ALARM - "FAIR WARNING"

...there was about him a suggestion of lurking ferocity, as though the Wild still lingered in him and the wolf in him merely slept. - Jack London


*****

Hannibal looked up from the letter to gaze over at his new lieutenant. He and BA were chatting amiably while cleaning their rifles. Hannibal looked back to the letter in his hand.

"...I feel not some little guilt in disclosing this to you, but after much thought and prayer, determined that it was in his best interest, as well as yours..."

He sighed, glanced up again at Face. This time Face caught the look, and smiled before turning back to BA.

"...it took both of us to pull him off the other boy..."

Hannibal reached for a cigar, frowning at the writing.

"...he felt he'd been betrayed..."

Another longer look at his men. Face's smile turned uncertain.

"...understandable, of course, considering..."

Hannibal kept his head down, looking just over the top of the page. Face was watching him now, curious.

"...doesn't give his trust and allegiance easily, you see..."

Face's eyes were narrowed, almost suspiciously.

"...from his letters, you appear a man of honor, and I have no fear you would ever..."

Face was standing now.

"...I pray this disclosure will not color your opinion of him. He is a fine young man in all other respects..."

Walking toward him...

"...give him your loyalty and he will give all for you, but..."

"Problem, Hannibal?"

Hannibal folded the letter and smiled. "No, just a confirmation of something I already knew..."