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Chapter 39

Mike knelt down next to Julie Sims. Frank's niece was sitting cross-legged next to a small tree at the crest of the ridge, just a few yards from its highest point. Mike didn't recognize the tree. Some kind of elm, he thought. The leaves had not yet been touched by autumn color.

Julie's rifle was propped against her shoulder, the butt nestled against her inner calf. The rifle was a Remington Model 700, firing .308 rounds, with an ART-2 scope. The gun was a larger caliber than was used in biathlon competition in the modern era, but it was the rifle Julie preferred for hunting. Her father had bought it for her three years earlier.

Next to her was Karen Tyler, the girl who would serve as her observer. Karen was raised up on her knees. A pair of binoculars were slung around her neck, but at the moment she was studying the oncoming mercenaries through an M49 spotting scope. The expensive optical piece had been Frank Jackson's contribution to Julie's fledgling biathlon ambitions, along with her skis. For all Frank's crabbing, Mike knew, he adored his niece as much as any of his own sons.

"You're sure about this?" asked Mike. He spoke very softly, so only Julie could hear.

Julie's lips twitched, but her eyes never left the landscape below the ridge. "What? Are you going to lecture me too?"

Solemnly, Mike shook his head. "Look at me, Julie." For all the softness of his tone, the words were full of command. Julie turned to face him. As always, Mike was struck by her classically "all-American country girl" features. Peaches-and-cream complexion, light brown hair, blue eyes, open face, snub nose. No one except a man in love with her would ever call Julie Sims "beautiful." Just—good-looking.

Mike nodded at Karen, now exchanging the scope for the binoculars—just as James Nichols had trained her. Use the binoculars for scanning the area, the scope for pinpointing target locations. He could see the little notebook by her knee in which Karen had scrawled key target areas and wind direction. The target area page was full. There were only two words on the opposite page: no wind.

"This isn't target shooting, Julie. Or deer hunting. This is sniper work. In the past few weeks, James trained you the way he was trained when he was in the Marines, after he volunteered for sniper school."

Julie said nothing. Her face was expressionless. "Did you ever wonder why he never finished the training?" he asked gently.

Nothing. Mike sighed. "He told me—and I'm willing to bet he told you, too. He thought being a tough guy and a good shot would be enough. It isn't. They make sure you understand that. And you can drop out any time you want, without prejudice."


"When he did finally understand it, he dropped out. He just didn't have the temperament. And I know I wouldn't, either. One shot, one kill—and you're killing men, not animals. Men with faces you can see."

Finally, an expression came to her young, almost angelic face. But Mike couldn't quite interpret it. Sarcasm? No, it was more like whimsy; or maybe, wry amusement.

"Did Uncle Frank ever tell you the story," she asked, "about the first time I went deer hunting? How I cried like a baby after I shot my first buck?"

Mike nodded. Julie's expression grew very wry.

"You know why? The deer was so pretty. And it had never done me any harm." Julie cocked her head toward her observer, a girl no older than she. Another recent high-school graduate. Slender, where Julie was not, but otherwise—peas from a pod.

"Hey, Karen! Those guys look pretty to you?"

Karen shifted her gum into a corner of her mouth. "Nope. Ugly bastards. Mean looking, too. Look more like wild dogs than cute little deer."

Julie bared her teeth. The smile was far more savage than anything belonging on the face of an eighteen-year-old, male or female. "That's what I thought. Hey, Karen! Watcha think they'll do—to you and me, I mean—if they get their hands on us?"

Karen was back to chewing her gum. Her words came out in a semimumble. "Don't want to think about it, girl. But I'll tell you one thing. Won't be trying to sweet-talk us into the backseat of a car. Not likely."

The smile left Julie's face; but, if anything, the sense of whimsy was even stronger in her eyes. She gave Mike a level gaze.

"That's the whole problem with allowing men into combat," she said solemnly. "You guys are just too emotional about the whole thing."

Mike chuckled. "All right, Julie—enough! Just checking."

"S'okay, Mike. I like you, too. But I'll be fine. Just give me the word, and I'll start dropping the bastards."

Mike shook his head slightly. The gesture was more rueful than anything else. He rose to his feet. "How far are they now, Karen? I make it six hundred yards."

" 'Bout right," came the reply. "A little less, those first horsemen. The crossroad is right around five hundred fifty yards, and they're almost there."

