Whisper In The Wind – Episode 11

THE Russian wouldn’t stop until we shot him in the leg,” Andrew said. “He’s bleeding badly, Helen. We could use your nursing skills.”

Helen went down on her knees beside the white-faced man. In the light of a lantern one of the policemen had found, Ivan’s trousers were black and shining wet with blood.

“A knife?” she asked, and Andrew silently handed down his opened pen knife.

She cut through and round the trouser leg, and pulled back the fabric to see blood spurting weakly from a dark wound. An artery had been hit. But where was the medical help she needed? Then her nurse’s training kicked in. Compress the artery and try to stop its supply of blood.

“We need a tourniquet,” she said, taking the scarf from her neck and folding it into a pad.

“Here,” Reynolds said, unwinding his own scarf.

Helen placed the pad above the wound, wrapped Reynolds’s scarf around the leg and knotted it.

“I need a stick, or something,” she said. “To wind it tight.”

“Here,” Reynolds said again. “Relax! It’s all right, I’m not going to use it the safety catch is on, anyway.”

His reassurance didn’t stop the sudden ring of pistols levelling at them again, but Helen ignored these and fed the barrel of the standard wartime issue pistol through the knot. This time, she knotted the scarf more tightly outside the gun, hesitated, then took handgrip and barrel firmly and began to twist the gun round.

She heard a hiss of breath from pain, from Ivan.

Reynolds kneeled down and gripped his friend’s shoulder.

“Keep tightening it,” he said. “Shall I do it?”

“He’s still bleeding, but less now,” Helen said. “I need someone with a stronger pair of hands than mine.”

“Strong hands, weak brain,” Reynolds said. He took over the tourniquet, with the policemen’s pistols now almost against his head, and managed two, nearly three more turns. Ivan fainted. “Best thing for you, old boy,” Reynolds muttered.

“Why on earth did you do it, Bob?” she asked.

He looked up, the lantern accentuating his gaunt cheekbones.

“Money,” he said. “We were barely breaking even from these flights. There were bills to pay and I couldn’t gamble on the de Havilland job coming up. A man has to do whatever it takes to look after his own, hasn’t he? When Ivan told me that a cousin of his back in Russia would pay good money for the sort of work we had done throughout the war, he seemed like a fairy godfather to both of us.”

He looked over Helen’s shoulder to Andrew.

“There was no harm in it, was there? The Russians were on our side in the war, weren’t they? Our allies?”

“Who knows whose side they will be on in the next war?” Andrew replied grimly. “If you know your European history, the different powers constantly changed sides to keep a balance of power in Europe. In

the next war, the Germans could be on our side, and the Russians the enemy. Therefore no other state ever has the right to hold photographs of our docks and shipbuilding. Sensitive, dangerous, wrong. You were a fool. They will throw the book at you, I expect.”

Reynolds’s shoulders hunched. He looked at Helen, still holding his observer’s tourniquet tight.

“In the pilot cabin of the Sopwith,” he said quietly. “Port side that’s left to you. You’ll find a photograph of my wife and kiddies stuck to the wall. Address on the back. Can you let her know, please? Tell her I’m sorry to have messed things up so badly. And there’s a name and phone number of a mate who will sell the plane for her. She won’t get much the market is awash with these old biplanes.”

He grimaced.

“A belt and braces job,” he said. “In case I ever bought it.”

“I’ll write to her myself,” Helen promised.


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