Molly McDonald (Chapter 5, page 1 of 5)

Previous Page
Next Page

Chapter 5

There were times when Hamlin's mental processes seemed slow, almost sluggish, but this was never true in moments of emergency and peril. Then he became swift, impetuous, seemingly borne forward by some inspiring instinct. It was for such experiences as this that he remained in the service--his whole nature responding almost joyously to the bugle-call of action, of imminent danger, his nerves steadying into rock. These were the characteristics which had won him his chevrons in the unrewarded service of the frontier, and, when scarcely more than a boy, had put a captain's bars on the gray collar of his Confederate uniform.

Now, as he struggled to his knees, gripping the iron foot-rail with one hand, a single glance gave him a distinct impression of their desperate situation. With that knowledge, there likewise flashed over his mind the only possible means of defence. The Indians, numbering at least thirty, had ridden recklessly out from under the protection of the river bank, spreading to right and left, as their ponies' hoofs struck the turf, and were now charging down upon the disabled coach, yelling madly and brandishing their guns. The very reckless abandon of their advance expressed the conception they had of the situation--they had witnessed the flight of the two fugitives, the runaway of the wheelers, and believed the remaining passengers would be helpless victims. They came on, savage and confident, not anticipating a fight, but a massacre--shrieking prisoners, and a glut of revenge.

With one swing of his body, Hamlin was upon the ground, and had jerked open the inside door of the coach, forcing it back against the dirt of the bluff which towered in protection above. His eyes were quick to perceive the peculiar advantage of position; that their assailants would be compelled to advance from only one direction. The three within were barely struggling to their feet, dazed, bewildered, failing as yet to comprehend fully those distant yells, when he sprang into their midst, uttering his swift orders, and unceremoniously jerking the men into position for defence.

"Here, quick now! Don't waste time! It's a matter of seconds, I tell you! They're coming--a horde of them. Here, Moylan, take this rifle barrel and knock a hole through the back there big enough to sight out of. Hit it hard, damn you, it's a case of life or death! What have you got, Gonzales? A revolver? Into that window there, and blaze away; you 've got the reputation of a gun-man; now let's see you prove it. Get back in the corner, miss, so I can slip past--no, lie down below the fire line!"

"But--but I will not!" and she faced him, her face white, but her eyes shining. "I can shoot! See!" and she flashed a pearl-handled revolver defiantly. The Sergeant thrust her unceremoniously aside and plunged across to the opposite window, gripping his Henry rifle.

Previous Page
Next Page

Rate This Book

Current Rating: 2.9/5 (239 votes cast)

Review This Book or Post a Comment