"You two got your locations fixed?" Both girls nodded. "Okay, then. I want to wait a bit. Don't want to scare them off before the Scots can circle. I want that army captured, not running off to attack some other town."

Mike turned his head, looking for Mackay. Mackay was standing next to Frank Jackson some fifteen yards off. Mike had asked the Scottish commander to stay with him as an adviser. Mackay had agreed readily enough. Much more readily than Mike had expected, in fact. At the time, Mike had ascribed that willingness to nothing more than Mackay's confidence in Lennox. But now, seeing the Scotsman staring at Julie, he realized that Mackay had an interest of his own.

Mike managed not to smile. He had noticed the way in which Mackay, in times past, had tried not to ogle Julie in her cheerleader costume. The Scotsman had been quite discreet about it, in fact, despite the bare legs and Julie's exuberant athleticism. Mike found it amusing that Mackay was doing a much poorer job of maintaining his gentlemanly couth, seeing Julie now in her baggy hunting outfit. The Scotsman seemed utterly fascinated by the girl.

Mike cleared his throat. "Uh, Alex?"

Startled, Mackay jerked his gaze away from Julie. "Aye?"

Mike pointed toward the still-distant mob of mercenaries. "How close do they need to be? For Lennox to be able to surround them before they can make their escape?"

Mackay, for all his own youth, was a seasoned cavalry officer. He took no more than a few seconds to gauge the problem. "Four hundred yards," came the confident answer. "Once all of them have passed the crossroad. That'll do nicely."

Mike turned back to Karen and Julie. Karen nodded. Julie ignored him. She was giving Mackay an odd look. Then, quickly, looked away and hefted her rifle. There might have been a slight flush on her cheeks. Maybe.

Mike strolled back to the top of the ridge, where Frank and Mackay were standing. Frank was studying the mercenaries on the level ground below through his own set of binoculars. When Mike came up alongside the Scotsman, he said casually, as if commenting on the weather: "She's got a boyfriend, you know."

Mackay's flush was not slight in the least.

Mike did smile, now. "Frank doesn't think much of him, though."

Jackson never took the binoculars away from his eyes. "Worthless snot, you ask me. Thinks 'cause he was the captain of a high-school football team that he's some kind of bigshot for life. Probably wind up flipping hamburgers for the next thirty years."

He lowered the eyepieces. His face was quite expressionless. "Rather see her get hooked up with a more substantial sort of man, myself. Even if he ain't as pretty as a homecoming king."

Silence. Mackay's eyes were riveted on the mercenaries, as if he had never seen enemy soldiers before. His lips were pressed tightly shut.

Frank glanced at him. "Your teeth bothering you? Why don't you pay a visit to the town's dentist? It'll hurt, mind you—he's pretty well out of anesthetic. But I'm sure he could fix them up."

Mackay's flush deepened. Mike knew that the Scotsman's teeth made him nervous in the presence of American women. For this day and age, Alex's teeth weren't in bad shape. But by American standards, they were something of an eyesore.

Mackay's preoccupation caused him to lapse into the dialect of his youth. " 've thought on it," he muttered. "I'll no mind t'pain."

The last statement was flat, firm. Mike didn't doubt him for an instant. Men of Mackay's time had standards of pain acceptance that veered just as widely from those of Americans as their dental condition. "Anesthetic," to a man like Mackay, meant half a bottle of wine—and glad to get it.

Behind his lips, Mike could see Mackay's tongue running over his teeth. " 'Tis no the pain. S'the expense. I dinna ken if I can afford it."

Frank made a faint snorting sound. More of a sniff, perhaps. "Hell, don't worry about that, Alex. Your credit'll be good with him."

"Credit?" Mackay's eyes widened. "Credit? I don't even know t'man!"

"I do," stated Frank. "He's my brother-in-law. Henry G. Sims, DDS." Jackson nodded toward the sniper. "Julie's father, as it happens. And he don't think any better of little old Chip-shit than I do. As it happens."

The binoculars went back up to his eyes. "So go see him, why don't you?"

"Good idea," concurred Mike. He gave Mackay a friendly slap on the shoulder. "Good idea."


As Gretchen was about to leave the shack, a young boy came rushing in. She recognized him—one of Mathilde's two younger brothers.

