The Iron Heel eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 261 pages of information about The Iron Heel.

The next moment I knew how it had happened.  There was quite a group about the wreck, and two men were just lifting up the wounded officer to carry him to the other machine.  A panic seized all of them, and they scattered in every direction, running in blind terror, the wounded officer, roughly dropped, being left behind.  The cursing policeman alongside of me also ran, and Hartman and I ran, too, we knew not why, obsessed with the same blind terror to get away from that particular spot.

Nothing really happened then, but everything was explained.  The flying men were sheepishly coming back, but all the while their eyes were raised apprehensively to the many-windowed, lofty buildings that towered like the sheer walls of a canyon on each side of the street.  From one of those countless windows the bomb had been thrown, but which window?  There had been no second bomb, only a fear of one.

Thereafter we looked with speculative comprehension at the windows.  Any of them contained possible death.  Each building was a possible ambuscade.  This was warfare in that modern jungle, a great city.  Every street was a canyon, every building a mountain.  We had not changed much from primitive man, despite the war automobiles that were sliding by.

Turning a corner, we came upon a woman.  She was lying on the pavement, in a pool of blood.  Hartman bent over and examined her.  As for myself, I turned deathly sick.  I was to see many dead that day, but the total carnage was not to affect me as did this first forlorn body lying there at my feet abandoned on the pavement.  “Shot in the breast,” was Hartman’s report.  Clasped in the hollow of her arm, as a child might be clasped, was a bundle of printed matter.  Even in death she seemed loath to part with that which had caused her death; for when Hartman had succeeded in withdrawing the bundle, we found that it consisted of large printed sheets, the proclamations of the revolutionists.

“A comrade,” I said.

But Hartman only cursed the Iron Heel, and we passed on.  Often we were halted by the police and patrols, but our passwords enabled us to proceed.  No more bombs fell from the windows, the last pedestrians seemed to have vanished from the streets, and our immediate quietude grew more profound; though the gigantic caldron continued to bubble in the distance, dull roars of explosions came to us from all directions, and the smoke-pillars were towering more ominously in the heavens.

CHAPTER XXIII

THE PEOPLE OF THE ABYSS

Suddenly a change came over the face of things.  A tingle of excitement ran along the air.  Automobiles fled past, two, three, a dozen, and from them warnings were shouted to us.  One of the machines swerved wildly at high speed half a block down, and the next moment, already left well behind it, the pavement was torn into a great hole by a bursting bomb.  We saw the police disappearing down the cross-streets on the run, and knew that something terrible was coming.  We could hear the rising roar of it.

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The Iron Heel from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.