The Half-Hearted eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 341 pages of information about The Half-Hearted.

He looked up at the questioner again.  “Bless me, Andy, so it’s you.”

The man gave a yell of delight.  “Lewis, upon my soul.  Who’d have thought it?  It is a Providence.  By Gad, I believe I’m just in time to save your life.”



Lewis got to his feet and blinked at the morning sun across the yard.

“That was a near shave.  Phew, I hate being a target for sharpshooting!  These devils are your friends the Bada-Mawidi.”

“The deuce they are,” said Andover lugubriously.  “I always knew it.  I’ve told Holm a hundred times, and now here is the beggar away sick and I am left to pay the piper.”

“I know.  I met him in Bardur, and that’s why I’m here.  He told me to tell you to mind the north gate.”

“More easily said than done.  We’re too few by half here if things get nasty.  How was the chap looking?”

“Pretty miserable.  Thwaite and I put him to bed.  Then they sent me off here, for I’ve got news for you.  You know a man called Marker?”

Andover nodded.

“I was dining with him the day before yesterday, and yesterday morning I got a note from him.  He says that he has heard from some private source that the Bada-Mawidi were arming and proposed an attack on Forza to-day.  He thinks they may have got their arms from the other side, you know.  At any rate he asked me to try to let you hear, and when I saw Holm last night and heard that such a thing was possible, I came off at once.  I suppose Marker is the sort of man who should know.”

“What did Thwaite say?”

“He was keen that I should come at once.  Do you think that it’s a false alarm?”

“Oh, it will be genuine enough on Marker’s part, but he may have been misinformed.  What beats me is the attack by day.  I know the Badas as I know my own name, and they’re too few at the best to have any chance of rushing the place.  Besides, they are poor fighters in the open.  On the other hand they are devils incarnate in a night attack, as we used to find to our cost.  You are sure he said to-day?”

“Sure.  Some time this morning.”

“Wonder what their game is.  However, he ought to be right if anybody is, and we are much obliged to you for your trouble.  You had a pretty hard time in the open, but how on earth did you get up the hill?”

“Deerstalking style.  It was good sport.  But for heaven’s sake, Andy, give me breakfast, and tell me what you want me to do.  I am under your orders now.”

“You’d better feed and then sleep for a bit.  If you don’t mind I’ll leave you, for I’ve got to be very busy.  And poor old Holm looked pretty sick, did he?  Well, I am glad he has been saved this affair anyhow.”

A Sikh orderly brought Lewis breakfast.  Beyond the tent door there was stir in the garrison.  Men were deployed in the yard, Gurkhas mainly, with a few Kashmir sepoys, and the loud harsh voice of Andover was raised to give orders.  It was a hot still morning, with something thunderous in the air.  Hot sulphurous clouds were massing on the western horizon, and the cool early breeze had gone.  The whole place smelt of powder.

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The Half-Hearted from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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