General Trinh is delivering papers

  by: Walter Guest



Hao didn't interpret what Kincaid said. Instead he asked Minh, "Why did you send for us?"

Minh took his time in answering. "It is Trinh Won," he finally said. "Trinh Won is tired of all the fighting. He wants the war to end."

Hao was stunned. Trinh Won was the most important Rhade chief that he knew of, but he wasn't that important.

"What did he say?" Kincaid asked when the silence stretched on.

Minh spoke again before Hao could answer. "Trinh Won has tried to speak to the Americans. He has tried to speak to the Vietnamese. They do not listen. They do not know who he is. Only the Rhade know who he is."

Hao didn't know what to tell Kincaid. He couldn't tell him the truth. Kincaid would laugh.

"What's he saying?" Kincaid reached over and lightly slapped Hao's arm to get his attention.

"He's talking about the war," Hao said, not untruthfully. "He's telling me what a hard time they're having in the war."

"We knew that you fought with the Americans with the green hats," Minh continued. "You have the respect of all Rhade. You are the only one who could help Trinh Won. The Americans will listen to you. The Americans know who you are."

Hao wondered if he had changed so much in the last years or if the Rhade had always been so naive. "I cannot say to the Americans, 'Trinh Won wishes the war to stop.' They would not regard me as a serious man. If I said that to Steve Kincaid, he would not regard me as a serious man."

"You must talk to Trinh Won. Trinh Won has a plan. He is a serious man."

"What the hell is going on?" Kincaid was getting impatient.

Hao was doubtful. He could never get Kincaid to go with him to another village no matter whom they could meet. "Where is Trinh Won?"

"He will be here tomorrow morning. You must wait here for him. You can talk to him then."

"But the Viet Cong will be here tonight."

"There was a time when any friend of the Rhade was safe with the Rhade. That time will come again. You can stay here tonight. You will be safe."

Minh stood up. The others got to their feet.

"Don't worry," Minh said, "you will be safe tonight." He nodded curtly and left.

Kincaid stared at Hao. "Well?"

"He wants us to stay. He guarantees we will be safe." Hao decided not to tell Kincaid more than that.

"Oh yeah?"

Hao shrugged.

"Do you trust him?"

He didn't know how to answer. "I"ve been here very little in the past two years. Times change. People change. Before?" Hao shrugged again. "He was a good man. But, so was Quon."

"There could be a price on us."

"Are you kidding? I thought you knew. There is a price on us."

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