Darkness had settled over the rice paddies and the city as Stan
wandered out of camp. He was in a hurry to get some of his
investigations completed. No one knew when the Flying Tigers would be
moved into China or up to Lashio. Rumors were thick that the Japs were
starting a drive toward Rangoon. The barracks and other buildings were
blacked out completely. There was no light at all in the streets.
Stan had left a wild gathering of shouting, talking men behind in the
mess. The men were discussing possible moves now that Japan had started
a fight in the Pacific. She had struck at Pearl Harbor. Within a very
short time she had spread her yellow horde over vast areas. The Flying
Tigers were mostly American army and navy pilots. They had come to the
aid of China because they were fighting men who wanted to be in the
smoke of battle skies and hated the things the little men from Tokio
stood for. They wanted to make China strong enough to strike on a fair
and even basis.
But with the Japs attacking the United States they were all eager
to get back to their old outfits, to their own squadrons. They were
Americans and wanted to fly under their own flag. Stan had talked and
had listened. Allison and O’Malley had said nothing. They were British
and Burma was British territory; Rangoon was a British port.
Stan had stepped out into the cool night to mull over the latest
developments. It seemed the whole Tiger group was about to resign
and head for home. Stan wanted to think this through before he let
his feelings run loose. He was standing in the deep gloom under the
projecting eaves. A man came up the walk and opened the door. The man
was Nick Munson.
An uneasy feeling that came over Stan forced him to follow Munson
inside. He stood near the door and watched the instructor stride to
the front of the room. The men stopped chattering and waited as Munson
“Felt I ought to say a word,” Munson began. There was none of his usual
toughness. “My country has been attacked. I came here as an adventurer
looking for action. I was afraid the United States would never get into
this war, and I’d miss the big show.” He paused and his eyes swept over
Heads nodded agreement and a ripple of approval ran through the group.
Stan watched Munson’s face and decided the colonel was either sincere
or a good actor. Munson went on talking.
“Now that America has been attacked, I plan to head for home. I hate to
leave a fine fighting crew of men like you fellows. When I came here,
I thought I knew more than any one of you. You’ve taught me a lot. But
now I want to carry my own colors. I want to hit the Japs along with a
squadron of the U.S.A.”
The ripple of approval burst into words. Someone called up to Munson:
“How are you going to get back?”
“I have transportation on a fast seagoing yacht,” Munson replied. “A
wealthy friend of mine will see me through.”
“Got room for any more fellows?” a flier asked.
Munson held up his hand. “Now, don’t put me on the spot. I’m your
instructor not your commanding officer. I wouldn’t break up this corps.
The decision is purely a personal one.” He frowned at the men, then
a smile spread over his beefy face. “There’s room but I’m making no
Stan edged forward. He saw that Allison and O’Malley were backing away
from the crowd gathering around Munson. Stan spoke loudly to attract
attention. The men turned to him. They respected Stan a great deal. Not
so many hours before they had agreed to help him rid the squadron of
“We ought to think this over carefully,” he began. “We are here to
do a job. China is a vital ally of the United States. Without us,
the Chinese might not be able to carry on. We have not heard from our
commanding officer yet.”
Munson laughed. “What I’m worried about is getting to my old outfit
before they wipe the Japs off the map,” he said scornfully.
Many of the boys joined his laugh and several shouted loudly:
“Sure, that’s the stuff!”
Stan smiled at them. He knew how they felt and what made them shout.
“This isn’t going to be a short war,” he said slowly. “I think we’ll
all have to take some hard knocks out here. You fellows will be taken
back into your old outfits without prejudice if you return with clean
records. If you run out on the Chinese, you won’t get a clean slate.”
Munson glared at Stan. He was trying to smile but not making a very
good job of it. The boys were silent when Stan ceased speaking. Their
better judgment began to assert itself.
“You came here from the Royal Air Force, didn’t you, Major Wilson?”
Munson asked deliberately.
“I did,” Stan answered. “I’d like to be flying with the United States
Army, and I can get my release as quickly as you can. But I’m waiting
to hear from my commander and from Uncle Sam. If he wants me to stay
here, this is where I’ll stay.”
