occasion, and, by their cries and fury, inflamed still more the general excitement. One of them, tall, robust, with purple complexion, blood- shot eyes, and toothless jaws, had a handkerchief over her head, from beneath which escaped her yellow, frowsy hair. Over her ragged gown, she wore an old plaid shawl, crossed over her bosom, and tied behind her back. This hag seemed possessed with a demon. She had tucked up her half-torn sleeves; in one hand she brandished a stick, in the other she grasped a huge stone; her companions called her Ciboule (scullion). This horrible hag exclaimed, in a hoarse voice: "I'll bite the women of the factory; I'll make them bleed." The ferocious words were received with applause by her companions, and with savage cries of "Ciboule forever!" which excited her to frenzy. Amongst the other leaders, was a small, dry pale man, with the face of a ferret, and a black beard all round the chin; he wore a scarlet Greek cap, and beneath his long blouse, perfectly new, appeared a pair of neat cloth trousers, strapped over thin boots. This man was evidently of a different condition of life from that of the other persons in the troop; it was he, in particular, who ascribed the most irritating and insulting language to the workmen of the factory, with regard to the inhabitants of the neighborhood. He howled a great deal, but he carried neither stick nor stone. A full-faced, fresh-colored man, with a formidable bass voice, like a chorister's, asked him: "Will you not have a shot at those impious dogs, who might bring down the Cholera on the country, as the curate told us?" "I will have a better shot than you," said the little man, with a singular, sinister smile. "And with what, I'd like to see?" "Probably, with this," said the little man, stooping to pick up a large stone; but, as he bent, a well-filled though light bag, which he appeared to carry under his blouse, fell to the ground. "Look, you are losing both bag and baggage," said the other; "it does not seem very heavy." "They are samples of wool," answered the man with the ferret's face, as he hastily picked up the bag, and replaced it under his blouse; then he added: "Attention! the big blaster is going to speak." And, in fact, he who exercised the most complete ascendency over this irritated crowd was the terrible quarryman. His gigantic form towered so much above the multitude, that his great head, bound in its ragged handkerchief, and his Herculean shoulders, covered with a fallow goat- skin, were always visible above the level of that dark and swarming crowd, only relieved here and there by a few women's caps, like so many white points. Seeing to what a degree of exasperation the minds of the crowd had reached, the small number of honest, but misguided workmen, who had allowed themselves to be drawn into this dangerous enterprise, under the pretext of a quarrel between rival unions, now fearing for the consequences of the struggle, tried, but too late, to abandon the main body. Pressed close, and as it were, girt in with the more hostile groups, dreading to pass for cowards, or to expose themselves to the bad treatment of the majority, they were forced to wait for a more favorable moment to effect their escape. To the savage cheers, which had accompanied the first discharge of stones, succeeded a deep silence commanded by the stentorian voice of the quarryman. "The Wolves have howled," he exclaimed; "let us wait and see how the Devourers will answer, and when they will begin the fight." "We must draw them out of their factory, and fight them on neutral ground," said the little man with the ferret's face, who appeared to be the thieves' advocate; "otherwise there would be trespass." "What do we care about trespass?" cried the horrible hag, Ciboule; "in or out, I will tear the chits of the factory." "Yes, yes," cried other hideous creatures, as ragged as Ciboule herself; "we must not leave all to the men." "We must have our fun, too!" "The women of the factory say that all the women of the neighborhood are drunken drabs," cried the little man with the ferret's face. "Good! we'll pay them for it." "The women shall have their share." "That's our business." "They like to sing in their Common House," cried Ciboule; "we will make them sing the wrong side of their mouths, in the key of `Oh, dear me!'" This pleasantry was received with shouts, hootings, and furious stamping of feet, to which the stentorian voice of the quarryman put a term by roaring: "Silence!" "Silence! silence!" repeated the crowd. "Hear the blaster!" "If the Devourers are cowards enough not to dare to show themselves, after a second volley of stones, there is a door down there which we can break open, and we will soon hunt them from their holes." "It would be better to draw them out, so that none might remain in the factory," said the little old man with the ferret's face, who appeared to have some secret motive. "A man fights where he can," cried the quarryman, in a voice