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Chapter 21


CHAPTER XXI.

COLEMAN pushed his horse coolly through to the
dragoman;s side. " What is it ? " he demanded. The
dragoman was broken-voiced. " These peoples, they
say you are Germans, all Germans, and they are
angry," he wailed. " I can do nossing-nossing."

" Well, tell these men to drive on," said Coleman,
"tell them theymust drive on."

" They will not drive on," wailed the dragoman,
still more loudly. " I can do nossing. They say here
is place for feed the horse. It is the custom and they
will note drive on."

" Make them drive on."

" They will note," shrieked the agonised servitor.
Coleman looked from the men waving their arms
and chattering on the box-seats to the men of the
crowd who also waved their arms and chattered. In
this throng far to the rear of the fighting armies there
did not seem to be a single man who was not
ablebodied, who had not been free to enlist as a soldier.
They were of that scurvy behind-the-rear-guard which
every nation has in degree proportionate to its worth.
The manhood of Greece had gone to the frontier,
leaving at home this rabble of talkers, most of whom
were armed with rifles for mere pretention. Coleman
loathed them to the end of his soul. He thought
them a lot of infants who would like to prove their
courage upon eleven innocent travellers, all but
unarmed, and in this fact he was quick to see a great
danger to the Wainwright party. One could deal
with soldiers; soldiers would have been ashamed to
bait helpless people ; but this rabble-

The fighting blood of the correspondent began to
boil, and he really longed for the privilege to run
amuck through the multitude. But a look at the
Wainwrights kept him in his senses. The professor
had turned pale as a dead man. He sat very stiff and
still while his wife clung to him, hysterically beseeching
him to do something, do something, although
what he was to do she could not have even imagined.

Coleman took the dilemma by its beard. He
dismounted from his horse into the depths of the crowd
and addressed the Wainwrights. " I suppose we had
better go into this place and have some coffee while
the men feed their horses. There is no use in trying
to make them go on." His manner was fairly
casual, but they looked at him in glazed horror. " It
is the only thing to do. This crowd is not nearly so
bad as they think they are. But we've got to look as
if we felt confident." He himself had no confidence
with this angry buzz in his ears, but be felt certain
that the only correct move was to get everybody as
quickly as possible within the shelter of the inn. It
might not be much of a shelter for them, but it was
better than the carriages in the street.

The professor and Mrs. Wainwright seemed to be
considering their carriage as a castle, and they looked
as if their terror had made them physically incapable
of leaving it. Coleman stood waiting. Behind him
the clapper-tongued crowd was moving ominously.
Marjory arose and stepped calmly down to him.
He thrilled to the end of every nerve. It was as if
she had said: " I don't think there is great danger,
but if there is great danger, why * * here I am *
ready * with you." It conceded everything,
admitted everything. It was a surrender without a
blush, and it was only possible in the shadow of the
crisis when they did not know what the next
moments might contain for them. As he took her
hand and she stepped past him he whispered swiftly
and fiercely in her ear, " I love you." She did not
look up, but he felt that in this quick incident they
had claimed each other, accepted each other with a
far deeper meaning and understanding than could be
possible in a mere drawing-room. She laid her hand
on his arm, and with the strength of four men he
twisted his horse into the making of furious prancing
side-steps toward the door of the inn, clanking side-
steps which mowed a wide lane through the crowd for
Marjory, his Marjory. He was as haughty as a new
German lieutenant, and although he held the fuming
horse with only his left hand, he seemed perfectly
capable of hurling the animal over a house without
calling into service the arm which was devoted to
Marjory.

It was not an exhibition of coolness such as wins
applause on the stage when the hero placidly lights a
cigarette before the mob which is clamouring for his
death. It was, on the contrary, an exhibition of
downright classic disdain, a disdain which with the
highest arrogance declared itself in every glance of his
eye into the faces about him. " Very good * *
attack me if you like * * there is nothing to prevent
it * * you mongrels." Every step of his progress
was made a renewed insult to them. The very air
was charged with what this lone man was thinking
of this threatening crowd.

