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The Irishman grinned. 'Wouldn't worry, sir. It doesn't offend me and if it offends Him then He's plenty of opportunity to punish you.'

Christ, thought Sharpe, Christ and a thousand deaths. Damn the bloody French, damn the bloody gunner, and he might as well have stayed in the warm bed with his arms round the girl. Footsteps sounded in the doorway and he swivelled anxiously, but it was only a squad of bare-headed Portuguese soldiers, muskets slung, who dipped their fingers in the holy water and clattered up the aisle to the priest and his service.

'Amen to that, sir.' Harper had infinitely more patience.

'Yes, sir.'

Sharpe turned to him. 'We must persuade Cox to let us out.'

Lossow's heels clicked in the side aisle; he came from behind a pillar, blinked in the sunlight. 'Where is he?' He disappeared again.

'Is that Mass?'

Lossow's heels clicked in the side aisle; he came from behind a pillar, blinked in the sunlight. 'Where is he?' He disappeared again.

Lossow swore in German, stood up, flinched as he put his weight on his left leg. Sharpe looked at him. 'Are you - hurt?'

'Just a bruise.' Lossow saw the midshipman's head. 'Good God.' He knelt by Charles, felt for a pulse, and opened one of the Captain's eyelids. 'Dead, poor fellow.'

Cox had not been at his headquarters; he was on the ramparts, they were told. So the three had hurried there and Cox had gone. Now he was said to be visiting the magazine, so they waited, and the light shaped the dust into silver bars and the muffled responses got lost somewhere in the high stone ceiling, and still Cox had not arrived. Sharpe slammed his scabbard on the floor, hurting his shoulder, so he cursed again.

'Sunday, sir.'

'Just a bruise.' Lossow saw the midshipman's head. 'Good God.' He knelt by Charles, felt for a pulse, and opened one of the Captain's eyelids. 'Dead, poor fellow.'

Sharpe turned round, blood flecking his uniform, and his face grim. 'We'll get out. With or without him, we'll get out.'

The Irishman grinned. 'Wouldn't worry, sir. It doesn't offend me and if it offends Him then He's plenty of opportunity to punish you.'

Sharpe felt ashamed. This was Harper's religion. 'I'm sorry.'

Lossow swore in German, stood up, flinched as he put his weight on his left leg. Sharpe looked at him. 'Are you - hurt?'

'You want to go?'

Lossow swore in German, stood up, flinched as he put his weight on his left leg. Sharpe looked at him. 'Are you - hurt?'

The Sergeant pointed to the head. 'Rest of him's over the wall, sir. Poor wee thing.'

'Just a bruise.' Lossow saw the midshipman's head. 'Good God.' He knelt by Charles, felt for a pulse, and opened one of the Captain's eyelids. 'Dead, poor fellow.'

Sharpe felt ashamed. This was Harper's religion. 'I'm sorry.'

Sharpe turned round, blood flecking his uniform, and his face grim. 'We'll get out. With or without him, we'll get out.'

Lossow swore in German, stood up, flinched as he put his weight on his left leg. Sharpe looked at him. 'Are you - hurt?'

'Yes.' Sharpe's shoulder hurt like the devil. 'Where's the boy?'

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