of thunder; "all, right, if we can but once catch hold. We could fight on a sloping roof, or on the top of a wall--couldn't we, my Wolves?" "Yes, yes!" cried the crowd, still more excited by those savage words; "if they don't come out, we will break in." "We will see their fine palace!" "The pagans haven't even a chapel," said the bass voice. "The curate has damned them all!" "Why should they have a palace, and we nothing but dog-kennels?" "Hardy's workmen say that kennels are good enough for such as you." said the little man with the ferret's face. "Yes, yes! they said so." "We'll break all their traps." "We'll pull down their bazaar." "We'll throw the house out of the windows." "When we have made the mealy-mouthed chits sing," cried Ciboule, "we will make them dance to the clatter of stones on their heads." "Come, my Wolves! attention!" cried the quarryman, still in the same stentorian voice; "one more volley, and if the Devourers do not come out, down with the door!" This proposition was received with cheers of savage ardor, and the quarryman, whose voice rose above the tumult, cried with all the strength of his herculean lungs: "Attention, my Wolves. Make ready! all together. Now, are you ready?" "Yes, yes--all ready!" "Then, present!--fire!" And, for the second time, a shower of enormous stones poured upon that side of the Common Dwelling-house which was turned towards the fields. A part of these projectiles broke such of the windows as had been spared by the first volley. To the sharp smashing and cracking of glass were joined the ferocious cries uttered in chorus by this formidable mob, drunk with its own excesses: "Death to the Devourers!" Soon these outcries became perfectly frantic, when, through the broken windows, the assailants perceived women running in terror, some with children in their arms, and others raising their hands to heaven, calling aloud for help; whilst a few, bolder than the rest, leaned out of the windows, and tried to fasten the outside blinds. "There come the ants out of their holes!" cried Ciboule, stooping to pick up a stone. "We must have a fling at them for luck!" The stone, hurled by the steady, masculine hand of the virago, went straight to its mark, and struck an unfortunate woman who was trying to close one of the shutters. "Hit in the white!" cried the hideous creature. "Well done, Ciboule!--you've rapped her coker-nut!" cried a voice. "Ciboule forever!" "Come out, you Devourers, if you dare!" "They have said a hundred times, that the neighbors were too cowardly even to come and look at their house," squealed the little man with the ferret's face. "And now they show the white feather!" "If they will not come out," cried the quarryman, in voice of thunder, "let us smoke them out!" "Yes, yes!" "Let's break open the door!" "We are sure to find them!" "Come on! come on!" The crowd, with the quarryman at their head, and Ciboule not far from him, brandishing a stick, advanced tumultously towards one of the great doors. The ground shook beneath the rapid tread of the mob, which had now ceased shouting; but the confused, and, as it were, subterraneous noise, sounded even more ominous than those savage outcries. The Wolves soon arrived opposite the massive oaken door. At the moment the blaster raised a sledgehammer, the door opened suddenly. Some of the most determined of the assailants were about to rush in at this entrance; but the quarryman stepped back, extending his arm as if to moderate their ardor and impose silence. Then his followers gathered round him. The half-open door discovered a party of workmen, unfortunately by no means numerous, but with countenances full of resolution. They had armed themselves hastily with forks, iron bars, and clubs. Agricola, who was their leader, held in his hand a heavy sledge-hammer. The young workman was very pale; but the fire of his eye, his menacing look, and the intrepid assurance of his bearing, showed that his father's blood boiled in his veins, and that in such a struggle he might become fear-inspiring. Yet he succeeded in restraining himself, and challenged the quarryman, in a firm voice: "What do you want?" "A fight!" thundered the blaster. "Yes, yes! a fight!" repeated the crowd. "Silence, my Wolves!" cried the quarryman, as he turned round, and stretched forth his large hand towards the multitude. Then addressing Agricola, he said: "The Wolves have come to ask for a fight." "With whom?" "With the Devourers." "There are no Devourers here," replied Agricola; "we are only peaceable workmen. So begone." "Well! here are the Wolves, that will eat your quiet workmen." "The Wolves will eat no one here," said Agricola, looking full at the quarryman, who approached him with a threatening air; "they can only frighten little children." "Oh! you think so," said the quarryman, with a savage sneer. Then raising his weapon, he shook it in Agricola's face, exclaiming: "Is that any laughing matter? "Is that?" answered Agricola, with a rapid movement, parrying the stone- sledge with his own hammer. "Iron against iron--hammer against hammer--that suits me," said the quarryman. "It does not matter what suits you," answered Agricola, hardly able to restrain himself. "You have broken our windows, frightened our women, and wounded--perhaps killed--the oldest workman in the factory, who at this moment lies bleeding in the arms of his son." Here Agricola's voice trembled in spite of himself. "It is, I think, enough," "No; the Wolves are hungry for more," answered the blaster; "you must come out (cowards that you are!), and fight us on the plain." "Yes! yes! battle!