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Ethel May Dell
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about The Bars of Iron.

The farmer helped him into his clothes, and himself removed the blood-stain from the lad’s dazed face.  “Don’t be a fool!” he urged.  “Pull yourself together and clear out!  This thing was an accident.  I’ll engineer it.”

“Accident!” The boy straightened himself sharply with the movement of one brought roughly to his senses.  “I suppose the throw broke his neck,” he said.  “But it was no accident.  I did it on purpose.  I told him I should probably kill him, but he would have it.”  He turned and squarely faced the other.  “I don’t know what I ought to do,” he said, speaking more collectedly.  “But I’m certainly not going to bolt.”

The farmer nodded with brief comprehension.  He had the steady eyes of a man accustomed to the wide spaces of the earth.  “That’s all right,” he said, and took him firmly by the arm.  “You come with me.  My name is Crowther.  We’ll have a talk outside.  There’s more room there.  You’ve got to listen to reason.  Come!”

He almost dragged the boy away with the words.  No one intercepted or spoke a word to delay them.  Together they passed back through the empty drinking-saloon—­the boy with his colourless face and set lips, the man with his resolute, far-seeing eyes—­and so into the dim roadway beyond.

They left the lights of the reeking bar behind.  The spacious night closed in upon them.

PART I

THE GATES OF BRASS

CHAPTER I

A JUG OF WATER

It was certainly not Caesar’s fault.  Caesar was as well-meaning a Dalmatian as ever scampered in the wake of a cantering horse.  And if Mike in his headlong Irish fashion chose to regard the scamper as a gross personal insult, that was surely not a matter for which he could reasonably be held responsible.  And yet it was upon the luckless Caesar that the wrath of the gods descended as a consequence of Mike’s wrong-headed deductions.

It began with a rush and a snarl from the Vicarage gate and it had developed into a set and deadly battle almost before either of the combatants had fully realized the other.

The rider drew rein, yelling furiously; but his yells were about as effectual as the wail of an infant.  Neither animal was so much as aware of his existence in those moments of delirious warfare.  They were locked already in that silent, swaying grip which every fighting dog with any knowledge of the great game seeks to establish, to break which mere humans may put forth their utmost strength in vain.

The struggle was a desperate and a bloody one, and it speedily became apparent to the rider that he would have to dismount if he intended to put an end to it.

Fiercely he flung himself off his horse and threw the reins over the Vicarage gate-post.  Then, riding-crop in hand, he approached the swaying fighting animals.  It was like a ghastly wrestling-match.  Both were on their feet, struggling to and fro, each with jaws hard gripped upon the other’s neck, each silent save for his spasmodic efforts to breathe.

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