“Isn’t it true that you couldn’t get into the Army Air Corps? Weren’t
you grounded as a test pilot in the States?” Munson shot the questions
at Stan and went on before Stan could answer. “Wasn’t there a nasty
matter of a cracked-up ship and a few military secrets that got away to
Germany? Didn’t you get into the Royal Air Force as a Canadian?” Munson
was smiling when he finished shooting his questions at Stan. His lips
were curved into a leer of triumph.
All eyes were on Stan. He flushed. Munson certainly knew a lot about
his past record. Allison stepped up before Stan could answer. His voice
was cool and hard.
“I handled all of the papers on Stan Wilson. I had all of the
Washington and London Intelligence Office reports. Stan was framed by
spies from Germany. If his record had not been clear, he would never
have been allowed to stay in the Royal Air Force.” Allison looked
around the room and waited for someone to challenge his statement.
O’Malley had shoved in. His chin was sticking out and he was ready to
take on all comers.
“You’re a pal of his?” Munson asked the question with a sneer. “You
helped him cover up.”
“’Tis no livin’ man can make cracks at Stan an’ not feel the fist of an
O’Malley on his chin,” O’Malley snarled. “Many’s the time I’ve looked
at that big mouth of yours, Colonel, and wish’t for the chance to lay
one on it. Get up yer fists, you spalpeen!” He moved toward Munson.
Stan caught him by the arm. “Easy, Bill, you’re about to upset the
Munson broke in harshly, “I’m not here to cause a lot of trouble. I
don’t blame the Royal Air Force for shoving off some of their pilots
on the Chinese. You men carry on. I wish you luck. I can’t leave for a
few days, possibly a week. If any of you get releases cleared, come
and see me.” He turned on his heel and strode away.
The men gathered in groups to talk and argue. Stan noticed that the
men avoided him and that they did not talk to Allison or O’Malley. The
three were really outsiders and the boys seemed to feel they had butted
into business not strictly their own.
“I think I need a bit of air,” Stan declared.
“I’m heading over to the barracks,” Allison said.
O’Malley went along and they walked across the dark grounds slowly.
Allison finally said, “Munson has big plans.”
“I aim to find out just what they are and I think I know just where to
start,” Stan said determinedly. “After the cracks he made back there,
I’ll have to settle with him.”
“Sure, an’ you should have let me crack him one,” O’Malley grumbled.
“That would have put the boys solidly on his side. He made a very nice,
patriotic speech. But if the fellows take time to think it over,
they’ll see what he’s up to,” Stan said.
Stan parted with his pals at the barracks door and walked across the
grounds. On the outside, he caught a ride with a supply truck headed
for Rangoon. His uniform was his passport and he was not questioned by
the guards or the driver.
Dropping off near the docks, Stan walked to the place where he had
seen the new cars leaving the parking lot. He had a hunch he wanted to
follow up. If it was wrong, he would have to try a new angle.
A coupé and two sedans, all new, were parked in the deep gloom outside
the gate. Walking toward the cars, he halted and listened, then moved
ahead. No one seemed to be guarding them. Easing in close, he saw that
no one was inside the cars. He moved over to the coupé and looked
into it. It was a de luxe model with a high turtleback and a luggage
compartment in the rear. Softly Stan lifted the lid.
A suitcase and satchel sat in the enclosure. Stan bent over them. It
would be dangerous to light his electric torch unless he was inside
the compartment and had the lid lowered. He examined the catch and
found it was exposed on the inside and could be operated from within.
Easing himself into the section he let the lid down.
Snapping on his pocket flashlight, he tried to open the satchel. It was
locked. He tried the suitcase and it snapped open. His light showed
him a neatly folded uniform of the Chinese Army with the shoulder
strappings of a colonel of the air arm. Stan dipped in, fishing through
layers of clothing. He pulled out a cigarette case and a comb and brush
set, both with Nick Munson’s name on them.