His audacity was invincible. They actually made
way for it as quickly as children would flee from a
ghost. The horse, dancing; with ringing steps, with
his glistening neck arched toward the iron hand at his
bit, this powerful, quivering animal was a regular
engine of destruction, and they gave room until Coleman
halted him -at an exclamation from Marjory.

" My mother and father." But they were coming
close behind and Coleman resumed this contemptuous
journey to the door of the inn. The groom, with his
new-born tongue, was clattering there to the populace.
Coleman gave him the horse and passed after the
Wainwrights into the public room of the inn. He
was smiling. What simpletons!

A new actor suddenly appeared in the person of the
keeper of the inn. He too had a rifle and a prodigious
belt of cartridges, but it was plain at once that he had
elected to be a friend of the worried travellers. A
large part of the crowd were thinking it necessary to
enter the inn and pow-wow more. But the innkeeper
stayed at the door with the dragoman, and together
they vociferously held back the tide. The spirit of
the mob had subsided to a more reasonable feeling.
They no longer wished to tear the strangers limb from
limb on the suspicion that they were Germans. They
now were frantic to talk as if some inexorable law
had kept them silent for ten years and this was the
very moment of their release. Whereas, their simul-
taneous and interpolating orations had throughout
made noise much like a coal-breaker.
Coleman led the Wainwrights to a table in a far
part of the room. They took chairs as if he had com-
manded them. " What an outrage," he said jubilantly.
" The apes." He was keeping more than half an eye
upon the door, because he knew that the quick coming
of the students was important.

Then suddenly the storm broke in wrath. Something
had happened in the street. The jabbering crowd at
the door had turned and were hurrying upon some
central tumult. The dragoman screamed to Coleman.
Coleman jumped and grabbed the dragoman. " Tell
this man to take them somewhere up stairs," he cried,
indicating the Wainwrights with a sweep of his arm.
The innkeeper seemed to understand sooner than the
dragoman, and he nodded eagerly. The professor was
crying: "What is it, Mr. Coleman? What is it ? "
An instant later, the correspondent was out in the
street, buffeting toward a scuffle. Of course it was
the students. It appeared, afterward, that those
seven young men, with their feelings much ruffled,
had been making the best of their way toward the
door of the inn, when a large man in the crowd, during
a speech which was surely most offensive, had laid
an arresting hand on the shoulder of Peter Tounley.
Whereupon the excellent Peter Tounley had hit the
large man on the jaw in such a swift and skilful manner
that the large man had gone spinning through a
group of his countrymen to the hard earth, where he
lay holding his face together and howling. Instantly,
of course, there had been a riot. It might well be
said that even then the affair could have ended in a lot
of talking, but in the first place the students did not
talk modern Greek, and in the second place they were
now past all thought of talking. They regarded this
affair seriously as a fight, and now that they at last
were in it, they were in it for every pint of blood in
their bodies. Such a pack of famished wolves had
never before been let loose upon men armed with
Gras rifles.

They all had been expecting the row, and when
Peter Tounley had found it expedient to knock over
the man, they had counted it a signal: their arms
immediately begun to swing out as if they had been
wound up. It was at this time that Coleman swam
brutally through the Greeks and joined his countrymen.
He was more frightened than any of those novices.
When he saw Peter Tounley overthrow a dreadful
looking brigand whose belt was full of knives, and who
-crashed to the ground amid a clang of cartridges, he
was appalled by the utter simplicity with which the
lads were treating the crisis. It was to them no com-
mon scrimmage at Washurst, of course, but it flashed
through Coleman's mind that they had not the
slightegt sense of the size of the thing. He expected
every instant to see the flash of knives or to hear the
deafening intonation of a rifle fired against hst ear. It
seemed to him miraculous that the tragedy was so long
delayed.

