Page:Yule Logs.djvu/41

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25
A FIGHTING MERMAID

When next he was allowed to regain his feet, he was helplessly bound and being marched away to prison, together with Carlos Moranza, who was in the same unhappy plight. Even then the spirit of the young American was unsubdued; and, in defiance of his enemies, he raised a cry on gaining the street that he felt certain was as good Spanish as it was English.

"Cock-a-doodle-doo!" he shouted, with all the breath left in him.

"Silencio, Gringo!" growled the nearest soldier, at the same time striking his prisoner full in the mouth with the flat of his hand.

For a wonder, Carl Baldwin retained sufficient wisdom to accept the blow without a word, though, had he known the full value of his outcry, he might have been tempted to repeat it.

A crowd had already gathered in front of the café, and from it instantly arose answering shouts, in tones indicating both derision and amazement, of "El gallo! El canto del gallo!"

Carlos Moranza wondered how his friend had obtained a knowledge of the Junta's defiant password for the current month, since even to him it had only been revealed under promise of a strict secrecy that he had not broken. He had used it but once, and then the whispered "Canto del gallo" had instantly admitted him to the presence of the Junta's agent in Key West. No matter, though, how Carl had discovered it, he was justified in using it under the circumstances, for it might raise friends to their assistance, if, indeed, there were any within hearing who understood its hidden meaning. Thus thinking, the young Cuban also uplifted his voice in a ringing "Canto del gallo."

At sound of this second note of defiance, the Spanish spy, with a malediction upon the gallipollo, sprang towards the lad, but, ere he could strike a blow, some one in the crowd hurled a paving-stone that stretched him senseless