poland - from everywhere in Europe, in fact, but Russia, with whom Milo refused to
do business. When everybody who was going to had signed up with M & M Enterprises,
Fine Fruits and Produce, Milo created a wholly owned subsidiary, M & M Fancy Pastry,
and obtained more airplanes and more money from the mess funds for scones and
crumpets from the British Isles, prune and cheese Danish from Copenhagen, ‚clairs,
cream puffs, Napoleons and *petits fours* from Paris, Reims and Grenoble,
*Kugelhopf*, pumpernickel and *Pfefferkuchen* from Berlin, *Linzer* and *Dobos
*Torten* from Vienna, *Strudel* from Hungary and *baklava* from Ankara. Each
morning Milo sent planes aloft all over Europe and North Africa hauling long red tow
signs advertising the day's specials in large square letters: 'EYEROUND, 79›
WHITING, 21›.' He boosted cash income for the syndicate by leasing tow signs to
Pet Milk, Gaines Dog Food, and Noxzema. In a spirit of civic enterprise, he regularly
allotted a certain amount of free aerial advertising space to General Peckem for the
propagation of such messages in the public interest as NEATNESS COUNTS, HASTE

Milo purchased spot radio announcements on Axis Sally's and Lord Haw Haw's daily
propaganda broadcasts from Berlin to keep things moving.
Business boomed on every battlefront.
Milo's planes were a familiar sight. They had freedom of passage everywhere, and
one day Milo contracted with the American military authorities to bomb the Germanheld highway bridge at Orvieto and with the German military authorities to defend
the highway bridge at Orvieto with antiaircraft fire against his own attack. His fee
for attacking the bridge for America was the total cost of the operation plus six per
cent and his fee from Germany for defending the bridge was the same cost-plus-six
agreement augmented by a merit bonus of a thousand dollars for every American
plane he shot down. The consummation of these deals represented an important
victory for private enterprise, he pointed out, since the armies of both countries
were socialized institutions. Once the contracts were signed, there seemed to be no
point in using the resources of the syndicate to bomb and defend the bridge,
inasmuch as both governments had ample men and material right there to do so and
were perfectly happy to contribute them, and in the end Milo realized a fantastic
profit from both halves of his project for doing nothing more than signing
his name twice.
The arrangements were fair to both sides. Since Milo did have freedom of passage
everywhere, his planes were able to steal over in a sneak attack without alerting the
German antiaircraft gunners; and since Milo knew about the attack, he was able to
alert the German antiaircraft gunners in sufficient time for them to begin firing
accurately the moment the planes came into range. It was an ideal arrangement for
everyone but the dead man in Yossarian's tent, who was killed over the target the
day he arrived.
'I didn't kill him!' Milo kept replying passionately to Yossarian's angry protest. 'I
wasn't even there that day, I tell you. Do you think I was down there on the ground
firing an antiaircraft gun when the planes came over?'
'But you organized the whole thing, didn't you?' Yossarian shouted back at him in the
velvet darkness cloaking the path leading past the still vehicles of the motor pool to
the open-air movie theater.
'And I didn't organize anything,' Milo answered indignantly, drawing great agitated
sniffs of air in through his hissing, pale, twitching nose. 'The Germans have the
bridge, and we were going to bomb it, whether I stepped into the picture or not. I
just saw a wonderful opportunity to make some profit out of the mission, and I took
it. What's so terrible about that?'

