“So you know all about it,” he answered coolly. “Well, it was Tudor, but he was doing it left-handed. He’s down with a hole in his shoulder.” He looked at her keenly. “Disappointing, isn’t it?” he drawled.
“How do you mean?”
“Why, that I didn’t kill him.”
“But I didn’t want him killed just because he kissed me,” she cried.
“Oh, he did kiss you!” Sheldon retorted, in evident surprise. “I thought you said he hurt your arm.”
“One could call it a kiss, though it was only on the end of the nose.” She laughed at the recollection. “But I paid him back for that myself. I boxed his face for him. And he did hurt my arm. It’s black and blue. Look at it.”
She pulled up the loose sleeve of her blouse, and he saw the bruised imprints of two fingers.
Just then a gang of blacks came out from among the trees carrying the wounded man on a rough stretcher.
“Romantic, isn’t it?” Sheldon sneered, following Joan’s startled gaze. “And now I’ll have to play surgeon and doctor him up. Funny, this twentieth-century duelling. First you drill a hole in a man, and next you set about plugging the hole up.”
They had stepped aside to let the stretcher pass, and Tudor, who had heard the remark, lifted himself up on the elbow of his sound arm and said with a defiant grin,—
“If you’d got one of mine you’d have had to plug with a dinner-plate.”
“Oh, you wretch!” Joan cried. “You’ve been cutting your bullets.”
“It was according to agreement,” Tudor answered. “Everything went. We could have used dynamite if we wanted to.”
“He’s right,” Sheldon assured her, as they swung in behind. “Any weapon was permissible. I lay in the grass where he couldn’t see me, and bushwhacked him in truly noble fashion. That’s what comes of having women on the plantation. And now it’s antiseptics and drainage tubes, I suppose. It’s a nasty mess, and I’ll have to read up on it before I tackle the job.”
“I don’t see that it’s my fault,” she began. “I couldn’t help it because he kissed me. I never dreamed he would attempt it.”
“We didn’t fight for that reason. But there isn’t time to explain. If you’ll get dressings and bandages ready I’ll look up ‘gun-shot wounds’ and see what’s to be done.”
“Is he bleeding seriously?” she asked.
“No; the bullet seems to have missed the important arteries. But that would have been a pickle.”
“Then there’s no need to bother about reading up,” Joan said. “And I’m just dying to hear what it was all about. The Apostle is lying becalmed inside the point, and her boats are out to wing. She’ll be at anchor in five minutes, and Doctor Welshmere is sure to be on board. So all we’ve got to do is to make Tudor comfortable. We’d better put him in your room under the mosquito-netting, and send a boat off to tell Dr. Welshmere to bring his instruments.”