Digging further he found a silver pencil in a crevice at one end of
the bag. Lifting it out, he looked at its engraved barrel. The name
Von Ketch was carved on the pencil in German block lettering. Stan
whistled softly. Munson was a spy, possibly a Fifth Columnist who had
been working in the United States for years. He repeated the name, Von
Ketch, several times so as not to forget it.
As he was lifting the lid of the compartment he heard footsteps. A
guttural voice spoke in heavily accented English.
“We must be going quickly.”
“We’ll get out of here right away.” The speaker was Nick Munson. Stan
eased back but held the lid open.
The two men paused beside the coupé. Stan heard them open the door and
get in. Stan lowered the lid and bent forward. He could hear what they
said very clearly. There was only a thin sheet of steel between his ear
and the speakers.
“I put an idea into the heads of those dumb fliers,” Munson said.
The grind of the Bendix gear in the starter blotted out the voice of
Nick’s companion. The car engine started and the coupé began to move.
Stan reached over and latched the lid. He pressed his ear to the steel
sheet and waited.
The two men up ahead went on talking. They seemed to be in very good
spirits, judging from the tone of their voices.
“It will take much more than putting an idea into their heads to get
rid of that crowd.”
“I have plans,” Munson answered. “That was just a starter, something
to set them thinking. And it would have knocked them over if it hadn’t
been for a fellow from the Royal Air Corps. We’ll have to get him shot
down or out of the way by some other means.”
“I could send two of my shadow men,” his companion suggested.
“You mean those dacoit fellows who use silk ropes and choke a man?”
“Indeed. They are as silent as shadows. There is never any struggle or
blood. Your man simply vanishes.” The rasp-voiced man chuckled softly.
“We’ll plan it when we get back,” Munson said.
The two men lapsed into silence and Stan lifted the lid to try to see
where they were going. He dropped it instantly. Two cars were directly
behind the coupé, their headlights playing on the compartment. Stan
wondered how he was going to get out of the car without being seen.
He thought about the dacoit idea, too. If Munson would go so far as
to have him assassinated, he would not hesitate to shoot on sight,
especially if he caught Stan away from camp.
The two in front resumed their conversation and Stan listened. It was
information he wanted and he was in a good spot to get it. Munson was
“I wish the Japs had held off a little longer. This racket of selling
stolen cars is a good one. The Chinese are bending over backwards to
keep on the good side of your people. We could clean up a fortune in
“You will be paid a small fortune for breaking up the air group of
which you are a member,” the guttural voice answered. “They have to be
gotten out of the way. If they are not destroyed, they will make the
Chinese Air Force a dangerous weapon.” Again the soft chuckle followed.
Munson laughed. “Der Fuehrer expects to meet your leaders in India.
Then the whole world will be ready for us. We will divide it and finish
the United States.”
“As is right,” the man with the accent said. “We are the men of iron.
The Democracies are soft, they are women.” There was deep scorn in the
“I don’t have all my plans made,” Munson went on. “But if my undercover
men can forge enough letters and papers to make that bunch of fliers
think they have been called home, I’ll get them on your boat and then
we’ll have a nice bag of prisoners who won’t shoot down any more
“This is a fine country for spies and others who can help,” the harsh
voice said. “Such a mingling and mixing of races and creeds and ideas
is not found any other place on earth. Quite a headache for the British
and American and Chinese officials.”
“It takes years in the United States for our fellow workers to
establish themselves in places where they can obtain useful
information,” Munson said. “I spent ten years there becoming a trusted
and respected airman. Over here you just go out and hire them by the
day, any sort of agent you want.”
“We are very intelligent,” the guttural voice said. “The Americans
would say we are smart.”
They ceased talking as the car began to bounce over a very rough road.
The driver shifted to second gear and Stan knew they were on a grade.
Then the car was put into low gear. The back compartment was filled
with the roar of the engine.
Stan sat back and waited. He looked at the radium dial of his wrist
watch. They had been on the road over an hour. The road was so rough
and the car made so much noise, he could not hear the conversation in
the driver’s seat.