"Max Jungers is outside!" hissed the boy. He leaned over, his face anxious and intense. Gretchen saw the difficulty with which he was controlling his impulse to point.

Her eyes flitted to Mathilde. Mathilde's own face was tight with apprehension.

"Shit! I thought he'd decided to leave us alone."

"Who is Max Jungers?" asked Gretchen.

The words came out in a quiet, tumbling rush, from all of the women at once. When they were done, Gretchen nodded. Local tough. Hooligan. Thief. Cutpurse. Would-be pimp.

"The usual," she muttered. "He has bothered you?"

The women nodded. Mathilde's little brother was staring at her with open eyes. "I think—" he squeaked. Then, clearing his throat: "I think he's not here for that." The boy hesitated, as if abashed. "I think—"

Gretchen chuckled. The sound was as humorless as a razor blade. "Me?"

The boy nodded. The gesture was quick, frightened.

Gretchen rose from her chair. "Well, then. I should go speak to him. Since he came all this way to see me."

Three seconds later, she was striding out of the shack. The women watched her go, gaping. There they squatted, for a moment, before the reality registered. Like a little mob, they rushed to the door and stared out.

Max Jungers, sure enough. He had apparently been lurking at the corner. Now, seeing Gretchen coming down the narrow street, he smiled and ambled toward her across the cobblestones. His hand was resting loosely on the hilt of a dirk scabbarded to his waist.

"Shit!" exclaimed Mathilde again. "There's going to be trouble!"

Her cousin Inga nodded sadly. "It's too bad. I liked Gretchen."

Mathilde stared at her. "Are you mad? Don't you understand yet?"


"Four hundred yards!" snapped Karen. Before the last word was spoken, Julie's Remington erupted. Less than a second later, the most flamboyantly caparisoned mercenary "leader" was hammered out of his saddle. Julie was using her match ammunition. The 173-grain boat-tail round punched right through the front of his cuirass and took a goodly piece of his heart with it through the backplate.

Julie was not particularly tall for an American girl—five and a half feet—but she weighed a hundred and forty pounds. The shapeliness of her somewhat stocky figure was due entirely to muscle. She absorbed the recoil with no difficulty at all. A quick, practiced, easy motion jacked another round into the chamber.

"Target area six!" snapped Karen. "Three hundred fifty yards! Hat—green feather!"

Julie was standing, to give herself maximum ease of movement. At that range, she was not worried about accuracy. It took her not more than three seconds to bring the next target into her scope.

Crack! The head beneath a green-feathered hat spilled blood and brains. The horseman slumped sidewise out of the saddle.

"Fuck," grunted Julie. "Missed!"

Mackay's eyes were like saucers. Mike was amused—and half-appalled. "She was aiming for what James calls the 'sniper's triangle'—both eyes down to the breastbone," he explained. "That shot was a little high."

Karen: "Area three! Three hundred fifty again! Big old floppy hat!"

Crack! A cavalryman was driven out of his saddle onto the rump of his horse. A red stain appeared on his cloth coat, just above the belt buckle. Behind him, a much larger pool of blood spilled down his mount's tail.

"Shit!" screeched Julie. She jacked another round into the chamber. The gesture was angry, frustrated. Her uncle hurried toward her. In the distance, Mike could see the cavalryman clutching his stomach. His legs flopped uselessly, trying to hold him onto the horse. Mike realized his spine was severed. A second later, he was toppling off the horse. He hit the ground like a sack.

"Five ring at six o'clock," said Mike softly. "She's off a little." He glanced at Mackay. The Scotsman had transferred the wide-eyed stare to Julie.

Frank was at her side now. Karen started to call out another target, but Frank waved her down. With one hand on Julie's shoulder, Frank was speaking urgently into his niece's ear.

Mike could just hear the words. "Take it easy, baby. Just buck fever, that's all it is. The bastards are going down. You aren't wide, just off your elevation. Easy to fix. Just take a breath—relax—that's it."

Julie took a deep breath and began easing it out. Another. She flashed her uncle a quick, thankful smile. Frank smiled back for an instant, before frowning ferociously.

"And don't let me hear you using that kind of language again, young lady!" He started wagging his finger.

"You?" demanded Julie. "Foul-mouth Frank himself? Ha!"

Cheerily, now—smiling—Julie looked to Karen.

"Call 'em out!"

