Fowler has made it up to the devastation at Phat Diem, a once thriving city he knew well before it came to ruin.
Lieutenant Peraud, a freemason, explains that Vietminh agents had attacked while everyone—bishop, colonel, and much of the population—were distracted by the procession in the city in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, a well-known vision of the Virgin Mary.
Peraud takes the attack as a judgment on his fellows' superstition.
A priest is there in the Cathedral bell tower with Fowler. He's taking a break from all the poor people now packed in the Cathedral precincts. Apparently the priest is all they have for a surgeon.
Fowler leaves the safety of the Cathedral monastery and joins up with a troop of soldiers. They don't suspect him, a fellow European, of being an enemy.
They come upon a canal full of bodies and no blood. Civilians caught in the crossfire, Fowler imagines.
They cross the canal, doing their best not to get caught in the mess of corpses.
On the other side, shots are fired, Fowler prepares for death, but nothing happens.
Moving ahead, they come upon those shot. Two civilians. A mother and a small boy.
Fowler thinks about how much he hates war.
He spends a cold night in the officers' quarters. They give him a gun to keep on his pillow. They expect to be attacked. Mortar-fire will begin at 3:30.
Falling asleep, he dreams of Pyle dancing by himself. When he awakes, Pyle is there.