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himself. His teeth and the whites of his eyes gleamed straight at me from afar; he hissed with fear; for an instant I was firmly convinced he had seen me. All this took place so quickly that I had no time to make one movement towards receiving his attack, when I saw him make a great sign of the cross in the air with the point of his dagger.
He sheathed it slowly, and sidled along the few feet to the entrance, his shoulders rubbing the wall. He blocked out the light, and in a moment had backed out of sight.
Before he got to the further end I was already, at the inner, creeping after him. I had started at once, as if his disappearance had removed a spell, as though he had drawn me after him by an invisible bond. Raising myself on my forearms I saw him, from his knees up, standing outside the sill, with his back to the precipice and his face turned up.
There is nobody in there," he shouted. I sank down and wriggled forward on my stomach, raising myself on my elbows, now and then, to look. Manuel was looking upwards conversing with the people above, and holding Williams' flask in both his hands. He never once glanced into the passage; he seemed to be trying to undo the cord knotted to the end of the thick rope, which hung in a long bight before him. The flask captured my eyes, my thought, my energy. I would tear it away from him directly. There was in me, then, neither fear nor intelligence; only the desire of possessing myself of the thing; but an instinctive caution prevented my rushing out violently. I proceeded with an animal-like stealthiness, with which cool reason had nothing to do.
He had some difficulty with the knot, and evidently did not wish to cut the green silk cord. How well I remember his fumbling fingers. He sat down sideways on the sill, with his legs outside, of course, his face and hands turned to the light, very absorbed in his endeavor. They shouted to him from above.
"I come at once," he cried to them, without lifting his head.
I had crept up almost near enough to grab the flask. It never occurred to me that by Alinging myself on him, I could have pushed him off the sill. My only idea was to get hold. He did not exist
The leather-covered bottle was the only real thing in the world. I was completely insane. I heard a faint detonation, and Manuel got up quickly from the sill. The flask was out of my reach.
There were more popping sounds of shots fired, away on the plain. The peons were attacking an outpost of the Lugareños. A deep voice cried, “They are driving them in.” Then several together yelled :
Come away, Manuel. Come away. Por Dios. Stretched at full length in the passage, and sustaining myself on my trembling arms, I gazed up at him. He stood very rigid, holding the flask in both hands. Several muskets were discharged together just above, and in the noise of the reports I remember a voice crying urgently over the edge, "Manuel! Manuel!" The shadow of irresolution passed over his features. He hesitated whether to run up the ledge or bolt into the cave. He shouted something. He was not answered, but the yelling and the firing 'ceased suddenly, as if the Lugareños had given up and taken to their heels. I became aware of a sort of increasing throbbing sound 'that seemed to come from behind me, out of the cave; then, as Manuel lifted his foot hastily to step over the sill, I jumped up deliriously, and with outstretched hands lurched forward at the flask in his fingers.
I believe I laughed at him in an imbecile manner. Somebody laughed; and I remember the superior smile on his face passing into a ghastly grin, that disappeared slowly, while his astonished eyes, glaring at that gaunt and disheveled apparition rising before him in the dusk of the passage, seemed to grow to an enormous size. He drew back his foot, as though it had been burnt; and in a panic-stricken impulse, he flung the flask straight into my face, and staggered away from the sill.
I made a catch of it with a scream of triumph, whose unearthly sound brought me back to my senses.
“In the name of God, retire,” he cried, as though I had been an apparition from another world.
What took place afterwards happened with an inconceivable rapidity, in less time than it takes to draw breath.
He never recognized me. I saw his glare of incredulous awe change, sud
denly, to horror and despair. He had felt himself losing his balance.
He had stepped too far back. He tried to recover himself, but it was too late. He hung for a moment in his backward fall; his arms beat the air, his body curled upon itself with an awful striving. All at once he went limp all over, and, with the sunlight full upon his upturned face, vanished downwards from my sight.
But at the last moment he managed to clutch the bight of the hanging rope. The end of it must have been lying quite loose on the ground above, for I saw its whole length go whizzing after him, in the twinkling of an eye. I pressed the flask fiercely to my breast, raging with the thought that he could yet tear it out of my hands; but by the time the strain came, his falling body had acquired such a velocity that I didn't feel the slightest jerk when the green cord snapped-no more than if it had been the thread of a cobweb.
I confess that tears, tears of gratitude, were running down my face. My limbs trembled. But I was sane enough not to think of myself any more.
“Drink! Drink," I stammered, raising Seraphina's head on my shoulder, while the galloping horses of the peons in hot pursuit passed with a thundering rumble above us. Then all was still.
Our getting out of the cave was a matter of unremitting toil, through what might have been a year of time; the recollection is of an arduous undertaking, accomplished without the usual incentives of men's activity. Necessity, alone, remained; the iron necessity without the glamour of freedom of choice, of pride.
Our unsteady feet crushed, at last, the black embers of the fires scattered by the hoofs of horses; and the plain appeared immense to our weakness, swept of shadows by the high sun, lonely and desolate as the sea. We looked at the litter of the Lugareños camp, rags on the trodden grass, a couple of abandoned blankets, a musket thrown away in the panic, a dirty red sash lying on a heap of sticks, a wooden bucket from the schooner, smashed watergourds. One of them remained miraculously poised on its round bottom and full to the brim, while everything else seemed to have been overturned, torn, scattered haphazard by a furious gust of wind. A scaffolding of poles, for drying strips of meat, had been