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Everett, two years before, when Beth hadn't been able to get into town
and wanted to surprise Nick with it! Stunned and puzzled, Brice dropped
the watch into his pocket and decided not to say anything to Cartwell
and Morgan. Maybe it would cost him, later, but he couldn't tell them -
not until he had a better picture of what the hell was going on.
He lit another cigarette and stood there thinking about the watch. How
had it gotten here? Nick didn't know how to fly a plane, and even if he
had studied the art, could he fly an aircraft that cleared a speed of
two thousand miles per hour? Hell no! Nor had the watch been there, in
the weather, all this time.
Of course, Nick could have hocked the damned thing in some town when he
needed money, and by some quirk of fate it had been brought back to the
same area it had left over a year before. That was possible, but Brice
didn't believe it. It just didn't fit.
Brice turned and saw Cartwell standing behind him. How long has he been
there, he wondered, and forced a grin. The stocky built blond grinned
back at him.
"Thought you might want a cup of coffee," he said.
"Where the hell will you get coffee out here?"
Cartwell waved an arm toward the foot of the hills. "A farm down there.
They wake up early around here. Sam conned the farmer's wife into making
coffee for the boys. Want some?"
"Might as well. We have a few minutes - in fact, we have a lot of time,
"Getting tired?" Cartwell asked, as they started down the hill past the
ring of soldiers.
"A little. More like anxious to find out what the tale is on that
"You've been talking to Dickson, I see."
Brice nodded. "Yeah. Well, one thing we know. It's apparently some kind
of experimental aircraft ... like a rocket, or something. And, if it
isn't one of ours..." Brice left it hang and Cartwell didn't pick it up.
For a few minutes they walked in silence through the dew splattered
forests, homing in on the glow of yellow lights that winked at them
through the branches. Finally they reached the rutted, dirt road that
twisted along the stream bed toward the framed shape of the farm house.
Cartwell broke the silence as they neared the place.
"Don't talk much about the wreck around these people, Nolan. They're
nice folks, but simple natured. They plant by the phases of the moon and
the biggest event in their lives is going to the state fair. They're
Lancaster Dutch, recently imported, and they believe in the hex signs
they painted on the barn."
Brice nodded. "Okay, John."
The farm couple were strangers to Brice, but their type was familiar.
Pennsylvania was full of them. They were, as Cartwell had said, good
people. They were farmers, about three jumps above the witchcraft
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