Page:Hopkinson Smith--armchair at the inn.djvu/153

This page needs to be proofread.


knocked out of him, an ugly wound in his head. Lemois had answered their call, but Gaston had given no sign.

Herbert braced himself and in the dim light looked about him. The saving of lives was now a question of judgment, requiring that same instantaneous making up of his mind always necessary when his own life had depended upon the exact placing of a rifle-ball in the skull of a charging elephant. There was not a second to lose. Another slash of the sea and the whole mass might go headlong down the slope, and yet to lift the wrong timber in an effort to free Lemois might topple the entire heap, as picking out the wrong match-stick topples a pile of jackstraws.

He ran his eye over the shattered room; ordered the two fishermen to leave the wrecked building; selected, after a moment’s pause, a heavy joist lying across the sofa; stood by while Louis put his shoulder under its edge, his enormous strength bearing the full brunt of the weight; waited until it swayed loose, and then, grabbing Lemois firmly by the coat-collar, dragged him clear and set him on his feet.

Gaston came next, limp and apparently