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datatime: 2022-12-04 06:50:18 Author:LeNkWPHq

The frenetic stammering of the machine-guns stopped abruptly and in unison, the sound sheared off as by a guillotine. The sudden silence was curiously oppressive, louder, more obtrusive than the clamour that had gone before. The gravelly earth beneath his elbows grated harshly as Mallory shifted his weight slightly, looked at the two men to his right, Andrea with his impassive face empty of all expression, Louki with the sheen of tears in his eyes. Then he became aware of the low murmuring to his left, shifted round again. Bitter-mouthed, savage, the American was swearing softly and continuously, oblivious to the pain as he pounded his fist time and again into the sharp-edged gravel before him.

What Loiiki told you

Ah, well, mebbe I was mistaken, Miller said magnanimously. He squinted again at the guns, forehead lined in puzzlement.That first one's a mortar, I reckon. But what in the universe that other weird looking contraption can be-

Of course, of course I had been wondering. . . Someone has been careless. There was no other way, therecould have been no other way. It would only require a single flash to tip them off. He paused, remembering, then grinned wryly.It could have been myself. All this started just after I had been on watch-and Panayis didn't have the glasses. He shook his head in mortification.Itmust have been me, Andrea.

Just one more, Gawd. The quiet voice was almost a prayer.That's all I ask. Just one more.

Of course, of course I had been wondering. . . Someone has been careless. There was no other way, therecould have been no other way. It would only require a single flash to tip them off. He paused, remembering, then grinned wryly.It could have been myself. All this started just after I had been on watch-and Panayis didn't have the glasses. He shook his head in mortification.Itmust have been me, Andrea.

It would be all of that. He risked a quick peep round one of the boulders, eased himself back again.Eight, mebbe ten of them still down there, boss, he reported.The poor bastards are like ostriches-trying to take cover behind stones the size of an orange. . . . We leave them be?

Just one more, Gawd. The quiet voice was almost a prayer.That's all I ask. Just one more.

I was only sayin' what Louki told me, he said defensively.

They will, Mallory assured him.Just as soon as we fire and they find out where we are.

Won't try again, huh? Miller was already sliding his gun around the rock in front of him when Mallory caught his arm and pulled him back.

Abruptly Miller's smile vanished and he nodded.

I do not believe it, Andrea said flatly.You couldn't make a mistake like that, my Captain.

Jus' daydreamin', boss he said easily.Jus' daydreamin'. He shook out his pack of cigarettes.Have one?

Miller looked round at him, eyes cold and still and empty of all recognition, then he blinked several times and grinned, a cut and bruised hand automatically reaching for his cigarettes.

Just one more, Gawd. The quiet voice was almost a prayer.That's all I ask. Just one more.

That's right, Miller gowled.Cheer us all up. But he was grateful to the New Zealander for trying to take their minds off what they had to do.Why don't they use them?

I do not believe it, Andrea said flatly.You couldn't make a mistake like that, my Captain.

Jus' daydreamin', boss he said easily.Jus' daydreamin'. He shook out his pack of cigarettes.Have one?

Mallory stared at him, slowly released his grip on the glasses, nodded several times in succession.

Miller looked round at him, eyes cold and still and empty of all recognition, then he blinked several times and grinned, a cut and bruised hand automatically reaching for his cigarettes.

Gawd help us, Miller muttered.Fragmentation bombs, you said He lapsed into gloomy silence.

Abruptly Miller's smile vanished and he nodded.

I was only sayin' what Louki told me, he said defensively.

I do not believe it, Andrea said flatly.You couldn't make a mistake like that, my Captain.

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