“With the Devourers.”
“There are no Devourers here,” replied Agricola; “we are only peaceable workmen. So begone.”
“Well! here are the Wolves, that will eat your quiet workmen.”
“The Wolves will eat no one here,” said Agricola, looking full at the quarryman, who approached him with a threatening air; “they can only frighten little children.”
“Oh! you think so,” said the quarryman, with a savage sneer. Then raising his weapon, he shook it in Agricola’s face, exclaiming: “Is that any laughing matter?
“Is that?” answered Agricola, with a rapid movement, parrying the stone sledge with his own hammer.
“Iron against iron—hammer against hammer—that suits me,” said the quarryman.
“It does not matter what suits you,” answered Agricola, hardly able to restrain himself. “You have broken our windows, frightened our women, and wounded—perhaps killed—the oldest workman in the factory, who at this moment lies bleeding in the arms of his son.” Here Agricola’s voice trembled in spite of himself. “It is, I think, enough.”
“No; the Wolves are hungry for more,” answered the blaster; “you must come out (cowards that you are!), and fight us on the plain.”
“Yes! yes! battle!—let them come out!” cried the crowd, howling, hissing, waving their sticks and pushing further into the small space which separated them from the door.
“We will have no battle,” answered Agricola: “we will not leave our home; but if you have the misfortune to pass this,” said Agricola, throwing his cap upon the threshold, and setting his foot on it with an intrepid air, “if you pass this, you attack us in our own house, and you will be answerable for all that may happen.”
“There or elsewhere we will have the fight! the Wolves must eat the Devourers. Now for the attack!” cried the fierce quarryman, raising his hammer to strike Agricola.
But the latter, throwing himself on one side by a sudden leap, avoided the blow, and struck with his hammer full at the chest of the quarryman, who staggered for a moment, but instantly recovering his legs, rushed furiously on Agricola, crying: “Follow me, Wolves!”
As soon as the combat had begun between Agricola and the blaster, the general fight became terrible, ardent, implacable. A flood of assailants, following the quarryman’s steps, rushed into the house with irresistible fury; others, unable to force their way through this dreadful crowd, where the more impetuous squeezed, stifled, and crushed these who were less so, went round in another direction, broke through some lattice work, and thus placed the people of the factory, as it were, between two fires. Some resisted courageously; others, seeing Ciboule, followed by some of her horrible companions, and by several of the most ill-looking ruffians, hastily enter that