Stan pictured in his mind the country they must be in and wondered how
deep into the jungle they would go. He had a pocket compass which would
help him chart a homeward course if he escaped. He wanted to get away
without being seen, not only because it would be the safest way, but
also it would give him the upper hand with Munson. The luggage made
it almost certain he would be discovered, unless the cars following
dropped back and allowed him to jump out.
Stan again opened the lid a crack. The cars behind had moved up closer
and the nearest one was less than ten feet behind the coupé. Another
hour passed and they still jogged along on a rough road. The car
bounced and bumped and slid about until Stan’s elbows and knees were
barked from battering against the steel braces which were only thinly
The bumping ceased suddenly and the car moved forward smoothly. It came
to a halt and Stan heard voices. He bent forward and opened the lid a
few inches. There was a car on each side of the coupé. Stan saw lights
flickering and men moving about. Munson spoke from beside the coupé.
“I have to hurry in order to be back at the field in the morning. I’ll
get the cases with the papers and we’ll go right in to your office.”
Stan got his legs set under him. He was glad the new cars had so much
baggage space. Before he could do anything more, the door to the
compartment was hoisted and caught in place. The beam of a flashlight
was shining in his face. He heard Munson’s startled grunt as he
lunged out of the back of the car, diving straight at the colonel’s
Stan and Munson went down with the colonel bellowing and cursing, as
he tried to protect himself from Stan’s pumping rights and lefts. The
jolting blows freed Stan from Munson and left the colonel doubled up
and twisting on the ground, but it also gave the man with the guttural
voice a chance to shout commands.
As Stan whirled to leap away toward the shadows beyond the cars, a
crowd of little men, naked except for cotton loin cloths, leaped at him
from every side. They came at Stan with a rush, their shaven skulls
gleaming in the yellow light of smoking flares stuck on poles above a
stockade. They did not seem to be armed but there were at least fifty
Stan lowered his head and charged into the rushing line of little
yellow men. He hit the line and crashed through the first mass of
attackers, bowling them over with fists and elbows and knees. But his
progress was stopped as hands gripped at his ankles, his knees and
at his clothing. One little fellow leaped upon his back from behind.
Three or four laced arms around each of his legs. Stan went down in a
flailing pile of evil-smelling bodies. As he fell, he heard the roaring
laugh of the man with the guttural voice.
In spite of his powerful lunges and swinging fists, Stan was held down
and his hands were laced to his sides by the little men. He was jerked
to his feet and pushed over to a flare.
A short, fat man, dressed in a red silk waist and wearing baggy silk
pants of a bright yellow hue, advanced to face Stan. Two beady, black
eyes looked searchingly at the flier over a bushy beard that was
trimmed to a point at the chin. The beard parted and the man chuckled.
“So, a Flying Tiger. Te Nuwa is indeed honored.” He stepped back and
waited for Munson to step up.
Munson was grimy and his shirt was torn. One eye was swelling shut.
There was a savage leer on his lips.
“A friend of yours, Von Ketch?” Te Nuwa asked softly.
“The fellow I told you we had to get out of the way,” Munson snarled.
“Could it be that he has spared my dacoits a pleasant night’s work?” Te
“He has,” Munson said grimly, whipping out a German automatic. “With
him out of the way, I can handle things back at the base!”
“We have spent a very profitable evening,” Te Nuwa said pleasantly. He
lifted a hand. “I allow no blood to be spilled on my grounds. It is bad
for my little men.”
Munson scowled at him. “I’m in a mess, how can I explain this black
“You might tell the boys you ran into a door. But if I do not return,
they will hardly believe you. They may get a few ideas as to what
happened to me,” Stan said.
Te Nuwa laughed and slapped his fat leg. “Good enough,” he said. “You
can say just that.”
“I’ll shut his mouth right now,” Munson snapped.
“Now, now, you are both guests of honor,” the fat man reminded Munson.
“I might say again both are honored guests. The entertainment of a
guest rests with me. I am the lord of this village. We have business to
transact. You are impatient to be on your way back to your duties. We
will dine and my dancers will dance as we sip wine. And we shall talk.”