'What's so terrible about it? Milo, a man in my tent was killed on that mission before
he could even unpack his bags.'
'But I didn't kill him.'
'You got a thousand dollars extra for it.'
'But I didn't kill him. I wasn't even there, I tell you. I was in Barcelona buying olive
oil and skinless and boneless sardines, and I've got the purchase orders to prove it.
And I didn't get the thousand dollars. That thousand dollars went to the syndicate,
and everybody got a share, even you.' Milo was appealing to Yossarian from the
bottom of his soul. 'Look, I didn't start this war, Yossarian, no matter what that
lousy Wintergreen is saying. I'm just trying to put it on a businesslike basis. Is
anything wrong with that? You know, a thousand dollars ain't such a bad price for a
medium bomber and a crew. If I can persuade the Germans to pay me a thousand
dollars for every plane they shoot down, why shouldn't I take it?'
'Because you're dealing with the enemy, that's why. Can't you understand that we're
fighting a war? People are dying. Look around you, for Christ's sake!'
Milo shook his head with weary forbearance. 'And the Germans are not our enemies,'
he declared. 'Oh I know what you're going to say. Sure, we're at war with them. But
the Germans are also members in good standing of the syndicate, and it's my job to
protect their rights as shareholders. Maybe they did start the war, and maybe they
are killing millions of people, but they pay their bills a lot more promptly than some
allies of ours I could name. Don't you understand that I have to respect the sanctity
of my contract with Germany? Can't you see it from my point of view?'
'No,' Yossarian rebuffed him harshly.
Milo was stung and made no effort to disguise his wounded feelings. It was a muggy,
moonlit night filled with gnats, moths, and mosquitoes. Milo lifted his arm suddenly
and pointed toward the open-air theater, where the milky, dust-filled beam bursting
horizontally from the projector slashed a conelike swath in the blackness and draped
in a fluorescent membrane of light the audience tilted on the seats there in hypnotic
sags, their faces focused upward toward the aluminized movie screen. Milo's eyes
were liquid with integrity, and his artless and uncorrupted face was lustrous with a
shining mixture of sweat and insect repellent.
'Look at them,' he exclaimed in a voice choked with emotion. 'They're my friends, my
countrymen, my comrades in arms. A fellow never had a better bunch of buddies. Do
you think I'd do a single thing to harm them if I didn't have to? Haven't I got
enough on my mind?

Can't you see how upset I am already about all that cotton piling up on those piers in
Egypt?' Milo's voice splintered into fragments, and he clutched at Yossarian's shirt
front as though drowning. His eyes were throbbing visibly like brown caterpillars.
'Yossarian, what am I going to do with so much cotton?
It's all your fault for letting me buy it.'
The cotton was piling up on the piers in Egypt, and nobody wanted any. Milo had never
dreamed that the Nile Valley could be so fertile or that there would be no market at
all for the crop he had bought. The mess halls in his syndicate would not help; they
rose up in uncompromising rebellion against his proposal to tax them on a per capita
basis in order to enable each man to own his own share of the Egyptian cotton crop.
Even his reliable friends the Germans failed him in this crisis: they preferred ersatz.
Milo's mess halls would not even help him store the cotton, and his warehousing costs
skyrocketed and contributed to the devastating drain upon his cash reserves. The
profits from the Orvieto mission were sucked away. He began writing home for the
money he had sent back in better days; soon that was almost gone. And new bales of
cotton kept arriving on the wharves at Alexandria every day. Each time he succeeded
in dumping some on the world market for a loss it was snapped up by canny Egyptian
brokers in the Levant, who sold it back to him at the original price, so that he was
really worse off than before.
M & M Enterprises verged on collapse. Milo cursed himself hourly for his monumental
greed and stupidity in purchasing the entire Egyptian cotton crop, but a contract was
a contract and had to be honored, and one night, after a sumptuous evening meal, all
Milo's fighters and bombers took off, joined in formation directly overhead and
began dropping bombs on the group. He had landed another contract with the
Germans, this time to bomb his own outfit. Milo's planes separated in a well coordinated attack and bombed the fuel stocks and the ordnance dump, the repair
hangars and the B-25 bombers resting on the lollipop-shaped hardstands at the field.
His crews spared the landing strip and the mess halls so that they could land safely
when their work was done and enjoy a hot snack before retiring. They bombed with
their landing lights on, since no one was shooting back.
They bombed all four squadrons, the officers' club and the Group Headquarters
building. Men bolted from their tents in sheer terror and did not know in which
direction to turn. Wounded soon lay screaming everywhere. A cluster of
fragmentation bombs exploded in the yard of the officers' club and punched jagged
holes in the side of the wooden building and in the bellies and backs of a row of
lieutenants and captains standing at the bar. They doubled over in agony and dropped.
The rest of the officers fled toward the two exits in panic and jammed up the
doorways like a dense, howling dam of human flesh as they shrank from going farther.

