The girl’s head snapped back. A thin arc of blood leapt for the door. The stone made a dull ricochet to the right, tumbling to the ragged wall.
Several heads nodded approval. Someone mumbled, “Fair toss…seen better.”
Odd Walt limped to retrieve the stone back to the center of the gathering, then made his teetering way back to the periphery. The reverend nodded to the next man, a lanky fellow with an eager arm. The girl stirred, little more than a whimper and a shudder. The stone flew forth and struck the upper back of Heston Carlisle who had leapt forward silently.
He made no noise to acknowledge the thump, but the assemblage murmured. Though all eyes were on him he stared only at the limp and bleeding child beneath him. Odd Walt made to shuffle for the stone but cast about for direction.
The reverend made a disatisfied noise, “You would take her place, brother?”
She yet breathed. The mark would heal, leave a scar at most.
“Aye,” came Heston’s quiet answer.
“Then we proceed,” came the firm decree.