Karen was right on the job. "Area one! Four hundred yards! The fatso!"

Crack! A heavyset officer lost the proverbial pound of flesh—right from the heart itself. The shot was perfect.

And so were the rest. Crack! Crack! Down, down.

Frank reloaded for her while Julie rested her shoulder. She was back to work in seconds.

Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!

"Aye, an' she's t'true Queen o' Hearts," whispered Mackay.


When Gretchen was fifteen feet away from Jungers, she stopped. So did he, leering cheerfully. He took his hand from the dirk and planted his arms akimbo.

"Well now, girl—it seems to me—"

"Did you see my husband?" interrupted Gretchen.

Jungers broke off. For an instant, his face was still. Then, just as quickly, the leer was back. More of a sneer, really.

"The big fat one? Not worried about him."

"No reason to be," agreed Gretchen. She nodded, then smiled. The smile was very thin. Like a razor.

"He would have tried to reason with you. That's why I love him so." Gretchen reached into her bodice and removed the 9mm. The motion was easy and relaxed. So was the way she levered the slide. So was the way she slipped into a firing crouch, and brought the pistol up in a two-handed grip. She had spent hours and hours on the firing range, over the past few weeks, being trained by Dan Frost.

Jungers' eyes widened. But he never thought to reach for his dirk. He didn't recognize the pistol for what it was, until the first shot was fired. But that shot blew out his cerebellum along with his teeth, so the thought was fleeting.

Gretchen stepped up four paces, aimed at the body lying on the street, and fired again. That round went into the heart. There was no need for it, but Dan had trained her to go for the body mass shot. "No headshots unless they're wearing armor," he had insisted, over and again. Gretchen was feeling a little guilty. She just hadn't been able to resist wiping that leer away.


The mercenaries were truly a mob by now, milling aimlessly. Their pikes bristled in all directions, like a porcupine. Dozens of arquebuses were fired at random, blasting at nearby shrubbery.

"I'll be damned," hissed Mike. "They don't even realize what's killing them."

"At this range?" choked Mackay. "They've not a thought in the world!" The young commander gave his head a sharp shake. He was finally able to tear his eyes away from Julie and look down the slope behind him. Far below, Lennox's upturned face was staring back, waiting for the command.

Alex whipped off his hat and waved it. Lennox spurred his horse into motion, bellowing his own commands. Within thirty seconds, the Scots cavalry was pounding around the eastern end of the little ridge, aiming to encircle the left flank of the mercenaries by using the crossroad.

In those thirty seconds, Julie extracted three additional hearts. Then there was a pause. The mercenaries had finally realized that only cavalrymen—officers—were being targeted. Every man on a horse who was still alive had clambered off. Most of the men wearing fancy headgear had removed it like so many snakes.

Mike heard Karen muttering. "Have to just pick 'em at random now. Okay. Area three! Any—"

"Hold up!" shouted Mike. "Hold up, Julie! That's enough!"

He raised his binoculars. The mercenaries and their camp followers were crowded into a rough, packed circle. Julie's long-range massacre had confused them utterly. They had assumed themselves to be under attack from nearby skirmishers, and had taken position to charge in any direction once the enemy was spotted. By the time they saw the Scots cavalry pouring out from behind the ridge, it was too late to even think of fleeing. Most of them were on foot, and the cavalrymen didn't dare get back on their horses.

Mike turned. Gayle was right there, handing him the CB. "Okay," he ordered into the radio. "APC move up. Remember, guys—I want a surrender, not a slaughter. So start with the loudspeakers."

Below, the APC's engine roared into life. Hearing the sound behind them, Heinrich and his men immediately cleared a path down the middle of the road. Seconds later, the APC went charging through the gap. The German at the loudspeaker microphone was already bellowing out the terms of surrender.

"You are surrounded. Lay down your weapons. Quarter will be given to all unarmed men. Your women and your possessions will not be touched. Lay down your weapons. New terms of enlistment will be offered. Pay—good pay—food and shelter. Only to unarmed men. Lay down your weapons. Quarter will be given—"

On and on, over and over. By the time the APC reached the mercenaries—still hundreds of yards from the ridge—many of them were beginning to lay down their pikes and firearms. To the north, the Scots had finished the encirclement and were beginning to trot forward. Hurriedly, all the mercenaries began to disarm.

