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datatime: 2022-12-04 06:44:01 Author:XXYBWCHf

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

'You don't sound hopeful, my friend?'

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?'

'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.'

'You don't sound hopeful, my friend?'

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

'It'll wait.'

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

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

'Sweet Jesus.' Harper stood up, 'Are you all right, sir?'

'It'll wait.'

'What day is it?'

'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.'

Light, like carved silver, slashed the cathedral's gloom, slanted across the crouching grey pillars, splintered o(T brass and paint, drowned the votive candles that burned before the statues, inched its way over the broad, worn flagstones as the sun moved higher, and Sharpe waited. A priest, lost in the depths of the choir, mumbled beyond the window light, and Sharpe saw Harper cross himself.

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

'Sweet Jesus.' Harper stood up, 'Are you all right, sir?'

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.

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

'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.'

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

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

Light, like carved silver, slashed the cathedral's gloom, slanted across the crouching grey pillars, splintered o(T brass and paint, drowned the votive candles that burned before the statues, inched its way over the broad, worn flagstones as the sun moved higher, and Sharpe waited. A priest, lost in the depths of the choir, mumbled beyond the window light, and Sharpe saw Harper cross himself.

'You don't sound hopeful, my friend?'

Harper kicked the fallen beam. 'Perhaps they can rig another telegraph, sir?'

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