Page:Yule Logs.djvu/306

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of them, shouting, "Back! back! for God's sake, keep out of the forest!"

At the same moment a gust of wind dispersed the smoke, and showed him a few hundred yards distant a house, which, owing to its isolated position, away from the burning town, was untouched by fire.

"Follow me," he cried, and dashed towards it.

His sudden appearance, his assurance of voice and manner, had the desired effect; the fugitives crowded round him, some even clinging to his stirrups. All vaguely in their terror wondered from whence he had sprung. "Surely he must have been sent to save them from the heathen." So he drew them on until they reached the house, entered the courtyard, and some one closed the gates, thus ensuring safety for a short time at least.

The day was just dawning, but it was hardly perceptible because of the fierce light from the burning town, which reddened land and sky with a deeper glow than the rising sun. Coming ever nearer and nearer they heard the yells of the savages, and the children clung in terror to their mothers, who, in their anguish, called upon the men to save them.

"Quick to the house and barricade doors and windows," said Josh.

"You are driving us into a trap; we shall be either murdered or burnt alive," cried a farmer.

"You will at least have a chance of defending yourselves," answered Josh; "in the forest you would have been slaughtered. I do not say we shall escape now, but at least we can fight and die like men."

"He's right," said James Carter, the owner of the house. "My father built the homestead; it is strong and well seasoned. Comrades, if we must die, we will sell our lives dearly. Quick, do as the young man bids you," and throwing open the doors, he hurried the women and children within.