Colonel Cathcart clawed and elbowed his way through the unruly, bewildered mass
until he stood outside by himself. He stared up at the sky in stark astonishment and
horror. Milo's planes, ballooning serenely in over the blossoming treetops with their
bomb bay doors open and wing flaps down and with their monstrous, bug-eyed,
blinding, fiercely flickering, eerie landing lights on, were the most apocalyptic sight
he had ever beheld. Colonel Cathcart let go a stricken gasp of dismay and hurled
himself headlong into his jeep, almost sobbing. He found the gas pedal and the
ignition and sped toward the airfield as fast as the rocking car would carry him, his
huge flabby hands clenched and bloodless on the wheel or blaring his horn
tormentedly. Once he almost killed himself when he swerved with a banshee screech
of tires to avoid plowing into a bunch of men running crazily toward the hills in their
underwear with their stunned faces down and their thin arms pressed high around
their temples as puny shields.
Yellow, orange and red fires were burning on both sides of the road. Tents and trees
were in flames, and Milo's planes kept coming around interminably with their blinking
white landing lights on and their bomb bay doors open. Colonel Cathcart almost
turned the jeep over when he slammed the brakes on at the control tower. He leaped
from the car while it was still skidding dangerously and hurtled up the flight of steps
inside, where three men were busy at the instruments and the controls. He bowled
two of them aside in his lunge for the nickel-plated microphone, his eyes glittering
wildly and his beefy face contorted with stress. He squeezed the microphone in a
bestial grip and began shouting hysterically at the top of his voice.
'Milo, you son of a bitch! Are you crazy? What the hell are you doing?
Come down! Come down!'
'Stop hollering so much, will you?' answered Milo, who was standing there right
beside him in the control tower with a microphone of his own. 'I'm right here.' Milo
looked at him with reproof and turned back to his work . 'Very good, men, very good,'
he chanted into his microphone. 'But I see one supply shed still standing. That will
never do, Purvis - I've spoken to you about that kind of shoddy work before. Now,
you go right back there this minute and try it again. And this time come in slowly
slowly. Haste makes waste, Purvis. Haste makes waste. If I've told you that once,
I must have told you that a hundred times. Haste makes waste.'
The loudspeaker overhead began squawking. 'Milo, this is Alvin Brown.
I've finished dropping my bombs. What should I do now?'
'Strafe,' said Milo.
'*Strafe?*' Alvin Brown was shocked.

'We have no choice,' Milo informed him resignedly. 'It's in the contract.'
'Oh, okay, then,' Alvin Brown acquiesced. 'In that case I'll strafe.'
This time Milo had gone too far. Bombing his own men and planes was more than even
the most phlegmatic observer could stomach, and it looked like the end for him.
High-ranking government officials poured in to investigate. Newspapers inveighed
against Milo with glaring headlines, and Congressmen denounced the atrocity in
stentorian wrath and clamored for punishment. Mothers with children in the service
organized into militant groups and demanded revenge. Not one voice was raised in his
defense. Decent people everywhere were affronted, and Milo was all washed up until
he opened his books to the public and disclosed the tremendous profit he had made.
He could reimburse the government for all the people and property he had destroyed
and still have enough money left over to continue buying Egyptian cotton. Everybody,
of course, owned a share. And the sweetest part of the whole deal was that there
really was no need to reimburse the government at all.
'In a democracy, the government is the people,' Milo explained. 'We're people, aren't
we? So we might just as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly,
I'd like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to
private industry. If we pay the government everything we owe it, we'll only be
encouraging government control and discouraging other individuals from bombing
their own men and planes. We'll be taking away their incentive.'
Milo was correct, of course, as everyone soon agreed but a few embittered misfits
like Doc Daneeka, who sulked cantankerously and muttered offensive insinuations
about the morality of the whole venture until Milo mollified him with a donation, in
the name of the syndicate, of a lightweight aluminum collapsible garden chair that
Doc Daneeka could fold up conveniently and carry outside his tent each time Chief
White Halfoat came inside his tent and carry back inside his tent each time Chief
White Halfoat came out. Doc Daneeka had lost his head during Milo's bombardment;
instead of running for cover, he had remained out in the open and performed his
duty, slithering along the ground through shrapnel, strafing and incendiary bombs like
a furtive, wily lizard from casualty to casualty, administering tourniquets, morphine,
splints and sulfanilamide with a dark and doleful visage, never saying one word more
than he had to and reading in each man's bluing wound a dreadful portent of his own
decay. He worked himself relentlessly into exhaustion before the long night was over
and came down with a sniffle the next day that sent him hurrying querulously into the
medical tent to have his temperature taken by Gus and Wes and to obtain a mustard
plaster and vaporizer.

