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Release date: 2022-12-06 05:57:47 Author:MBAvEMlG

He broke off and stared in amazement at the sight of the prisoner catapulting himself bodily across the room to crash into a distant corner, one arm up-curved in rigid defence, stark, unreasoning panic limned in every feature of his face. Slowly Stevens looked away, saw the triumphant grin on Andrea's face, the dawning comprehension in Brown's and Miller's. Suddenly he felt a complete fool Characteristically, Miller was the first to speak.

Miller made to speak but changed his mind. The American was a shrewd judge of people. There were those who could be ribbed and those who could not be ribbed. An almost hopeless mission, Miller was quietly aware, and as vital as it was, in his opinion, suicidal; but he was beginning to understand why they'd picked this tough, sunburnt New Zealander to lead it.

"Maybe he doesn't and maybe he does," Mallory said evenly. "All we know is that he "has" been listening and that we can't take any chances. There are far too many lives at stake." His voice suddenly hardened, the eyes were grim and pitiless. "Andrea!"

The sentry appeared in the doorway a few seconds later.

Miller made to speak but changed his mind. The American was a shrewd judge of people. There were those who could be ribbed and those who could not be ribbed. An almost hopeless mission, Miller was quietly aware, and as vital as it was, in his opinion, suicidal; but he was beginning to understand why they'd picked this tough, sunburnt New Zealander to lead it.

"Maybe he doesn't and maybe he does," Mallory said evenly. "All we know is that he "has" been listening and that we can't take any chances. There are far too many lives at stake." His voice suddenly hardened, the eyes were grim and pitiless. "Andrea!"

"My heart bleeds for Captain Briggs and his broken slumbers," Mallory said acidly. "He's had more sleep in a day than I've had in the past week." He glanced at his watch and the heavy brows came down in a straight line over the tired, brown eyes. "We've no time to waste. Get him here at once. Understand? At once!"

"Eenglish? Eenglish?" Shoulders and upturned palms lifted in the age-old gesture of incomprehension. "Ka Eenglish!"

Mallory shook his head wearily.

"Waal, waal, whaddya know! Mebbe he does speaka da Eenglish after all."

"Captain Briggs has gone to bed, sir. He left strict orders that he wasn't to be disturbed."

Matthews saluted and hurried away. Miller cleared his throat and clucked his tongue sadly.

Mallory shook his head wearily.

"You have the knife. Make it clean and quick. Between the shoulder blades!"

"My heart bleeds for Captain Briggs and his broken slumbers," Mallory said acidly. "He's had more sleep in a day than I've had in the past week." He glanced at his watch and the heavy brows came down in a straight line over the tired, brown eyes. "We've no time to waste. Get him here at once. Understand? At once!"

"I think this is a bit much, Captain Mallory!" The voice was high pitched in anger, more nasal than ever. "I'm not the duty errand-boy, you know. I've had a damned hard day and-"

Mallory looked questioningly at Andrea. The giant shook his head.

"You have the knife. Make it clean and quick. Between the shoulder blades!"

"Get Captain Briggs here, will you, Matthews?" he asked. "At once, please."

"Good God, sir, you can't-"

"Kurdistan or Armenian, Captain, I think. But I don't understand it."

"Maybe he does," Mallory admitted. "A man doesn't spend ten minutes with his ear glued to a keyhole if he doesn't understand a word that's being said. Give Matthews a call, will you, Brown?"

"Maybe he does," Mallory admitted. "A man doesn't spend ten minutes with his ear glued to a keyhole if he doesn't understand a word that's being said. Give Matthews a call, will you, Brown?"

They sat in silence for the next five minutes, then looked up as the door opened. Captain Briggs was hatless and wore a white silk muffler round his throat in place of the usual collar and tie. The white contrasted oddly with the puffed red of the heavy neck and face above. These had been red enough when Mallory had first seen them in the Colonel's office-high blood pressure and even higher living, Mallory had supposed: the extra deeper shades of red and purple now present probably sprung from a misplaced sense of righteous indignation. A glance at the choleric eyes, gleaming lightblue prawns afloat in a sea of vermilion, was quite enough to confirm the obvious.

Stevens cried out in horror, sent his chair crashing back as be leapt to his feet.

"You have a fixation about hotels, Corporal. This is a military establishment and these are army officers' billets."

They sat in silence for the next five minutes, then looked up as the door opened. Captain Briggs was hatless and wore a white silk muffler round his throat in place of the usual collar and tie. The white contrasted oddly with the puffed red of the heavy neck and face above. These had been red enough when Mallory had first seen them in the Colonel's office-high blood pressure and even higher living, Mallory had supposed: the extra deeper shades of red and purple now present probably sprung from a misplaced sense of righteous indignation. A glance at the choleric eyes, gleaming lightblue prawns afloat in a sea of vermilion, was quite enough to confirm the obvious.

"Waal, waal, whaddya know! Mebbe he does speaka da Eenglish after all."

He broke off and stared in amazement at the sight of the prisoner catapulting himself bodily across the room to crash into a distant corner, one arm up-curved in rigid defence, stark, unreasoning panic limned in every feature of his face. Slowly Stevens looked away, saw the triumphant grin on Andrea's face, the dawning comprehension in Brown's and Miller's. Suddenly he felt a complete fool Characteristically, Miller was the first to speak.

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