Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/74

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IDALIA

"Blunderers! why don't you hit through the lungs?"

And as he changed his pistol into his left hand, he raised it, and the man who had shot him fell with a crash— a bullet through his brain. He could not load again; his arm was broken, and the hoarse yell of men, infuriated to be defied, and exasperated at their comrades' loss, told him his minutes were numbered, as one cry alone grated on the night air from many voices; in Romaic, in French, in Venetian, in Hungarian;—varied tongues, but one summons alone.

"Your papers or your lift! Death, or surrender!"

There was a moment^s hush and pause; they waited for their menace to do their work without the bloodshed that they shirked from caution and from wisdom, rather than from humanity; and at that instant the moon, through one break in the black pine roofing above-head, poured its light through the pass. Round him in a half-circle, broken from their barricade and ambush now that his fire was spent, pressed his assassins, their faces masked by the crape drawn over them, their rifles covering him with pitiless purpose. With his right arm hanging powerless, and with the mare lying