Drastic times calls for drastic measures

The May offensive of the royalists failed, as soon as it began. Canadian and Australian units in Scarborough refused to engage their brothers - the British proletarians. General Pershing at a secret meeting of the commanders of the troops of counter-revolutionaries and interventionists admitted that he is not sure about the 100% reliability of the American units. However, Churchill, inspired by the victory over the Republican fleet at the Hebrides, refused to abandon the adventuristic plans to end the Revolution with one decisive blow. After disbanding the unreliable units and placing the Americans in reserve, he desperately waited for the arrival of Russian expeditionary corps General Krymov, who tried in haste to form a shock group including the French evacuated units of General Petain. In late June of 1918 these forces launched an offensive in eastern Yorkshire.

Republican volunteer units in Molton failed to withstand the onslaught of an experienced enemy, armed with the latest American and Russian weapons. A fierce battle unfolded for York. The first and second brigades of internationalists under the command of Goltz and Eichhorn heroically fought for the cause of the revolution, but the forces were too unequal. By mid-July, Republicans had been forced to leave all of the eastern and northern Yorkshire.

The conditions of the young Republic were complicated by an attacks of internal enemies. Ulster bandits-orangists raised another rebellion and staged a bloodbath in Belfast. In London, several former lords and reactionary intellectuals, such as the poet Kipling and journalist Chesterton, organized a royalist conspiracy, but were exposed by counterintelligence bodies and fell to a military court. Meanwhile, the Royalist and interventionist forces advanced to central England, marking their way with unprecedented atrocities and plunder. A threat looms over the heart of working-class England, the cradle of the revolution - the industrial area of Leeds-Sheffield-Manchester. The decisive battle of the Second Civil War was imminent.

* * *

The room was thickly smoked. Five men in field jackets without straps sat at a table covered with a dirty tablecloth in cigarette burns. Sixth stood, drumming his fingers on the table and squeezing the wooden handle of the telephone receiver. His eyelids were red, his pale caulked face was shone with sweat.

"This is the chairman of the Sheffield Revolution Commitee O'Rourke," he said into the ebonite horn. "I ask you to connect me with someone from the Central Committee." "Yes. Yes. I'd received a telegram, but I must ask for a personal confirmation. Responsibility ... Yes. I'm glad you understand. Never mind. Sure, I will wait." O'Rourke pushed back the receiver, took a deep breath, then immediately pressed the horn again to his mouth. "Listen! ... Comrade Wells?" - He straightened and pulled the jacket. "That's right, this is the chairman of the Sheffield Revolutionary Committee." "A telegram came on behalf of the Central Committee, but I would like to receive a personal ... You must understand, Comrade Wells. Yes, Comrade Wells."

He hung up the phone. Five men at the table looked at the chairman in silence and understanding.

"London confirmed the order." O'Rourke looked at the table. - "We need a team of absolutely reliable people. Mulligan, pick up five of yours. Gandharv, five of yours. You're in command. Lafferty, order a car."

When O'Rourke marched into the courtyard of the mayor's office, adjusting the cap and sword belt as he walked, a truck was already puffing at the entrance. The chairman climbed into the tented body of Crossley together with the Indians of Gandharv and the Irishmen of Mulligan, greeted by the hands of comrades. Heavy gunfire groaned somewhere from the Rotherham. The truck started off, rode out the gothic portal of the mayor's office, and turned onto the Norfolk Street. The guardsmen sat in silence and smoked, serious and concentrated.

On the empty streets of the city, frozen in anticipation of the assault, they drove to the southwest. The cannonade vanished and died down. The central areas were left behind, the suburbs with gardens and cottages were stretching before them. "Crossley" turned into a small side street. He stopped at the fence of the Victorian gray-stone cottage, which was twined with ivy and surrounded by a slightly neglected garden. The gates were guarded by a machine-gun unit, and along the fence in every ten yards there was a guard with Lee-Enfield attached at the back. The commandant had already been warned, he was waiting for O'Rourke at the gate, and as soon as O'Rourke jumped out of the truck, commandant begin to report a cheerful patter. Chairman of the revolutionary committee interrupted him:

"Is everyone in the house?"

"Yes, sir ... comrade," the commandant corrected himself. "What do you want us to do?"

"Stay here outside. Do not intervene", - O'Rourke said and went to the house ahead of his team.

Inside, there was quiet piano music. The chairman of the revolutionary committee pushed the door, and the melody abruptly ended. The lady who played the piano was in a modest blue dress with a turndown collar. She turned to the door. On the couch sat a man with a wedge-shaped moustache, who was dressed like O'Rourke, in a field uniform with no insignia. He shook the cigarette into the ashtray and looked inquiringly at the newcomers.

"Citizen Windsor" said the chairman of the Revolutionary Committee, "please call the children. Every of you must go to the basement. We do need to snap a photo."
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