Doc Daneeka tended each moaning man that night with the same glum and profound
and introverted grief he showed at the airfield the day of the Avignon mission when
Yossarian climbed down the few steps of his plane naked, in a state of utter shock,
with Snowden smeared abundantly all over his bare heels and toes, knees, arms and
fingers, and pointed inside wordlessly toward where the young radio-gunner lay
freezing to death on the floor beside the still younger tail-gunner who kept falling
back into a dead faint each time he opened his eyes and saw Snowden dying.
Doc Daneeka draped a blanket around Yossarian's shoulders almost tenderly after
Snowden had been removed from the plane and carried into an ambulance on a
stretcher. He led Yossarian toward his jeep. McWatt helped, and the three drove in
silence to the squadron medical tent, where McWatt and Doc Daneeka guided
Yossarian inside to a chair and washed Snowden off him with cold wet balls of
absorbent cotton. Doc Daneeka gave him a pill and a shot that put him to sleep for
twelve hours. When Yossarian woke up and went to see him, Doc Daneeka gave him
another pill and a shot that put him to sleep for another twelve hours. When
Yossarian woke up again and went to see him, Doc Daneeka made ready to give him
another pill and a shot.
'How long are you going to keep giving me those pills and shots?'
Yossarian asked him.
'Until you feel better.'
'I feel all right now.'
Doc Daneeka's frail suntanned forehead furrowed with surprise.
'Then why don't you put some clothes on?
Why are you walking around naked?'
'I don't want to wear a uniform any more.'
Doc Daneeka accepted the explanation and put away his hypodermic syringe.
'Are you sure you feel all right?'
'I feel fine. I'm just a little logy from all those pills and shots you've
been giving me.'
Yossarian went about his business with no clothes on all the rest of that day and was
still naked late the next morning when Milo, after hunting everywhere else, finally
found him sitting up a tree a small distance in back of the quaint little military
cemetery at which Snowden was being buried.

Milo was dressed in his customary business attire - olive-drab trousers, a fresh olivedrab shirt and tie, with one silver first lieutenant's bar gleaming on the collar, and a
regulation dress cap with a stiff leather bill.
'I've been looking all over for you,' Milo called up to Yossarian from the
ground reproachfully.
'You should have looked for me in this tree,' Yossarian answered.
'I've been up here all morning.'
'Come on down and taste this and tell me if it's good. It's very important.'
Yossarian shook his head. He sat nude on the lowest limb of the tree and balanced
himself with both hands grasping the bough directly above. He refused to budge, and
Milo had no choice but to stretch both arms about the trunk in a distasteful hug and
start climbing. He struggled upward clumsily with loud grunts and wheezes, and his
clothes were squashed and crooked by the time he pulled himself up high enough to
hook a leg over the limb and pause for breath. His dress cap was askew and in danger
of falling. Milo caught it just in time when it began slipping. Globules of perspiration
glistened like transparent pearls around his mustache and swelled like opaque blisters
under his eyes. Yossarian watched him impassively. Cautiously Milo worked himself
around in a half circle so that he could face Yossarian. He unwrapped tissue paper
from something soft, round and brown and handed it to Yossarian.
'Please taste this and let me know what you think. I'd like to serve it to the men.'
'What is it?' asked Yossarian, and took a big bite.
'Chocolate-covered cotton.'
Yossarian gagged convulsively and sprayed his big mouthful of chocolate-covered
cotton right into Milo's face. 'Here, take it back!' he spouted angrily. 'Jesus Christ!
Have you gone crazy? You didn't even take the goddam seeds out.'
'Give it a chance, will you?' Milo begged. 'It can't be that bad. Is it really that bad?'
'It's even worse.'
'But I've got to make the mess halls feed it to the men.'
'They'll never be able to swallow it.'

'They've got to swallow it,' Milo ordained with dictatorial grandeur, and almost broke
his neck when he let go with one arm to wave a righteous finger in the air.
'Come on out here,' Yossarian invited him.
'You'll be much safer, and you can see everything.'
Gripping the bough above with both hands, Milo began inching his way out on the limb
sideways with utmost care and apprehension. His face was rigid with tension, and he
sighed with relief when he found himself seated securely beside Yossarian. He
stroked the tree affectionately. 'This is a pretty good tree,' he observed admiringly
with proprietary gratitude.
'It's the tree of life,' Yossarian answered, waggling his toes,
'and of knowledge of good and evil, too.'
Milo squinted closely at the bark and branches. 'No it isn't,' he replied.
'It's a chestnut tree. I ought to know. I sell chestnuts.'
'Have it your way.'
They sat in the tree without talking for several seconds, their legs dangling and their
hands almost straight up on the bough above, the one completely nude but for a pair
of crepe-soled sandals, the other completely dressed in a coarse olive-drab woolen
uniform with his tie knotted tight. Milo studied Yossarian diffidently through the
corner of his eye, hesitating tactfully.
'I want to ask you something,' he said at last. 'You don't have any clothes on. I don't
want to butt in or anything, but I just want to know.
Why aren't you wearing your uniform?'
'I don't want to.'
Milo nodded rapidly like a sparrow pecking. 'I see, I see,' he stated quickly with a
look of vivid confusion. 'I understand perfectly. I heard Appleby and Captain Black
say you had gone crazy, and I just wanted to find out.' He hesitated politely again,
weighing his next question. 'Aren't you ever going to put your uniform on again?'
'I don't think so.'
Milo nodded with spurious vim to indicate he still understood and then sat silent,
ruminating gravely with troubled misgiving. A scarlet-crested bird shot by below,
brushing sure dark wings against a quivering bush. Yossarian and Milo were covered in
their bower by tissue-thin tiers of sloping green and largely surrounded by other
gray chestnut trees and a silver spruce.

