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datatime: 2022-12-03 10:21:27 Author:nBXIBChN

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

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

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.

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.

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

'Yes, sir.'

'Sunday, sir.'

'It'll wait.'

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

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

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.'

'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.

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

'It'll wait.'

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

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

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.

Lossow stood up, wiped blood from his hands. 'We must get out of here!'

Sharpe shrugged. 'And who works it? Maybe, I don't know.' He glanced at the battery, its embrasure plugged, and he knew that the French gunners would be celebrating. They deserved it. He doubted if the gun would fire again, not today; the iron barrels had a limited life and the gun had achieved its purpose. 'Come on. Let's see Cox.'

'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.

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