Under Handicap eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 264 pages of information about Under Handicap.

CHAPTER XXVII

“Who was it?”

It was Mr. Crawford’s voice, calm, expressionless.  Conniston and Argyl swung about, the horror of the thing which they had seen still widening their eyes, and saw Mr. Crawford, Jimmie Kent, and a man whom Conniston took to be Colton Gray.

“Hapgood,” he answered, his eyes going back to the tumult of water sweeping away the hopes of many men.

Mr. Crawford stepped forward and put his hand on Conniston’s arm.

“We lose, my boy.”  His voice was as steady as it had been before, but Conniston saw that his lips quivered despite the iron will set to keep them steady.  “And it could not be helped.  And Conniston, my boy, my son,” his tones ringing out so that all there could hear, “I am proud of you, and proud that I may call you my son!”

“Greek!  Poor Greek!” Argyl was clinging to him, everything lost to her but a great pity for him.  “Is it to be only defeat, after all?”

“Defeat!”

He whirled about, his clenched fist raised high above his head, his body rigid, his haggard face dead white.  “Defeat!” He laughed, and Argyl shivered at the strange tone in his laughter.  “Defeat!” he cried a third time.  “We have five days!”

He was upon a boulder, standing where all men might see him, might hear him.  And his voice as it rang out through the roar of the leaping water was sharp, clear, decisive, confident.

“Here you, Lark!  Rush fifty men with crowbars to the Jaws!  Make the rest of your men hitch up to their plows and scrapers and rush them to the Jaws as fast as their horses can run!  Send me five good men.  Pete,” as Lonesome Pete’s red head surged forward through the crowd of working-men, “come here!”

Pete came, and came running.

“Get on your horse.  Kill him getting to Miss Argyl’s Dam.  Open the gates there and turn the water into the canal.  And for God’s sake hurry!”

And Lonesome Pete, with one wild yell of understanding, fled.  The Lark had swung about, calling upon his men by name, and as he called fifty big, quick-eyed men leaped forward to fall quickly into the sections bossed by the men whose names the Lark was shouting.  The dirt and stones had not ceased rolling and rattling down the rocky walls of the canon when fifty men with picks and crowbars were rushing along its banks to the Jaws.  And as Greek Conniston hurled his orders at the Lark and the Lark snatched them up, shouting to the men about him, horses were hitched to plows and scrapers and driven, galloping, to the Jaws.

The five men for whom Conniston had called and whom the Lark had selected came to him quickly.

“Get into Mr. Crawford’s buckboard,” he called, sharply, to two of them.  “Drive to Dam Number Two and open the gates there, turning every bit of water you can into the canal!  You three men get saddle-horses.  You,” to one of them, “rush to Crawfordsville and telephone to Tommy Garton.  Tell him what has happened.  Tell him to send me two hundred men on the run. On the run, do you hear?  Tell him to tie Bill Wallace up and put two men to watch out for him.  Now go!  And you two fellows get your horses saddled and bring them here and wait for orders.”

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Under Handicap from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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