Lieutenant Bernard Wilcox - Smyth looked up and down the thin line of men stretched along the low sand dune. There were considerably fewer men there than had been before the last attack. He could see the lifeless bodies of his soldiers, some lying face down over their rifles and others thrown back and crumpled along the ground below the dune. Here And there, he could see the sand stained with the blood of his fallen men. From the thin line, he heard the occasional groan of pain and the low murmur that he thought might be the prayers of some of his remaining men. There had been Forty-Five men when they had entered the Wadi less than twenty-four hours ago. Now there were less than twelve.
About ten yards away, he could see the body of Sergeant McTaggart, the big hardy Scotsman, a twenty-year veteran that had up until the last charge of the enemy been his Troop Sergeant. McTaggart was lying face up, face turned toward him staring accusingly with dead eyes.
Bastard, The lieutenant thought. Yes, the wise Sergeant had repeatedly advised and, in the end, nearly begged him to withdraw to the south under cover of darkness last night. Gordon remembered the look of fear on the big man’s face while he tried to convince him to follow his suggestion.
Wilcox - Smyth shook his head and thought that the man, a commoner from the lowest class of society, no matter how high he had risen in the enlisted ranks, could not possibly know how impossible his suggestion was for Gordon to follow.
The Sergeant knew that he was a Graduate of both Eton and the Academy at Sandhurst. He also knew that Smyth-Wilcox came from a long line of Military Officers, all with distinguished careers. Five generations of ancestors and years of training had all added up to the fact that once a British Officer had given a command and set in motion a tactical plan, there could be no retreat or variation to that plan. It was tradition, and it was inviolate! That the Sergeant had been so insolent as to put him in a position of having to explain that was in itself intolerable! How dare the man!
Bernard knew now that the big Sergeant had been right, hell, he had probably known it all along, but once he had given the order to defend this Wadi, it could be nothing but victory or death, and it looked more each passing minute that it would be death.
He looked over at the dead Sergeant’s eyes again and cursed him. Bernard thought the Sergeants death was well deserved. The ungrateful wretch should thank him instead of looking at him accusingly. After all, Gordon had given the man the opportunity to die for his country. There could be no higher honor than that. In fact, all his ungrateful troops should thank him for allowing them this opportunity to cover themselves with the glory of death in service of the Queen!
Suddenly there was the sound of yelling from the desert in front of his position. The sound of men shouting and ragged gunfire broke out all along the line. Someone from the line shouted, “My God, here they come again!”
Lieutenant Bernard Wilcox - Smyth stood up resplendent in full dress uniform, his three medals arrayed in a straight line across his Right breast, and drew himself rigidly to his full height of five feet nine inches. He slowly, with as much dignity as his mounting fear would allow, took his Webley Service revolver from its holster at his left side. He then drew his saber from its sheath with his right hand and, raising it over his head, gave the order to fire at will. Gordon looked out at the hoard of white-clad tribesmen screaming and running toward him, jumping over the bodies of their dead comrades.
Wilcox - Smyth felt a sharp blow to his chest and looked down in surprise to see a red stain spreading on his immaculate uniform blouse. He hardly had time to register its source before he heard a loud slap to his head, and everything went black.
Amir stood looking down at the bloodied body of the young British Officer. The man still clutched a sword in his right hand and a Webley pistol in his left. He stared up blankly at Amir, a neat round hole in his forehead between his wide eyes. In the distance, Amir could hear the screams of his enemies as his troops put the wounded and dying to death with sword and bayonet. No mercy had been shown during the battle, and none would be shown now. It was as Allah wished.
Abdul, his second in command, walked up, and seeing the dead Officer on the ground, he kicked the dead man and spat on him. Abdul turned toward Amir, nodded at the dead man, and spat out, “Murderer! That is no soldier! He was no more than a common murder! He sacrificed his men and caused the death of many of our comrades, and for what? This Wadi? This place is of no value to anyone. He could have easily withdrawn last night under cover of darkness before our main column reached here. What a senseless waste of brave men on both sides!”
Amir looked at the man and smiled, then nodded his head and said, “Abdul, you do not understand these people as I do. I have spent much time among them at their University in England when I was young. The dead man there is a product of his countries class system. He was taught from birth that he is superior to all other human beings. Then he was trained in a military system that awards senseless death as something honorable. He could not retreat or surrender. It was impossible for him to do so as it would be for you to fly through the air suddenly. No, what you have seen here is quite typical of them, and in the end, it will be their undoing, and with the will of Allah, we will drive them from our lands.