Then Learoyd appeared, his tunic ripped across the breast by a bullet, looking ashamed of himself. He flung down on the pine-needles, breathing in snorts.
One o them damned gardeners o th Pickles, said he, fingering the rent. Firin to th right flank, when he knowed I was there. If I knew who he was Id a rippen the hide offan him. Look at ma tunic!
Thats the spishil trustability av a marksman. Train him to hit a fly wid a stiddy rest at seven hunder, an he loose on anythin he sees or hears up to th mile. Youre well out av that fancy-firin gang, Jock. Stay here.
Bin firin at the bloomin wind in the bloomin treetops, said Ortheris with a chuckle. Ill show you some firin later on.
They wallowed in the pine-needles, and the sun warmed them where they lay. The Mixed Pickles ceased firing, and returned to camp, and left the wood to a few scared apes. The watercourse lifted up its voice in the silence, and talked foolishly to the rocks. Now and again the dull thump of a blasting charge three miles away told that the Aurangabadis were in difficulties with their road-making. The men smiled as they listened and lay still, soaking in the warm leisure. Presently Learoyd, between the whiffs of his pipe
Seems queerabout im yonderdesertin at all.
Ell be a bloomin side queerer when Ive done with im, said Ortheris. They were talking in whispers, for the stillness of the wood and the desire of slaughter lay heavy upon them.
I make no doubt he had his reasons for desertin; but, my faith! I make less doubt ivry man has good reason for killin him, said Mulvaney.
Happen there was a less tewed up wi it. Men do more than more for th sake of a lass.
They make most av us list. Theyve no manner av right to make us desert.
Ah; they make us list, or their fathers do, said Learoyd softly, his helmet over his eyes.
Ortheriss brows contracted savagely. He was watching the valley. If its a girl Ill shoot the beggar twice over, an second time for bein a fool. Youre blasted sentimental all of a sudden. Thinkin o your last near shave?
Nay, lad; ah was but thinkin o what has happened.
An fwhat has happened, ye lumberin child av calamity, that youre lowing like a cow-calf at the back av the pasture, an suggestin invidious excuses for the man Stanleys goin to kill. Yell have to wait another hour yet, little man. Spit it out, Jock, an bellow melojus to the moon. It takes an earthquake or a bullet graze to fetch aught out av you. Discourse, Don Juan! The a-moors av Lotharius Learoyd! Stanley, kape a rowlin rigmental eye on the valley.
Its along o yon hill there, said Learoyd, watching the bare sub-Himalayan spur that reminded him of his Yorkshire moors. He was speaking more to himself than his fellows. Ay, said he, Rumbolds Moor stands up ower Skipton town, an Greenhow Hill stands up ower Pately Brig. I reckon youve never heeard tell o Green-how Hill, but yon bit o bare stuff if there was nobbut a white road windin is like ut; strangely like. Moors an moors an moors, wi never a tree for shelter, an gray houses wi flagstone rooves, and pewits cryin, an a windhover goin to and fro just like these kites. And cold! A wind that cuts you like a knife. You could tell Green-how Hill folk by the red-apple colour o their cheeks an nose tips, and their blue eyes, driven into pin-points by the wind. Miners mostly, burrowin for lead i th hillsides, followin the trail of th ore vein same as a field-rat. It was the roughest minin I ever seen. Yod come on a bit o creakin wood windlass like a well-head, an you was let down i th bight of a rope, fendin yoursen
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