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The others followed, for the barkeeper, in obedience to post orders, was closing up his shop. Holmes led his silent follower beyond earshot of the loungers at the door-way. "Did you see the soldier who rode past here just now?" "Yes, sir." "Drake, I've picked you out for service that I can intrust to no one else. You've never failed me yet. Are you ready for a long ride to-night?"

But we were not to get by the place without notice, for the loungers saw us coming, and strode out in a swaggering way three big sturdy fellows in blue and scarlet, and pretty well blocked the way as they stood scowling at us. "Look out," whispered Barkins, "ready with your toasting-forks, and then if it comes to it we must run." "You'll stick by us, Gnat," whispered Smith in a hasty whisper.

"And the Indian, he says that he will come back?" "Yes. I don't know what he means. It doesn't matter." "No, I suppose it doesn't." They were silent for a moment. The maid leaned forward. "What was that, M'sieu?" "Loungers, on the path." "No, they are coming here." Menard rose, but she stepped to the door. "Let me go, M'sieu. Ah, I see them. It is my little friends."

As train-time drew near, Joel realized that he would not be equal to the ordeal of absenting himself, even for so worthy a cause as to teach Persis a much-needed lesson. There was the usual number of loungers on the station platform, and Joel was soon surrounded by an interested circle. As the brother of a woman of property, he had acquired a certain vicarious importance in the last few weeks.

She walked through the village on her return scanning everything about her the slatternly girls plaiting on the doorsteps, the children in the lane, the loungers round the various "publics," the labourers, old and young, who touched their caps to her with a moody and passionate eye. "Mary!" she broke out as they neared the Rectory, "I shall be twenty-four directly.

They dawdled through the thronged hotel office, where other irresponsible pairs were coming and going under the admiring eyes of the hotel loungers, and they wandered up and down the waste parlours, and sat on tete-a- tetes just to try them, apparently; and Miss Gage verified in the mirrors the beauty which was reflected in all eyes.

The appearance of the third gendarme settled the matter, for a crowd of curious loungers was extended before him, effectually blocking the entrance to the hotel. "They're after me!" was Andrea's first thought. "The devil!" A pallor overspread the young man's forehead, and he looked around him with anxiety.

Here, Duane had learned, was stationed a comfortable inn for wayfarers. When he drew up before the inn the landlord and his family and a number of loungers greeted him laconically. "Beat the stage in, hey?" remarked one. "There she comes now," said another. "Joel shore is drivin' to-night." Far down the road Duane saw a cloud of dust and horses and a lumbering coach.

Still he struggled, and puzzled and guessed, weakly, as to what had happened to him, and when a committee from the loungers above visited him, and asked what struck him, he could only point suggestively to his throat, and wag his head. He could not even whisper; and so they left him, pondering upon the profanely expressed opinion of old Kelly that it was a "visitation from God."

The commotion had attracted the attention of the loungers in the store and as they hurried to the street, the conspirators, pointing to Bob, yelled: "Stop him! Stop him!" But Bob, paying no heed, raced to where Firefly stood, vaulted into his saddle and, with the dog at his heels, dashed up the street.

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