Jack Higgins – The Iron Tiger

He went out through the window and a moment later she heard the two engines break into life^ one after the other, and the sound of them faded into the rain.

The door creaked open and the old woman crept in..Did you hear?’ the girl said softly in Urdu.

The woman nodded and pulled the blankets aside. ‘Come, girl, there is not much time and you know what must be dons.’

Famia dressed quickly in an old pair of Drummond’s drill pants and a white naval sweater that dropped over her slim hips. She pulled on slippers, nodded to her mother and moved out on to the verandah. A moment later, she was running through the quiet streets, head down against the rain.

Within five minutes, she came to a bungalow almost identical with Drummond’s, ran up the steps to the verandah and knocked on the door furiously.

‘Mr. Cheung! Mr. Cheung!’ she called.

Action by Night

IT was the rain which saved Brackenhurst, the sudden torrential downpour which turned a normally quiet mountain stream into a brawling torrent, in one place filling a dip in the road with a ford of ice-cold water.

He had spent a long, hard day in the mountains on his own, prospecting for ore specimens and now, on his way back to his base camp at Howeel, the sudden rush of water gleaming white and brown in his head. lights caused him to stamp hard on the brake.

He got out, found a branch at the side of the road and poked it carefully into the water. It was at least four feet deep. He might be able to drive through, but on the other hand, if the damned thing bogged down, he’d had it He climbed back into the Land Rover and reversed to the top of the hoi, switched off his headlights and returned on foot

The water was cold, damned cold, and it swirled around his thighs, numbing him to the bone. He floundered forward with a curse and found dry land again. Thank God the camp was no more than half a mile away.

He trudged along the dirt road, head down against the driving rain, the light from his electric torch reaching into the darkness. Somewhere up ahead he seemed to hear a cry and then another, confused shouting and the dull, flat report of a gunshot muffled by the rain. A second later came the deadly staccato of a machine gun.

-“‘ He stood at the top of a small rise, a slight frown oa his face as he looked down through the pine trees at the flickering light of the campfire. There was a flurry of movement, the noise of vehicles, a shouted command.

Ha moved off the road and went down through the trees cautiously until he was ao more thaa twenty or thirty yards away from the camp, but above it on the hfflsids.

The hollow was alive with Chinese troops, little Stocky peasants in quilted uniforms and peaked caps, shining Burp guns in their hands, and the heart seemed to freeze inside him.

He could see two of Ms men, Galur and old Abdul, standing beside the fire, hands raised high in the air. There was the sudden roll of an automatic weapon and Abdul fell back across the fire. Galur turned, burst through the ring of men and ran for the trees, head down. For a moment it seemed that he might make it and then a burst from a sub-machine gun drove him on to his knees.

The soldiers were calling excitedly to each other as they started to search the tents. More and more of them pressed into the camp and with a sudden roar, a troop carrier came down the road, followed by another and yet another, half-tracks at the rear for mountain warfare, instead of wheels.

Brackenhurst had seen enough. He turned and scrambled back up the hill. From somewhere to his left, there was a cry and a bullet passed through the trees severing a branch.

He put down his head and ran faster, one arm raised before Ms face to ward off flailing branches. A moment later he floundered across the ford and staggered up the hill to the Land Rover.

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Categories: Higgins, Jack