--let them come out!" cried the crowd, howling, hissing, waving their sticks and pushing further into the small space which separated them from the door. "We will have no battle," answered Agricola: "we will not leave our home; but if you have the misfortune to pass this," said Agricola, throwing his cap upon the threshold, and setting his foot on it with an intrepid air, "if you pass this, you attack us in our own house, and you will be answerable for all that may happen." "There or elsewhere we will have the fight! the Wolves must eat the Devourers. Now for the attack!" cried the fierce quarryman, raising his hammer to strike Agricola. But the latter, throwing himself on one side by a sudden leap, avoided the blow, and struck with his hammer full at the chest of the quarryman, who staggered for a moment, but instantly recovering his legs, rushed furiously on Agricola, crying: "Follow me, Wolves!" CHAPTER V. THE RETURN. As soon as the combat had begun between Agricola and the blaster, the general fight became terrible, ardent, implacable. A flood of assailants, following the quarryman's steps, rushed into the house with irresistible fury; others, unable to force their way through this dreadful crowd, where the more impetuous squeezed, stifled, and crushed these who were less so, went round in another direction, broke through some lattice work, and thus placed the people of the factory, as it were, between two fires. Some resisted courageously; others, seeing Ciboule, followed by some of her horrible companions, and by several of the most ill-looking ruffians, hastily enter that part of the Common-Dwelling- house in which the women had taken refuge, hurried in pursuit of this band; but some of the hag's companions, having faced about, and vigorously defended the entrance of the staircase against the workmen, Ciboule, with three or four like herself, and about the same number of no less ignoble men, rushed through the rooms, with the intention of robbing or destroying all that came in their way. A door, which at first resisted their efforts, was soon broken through; Ciboule rushed into the apartment with a stick in her hand, her hair dishevelled, furious, and, as it were, maddened with the noise and tumult. A beautiful young girl (it was Angela), who appeared anxious to defend the entrance to a second chamber, threw herself on her knees, pale and supplicating, and raising her clasped hands, exclaimed: "Do not hurt my mother!" "I'll serve you out first, and your mother afterwards," replied the horrible woman, throwing herself on the poor girl, and endeavoring to tear her face with her nails, whilst the rest of the ruffianly band broke the glass and the clock with their sticks, and possessed themselves of some articles of wearing apparel. Angela, struggling with Ciboule, uttered loud cries of distress, and still attempted to guard the room in which her mother had taken refuge; whilst the latter, leaning from the window, called Agricola to their assistance. The smith was now engaged with the huge blaster. In a close struggle, their hammers had become useless, and with bloodshot eyes and clinched teeth, chest to chest, and limbs twined together like two serpents, they made the most violent efforts to overthrow each other. Agricola, bent forward, held under his right arm the left leg of the quarryman, which he had seized in parrying a violent kick; but such was the Herculean strength of the leader of the Wolves, that he remained firm as a tower, though resting only on one leg. With the hand that was still free (for the other was gripped by Agricola as in a vise), he endeavored with violent blows to break the jaws of the smith, who, leaning his head forward, pressed his forehead hard against the breast of his adversary. "The Wolf will break the Devourer's teeth, and he shall devour no more," said the quarryman. "You are no true Wolf," answered the smith, redoubling his efforts; "the true Wolves are honest fellows, and do not come ten against one." "True or false, I will break your teeth." "And I your paw," said the smith, giving so violent a wrench to the leg of the quarryman, that the latter uttered a cry of acute pain, and, with the rage of a wild beast, butting suddenly forward with his head, succeeded in biting Agricola in the side of the neck.
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