He fairly flung himself, unrolled, and running with an absurdly clock work-toy-like gait, whose speed checked the laugh that it caused, was after that viper in considerably less than half-a-second, his eyes red as the sun they glinted in, his fangs bared for action, his swinish snout uplifted at the tip in a wicked grin. No beast to bandy words with, this.
"Are you aware that it 's a singularly lovely afternoon?" the Duchessa asked, by and by. "I have a hundred reasons for thinking it so," Peter hazarded, with the least perceptible approach to a meaning bow. In the Duchessa's face, perhaps, there flickered, for half-a-second, the least perceptible light, as of a comprehending and unresentful smile. But she went on, with fine aloofness.
It slowly swings and rings a thin, melancholy warning tone, comes nearer, a lantern appears, the young men, the fathers, the women, the miscellaneous groups, seem, for half-a-second, to disappear like lights put out, they drop on their knees so instantly wherever they happen to be.
The girl threw down the sack and flashed both hands on the gun-butts. Courtrey, watching, was half-a-second behind her and stopped with his hands hovering. "Not much, Courtrey," she said, "you fast gun man! You're too slow. An' this ain't your game, anyway, not face t' face. You're all right on a dark night an' from behind. Fine! But you're a coward. You're what I called you before an assassin."
They tried three or four other dogs. with just the same success. But Bob never lost half-a-second over these attempts. He knew. "Anyway, it was fearful work after that; with the thunderstorm hanging over us. Bob was continually losing the track; and us circling round and round in front, sometimes picking it up a little further ahead.
He came back to her and stood before her looking at her for a minute. And then he made this most remarkable speech: "If you were to ask Sir John Kynaston this he would restore the chancel!" he said. For half-a-second Vera stared at him in blank amazement. Then she turned haughtily round, and flushed hotly with angry indignation.
At times these giddy phenomena were among the rafters, at other times they were on the floor, and yet again they were going up or coming down the walls; but all the while both men and dogs seemed to be everlastingly too late, and hunting them where, half-a-second before, they had been. In fact, they perpetually had been, and were always where snapping jaws and beating sticks were not.