“You better see to it that he’s done away with,” Munson growled. “If he
gets away, he’ll upset all of our plans. It will be your fat neck as
well as mine.”
Te Nuwa lifted a soft hand and frowned. “That cannot happen. My men
are well trained in the ways of the East. We just do not care for the
bloody methods you use. I will order the disposal of our guest in a
manner befitting his rank.” He spoke sharply to his men and turned
Stan was led away from the parked cars by a dozen of the little yellow
men. His Siamese guards chattered and laughed and looked admiringly at
the big white man they had captured. They had been much impressed by
his terrible strength and by the way his fists shot out, inflicting
black eyes and swollen jaws.
The guards led Stan into a great building which he guessed once had
been a temple. They moved through a maze of columns. The place was
fitfully lighted by lamps of colored glass containing rags dipped in
grease. Everything was mingled and obscured by the gloom. Stan saw men
moving in the shadows. They were naked, wild-eyed, wild-haired men
with gaunt bodies. A foul odor of dampness and decay and filth filled
the place. Leering idols looked out of dark crannies, their glass eyes
gleaming in the flickering light.
Mentally Stan tried to check his course so that he might be able to
escape if he should get loose. The yellow men followed a twisting
course and the light was very dim. After a time they came out into a
garden and Stan could see stars overhead. He was led across the garden
and pushed into a room. A grease lamp burned on a stone table. Its
light revealed one barred window, a wooden bench and a stool.
The yellow men chattered excitedly as they untied Stan’s hands. Stan
braced himself for another fight with the little men. He drew back his
fists to punch the man in front of him as the first move for a bid for
freedom. The man ducked and drove his shiny head into Stan’s stomach.
Stan went back and fell over another man who apparently was crouched
By the time Stan had leaped to his feet, the door had slammed and a
bolt had shot into place. Stan could hear the little men laughing
uproariously outside. He stood looking at the door. It was smooth
teakwood and Stan knew it was as strong as steel. He moved to the
window and tried the bars. They were a full inch in thickness and
embedded in rock.
Stan seated himself on the stool. He stared at the grease lamp. Slowly
a grin spread over his face. The little yellow men had pulled an old
school trick on him, one he had not seen used since he was a youngster.
He wondered what O’Malley and Allison would do when he did not show
up. They might get a clue from Munson’s black eye. He rubbed his sore
Stan put out the light. The lamp gave little illumination and its smell
was very bad. There was no guard at his door and he could see no one in
the garden. He stretched out on the hard bench and closed his eyes. He
slept fitfully but he did get a little rest.
Daylight found Stan sitting by the window. He had given up trying to
sleep on the hard bench. He watched the garden come to life. There
were palms, cinnamon trees and mulberry, and flowering shrubs growing
in clumps and beds. The air was heavy with the scent of gardenia and
crimson hibiscus blossoms. From behind a green shrub came the plaintive
notes of a native flute.
Men and women began moving about in the garden. They were dressed in
white cotton or flaming colors. They did not seem aware that the corner
room held a prisoner who was condemned to die. If they knew Stan was
there, they showed little curiosity.
The people seemed in no hurry at all. They moved languidly toward the
arches of stone which formed openings in the high garden wall, or they
came in and wandered about, then went out again. A young woman dressed
in a flowered kimono crossed the garden. She was carrying a tray with
a white cloth over it. Behind her walked four little men, naked except
for yellow silk loin cloths. The girl walked to Stan’s door and tapped.
“Come in,” Stan called.
The door did not open but a panel slid back making an opening some
six inches square. Stan was startled. He had not suspected there was
a panel in the door. The girl’s face appeared and she gave Stan a
red-lipped smile as she shoved the tray toward the opening. He took the
tray in through the hole.
“Thanks,” he said.
“You are welcome,” the girl answered.
Stan blinked. “You speak English very well,” he said.
“Quite well, thank you,” the girl said.
“Where did you learn it?” Stan asked.
“Hollywood, California.” The girl then laughed and added, “I was in
pictures. I played the part of a Siamese dancing girl.”
