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Kilgorman by Talbot Baines Reed

And I was expecting to see the gig disappear round the turn


I

had barely time to whip out my ship's pistol from my belt--luckily already loaded--and level it at the assassin. Almost at the instant of my discharge his gun went off; and in the moment of silence that followed, I heard the horse start at a gallop along the level road.

Paddy lay on his face, hit in the shoulder, but not, as I judged by his kicking, fatally so. I was less concerned about him than about the occupants of the gig. As far as I could see, looking after them, neither was hurt, and the assassin's gun must have gone off harmlessly in the air. The horse, who seemed to know what all this meant as well as any one, raced for his life, and I was expecting to see the gig disappear round the turn, unless it overturned first, when a huge stone rolled down on to the road a few yards ahead, and brought the animal up on his haunches with such suddenness that the two travellers were almost pitched from their seats.

At the same moment two men, armed with clubs, leaped on to the road, one making for the horse's head, the other for the step.

All this took less time to happen than it takes me to tell it, and before the gig actually came to a standstill I was rushing along the road to the spot. My discharged pistol was in my hand, but I had no time to reload. I flung myself at the man on the step just as he raised his club, and sending him sprawling on to the road, levelled my

weapon at his head.

"Move, and you're a dead man!" said I.

Then turning to his honour, I thrust the pistol into his shaking hand, and said,--

"Fire if he tries to get up, your honour. Let me get at the other one."

He was easily disposed of, for the terrified horse was jerking him off his feet and dragging him here and there in its efforts to get clear. I soon had him on the road beside his companion, helping him thereto by a crack on the head from his own club; and I then took the horse in hand, and reduced it, after a struggle, to quietness.

Till this was done I had had neither time nor heart to lift my eyes to the occupants of the gig. His honour, very white, kept his eyes on the men on the road and his finger on the trigger of the pistol. But Miss Kit had all her eyes for me. At first her look was one of mere gratitude to a stranger; then it clouded with bewilderment and almost alarm; then suddenly it lit up in a blaze of joyful recognition.

"Barry, it's you after all?" she cried.

And the light on her face glowed brighter with the blush that covered it and the tears that sparkled in her eyes.

At the sound of her voice his honour looked round sharply, and after staring blankly for a moment, recognised me too.

"How came you here?" he exclaimed, as I thought, with as much disappointment as pleasure in his voice.

"I'll tell you that by-and-by, when I've tied up these two scoundrels.-- Come, stand up you two, and hands up, if you don't want a taste of cold lead in your heads."

They obeyed in a half-stupid way. One of them I recognised at once as the man who had acted as secretary at last night's meeting. No doubt he and his fellow had had their misgivings as to Paddy Corkill's ability, and had come here to second him in case of failure.


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