THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 43: THE BATTLE OF THE SAND BELT
A glance showed that the rest of the enemy--perhaps ten thousand
strong--were between us and the encircling ditch, and pressing
forward to the assault. Consequently we had them all! and had
them past help. Time for the last act of the tragedy. I fired
the three appointed revolver shots--which meant:
"Turn on the water!"
There was a sudden rush and roar, and in a minute the mountain
brook was raging through the big ditch and creating a river a
hundred feet wide and twenty-five deep.
"Stand to your guns, men! Open fire!"
The thirteen gatlings began to vomit death into the fated ten
thousand. They halted, they stood their ground a moment against
that withering deluge of fire, then they broke, faced about and
swept toward the ditch like chaff before a gale. A full fourth
part of their force never reached the top of the lofty embankment;
the three-fourths reached it and plunged over--to death by drowning.
Within ten short minutes after we had opened fire, armed resistance
was totally annihilated, the campaign was ended, we fifty-four were
masters of England. Twenty-five thousand men lay dead around us.
But how treacherous is fortune! In a little while--say an hour--
happened a thing, by my own fault, which--but I have no heart
to write that. Let the record end here.