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|The Ending Of War||H. G. [Herbert George] Wells|
|Page 6 of 8||
'Not if we were to give up now. Not if we were to surrender the bombs. It is you who brought me into this....'
At last Pestovitch compromised. There was an inn perhaps half a mile from the farm. They could alight there and the king could get brandy, and rest his nerves for a time. And if he still thought fit to go back he could go back.
'See,' said Pestovitch, 'the light has gone again.'
The king peered up. 'I believe he's following us without a light,' said the king.
In the little old dirty inn the king hung doubtful for a time, and was for going back and throwing himself on the mercy of the council. 'If there is a council,' said Pestovitch. 'By this time your bombs may have settled it.
'But if so, these infernal aeroplanes would go.'
'They may not know yet.'
'But, Pestovitch, why couldn't you do all this without me?'
Pestovitch made no answer for a moment. 'I was for leaving the bombs in their place,' he said at last, and went to the window. About their conveyance shone a circle of bright light. Pestovitch had a brilliant idea. 'I will send my secretary out to make a kind of dispute with the driver. Something that will make them watch up above there. Meanwhile you and I and Peter will go out by the back way and up by the hedges to the farm....'
It was worthy of his subtle reputation and it answered passing well.
In ten minutes they were tumbling over the wall of the farm-yard, wet, muddy, and breathless, but unobserved. But as they ran towards the barns the king gave vent to something between a groan and a curse, and all about them shone the light--and passed.
But had it passed at once or lingered for just a second?
'They didn't see us,' said Peter.
'I don't think they saw us,' said the king, and stared as the light went swooping up the mountain side, hung for a second about a hayrick, and then came pouring back.
'In the barn!' cried the king.
He bruised his shin against something, and then all three men were inside the huge steel-girdered barn in which stood the two motor hay lorries that were to take the bombs away. Kurt and Abel, the two brothers of Peter, had brought the lorries thither in daylight. They had the upper half of the loads of hay thrown off, ready to cover the bombs, so soon as the king should show the hiding-place. 'There's a sort of pit here,' said the king. 'Don't light another lantern. This key of mine releases a ring....'
For a time scarcely a word was spoken in the darkness of the barn. There was the sound of a slab being lifted and then of feet descending a ladder into a pit. Then whispering and then heavy breathing as Kurt came struggling up with the first of the hidden bombs.
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|The World Set Free
H. G. [Herbert George] Wells
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