"A combination of the old and the new," mused Mike. Changing sides was common practice in this day and age, for surrendered soldiers. Even if APCs and rifles which could slay unerringly across a fourth of a mile were almost like magic. "Old and the new."

He turned to Mackay, but saw that the Scotsman's mind was elsewhere.

"God in His Heaven," whispered Alex. "I've been in—what?—call it six battles. Never killed that many men. Not in all my days put together."

Mike followed his eyes. Julie was leaning against the tree. So was her rifle. She was staring at the enemy, her arms crossed over her chest. Her face was blank as a sheet. Frank put his hand on her shoulder and gave it a little squeeze. That gesture brought Julie's own hand up, covering her uncle's. Other than that—


"Can you handle this, young man?" asked Mike softly.

Mackay never looked away. His tongue, again, swept teeth under tight lips. "Where does this dentist do his work?" he asked.

"I'll take you there myself." Mike smiled. "As it happens, I don't think any better of her boyfriend than Frank or Henry."


"There will be trouble," muttered Mathilde. She was now standing alongside Gretchen, not ten feet from Jungers' body. Mathilde plucked at Gretchen's sleeve. "Come. He was nothing but garbage. If we are not here when the Watch arrives, they will not question anything. Just another street killing."

Gretchen swiveled her head. Her eyes widened slightly. "Oh, but I want them to," was her reply. And she refused to budge thereafter, for all of Mathilde's pleas.


"And maybe not," concluded Heinrich. He grinned at Ferdinand. "So what do you say now, wise man? Ever been in such an easy fight in your life?"

Heinrich spread his arms and looked down, inspecting his body. "Look! Not even a speck of dust. Much less blood and guts."

Ferdinand glared at him. But not for more than a moment or two. Then he raised his head and gazed at the girl standing by the small tree atop the ridge. He heaved a deep sigh.

"Ah . . . ! I still say—ah!"

He rubbed his side. Even beneath the heavy cloth, Ferdinand could feel the ridged scar tissue. A pike had done for that, years ago, somewhere in Bohemia.

Suddenly, he snatched the helmet off his head and raised it high.

"Joo-li!" he cried. "Let's hear it for Joo-li!"

The cheer was echoed instantly by all the men in the German contingent. Almost two hundred helmets were raised high—a good number of them atop bayonets.



The watchmen who formed Jena's constabulary trailed after Gretchen like minnows after a shark. The Chief of the Watch scurried at her side, trying to match her striding steps. His hands fluttered with protest.

"There must be an investigation!" he exclaimed. "An investigation!"

"Absolutely!" boomed Gretchen. "My husband will insist!" She smiled down at the short, portly Chief. "You remember him, perhaps? The large man on the motorcycle? With the shotgun?"

The Chief of the Watch had seen him, in fact. And he could guess—not that he wanted to—as to the meaning of the strange terms "motorcycle" and "shotgun."

"A very short investigation," he muttered. "Only a formality."

"I think not!" boomed Gretchen. "My husband will insist otherwise!"

Again, she smiled. "And I, of course, must obey his every wish."


Finally, Julie's face gained an expression. She blushed with embarrassment, hearing the cheers coming from below in thick German accents. Then, blushed deeper still. The American soldiers now climbing up the ridge were cheering themselves. Julie! Julie!

Frank managed to sigh and grin at the same time. "So, niece of mine. How does it feel—being cheered yourself, for once, instead of leading them?"

"Feels great," came the immediate response. Julie was now grinning herself. Then, catching sight of one of the faces coming up the slope, the grin faded.

"Oh, damn," she grumbled. "I was afraid of that. Chip's sulking again."

Frank looked away. "He's good at that. I've noticed."

Julie cast a suspicious glance at him. "Are you criticizing my boyfriend, Uncle Frank?"

"Me? God forbid. Nothing else, I've got too much sense to tell a young lady what kind of man she oughta latch onto."

The suspicion was replaced by a mischievous little gleam. "God forbid, my ass!" Then, Julie sighed. "Oh, hell. I'm beginning to think—I don't know. Maybe Chip's a little—I don't know. Too young for me. Too immature. What do you think, Uncle Frank?"

"Not for me to say," was the reply. "Not for me to say."

"God forbid," agreed Julie. "God forbid."


When Gretchen's husband arrived back at Jena, leading the triumphant American army on his motorcycle along with his friends, he did not demand a full investigation into the circumstances regarding the death of one Max Jungers at the hands of his wife.

