(1984) In Honour Bound by Gerald Seymour

(1984) In Honour Bound by Gerald Seymour

Author:Gerald Seymour [Seymour, Gerald]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Published: 2011-04-18T23:00:00+00:00


As the light failed, they had left the resting place, moved on, gone north. The valley floor was a gentle gradient, but the slightest of slopes over the rough ground was hard on the leg muscles, aching on the lungs.

The sinking sun was behind them. Barney walked into his moving shadow. He felt the tiredness. He felt the dirt on his body. He felt the lice-bite sores chafing under his arms. He felt a weakness, a looseness, in his stomach. And no bed tonight, no shelter from the evening wind. He wondered how long the boy could sustain the route marching and the lack of warm food. Barney stopped.

'Gul Bahdur…'

The shout echoed in the valley, came back to him from the rock faces.

…By first light tomorrow we have to be on top of the valley, where is the place to climb?'

The answering voice, weak and failing in the winds. 'You cannot climb in the dark.'

'Where is the place to climb?'

The boy was staggering closer to Barney, slipping on the rocks, tears nearly suppressed. 'You cannot climb in the dark, in the day you can climb a side valley. You can see the side valley as well as I can, ahead.'

'If I can climb in the dark, so can you.'

'Not in the dark, Barney.'

Barney watched the boy, watched his spirit driving him closer, watched his courage.

He stumbled, he grazed his knee, he squeezed his eyes, he clung to the mules' bridle ropes. Barney set down the Redeye launcher, sat beside it, waited for the boy to reach him. They could only climb to the summits by using the side valleys. He wanted to taunt the boy, to tease more strength into his slight body. He thought he had succeeded. Only by the inventive use of their stamina would they live.

There were no trees here that had survived the last winter. There was a fallen, bark-peeled bough beside the river bed where it had been left by the spring floods.

Barney led a mule to the bough and roped it to the dead wood. He unloaded the two missiles and his backpack from the mule. From the pack he took trousers, the only pair other than the ones that he wore, and a shirt, and without asking he took the turban from the boy's head.

'What are you doing, Barney?' the boy asked, a small tired voice.

'I have to trick them for each firing to succeed. With the fire we tricked them. With this too, perhaps.'

He took small stones and stuffed them into the legs of the trousers and into the waist, filled the trousers. He laid the shirt above the trousers and found more stones for the body of the shirt and for the arms. The trousers and the shirt were half masked by a rock, but would be visible from the air. He took a stone that was the size of a ripened melon and put the boy's turban on it and placed it against the neck of the shirt.

Together they loaded the two missile tubes and the pack onto the other mule's back.



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