Molly McDonald (Chapter 8, page 1 of 8)

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Chapter 8

She waited in agony as he sighted carefully, striving to gauge the distance. It seemed an interminable time before his finger pressed the trigger. Then came the report, a flash of flame, and the powder smoke blown back in her face. Half-blinded by the discharge, she yet saw that black smudge leap upright; again the Henry blazed, and the dim figure went down. There was a cry--a mad yell of rage--in which scattered voices joined; spits of fire cleaving the darkness, the barking of guns of different calibre. A bit of flying lead tore through the leather back of the coach with an odd rip; another struck the casing of the door, sending the wooden splinters flying like arrows. Hawk-eyed, Hamlin fired twice more, aiming at the sparks, grimly certain that a responding howl from the left evidenced a hit. Then, as quickly, all was still, intensely black once more. The Sergeant drew back from the window, leaning his gun against the casing.

"That will hold them for a while," he said cheerfully. "Two less out there, I reckon, and the others won't get careless again right away. Now is our time; are you ready?"

There was no response, the stillness so profound he could hear the faint ticking of the girl's watch. He reached out, almost alarmed, and touched her dress.

"What is the trouble?" he questioned anxiously. "Didn't you hear me speak?"

He waited breathless, but there was no movement, no sound, and his hand, trembling, in spite of his iron nerve, groped its way upward. She was lying back against the opposite window, her head bent sideways.

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