Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/79

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

and the morning planet risen in the east before the dawn; and he had lain there, as lifeless and motionless as the sorrel beneath him, through all the watches of the night which parted the sunset of one day from the daybreak of the next His right arm, broken and nerveless, was flung across the neck of the mare, as though, Arab-like, his last thought as he fell had been of the brute-friend whom he had lost, and who had died for him; the blood had poured from a deep chest wound, till the black velvet of his riding-coat was soaked through and through, and the mosses and the grasses were dyed with the stream that bore his life away; his face was stern yet serene, like many faces of the dead upon a battle-field, and only a deep-drawn laboured breath, that quivered at long intervals through all his frame, showed that existence had not wholly ceased with the murderous volley which had brought him to the earth, as his own shot had brought the kingly fearless strength of the golden eagle reeling downward to its fate. Either the aim of his assassins had been uncertain from the fury with which they had levelled and fired when they had seen their errand baffled, and the despatches flung beyond all reach into the mountain gorge, or they had been blinded by the flickering shadows of