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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.

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?

Not only could, but did, I'm afraid. But we'll worry about that afterwards. The middle of the ragged line of advancing soldiers, slipping and stumbling on the treacherous scree, had almost reached the lower limits of the blackened, stunted remains of the copse.They've come far enough. I'll take the white helmet in the middle, Louki. Even as he spoke he could hear the soft scrape as the three others slid their automatic barrels across and between the protective rocks in front of them, could feel the wave of revulsion that washed through his mind. But his voice was steady enough as he spoke, relaxed and almost casual.Right. Let them have it now

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.

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?

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

We leave them be Mallory echoed emphaticaliy. The thought of any more slaughter made him feel almost physically sick.They won't try again. He broke off suddenly, flattened himself in reflex instinct as a burst of machine-gun bullets struck the steep-walled rock above their beads and whined up the gorge in vicious ricochet.

That inhuman bastard that sent these poor devils up that hill, Mallory said quietly.Make a wonderful pietare seen over the sights of your rifle, wouldn't he?

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.

Mallory touched his arm.What is it, Dusty?

Mallory touched his arm.What is it, Dusty?

I would not be using these, my Captain. They have betrayed us once already. I have been thinking, and it can be nothing else. The sunlight reflecting from the lenses . . .

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

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-

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.

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

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

Abruptly Miller's smile vanished and he nodded.

Abruptly Miller's smile vanished and he nodded.

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.

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

Miller studied the guns drawn up on the road behind the two trucks and cleared his throat.

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