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LIFE AMONG THE LOWLY            249
path then passed between a narrow defile, where only one could walk at a time, till suddenly they came to a rift or chasm more than a yard in breadth, and beyond which lay a pile of rocks, separate from the rest of the ledge, standing full thirty feet high, with its sides steep and per­pendicular as those of a castle. Phineas easily leaped the chasm, and set down the boy on a smooth, flat platform . of crisp white moss, that covered the top of the rock.
" Over with you ! " he called ; " spring, now, once, for your lives ! " said he, as one after another sprang across. Several fragments of loose stone formed a kind of breast­work, which sheltered their position from the observation of those below.                         «
" Well, here we all are," said Phineas, peeping over the stone breastwork to watch the assailants, who were com­ing tumultuously up under the rocks. " Let 'em get us, if they can. Whoever comes here has to walk single file be­tween those two rocks, in fair range of your pistols, boys, d' ye see?"
" I do see," said George ; " and now, as this matter is-ours, let us take all the risk, and do all the fighting."
" Thee 's quite welcome to do the fighting, George," said Phineas, chewing some checkerberry-leaves as he spoke; " but I may have the fun of looking on, I suppose. But see, these fellows are kinder debating down there, and looking up, like hens when they are going to fly up on to the roost. Had n't thee better give 'em a word of advice, before they come up, just to tell 'em handsomely they '11 be shot if they do ? "
The party beneath, now more apparent in the light of the dawn, consisted of our old acquaintances, Tom Loker and Marks, with two constables, and a posse consisting of such rowdies at the last tavern as could be engaged by a little brandy to go and help the fun of trapping a set of niggers.
" Well, Tom, yer coons are farly treed," said one.
"Yes, I see 'em go up right here," said Tom; "and