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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesA Rough Shaking - Chapter 22. The Smith In A Rage
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A Rough Shaking - Chapter 22. The Smith In A Rage Post by :glolo Category :Long Stories Author :George Macdonald Date :May 2012 Read :1064

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A Rough Shaking - Chapter 22. The Smith In A Rage

Chapter XXII. The smith in a rage

They had not slept long, when they were roused by a hideous clamour and rattling at the door, and thunderous blows on the wooden sides of the shed. Clare woke first, and rubbed his eyelids, whose hinges were rusted with sleep. He was utterly perplexed with the uproar and romage. The cabin seemed enveloped in a hurricane of kicks, and the air was in a tumult of howling and brawling, of threats and curses, whose inarticulateness made them sound bestial. There never came pause long enough for Clare to answer that they were locked in, and that the smith must have the key in his pocket. But when Tommy came to himself, which he generally did the instant he woke, but not so quickly this time because of his fall, he understood at once.

"It's the blacksmith! He's roaring drunk!" he said.

"Let's be off, Clare! The devil 'ill be to pay when he gets in! He'll murder us in our beds!"

"We ought to let him into his own house if we can," replied Clare, rising and going to the door. It was well for him that he found no way of opening it, for every instant there came a kick against it that threatened to throw it from lock and hinges at once. He protested his inability, but the madman thought he was refusing to admit him, and went into a tenfold fury, calling the boys hideous names, and swearing he would set the shed on fire if they did not open at once. The boys shouted, but the man had no sense to listen with, and began such a furious battery on the door, with his whole person for a ram, that Tommy made for the rear, and Clare followed--prudent enough, however, in all his haste, to close the back-door behind them.

Tommy was in front, and led the way to the bottom of the yard, and over the fence into the waste ground, hoping to find some point in that quarter where he could mount the wall. He could not face the water-but--with the moon in it, staring out of the immensity of the lower world. He ran and doubled and spied, but could find no foothold. Least of all was ascent possible at the spot where the door stood on the other side; the bricks were smoother than elsewhere. He turned the corner and ran along a narrow lane, Clare still following, for he thought Tommy knew what he was about; but Tommy could find no encouragement to attempt scaling the wall. They might have fled into the fields that lay around; but the burrowing instinct was strong, and the deserted house drew them. Then Clare, finding Tommy at fault, bethought him that the little rascal had got up by the heap on which he discovered him, and must be afraid to go that way again. He faced about and ran, in his turn become leader. Tommy wheeled also, and followed, but with misgiving. When they reached the farther corner of the bottom wall, they stopped and peeped round before they would turn it: they might run against the blacksmith in chase of them! But the sound of his continued hammering at the door came to them, and they went on. They crossed the fence and ran again, ran faster, for now every step brought them nearer to their danger: the heap of iron lay between them and the smithy, and any moment the smith might burst into the shed, rush through, and be out upon them.

They reached the heap. Clare sprang up; and Tommy, urged on the one side by the fear of the drunken smith, and drawn on the other by the dread of being abandoned by Clare, climbed shuddering after him.

"Mind the water-but, Clare!" he gasped; "an' gi' me a hand up."

Clare had already turned on the top of the wall to help him.

"Now let me go first!" said Tommy, the moment he had his foot on it. "I know how to get down."

He scudded along the wall, glad to have Clare between him and the but. Clare followed swiftly. He was not so quick on the cat-promenade as Tommy, but he had a good head, and was spurred by the apprehension of being seen up there in the moonlight.

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