“Thailand to me,” Stan said.
“I went to America because I had work to do there,” the girl went on
explaining, “I learned many things of interest.”
“How did you happen to go to America?”
“I am an educated girl. I am one of the new order. I was given a job
by–” she hesitated, “the Japanese government.”
Stan’s smile faded. Another example of Jap thoroughness. The girl was
in the intelligence service of the Japanese forces. He smiled at her
again. It might be possible to outwit her, if he could make friends.
“If you could come in or I could go out, we could talk better–about
Hollywood,” he said.
“You can come out if you promise not to run away,” the girl said
demurely. “I will put you on your honor.”
“You think Americans have honor?” Stan asked.
“Surely, much honor. More than is good for them,” she answered. Then
she gave him a wide smile. “Though I do not think you would run far.
There are machine guns outside the garden archways.”
“Then why don’t you let me out?” Stan asked.
The girl slid back the bolt and opened the door. Stan stepped outside.
The four yellow men had vanished. A peacock screamed shrilly on the far
side of the wall. The girl seated herself on the door stone and looked
up at Stan.
Stan sat down and put the tray on his knees. He lifted the white cloth
and saw a bowl of rice and chopped chicken, a bowl of fruit, and a pot
of tea with a shell-thin cup tipped over a little image on the lid. He
dipped into the fruit bowl.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“I am called Niva,” she answered.
“You spoke about machine guns. Are there soldiers, Japanese soldiers?”
“Yes, many of them,” Niva answered. “Here, hidden in the jungle is a
big base of shells and planes and war materials.” She looked up at him
“And Te Nuwa is in command of the Japanese forces?” Stan asked.
“Te Nuwa is in command until the general comes. When the general is
here, Te Nuwa is just the fat one.” She spread her hands and smiled.
“Is the general a little man with a scar over his right eye?” Stan
“Oh, you know our general?” Niva asked, surprised.
“I have met him,” Stan replied and grinned as he remembered how the
little general had ordered Allison and himself shot the day they had
flown the Martin on a false alarm flight. “I owe a great deal to the
general,” he said as he dipped into the bowl of chicken.
Niva looked at Stan questioningly. It was clear the talk was not going
the way it was supposed to go. The big American had asked all the
questions so far. Not that giving him information mattered, for he
would never be able to take it to the enemy, but she was supposed to
learn something from him.
“Tell me about yourself and your friends. You have many friends who fly
with you?” Niva spoke eagerly.
“I wouldn’t lie to a nice girl like you, so I won’t tell you anything
about our forces,” Stan evaded. “But I’ll tell you the truth about what
is going on in America.”
“That would be nice,” she said with interest.
“The President of the United States has ordered the plane factories to
produce sixty thousand planes this coming year. All will be over here
or over Tokio. There will be bombers and fighter planes as thick as the
flock of birds over the jungle. You can tell your boss that. It’s the
“Oh, that’s wonderful,” Niva said but she did not smile.
“When I get out of here I’ll fly back. I’ll pick you up and carry you
away, if you want to go back to Hollywood,” Stan smiled at her.
Niva sighed. There was a frightened look in her eyes as she said, “You
won’t leave here.” Then she added softly, “People were very good to me
“They liked you, Niva.” Stan was sure he had roused a spark of sympathy
in the girl. If she dared, she might help him. He set the tray on the
Niva got to her feet suddenly. She bent to pick up the tray and as she
leaned forward her lips were close to Stan’s ear. She whispered one
Lifting the tray, she laughed down at him, turned and hurried away.
There was no guard to send him back to his cell so Stan walked out
into the garden. He was thinking about the word Niva had spoken. It
was clearly meant as a warning. Te Nuwa had planned his finish in the
manner he liked. He would have his stranglers do the job.
Stan did not know much about those underworld characters of India
and Burma, the dacoits. He had read a few stories about them and how
they worked, but he could not remember much of their method of attack,
except that they were sinister and sneaking, that they struck without
He sauntered toward one of the arches. The wall was five feet thick
and the archway was wide enough to allow the passage of a loaded cart.
