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For Whom the Stew Tolls I followed the old man up a narrow path below the ridge. I could see the sparkle of the stream down in the deep valley, and further on the mill and the bridge. It was the long truss arch bridge on the road from to Antonina. We scrambled around a boulder that must have been fifty feet high and on the other side I could see the mouth of the cave. A single guerrilla with a carbine was posted sentry. I told the old man to go ahead and I set my sack on a bed of pine needles away from their sight. I checked that the dynamite was safe and dry, and examined the detonators, my ammunition. I put my pistol in my belt and covered up the rest in a tarp and tied it into a bundle. I glanced in the cave and called over to the old man. “Can we trust him?” I nodded toward the sentry. “Juan can be trusted,” the old man whispered. He will watch your pack. It is Pedro you must be careful of.” I came into the cave and spoke to the woman there. “I need some stew and a pad of paper. Also, I could use a gallon of turpentine and fifty barrels of pitch.” “Sit down, English, I’ll bring you some stew. But if you did not notice, this is not the trading post. We are a band of only twenty now. We have been lean, English.” “I’m not English, I’m an American.” “We have not turpentine nor pitch. We barely have carbines and ammunition for twelve men. That and the machine gun.” She must mean a submachine gun. Or do they really have a howitzer? “Machine gun? Show me.” The woman led me to a dark corner of the cave and pulled back a large filthy canvas that covered a new howitzer and several boxes of ammunition. I examined it carefully and checked the action. It was clean and looked like it had never been used. “Nobody knows how to shoot this one,” she said. “I know,” I said. “I will show your men. But first I need some stew. And then I must prepare for tomorrow's work.” “That is a big bridge, English.” “Leave that to me. You worry about the stew.” “But you will need to use many dynamites to blow up such a bridge and we have little time.” “GIVE ME SOME STEW!” “We have no pitch and no turpentine. We have no pencil or paper. And we have no stew. Pedro ate it all” I thought of the warning from the old man. “That's too bad. I could really use some stew.” “Here, eat this carbine.” I checked the action on the carbine. It was clean but worn. I took a bite from the stock. I wished it were stew. It wasn't, though.
Date Written: March 19, 2010
Author: Ewan Snow
Average Vote: 5