The slaughter was terrible, and, being reduced to extremity, we offered to capitulate on honourable terms; at this there was a lull in the action and time to look about. We were so encumbered by our dead and wounded that a regular formation was almost impossible, but this we set about righting with all possible haste. Our Colonel sat straight and erect in the midst of us, in earnest talk with the French Major-General, who was in command. Lieutenant Butler was near me, and O'Reilly I saw attending to the removal of some of the wounded. The men, half-dressed, and many of them covered with blood, were resting as if the affair were entirely over, and already were talking and joking with each other in their usual way as if our lives did not hang on the answer to our terms. At length word was brought that our offer was refused, and we must surrender at discretion. Our chiefs whispered a moment, then Colonel MacDonnell rose to his full height in his stirrups and called in a voice deep with feeling, "Officers and gentlemen of the Company of St. James! They refuse us the only terms which honourable men can accept without disgrace. Officers, Gentlemen, All! I call on you to fight while a charge of powder and ball is left to living or to dead!" And the cheer we gave him carried our answer back to our ungenerous foe.
Then she strolled back through the house into the garden, and stood for a time considering the situation.
Bells rang, guns roared, and thanks went up to God for the great work He had done.
“Mr. MacAdam refused to make any fuss over the slight wound he had received. He declared it was only a scratch. He stopped at a local cottage hospital, where it was dressed and bound up—he did not, of course, reveal his identity. He then drove, as per schedule, straight to Charing Cross, where a special train for Dover was awaiting him, and, after a brief account of what had happened had been given to the anxious police by Captain Daniels, he duly departed for France. At Dover, he went on board the waiting destroyer. At Boulogne, as you know, the bogus car was waiting for him, carrying the union Jack, and correct in every detail.”
Doc's prediction about a long hard fight was decidedly not fulfilled.
The platoon to the left of the Terrible Third had ballooned and was column-of-squadding toward the entrance to the Syphon. "At ease, men," Hartford said. "Increase suit-pressure one pound. Open and check reserve air-tanks. Close off filters." The men blimped a bit. Their suits sausaged out around their arms and legs. Should some trooper have a pinhole in his safety-suit, the positive pressure within would keep the deadly antiseptic solution from seeping in. "Okay, men. First squad off to the sheep-dip. Check the man ahead of you for bubbles. This is Save-Your-Buddy Week," Hartford said.
Hartford grimaced. Contaminated humans must lead disgusting lives. They smelled of ferments, were bloated with bacterially elaborated gases, suffered rot in their very teeth. Their corpses—poor forefathers!—suffered corruption that would never touch an Axenite, whose unembalmed cadaver would last longer than the best-mummified Pharaoh.
"Tain-HUT!" Fifteen hundred pairs of boots smacked together. The Adjutant held up his clipboard and read precisely: "Attention to orders:
"They must have landed long ago," she quavered. "Can't we go back to the starting-place? It must be nearer."
“Go ahead,” vouchsafed Link indifferently, with a covert glance of reassurance at his scandalised wife, who had made a family idol of Chum. “He’s there. Nobody’s stoppin’ you.”
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