Outside the archway a Japanese soldier squatted in the sun. He was
sitting on a little stool behind a machine gun. The gun effectively
covered the entrance to the garden. The Jap looked up and grinned at
Stan. He seemed to be inviting Stan to step out.
Stan wandered on around the wall. Each opening was guarded by a machine
gun. Te Nuwa might handle his killings after the fashion of the East,
but the general in command believed in more modern methods. Stan kept
on until he halted before the pillared hallway leading into the temple.
This was the way he had entered. Two machine guns stood inside the
temple, manned by two leering Japanese.
Stan studied the wall. It was about fifteen feet in height, he judged.
No vines or creepers grew on its smooth sides. It could not be climbed,
Stan was sure of that. The women and children and the men passing
through the garden paid no attention to him. Stan guessed that they
were used to seeing doomed men wandering about inside this prison.
Stan decided that no attempt would be made on his life until dark,
but he stayed away from the wall and from under the big trees. In the
stories he had read, the dacoits always worked at night from hidden
spots of vantage. Warned, he might be able to fool them.
As he watched the scene in the garden, a small boy entered driving a
peacock. The youngster halted and looked at Stan, then waved a leafy
branch at the fowl, shooing it across the garden. As Stan stood idly
watching the boy, an idea suddenly occurred to him whereby he might be
able to outsmart his captors. Lying down on the grass in the shade of a
mulberry tree, Stan rested his head on a green hummock and closed his
eyes. He opened them and looked up into the mulberry tree. He could
see every limb and branch. He was sure no one was hiding there. The
grass was soft, and after the hard bench it felt like a feather bed.
Stan closed his eyes and went to sleep.
He was wakened by the howling of a monkey somewhere inside the temple.
With a heave, he sat upright. The sun still was shining, but a glance
at his watch told Stan that he had slept a long time.
As he sat there, Stan had a strange feeling. He was sure someone was
watching him. He scanned the wall and the temple roof with its many
spires and small roofs. He was careful because he did not want the
watcher to know he was suspicious. He yawned and lay back. But look as
he would, he saw no one who was the least bit interested in him. At
last, he got up and strolled about.
Nothing happened to prove he had actually been watched as he lay on the
grass. He wandered about for another two hours. Just before sundown
Niva brought him a tray of chicken and rice and a pot of coffee. She
set them down on the step and stood looking at Stan.
“Thanks–for the chicken,” Stan said and grinned.
Niva flushed. “You are welcome.”
“Won’t you sit down?” Stan invited.
“No, I will stand. I cannot talk much this time,” she said.
Stan nodded. He guessed that her leader had been disappointed or
angered because she had learned nothing from him. He ate the chicken
and the rice and drank the coffee. Niva was as silent as any of the
other women passing through the grounds, but she watched him as he ate
and when he had finished, she picked up the tray and smiled at him.
“Good luck,” she said under her breath. “Tonight I will be hoping for
you.” She turned and moved quickly away.
Stan considered her words a moment. She seemed to have been hinting
that tonight was the night. He wandered about wondering why he had not
asked her a lot of questions. After he had thought it over, he knew
why. He had not wished to place her in any danger.
The west wall began to cast long shadows. Dusk fell slowly and still
no guards came to put him into his cell. Lights appeared inside the
temple and Stan saw lank men moving about lighting grease wicks. He
watched the gunner at the nearest gate meet his relief gunner. For
night guard two men with machine guns were placed at the entrance and a
lantern was hung in the archway.
Stan studied the chances of rushing the guards. He would have a full
twenty feet to charge straight into the muzzles of two rapid-fire guns.
If he had had a hand grenade, escape would have been easy. He went back
to thinking about the plan he had gone to sleep upon.
The stars came out and a full moon rose above the wall. Stan stayed out
in the open, walking about very slowly, listening to every sound. A
wind sprang up and Stan noticed that the lantern hanging in one of the
archways had gone out, probably blown out by the sudden gust of wind.
Eagerly he slid toward the opening, crouching low as he moved into the
shadows along the wall.