Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/319

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The Ruby of Kishmoor

house of the young woman, the man whom thou now beholdest lying dead upon the floor induced me to come to this place. Having inveigled me hither, he demanded of me to give him at once this insignificant trifle. Upon my refusing to do so, he assaulted me with every appearance of a mad and furious inclination to deprive me of my life!”

At the sight of the ivory ball the stranger quickly arose from his kneeling posture and fixed upon our hero a gaze the most extraordinary that he had ever encountered. His eyes dilated like those of a cat, the breath expelled itself from his bosom in so deep and profound an expiration that it appeared as though it might never return again. Nor was it until Jonathan had replaced the ball in his pocket that he appeared to awaken from the trance that the sight of the object had sent him into. But no sooner had the cause of this strange demeanor disappeared into our hero’s breeches-pocket than he arose as with an electric shock. In an instant he became transformed as by the touch of magic. A sudden and baleful light flamed into his eyes, his face grew as red as blood, and he clapped his hand to his pocket with a sudden and violent motion. “Ze ball!” he cried, in a hoarse and strident voice. “Ze ball! Give me ze ball!” And upon the next instant our hero beheld the round and shining nozzle of a pistol pointed directly against his forehead.

For a moment he stood as though transfixed; then in the mortal peril that faced him, he uttered a roar that sounded in his own ears like the outcry of a wild beast, and thereupon flung himself bodily upon the other with the violence and the fury of a madman.

The stranger drew the trigger, and the powder flashed in the pan. He dropped the weapon, clattering, and in an instant tried to draw another from his other pocket. Before he could direct his aim, however, our hero had caught him by both wrists, and, bending his hand backward, prevented the chance of any shot from taking immediate effect upon his person. Then followed a struggle of extraordinary ferocity and frenzy—the stranger endeavoring to free