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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/441

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said, turning to his comrades. "Come along." Then there broke from the crowd a confused outcry; the words, "Back! Get back!" were distinguishable, and at the menace in the shout Hugh, without looking round, was conscious that his followers wavered and fell away. But he walked on proudly himself, determined to vindicate the leadership he had assumed; he walked into the hostile mob. Those on the outside let him enter, jostling him roughly; he tried to worm his way through, but the crowd closed up and imprisoned him; the men round about him wedged tight and laughed. Hugh struggled for more room and turned his head back in the direction from which he had come. None of his friends had followed him. He cried out at the top of his voice,—

"Stand aside, please! We're going to work to-day!"

A burst of laughter rose from the crowd, followed by derisive shouts. "Stop his mouth!" cried some one. Another repeated the appeal, strengthening the colorless possessive. Those around Hugh pressed him more roughly. He was driven against a gigantic, red-bearded man, who towered above every one else; and this man got one arm up and with a silent grin jammed his elbow hard against Hugh's nose and mouth. "I'll stop his mouth," he said, thrusting hard again with his arm. Maddened by the sudden pain, Hugh used all his strength, made the others give back a little, and launched a furious short-arm blow into the giant's stomach. The man cried out in pain. "Fight!" screamed some one. "Kill the scab!" shouted another, and the men nearest Hugh surged in upon him, and those who could get their arms up began beating his head and face. Those farther away jammed together, trying to come close; each man in the crowd was inspired with the wish to deal his blow at the traitor's head. Hugh's arms were pinioned against his sides; defenseless he shut his eyes and lowering his head thrust with it savagely, blindly. The excitement was communicated to the outermost edges of the crowd, where it was the opinion