Asher repeated softly to himself:
With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then
And newborn baby died:
But things like that you know must be
At every famous victory
David said, "Some people might think it rather morbid to quote poetry while walking
over a battlefield."
Asher replied, "Well we are dressed as British officers and the Empire was not built by squeemishness."
David replied, "Actually one might think so from your choice. Still, not altogether inappropriate."
They looked about. All round was litter. It was said you could tell a lot about an army from what litter it left behind. Searching it was part of intell work but Asher and David really wished to get away from headquarters. And to have a glimpse up close of what Nemesis looked like.
David then said:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings
Look on my works ye mighty and despair
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that collosal wreck boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands streatch far away.
"Also not inappropriate," replied Asher.
A number of vultures were circling above the barren hills. Probably decendants of the same vultures that had arrived when Hannibal and Scipio had met on a similar occasion a short distance away and many a century in the past. Some things never changed.
A few civilians were about. Work crews hired locally to clean up the mess. And no doubt profit by it. That hadn't changed much either.
Nearby was a field hospital in which wounded were laid side by side without regard for their uniforms. In North Africa it was still believed that all warriors were brothers.
A number of GIs were wandering about grinning and joking as only GIs could. One of them carried an finely made Luger.
David said,"Where did you get that?"
The soldier replied, "Well he wasn't needing it any more, Limey...sir. I thought I'd take it home to hang by the fireplace."
Germans fought for the Glory of the Fatherland. British fought for The Regiment. Americans fought to get back home. Not the worst of motives.
The soldier had a softspoken Tennesee accent. He was from the warlike stock that had provided so much of America's fighting men since before the Revolution.
Asher said, "You really shouldn't have that you know."
The soldier said,"Well, I reckon I shouldn't have to be here either."
Asher replied, "I didn't say I was gonna tell on you. Your welcome to it as far as I'm concerned."
There were a few prisoners nearby. One was pleading with the guard. Asher and David went over.
The prisoner said in heavily accented English, "Please, leave me this."
Asher saw it was a picture of a young woman.
The prisoner said, " my younger sister. She was at Hamburg when the planes came..."
Asher grimaced a little. Then he came over.
He said, "Soldier, leave him alone."
The guard replied,"Yes sir."
The German prisoner said, "Thank you-what is your name?"
Asher then said, "Asher Goldstein."
At that the German showed a mixture of fear and shame.
He said, "Thank you, thank you."
They walked on. David said, "That was an awfully nice thing you did."
Asher said, "I have little sister too you know."
David said,"I do remember. She was awfully pretty..."
"Don't say it...", replied Asher.
David grinned a little.
Then they walked on.
Asher started to quote again:
"Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won
And our good Prince Eugene"-
"Why twas a very wicked thing!"
Said little Wilhelming;
"Nay-nay, my little girl," quoth he,
"It was a famous victory
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