Not at all. He more or less demanded, instead, that a fair piece of Jena be turned into rubble. Offered to do it himself, in fact, insofar as the very frightened Chief of the Watch could interpret his snarling phrases. And his friends, apparently, were offering to help.

So, when they arrived, did the Americans riding in the awesome APC. So did the Americans marching alongside the thousands of captured prisoners and their camp followers.

So did the Scots cavalry—with the sole quibble that all of Jena would look better, loose stone piled on charred beam.

The Chief of the Watch—all of the town's notables, in fact, who had gathered hastily by now—had no difficulty at all understanding the Scotsmen. The Scots accent was heavy, but their command of German was excellent. And whatever slight misunderstanding there might have been was promptly cleared up by the German contingent in the American army, who added their own cheerful recommendations. Most of which involved the sort of gruesome details which only hardened mercenaries can send tripping so lightly off the tongue.

Fortunately—danke Gott!—the American commander was a less irascible sort of man. Slightly.

"Bad," muttered Mike angrily. "Very bad!" He glared at the cluster of frightened notables. "One of our women molested—after not more than a few hours in this town? Just visiting old friends and distant relatives?"

He snarled. "Very bad!" Then, visibly restraining his fury: "But— No doubt the town itself was not responsible."

Heinrich interpreted. A small sea of nodding heads greeted that last sentence. Mike responded through clenched teeth.

First, to Heinrich: "Interpret precisely!"

Then, to the notables: "This scoundrel. Jungers, his name? He has friends? Accomplices?"

Eagerly, the notables offered up the sacrificial lambs. Names were named. Faces described. A particularly disreputable tavern mentioned—specified—described in detail—its location precisely depicted—offers of help to find the way—

The APC rumbled down narrow streets, followed by perhaps a hundred American soldiers. The large and well-armed husband stayed behind, surrounded by several hundred equally fierce-looking friends and comrades. Fortunately, he seemed preoccupied with comforting his timid, trembling, terribly upset wife. So, at least, the notables interpreted the beautiful young woman's shaking shoulders and heaving chest. The husband's broad smile, of course, was nothing more than a man trying to settle his wife's nerves.

By the time the APC reached its destination, the tavern had long since emptied. Not even the owner of the ramshackle stone building had stayed behind.

Wise choice. The Americans—in and out of the APC—put on a splendid display of firepower. The large crowd of Jena's citizens who watched were most impressed. And even more pleased. The tavern's reputation was well deserved.

So, the incredibly rapid rifle fire which shattered all the windows and pockmarked the soft stone walls was cheered exuberantly. The Claymore mine mounted on the APC's front armor which blew the heavy wooden door into splinters was greeted with gasping applause. And the pièce de résistance—the grenades lobbed into the interior which turned a tavern into so much wood-and-glass wreckage—produced squeals of glee and even, here and there, some dancing in the streets.

When it was all over, everyone's good mood had returned. The notables as much as the Americans. It was not surprising, therefore, that the town's high and mighty were quick to accept Mike's new offer.

Perhaps—in addition to trade and commerce—

Perhaps—and the value of exchanging knowledge and pooling printing facilities—

—and, of course, now that he thought about it, perhaps a closer joining of forces to protect everyone against the ravages of the coming winter—

—it occurred to the American leader—


—that Jena could use a bit of help, patrolling the streets and keeping the ruffian element under control.



As they left town, one of Jena's now-fawning notables made so bold as to ask Mike a question. Heinrich interpreted again.

Mike looked up at the banner flying from the APC. It was a modification of the U.S. flag. The same thirteen red-and-white stripes. But the blue field in the corner contained only a single star. A small one, for the space, nestled in the upper left.

"We call ourselves the United States," he explained.

The notable conferred with Heinrich, making sure that he hadn't misunderstood the plural. Again, he asked a question.

"Oh, there's just one state. At the moment." Mike pointed to the single star. "That's Grantville, and the surrounding area."

He beamed down at the notable. "We expect to add others. I think Badenburg and its countryside will be joining us soon. Certainly hope so!" Again, he pointed to the flag.

"Then there will be two stars."

Again, the beaming smile. "You grasp the logic?"

And there he left the notable. Staring at the flag, as it passed slowly out of sight.


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