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Page:Stanwood Pier--The ancient grudge.djvu/482

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471
THE NIGHT ATTACK

He turned; there, from under the car, protruded a pair of legs; and at that moment the man to whom the legs belonged discharged a rifle. Anger overwhelmed Floyd—anger that this dastardly creature should lie there in ambush, trying to maim or murder if ever a hand or a head was raised; he stooped and with a sudden passionate strength gripping the man by the ankles, he dragged and flung him with one motion out from under the car. In the next instant, he had wrenched away his rifle; he sprang with it through the narrow gap that separated this car from the next, and hurled it down the slope into the river.

A furious shout went up from the men who had seen and stood astounded. But Floyd turned at once, and seizing the low side of the flat-car, sprang up. A clinker of slag struck him in the chest as he was getting to his feet, but he stumbled to the middle of the car and took off his hat and held it aloft.

"Men!" he cried, but they drowned him with a shout of wrath,—"Halket!" "Shoot him!" "Kill him!" Missiles began to fly.

Floyd shielded his eyes with one arm, holding up his hat.—"Shoot him!" "Kill Halket!"

"Ah, don't! Don't!" came the wild imploring cry from just below—and Stewart leaped forward and began scrambling up on the car. A man rushed out to pull him back; Floyd, shielding his eyes and glancing down, saw that it was Tustin. But Stewart at the man's clutch kicked out frantically even while he climbed and with all his force drove his boot-heel into Tustin's face. Tustin sank upon the ground with a broken jaw, and Stewart sprang up to Floyd, who was shouting at the top of his voice, "Hear me, please! Just a few words! Just a few words!"

But Stewart's act had maddened the mob beyond all power of words to control; down close in front of the car men were stooping, digging up clinkers of slag with both hands, cursing and yelling as they stooped to the ground; a man rushed in and flung his lantern at Floyd,