The lieutenant nervously sat in his chair, pondering over the macabre. Unwillingly, his mind dwelled upon H-345: his intimate greeting, gentleness, sincere nodding, smooth skin, chestnut color, curly raven-black forelock, knee-high white legs, and above all the bright five-prong white star on his flat forehead. On the other hand, he shivered at the dreadful thought of causality-and-injury report that was due before sunrise.
It was dawn when the lieutenant called the sergeant of the guard to find out if the duty sergeants had turned in their casualty report. The response was positive, but the sergeant looked very uncomfortable. The lieutenant asked, "Something, the matter, Serg?"
- No, Sir. Then he handed him the report. Having glanced at the report, the lieutenant's face radiated with delight.
- Good. A lot of necks have been saved.
- Sir, sergeants, need to talk to you, of course, off record, if you please.
- What about?
- I believe it would be much better if you heard them personally.
- They are all sitting in the guardhouse, waiting for your permission.
- By all means. Would you, please, ask them to show up?
In less than a minute, all duty sergeants entered the officer of the guard's room. The lieutenant began, "Well, what would you like to talk about?"
The senior sergeant said, "Thanks God, we have no broken legs. As to the privates, nothing serious. However, there are some hints that we would like to discuss, if you please."
- By all means, please.
- Like I said, we've gone scot-free. We could have had tens of broken legs and scores of injured men. In the past, whenever men tried to stop horses frolicking, some received severe injuries.
The lieutenant's expression turned grim. The sergeant continued:
- What I'm going to add here is going to be off record. We have prepared two reports: One is in your hands; the other one is here, a bit different. The second one shows the number of bruises, lesions and sores. However, all men who have slightly been injured refuse to go to the dispensary.
- Because they feel their minor bruises will be used against H-345.
- How serious are the bruises?
- No limping or splinters. They have used their first aid kits. Additionally, they avoid displaying their bruises to prevent any further implications on squad leaders. The lieutenant went on saying:
- Who do you wanna protect?
- Of course, H-345.