The sun was high overhead in a vast sapphire-blue sky beaded with low, isolated,
puffy clouds of dry and immaculate white. There was no breeze, and the leaves about
them hung motionless. The shade was feathery. Everything was at peace but Milo,
who straightened suddenly with a muffled cry and began pointing excitedly.
'Look at that!' he exclaimed in alarm. 'Look at that! That's a funeral going on down
there. That looks like the cemetery. Isn't it?'
Yossarian answered him slowly in a level voice. 'They're burying that kid who got
killed in my plane over Avignon the other day. Snowden.'
'What happened to him?' Milo asked in a voice deadened with awe.
'He got killed.'
'That's terrible,' Milo grieved, and his large brown eyes filled with tears. 'That poor
kid. It really is terrible.' He bit his trembling lip hard, and his voice rose with
emotion when he continued. 'And it will get even worse if the mess halls don't agree
to buy my cotton. Yossarian, what's the matter with them? Don't they realize it's
their syndicate? Don't they know they've all got a share?'
'Did the dead man in my tent have a share?' Yossarian demanded caustically.
'Of course he did,' Milo assured him lavishly.
'Everybody in the squadron has a share.'
'He was killed before he even got into the squadron.'
Milo made a deft grimace of tribulation and turned away. 'I wish you'd stop picking
on me about that dead man in your tent,' he pleaded peevishly. 'I told you I didn't
have anything to do with killing him. Is it my fault that I saw this great opportunity
to corner the market on Egyptian cotton and got us into all this trouble? Was I
supposed to know there was going to be a glut? I didn't even know what a glut was in
those days. An opportunity to corner a market doesn't come along very often, and I
was pretty shrewd to grab the chance when I had it.' Milo gulped back a moan as he
saw six uniformed pallbearers lift the plain pine coffin from the ambulance and set it
gently down on the ground beside the yawning gash of the freshly dug grave. 'And
now I can't get rid of a single penny's worth,' he mourned.
Yossarian was unmoved by the fustian charade of the burial ceremony, and by Milo's
crushing bereavement. The chaplain's voice floated up to him through the distance
tenuously in an unintelligible, almost inaudible monotone, like a gaseous murmur.

Yossarian could make out Major Major by his towering and lanky aloofness and
thought he recognized Major Danby mopping his brow with a handkerchief. Major
Danby had not stopped shaking since his run-in with General Dreedle. There were
strands of enlisted men molded in a curve around the three officers, as inflexible as
lumps of wood, and four idle gravediggers in streaked fatigues lounging indifferently
on spades near the shocking, incongruous heap of loose copperred earth. As Yossarian
stared, the chaplain elevated his gaze toward Yossarian beatifically, pressed his
fingers down over his eyeballs in a manner of affliction, peered upward again toward
Yossarian searchingly, and bowed his head, concluding what Yossarian took to be a
climactic part of the funeral rite. The four men in fatigues lifted the coffin on slings
and lowered it into the grave. Milo shuddered violently.
'I can't watch it,' he cried, turning away in anguish. 'I just can't sit here and watch
while those mess halls let my syndicate die.' He gnashed his teeth and shook his head
with bitter woe and resentment. 'If they had any loyalty, they would buy my cotton
till it hurts so that they can keep right on buying my cotton till it hurts them some
more. They would build fires and burn up their underwear and summer uniforms just
to create bigger demand. But they won't do a thing. Yossarian, try eating the rest of
this chocolate-covered cotton for me. Maybe it will taste delicious now.'
Yossarian pushed his hand away. 'Give up, Milo. People can't eat cotton.'
Milo's face narrowed cunningly. 'It isn't really cotton,' he coaxed. 'I was joking.
It's really cotton candy, delicious cotton candy. Try it and see.'
'Now you're lying.'
'I never lie!' Milo rejoindered with proud dignity.
'You're lying now.'
'I only lie when it's necessary,' Milo explained defensively, averting his eyes for a
moment and blinking his lashes winningly. 'This stuff is better than cotton candy,
really it is. It's made out of real cotton. Yossarian, you've got to help me make the
men eat it. Egyptian cotton is the finest cotton in the world.'
'But it's indigestible,' Yossarian emphasized. 'It will make them sick, don't you
understand? Why don't you try living on it yourself if you don't believe me?'
'I did try,' admitted Milo gloomily. 'And it made me sick.'
The graveyard was yellow as hay and green as cooked cabbage. In a little while the
chaplain stepped back, and the beige crescent of human forms began to break up
sluggishly, like flotsam.

