A unit of soldiers was marching a long dusty march across the rolling prairie. It was a hot blistering day and the men, longing for water and rest, were impatient to reach the next town.
A rancher rode past.
"Say, friend", called out one of the men, "how far is it to the next town?"
"Oh, a matter of two miles or so, I reckon," called back the rancher. Another long hour dragged by, and another rancher was encountered.
"How far to the next town?" the men asked him eagerly.
"Oh, a good two miles."
A nearly half hour longer of marching, and then a third rancher. "Hey, how far's the next town?"
"Not far," was the encouraging answer, "only about two miles."
"Well," sighed the optimistic sergeant, "thank God, we're holding our own, anyhow!"