"No, no! I didn't. I wouldn't have fired if it hadn't been in self-defense and because I hadn't time to think." He spoke with difficulty, for his mouth was bleeding and he was terribly bruised.
"A liar, too!" said the farmer, glowering down upon him. "But I knew that before. What did you mean by your threats to my wife?"
"See here, Mr. Holcroft; I'm down and at your mercy. If you'll let me off I'll go away and never trouble you or your wife again."
"Oh, no!" said Holcroft with a bitter laugh. "You'll never, never trouble us again."
"What, do you mean to murder me?" Ferguson half shrieked.
"Would killing such a thing as you be murder? Any jury in the land would acquit me. You ought to be roasted over a slow fire."
The fellow tried to scramble on his knees, but Holcroft hit him another savage blow, and said, "Lie still!"
Ferguson began to wring his hands and beg for mercy. His captor stood over him a moment or two irresolutely in his white-heated anger; then thoughts of his wife began to soften him. He could not go to her with blood on his hands--she who had taught him such lessons of forbearance and forgiveness. He put the pistol in his pocket and giving his enemy a kick, said, "Get up!"