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which they had been smoothed. Such a hook, gouging, flashing toward the neck,
can tear open the neck, under the ear;
it can rip out the jugular vein, pouring its dull, ruby flow down the chest,
not bright like arterial blood; it can strike into the optical cavity, as
through a fruit, then breaking the front of the skull free from the skin; it
can tear through the mouth, and the side of the face, dragging out the lower
jaw and tongue. The large, soft men fled back, huddling together. The hook
struck at them again and again. Vertebrae were pulled out, drawn back through
the skin. Ribs like curved white sticks suddenly burst into view. There were
many screams in the crowd. Dwarfs flung away their measuring boards, their
baskets, some even their hooks, which might have been well to retain.
Such objects were scattered about, mostly in the sand before the privileged
seats. One of the large, soft men, turned about, white-faced, he who had first
rushed at the peasant, and then passed
by him laughing, grunted, the point above the hook piercing his belly.
Another, he who had secondly threatened the peasant, feinting at him, then
drawing away laughing, uncertainly, quaveringly, raised his barang over his
head, it held with two hands. "Go away," he shrilled to the peasant. He did
strike down at the peasant, but the blow was blocked with the hook. There was
a ring of metal. Before he could draw back for another blow the hook had
lashed out, catching him in the side. The peasant held him in place with his
foot, the man turned sideways, looking wildly to the side, to free the hook.
He then tore the hook free, shattering ribs, drawing it forth, with it lung
and tissue. The tool then with which such havoc had been wrought left the
peasant's hand. Like a knife it flew through the air. Another large, soft
fellow cried out, he who had made the first killing in the arena, and looked
down, disbelievingly, at the handle of the tool, coming somehow out of his
belly. "He is disarmed!" cried the leader of the large, soft men, he who had
led them forth into the arena. But he was not disarmed for he now held a
barang in each hand. The large, soft men screamed and pushed back against the
wall of the arena, below the privileged seats. Again the barang struck, and
again. "He is mad!" cried men in the stands, who did not understand the nature
of the peasant, that there could be such a man, or the nature of the rage.
"Run, run!" cried the leader of the large, soft men, and they fled. The
attendants, those who had been inconspicuously by the dead gate, with their
rakes, had, shortly after seeing the peasant free, withdrawn through the dead
gate, and locked it behind them. They were taking no chances that he might
take advantage of that aperture as a route of escape. Some of the dwarfs had
fled through it, too, with them. Others had not managed to reach it in time,
and were still in the arena.
One of the large, soft men pulled at the handle of the gate leading up the
stairs to the throne box.
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But it had been locked behind the officer of the court, of course, when she
and the guards had reentered it. Two of the large, soft men were cut down
there, reaching through it, trying to pull loose the chains which secured it.
Another man ran to the place where the adherent of Floon had run earlier, who
had been caught on the hooks of the dwarfs and returned, dragged back alive on
the hooks, to the area of the privileged seats. He leaped up, his barang
discarded, tearing, scratching, at the wall. Then he turned about, and sank
down there, his eyes bulging with terror, and it was there that the peasant,
who had slowly, implacably pursued him, treading through the sand, slew him.
The peasant looked about. Somewhere in the arena, surely, was he who had cried
out when he thought the peasant disarmed, he who had cried out, too, for the
large, soft men to run, even though many still retained their barangs
, he who had led them into the arena, who had first lifted his barang to the
mayor and those in the throne box. Aware suddenly of a tiny sound in the sand
behind him the peasant spun about, his barang flashing. A dwarf then fell, as
he drove the barang [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]