63 BRET harte's CHOICE BITS.
"Strike !" she said, with blazing eyes, throwing
her hands open before him. " Strike I Are you
afraid of the woman who dares you ? Or do you
keep your knife for backs of unsuspecting men ?
Strike, I tell you ! No ? Look then 1"
With a sudden movement she tore from her head
and shoulders the thick lace shawl that had con¬
cealed her figure, and stood before him. "Look !"
she cried, passionately, pointing to the bosom and
shoulders of her white dress, darkly streaked with
faded stains and ominous discolouration,—"look!
This the dress I wore that morning when I found
him lying here—here—bleeding from your cowardly
knife. Look ! Do you see ? This is his blood—
my darling boy's blood—one drop of which, dead
and faded as it is; is more precious to me than the
whole living pulse of any other man. Look! I
come to you to-night, christened with his blood,
and dare you to strike,—dare you to strike him
again through me, and mingle my blood with his.
Strike, I implore you ! Strike I if you have any
pily on me! Strike! if you are a man! Look !
Here lay his head on my shoulder; here I held
him to my breast, where never—another man—
She reeled against the fence, and something that
had flashed in Ranee's hand dropped at her feet;
for another flash and report rolled him over in the