“Nay, the shot would be heard and there would be questions to answer.”
“Cut his throat!” suggested the youngest of the band, and was scowled at so murderously by his fellows that he fell back in confusion.
“Aye, cut my throat,” advised Gordon, laughing at them. “One of you might survive to tell the tale.” This was no mere bombast, as most of them knew, and they betrayed their uneasiness in their black scowls. They yearned to slay him, but they dared not use their rifles; and at least the older warriors knew the ghastly price they would pay for attacking him with edged weapons. He would have no compunction about using either the rifle in his hand, or the pistol they knew he carried concealed somewhere.
“Knives are silent,” muttered the youngster, trying to justify himself. He was rewarded by receiving a rifle butt driven angrily into his belly, which made him salaam involuntarily, and then lift his voice in gasping lamentation.
“Be silent, son of a dog! Would you have us fight El Borak’s guns with naked steel?”
Having worked off some of their dissatisfaction on their unfortunate comrade, the Kurds grew calmer, and one of the others inquired of Gordon, uncertainly: “You are expected?”
“Would I come here if I were not expected? Does the lamb thrust his head unbidden into the jaws of the wolf?”
“Lamb?” The Kurds cackled sardonically. “Thou a lamb? Ha, Allah! Say, rather, does the grey wolf with blood on his fangs seek the hunter!”
“If there is blood on my fangs it is but the blood of fools who disobeyed their master’s commands,” retorted Gordon. “Last night, in the Gorge of Ghosts —”
“Ya Allah! Was it thee the Yezidee fools fought? They knew thee not! They said they had slain an Englishman and his servants in the Gorge.” So that was why the sentries were so careless; for some reason the Yezidees had lied about the outcome of that battle, and the watchers of the Road were not expecting any pursuit.
“None of you was among those who in their ignorance fell upon me in the Gorge?”
“Do we limp? Do we bleed? Do we weep from weariness and wounds? Nay, we have not fought El Borak!”
“Then be wise and do not make the mistake they made, for which mistake some are dead and the skin shall be taken in strips from the backs of the living. And now, will you take me to him who awaits me, or will you cast dung in his beard by scorning his orders?”
Howard, Robert E. (2010-02-04). El Borak and Other Desert Adventures (pp. 110-111). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.