The Teutonic Beast "How did he die?" asked Henry. "It's a war, sir. Men die in war. You ought to know, you process the certificates." "Is that your answer?" Smith turned his eyes away from the brunette's displayed curves and gave Matthews a hard look. "All right, sir," said Matthews, "I apologize. I'd hoped not to have to drag anyone else down with us, but with the Lieutenant being our only casualty, I suppose it makes sense. No disrespect intended. Sometimes it's damn hard to tell the plain truth and not have it come across as disrespect. Wagram is dead, sir. He was killed the night we ran. He was killed by what we ran from. That's the only answer there is. If you ask me any more, I won't be able to tell you anything. Not because I don't want to, but because I don't know what to tell you." "What did you run from?" Matthews sighed. "That's what I mean, sir. I don't know." "That's no kind of answer." "I know." "And if it was so terrifying as to make you forget your duty, why ask to face it again?" "This," said Matthews, his face suddenly hot and flushed. He picked up his Springfield rifle and held it out at Henry. "This is the reason." Then he stalked angrily away. "It was a listening post," said Smith evenly. "All we had was hand weapons. Knives and clubs." "Why not mention that at the Court Martial?" "Would have made no difference. Desertion is Desertion, sir. Best we could of hoped for is a life sentence in Leavenworth. No, we got to kill that..." then his voice trailed off. "What?" said Henry. "Doesn't matter, sir. We got to kill it." The half-naked brunette tittered something French and coquettish out at him as he left. T he Five-Nines kept dropping short. "It's like the Krauts have forgotten how to shoot," said Private Jacobs. "Back when we got here in the spring, it was a man's job to get the Limey '18's to keep fucking Fritz off our ass for five minutes. Now I'm damned if he can shoot straight."