The men drifted without haste or sound to the vehicles parked along the side of the
bumpy dirt road. With their heads down disconsolately, the chaplain, Major Major
and Major Danby moved toward their jeeps in an ostracized group, each holding
himself friendlessly several feet away from the other two.
'It's all over,' observed Yossarian.
'It's the end,' Milo agreed despondently. 'There's no hope left. And all because I
left them free to make their own decisions. That should teach me a lesson about
discipline the next time I try something like this.'
'Why don't you sell your cotton to the government?' Yossarian suggested casually,
as he watched the four men in streaked fatigues shoveling heaping bladefuls of the
copper-red earth back down inside the grave.
Milo vetoed the idea brusquely. 'It's a matter of principle,' he explained firmly. 'The
government has no business in business, and I would be the last person in the world
to ever try to involve the government in a business of mine. But the business of
government is business,' he remembered alertly, and continued with elation. 'Calvin
Coolidge said that, and Calvin Coolidge was a President, so it must be true. And the
government does have the responsibility of buying all the Egyptian cotton I've got
that no one else wants so that I can make a profit, doesn't it?' Milo's face clouded
almost as abruptly, and his spirits descended into a state of sad anxiety. 'But how
will I get the government to do it?'
'Bribe it,' Yossarian said.
'Bribe it!' Milo was outraged and almost lost his balance and broke his neck again.
'Shame on you!' he scolded severely, breathing virtuous fire down and upward into his
rusty mustache through his billowing nostrils and prim lips. 'Bribery is against the
law, and you know it. But it's not against the law to make a profit, is it? So it can't be
against the law for me to bribe someone in order to make a fair profit, can it? No, of
course not!' He fell to brooding again, with a meek, almost pitiable distress. 'But how
will I know who to bribe?'
'Oh, don't you worry about that,' Yossarian comforted him with a toneless snicker as
the engines of the jeeps and ambulance fractured the drowsy silence and the
vehicles in the rear began driving away backward. 'You make the bribe big enough and
they'll find you. Just make sure you do everything right out in the open. Let everyone
know exactly what you want and how much you're willing to pay for it. The first time
you act guilty or ashamed, you might get into trouble.'

'I wish you'd come with me,' Milo remarked. 'I won't feel safe among people who
take bribes. They're no better than a bunch of crooks.'
'You'll be all right,' Yossarian assured him with confidence. 'If you run into trouble,
just tell everybody that the security of the country requires a strong domestic
Egyptian-cotton speculating industry.'
'It does,' Milo informed him solemnly.
'A strong Egyptian-cotton speculating industry means a much stronger America.'
'Of course it does. And if that doesn't work, point out the great number of American
families that depend on it for income.'
'A great many American families do depend on it for income.'
'You see?' said Yossarian. 'You're much better at it than I am.
You almost make it sound true.'
'It is true,' Milo exclaimed with a strong trace of old hauteur.
'That's what I mean. You do it with just the right amount of conviction.'
'You're sure you won't come with me?'
Yossarian shook his head.
Milo was impatient to get started. He stuffed the remainder of the chocolatecovered cotton ball into his shirt pocket and edged his way back gingerly along the
branch to the smooth gray trunk. He threw this arms about the trunk in a generous
and awkward embrace and began shinnying down, the sides of his leather-soled shoes
slipping constantly so that it seemed many times he would fall and injure himself.
Halfway down, he changed his mind and climbed back up. Bits of tree bark stuck to
his mustache, and his straining face was flushed with exertion.
'I wish you'd put your uniform on instead of going around naked that way,' he
confided pensively before he climbed back down again and hurried away. 'You might
start a trend, and then I'll never get rid of all this goldarned cotton.'

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