Passions of War

Passions of War by Hilary Green Read Free Book Online

Book: Passions of War by Hilary Green Read Free Book Online
Authors: Hilary Green
twisting and vomiting in his captors’ grip alternated in his mind with the thought that Illic and the rest were still at large and might be looking for them. It must be assumed that their escape had been discovered by now. ‘What do you think Cabrinovic swallowed?’ he asked Ralph.
    His friend shrugged. ‘I’m not a medical man. I should have thought cyanide was the obvious thing, but that is supposed to work much faster – unless there was something wrong with it. I wouldn’t put it past Tankovic to have supplied them with pills that had been kept so long they had lost their efficacy.’
    â€˜He looked so young,’ Tom said. ‘Just a boy, really.’
    â€˜They all are,’ Ralph agreed, ‘except for Illic. No wonder the whole plan has gone off at half cock, when you give bombs and guns to a lot of teenagers with hardly any training.’
    â€˜Look, can we get away from here and find somewhere quiet?’ Tom said. ‘My head is bursting.’
    Ralph paid the bill and they were just getting up to leave when he grabbed Tom’s arm. ‘Keep your head down! Princip has just come in.’
    â€˜Where is he?’
    â€˜Over at the counter, buying a sandwich.’
    â€˜Is anyone else with him?’
    â€˜No, he seems to be alone. This is our chance, Tom. We’ll wait till he leaves the shop and then grab him. His testimony will be enough to put Tankovic and all the rest of the Black Hand in the dock.’
    Tom had his back to the rest of the shop and Ralph picked up a newspaper and held it in front of his face, glancing over the top of it every few seconds. After a moment he said, ‘He’s going. Come on.’
    They rose and followed the slight figure out of the shop. He paused at the kerb, biting into his sandwich, and at that moment the official cars reappeared, heading out of the city. The two leading vehicles crossed the bridge, the Graf and Stift following, with the archduke and his wife and the governor; the aide-de-camp now standing protectively on the left-hand running board.
    â€˜My God, that was close!’ Ralph said, adding abruptly: ‘Now what? What the devil . . . ?’
    The Graf and Stift was reversing, bringing it back to a point immediately opposite the delicatessen. Paralysed, as in a nightmare, Tom saw Princip drop his sandwich and reach into his pocket. Drawing his pistol he stepped forward, close to the right-hand side of the car and fired once. The archduke jerked backwards, blood spurting from his neck. Ralph was already plunging towards the assassin and as Princip raised the weapon again, aiming at the governor, he attempted to knock the gun out of his hand. The weapon went off and Sophie, the duchess, collapsed against her husband. Several passers-by leapt on Princip and wrestled him to the ground, but not before he had crammed something into his mouth. Meanwhile, the car accelerated away, heading back into the city.
    Ralph sunk to his knees with his head in his hands. Tom grabbed him by the arm and pulled him up.
    â€˜What have I done?’ he cried. ‘I meant to knock his arm up. Are they both dead?’
    â€˜I don’t know,’ Tom said. ‘Perhaps not. They were both still upright. Maybe the wounds were not fatal.’
    Princip was being dragged away, writhing and vomiting in the same manner as Cabrinovic. Tom looked at Ralph. He was deadly pale and shaking. ‘Come on. We’re going to the station. If we can’t get on a train to Belgrade we’ll catch the first one that comes along. The sooner we get out of this place the better.’

    On June 29 the following headline appeared on page eight of the London Times :
    Five hours later a telegram arrived at the hotel in Belgrade to which Tom and Ralph had returned that morning. Addressed to Ralph it read: Leonora seriously ill. Imperative you return immediately.

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