“Very good,” said Burke. “They want to keep it up, do they? Now, captain,” he continued, “we can see the backs and legs of most of them. Shall we fire at them? That will be just as good as killing them. They mean fight—that’s easy to see.”
But the captain was not willing to follow Burke’s advice.
“I don’t want to wound or maim them,” he replied. “Let’s give them a volley just over their heads, and let them see what we are prepared to do. Now, then, when I give the word!”
In a few moments three shots rang out from the intrenchment, and the bullets went whistling over the prostrate bodies of the men on the sand. But these tactics did not have the effect Captain Horn hoped for. They led to no waving of handkerchiefs, nor any show of an intention to treat with an armed and intrenched foe. Instead of that, the man Sanchez sprang to his feet and cried:
“Come on, boys! Over the wall and at them before they can reload!”
At this all the men sprang up and dashed toward the line of bags, Nunez with them. Somebody might get hurt in this wild charge, but he must reach the treasure as soon as the others. He must not fail in that. But Sanchez made a great mistake when he supposed that Captain Horn and his men fought with such arms as the muzzle-loading rifles and shot—guns which the Arato’s men had thought quite sufficient to bring with them for the work they had to do. Captain Horn, when he had fitted out the Miranda, had supplied himself and his two white men with fine repeating rifles, and the Arato’s men had scarcely crossed the line which had been drawn on the sand before there were three shots from the barrier, and three of the enemy dropped. Even the captain made a good shot this time.
At this the attacking party stopped, and some of them shouted, “To the boats!” Nunez said nothing, for he was dead. There had been much straggling in the line, and Shirley had singled him out as one of the leaders. Before one of them had turned or a retreat begun, Burke’s rifle flashed, and another man fell over against a companion, and then down upon the sand. The distance was very short, and a bad shot was almost impossible for a good hunter.
Now there was no hesitation. The five men who had life and legs, turned and dashed for the boats. But the captain did not intend, now, that they should escape, and rifle after rifle cracked from the barricade, and before they reached the boats, four of the flying party had fallen. The fifth man stumbled over one of his companions, who dropped in front of him, then rose to his feet, threw down his gun, and, turning his face toward the shore, held up his hands high above his head.
“I surrender!” he cried, and, still with his arms above his head, and his face whiter than the distant sands, he slowly walked toward the barrier.
The captain rose. “Halt!” he cried, and the man stood stock-still. “Now, my men,” cried the captain, turning to Burke and Shirley, “keep your eyes on that fellow until we reach him, and if he moves, shoot him.”