“0, stop him, master!” called the peasant. “My escaped cock!”
The man addressed, with a sudden flicker of smile, opened his great white wings of a shroud in front of the leaping bird. The cock fell back with a squawk and a flutter, the peasant jumped forward, there was a terrific beating of wings and whirring of feathers, then the peasant had the escaped cock safely under his arm, its wings shut down, its face crazily craning forward, its round eyes goggling from its white chops.
“It’s my escaped cock!” said the peasant, soothing the bird with his left hand, as he looked perspiringly up into the face of the man wrapped in white linen.
The peasant changed countenance, and stood transfixed, as he looked into the dead-white face of the man who had died. That dead-white face, so still, with the black beard growing on it as if in death; and those wide-open, black, sombre eyes, that had died! and those washed scars on the waxy forehead! The slow-blooded man of the field let his jaw drop, in childish inability to meet the situation.
“Don’t be afraid,” said the man in the shroud. “I am not dead. They took me down too soon. So I have risen up. Yet if they discover me, they will do it all over again…”
He spoke in a voice of old disgust. Humanity! Especially humanity in authority! There was only one thing it could do. He looked with black, indifferent eyes into the quick, shifty eyes of the peasant. The peasant quailed, and was powerless under the look of deathly indifference and strange, cold resoluteness. He could only say the one thing he was afraid to say:
“Will you hide in my house, master?”
“I will rest there. But if you tell anyone, you know what will happen. You will have to go before a judge.”