parried the leap of a fifth with his left arm.
It might have been the first century instead of the twenty-second, so far as she was concerned. All the gentleness of her eighteen years of city life vanished before this primordial need. The spade smote hard and sure, and cleft a dog’s skull. Another, crouching for a spring, yelped with dismay at this unexpected antagonist, and rushed aside. Two wasted precious moments on the binding of a feminine skirt.
The collar of Denton’s cloak tore and parted as he staggered back; and that dog too felt the spade, and ceased to trouble him. He sheathed his sword in the brute at his thigh.
“To the wall!” cried Elizabeth; and in three seconds the fight was at an end, and our young people stood side by side, while a remnant of five dogs, with ears and tails of disaster, fled shamefully from the stricken field.
For a moment they stood panting and victorious, and then Elizabeth, dropping her spade, covered her face, and sank to the ground in a paroxysm of weeping. Denton looked about him, thrust the point of his sword into the ground so that it was at hand, and stooped to comfort her.
* * *
At last their more tumultuous emotions subsided, and they could talk again. She leant upon the wall, and he sat upon it so that he could keep an eye open for any returning dogs. Two, at any rate, were up on the hillside and keeping up a vexatious barking.
She was tear-stained, but not very wretched now, because for half an hour he had been repeating that she was brave and had saved his life. But a new fear was growing in her mind.
“They are the dogs of the Food Company,” she said. “There will be trouble.”
“I am afraid so. Very likely they will prosecute us for trespass.”
“In the old times,” he said, “this sort of thing happened day after day.”
“Last night!” she said. “I could not live through another such night.”
He looked at her. Her face was pale for want of sleep, and drawn and haggard. He came to a sudden resolution. “We must go back,” he said.
She looked at the dead dogs, and shivered. “We cannot stay here,” she said.
“We must go back,” he repeated, glancing over his shoulder to see if the enemy kept their distance. “We have been happy for a time… . But the world is too civilised. Ours is the age of cities. More of this will kill us.”
“But what are we to do? How can we live there?”
Denton hesitated. His heel kicked against the wall on which he sat. “It’s a thing I haven’t mentioned before,” he said, and coughed; “but … ”
“You could raise money on your expectations,” he said.
“Could I?” she said eagerly.
“Of course you could. What a child you are!”