THE BATTLE. 243
A dense cloud came over the sun, and sank rapidly towards the earth. The cloud moved "all together," and yet the thousands of white flakes of which it was made up moved each for itself in ceaseless and rapid motion : those flakes were the wings of pigeons. Down swooped the birds upon the invaders ; right in the face of man and horse they flew with swift-beating wings, blinding eyes and confounding brain. Horses reared and plunged and wheeled. All was at once in confusion The men made frantic efforts to seize their tormentors, but not one could they touch; and they outdoubled them in numbers. Between every wild clutch came a peck of beak and a buffet of pinion in the face. Generally the bird would, with sharp-clapping wings, dart its whole body, with the swiftness of an arrow, against its singled mark, yet so as to glance aloft the same instant, and descend skimming; much as the thin stone, shot with horizontal cast of arm, having touched and torn the surface of the lake, ascends to skim, touch, and tear again. So mingled the feathered multitude in the grim game of war. It was a storm in which the wind was birds, and the sea men. And ever as each bird arrived at the rear of the enemy, it turned, ascended, and sped to the front to charge again.
The moment the battle began, the princess's pony took fright, and turned and fled. But the maid wheeled her