The Refugees eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 366 pages of information about The Refugees.
them, and the clumsy old vehicle bounding along in a way which threw him backwards and forwards from one seat to the other.  Behind him he could hear a shout of consternation from the escort, and then the rush of galloping hoofs.  Away they flew, the roadside poplars dancing past at either window, the horses thundering along with their stomachs to the earth, and that demon driver still waving those horrible red hands in the moonlight and screaming out to the maddened steeds.  Sometimes the carriage jolted one way, sometimes another, swaying furiously, and running on two side wheels as though it must every instant go over.  And yet, fast as they went, their pursuers went faster still.  The rattle of their hoofs was at their very backs, and suddenly at one of the windows there came into view the red, distended nostrils of a horse.  Slowly it drew forward, the muzzle, the eye, the ears, the mane, coming into sight as the rider still gained upon them, and then above them the fierce face of Despard and the gleam of a brass pistol barrel.

“At the horse, Despard, at the horse!” cried an authoritative voice from behind.

The pistol flashed, and the coach lurched over as one of the horses gave a convulsive spring.  But the driver still shrieked and lashed with his whip, while the carriage bounded onwards.

But now the road turned a sudden curve, and there, right in front of them, not a hundred paces away, was the Seine, running cold and still in the moonshine.  The bank on either side of the highway ran straight down without any break to the water’s edge.  There was no sign of a bridge, and a black shadow in the centre of the stream showed where the ferry-boat was returning after conveying some belated travellers across.  The driver never hesitated, but gathering up the reins, he urged the frightened creatures into the river.  They hesitated, however, when they first felt the cold water about their hocks, and even as they did so one of them, with a low moan, fell over upon her side.  Despard’s bullet had found its mark.  Like a flash the coachman hurled himself from the box and plunged into the stream; but the pursuing horsemen were all round him before this, and half-a-dozen hands had seized him ere he could reach deep water, and had dragged him to the bank.  His broad hat had been struck off in the struggle, and De Catinat saw his face in the moonshine.  Great heavens!  It was Amos Green.

CHAPTER XVII.

THE DUNGEON OF PORTILLAC.

The desperadoes were as much astonished as was De Catinat when they found that they had recaptured in this extraordinary manner the messenger whom they had given up for lost.  A volley of oaths and exclamations broke from them, as, on tearing off the huge red coat of the coachman, they disclosed the sombre dress of the young American.

“A thousand thunders!” cried one.  “And this is the man whom that devil’s brat Latour would make out to be dead!”

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The Refugees from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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