THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 39: THE YANKEE'S FIGHT WITH THE KNIGHTS
It was a "bluff" you know. At such a time it is sound judgment
to put on a bold face and play your hand for a hundred times what
it is worth; forty-nine times out of fifty nobody dares to "call,"
and you rake in the chips. But just this once--well, things looked
squally! In just no time, five hundred knights were scrambling
into their saddles, and before you could wink a widely scattering
drove were under way and clattering down upon me. I snatched
both revolvers from the holsters and began to measure distances
and calculate chances.
Bang! One saddle empty. Bang! another one. Bang--bang, and
I bagged two. Well, it was nip and tuck with us, and I knew it.
If I spent the eleventh shot without convincing these people,
the twelfth man would kill me, sure. And so I never did feel
so happy as I did when my ninth downed its man and I detected
the wavering in the crowd which is premonitory of panic. An instant
lost now could knock out my last chance. But I didn't lose it.
I raised both revolvers and pointed them--the halted host stood
their ground just about one good square moment, then broke and fled.
The day was mine. Knight-errantry was a doomed institution. The
march of civilization was begun. How did I feel? Ah, you never
could imagine it.
And Brer Merlin? His stock was flat again. Somehow, every time
the magic of fol-de-rol tried conclusions with the magic of science,
the magic of fol-de-rol got left.