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Frederick staggered slightly, as if under some sword-stroke from an unseen hand. A great faintness came upon him. For a moment he was speechless and mute. She looked up at him steadily once. Then she spoke again in that cold, forced, measured voice which seemed to his ear as hard and pitiless as the strokes of an iron hammer.”No, but listen,” he entreated, with emotion. “You won’t turn me down? You’re the best friend I have—we won’t stop being friends?”The general’s reply was a decided refusal, and couched in such terms as to leave no glimmer of hope that he would relent in the matter.”He was called away, was he not?”On the radio, a woman’s voice was saying that Taraki, theleader of the Khalq branch of the PDPA, the Afghancommunist party, was in the streets giving rousing speeches todemonstrators.

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