“Sure!” he croaked. “But youse gets yers first, youse—”
With a cry, Stangeist, to elude the blow, ducked blindly backward—into the portieres—and with a rip and tear the hangings were wrenched apart.
It came instantaneously—a yell of mingled surprise and fury from the three—the crash and spit of Jimmie Dale’s revolver as he fired one shot at the floor to stop their rush—then he flung himself at the window, through it, and dropped sprawling to the ground.
A stream of flame cut the darkness above him, a bullet whistled by his head—another—and another. He was on his feet, quick as a cat, and running close alongside of the wall of the house. He heard a thud behind him, still another, and yet a third—they were dropping through the window after him. Came another shot, an angry hum of the bullet closer than before—then the pound of racing feet.
Jimmie Dale swung around the corner of the house, running at top speed. Something that was like a hot iron suddenly burned and seared along the side of his head just above the ear. He reeled, staggered, recovered himself, and dashed on. It nauseated him, that stinging in his head, and all at once seemed to be draining his strength away. The shouts, the shots, the running feet became like a curious buzzing in his ears. It seemed strange that they should have hit him, that he should be wounded! If he could only reach the low stone wall by the road, he could at least make a fight for his life on the other side!
Red streaks swam before Jimmie Dale’s eyes. The wall was such a long way off—a yard or two was a very long way more to go—the weakness seemed to be creeping up now even to numb his brain. No, here was the wall—they hadn’t hit him again—he laughed in a demented way—and rolled his body over, and fell to the other side.
The cry seemed to reach some inner consciousness, revive him, send the blood whipping through his veins. That voice! It was her—hers! The Tocsin! There was an automobile, engine racing, standing there in the road. He won to his feet—dark, rushing forms were almost at the wall. He fired—once—twice—fired again—and turned, staggering for the car.
Panting, gasping, he half fell into the tonneau. The car leaped forward, yells filled the air—but only one thing was dominant in Jimmie Dale’s reeling brain now. He pulled himself up to his feet, and leaned over the back of the seat, reaching for the slim figure that was bent over the wheel.
“It’s you—you at last!” he cried. “Your face—let me lee your face!”
A bullet split the back panel of the car—little spurting flames were dancing out from the roadway behind.
“Are you mad!” she shouted back at him. “Let me steer—do you want them to hit me!”
“No-o,” said Jimmie Dale, in a queer singsong sort of way, and his head seemed to spin dizzily around. “No—I guess—” He choked. “The paper—it’s in—my pocket”—and he went down unconscious on the floor of the car.