In the meantirne he was in the affray. He jilted
one man under the chin with his elbow in a way that
reeled him off from Peter Tounley's back; a little person
in thecked clothes he smote between the eyes; he
recieved a gun-butt emphatically on the aide of the
neck; he felt hands tearing at him; he kicked the pins
out from under three men in rapid succession. He
was always yelling. " Try to get to the inn, boys, try
to get to the inn. Look out, Peter. Take care for his
knife, Peter--" Suddenly he whipped a rifle out of
the hands of a man and swung it, whistling.  He had
gone stark mad with the others.

The boy Billy, drunk from some blows and bleeding,
was already. staggering toward the inn over the clearage
which the wild Coleman made with the clubbed
rifle. Tho others follewed  as well as they might while
beating off a discouraged enemy. The remarkable
innkeeper had barred his windows with strong wood
shutters.  He held the door by the crack for them, and
they stumbled one by on through the portal. Coleman
did not know why they were not all dead, nor did
he understand the intrepid and generous behaviour of
the innkeeper, but at any rate he felt that the
fighting was suspended, and he wanted to see Marjory.
The innkeeper was, doing a great pantomime in the
middle of the darkened room, pointing to the outer
door and then aiming his rifle at it to explain his
intention of defending them at all costs. Some of the
students moved to a billiard table and spread them-
selves wearily upon it. Others sank down where they
stood. Outside the crowd was beginning to roar.
Coleman's groom crept out from under the little
Coffee bar and comically saluted his master. The
dragoman was not present. Coleman felt that he
must see Marjory, and he made signs to the innkeeper.
The latter understood quickly, and motioned that
Coleman should follow him. They passed together
through a dark hall and up a darker stairway, where
after Coleman stepped out into a sun-lit room, saying
loudly: "Oh, it's all right. It's all over. Don't  worry."

Three wild people were instantly upon him. " Oh,
what was it? What did happen? Is anybody hurt?
Oh, tell us, quick!" It seemed at the time that it
was an avalanche of three of them, and it was not
until later that he recognised that Mrs. Wainwright had
tumbled the largest number of questions upon him.
As for Marjory, she had said nothing until the time
when she cried: " Oh-he is bleeding-he is bleeding.
Oh, come, quick!" She fairly dragged him out of
one room into another room, where there was a jug of
water. She wet her handkerchief and softly smote
his wounds. "Bruises," she said, piteously, tearfully.
" Bruises. Oh, dear! How they must hurt you.'
The handkerchief was soon stained crimson.

When Coleman spoke his voice quavered. " It isn't
anything. Really, it isn't anything." He had not
known of these wonderful wounds, but he almost
choked in the joy of Marjory's ministry and her half
coherent exclamations. This proud and beautiful
girl, this superlative creature, was reddening her
handkerchief with his blood, and no word of his could
have prevented her from thus attending him. He
could hear the professor and Mrs. Wainwright fussing
near him, trying to be of use. He would have liked
to have been able to order them out of the room.
Marjory's cool fingers on his face and neck had conjured
within him a vision at an intimacy tnat was even
sweeter than anything which he had imagined, and he
longed to pour out to her the bubbling, impassioned
speech which came to his lips. But, always doddering
behind him, were the two old people, strenuous to be
of help to him.

Suddenly a door opened and a youth appeared,
simply red with blood. It was Peter Tounley. His
first remark was cheerful. "Well, I don't suppose
those people will be any too quick to look for more
trouble."

Coleman felt a swift pang because he had forgotten
to announce the dilapidated state of all the students.
He had been so submerged by Marjory's tenderness
that all else had been drowned from his mind. His
heart beat quickly as he waited for Marjory to leave
him and rush to Peter Tounley.

But she did nothing of the sort. " Oh, Peter," she
cried in distress, and then she turned back to Coleman.
It was the professor and Mrs. Wainwright who, at last
finding a field for their kindly ambitions, flung them.
selves upon Tounley and carried him off to another
place. Peter was removed, crying: " Oh, now, look

here, professor, I'm not dying or anything of the sort
Coleman and Marjory were left alone. He suddenly
and forcibly took one of her hands and the blood
stained hankerchief dropped to the floor.


Stephen Crane

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