“John Graham, I’m going to kill you—kill you—”
And snatching up the fallen rifle Mary Standish set herself to the task of vengeance.
She waited. The ferocity of a mother defending her young filled her soul, and she moaned in her grief and despair as the seconds passed. But she did not fire blindly, for she knew she must kill John Graham. The troublesome thing was a strange film that persisted in gathering before her eyes, something she tried to brush away, but which obstinately refused to go. She did not know she was sobbing as she looked over the rifle barrel. The figures came swiftly, but she had lost sight of John Graham. They reached the upheaval of shattered rock and began climbing it, and in her desire to make out the man she hated she stood above the rampart that had sheltered her. The men looked alike, jumping and dodging like so many big tundra hares as they came nearer, and suddenly it occurred to her that all of them were John Grahams, and that she must kill swiftly and accurately. Only the hiding fairies might have guessed how her reason trembled and almost fell in those moments when she began firing. Certainly John Graham and his men did not, for her first shot was a lucky one, and a man slipped down among the rocks at the crack of it. After that she continued to fire until the responseless click of the hammer told her the gun was empty. The explosions and the shock against her slight shoulder cleared her vision and her brain. She saw the men still coming, and they were so near she could see their faces clearly. And again her soul cried out in its desire to kill John Graham.
She turned, and for an instant fell upon her knees beside Alan. His face was hidden in his arm. Swiftly she tore his automatic from its holster, and sprang back to her rock. There was no time to wait or choose now, for his murderers were almost upon her. With all her strength she tried to fire accurately, but Alan’s big gun leaped and twisted in her hand as she poured its fire wildly down among the rocks until it was empty. Her own smaller weapon she had lost somewhere in the race to the kloof, and now when she found she had fired her last shot she waited through another instant of horror, until she was striking at faces that came within the reach of her arm. And then, like a monster created suddenly by an evil spirit, Graham was at her side. She had a moment’s vision of his cruel, exultant face, his eyes blazing with a passion that was almost madness, his powerful body lunging upon her. Then his arms came about her. She could feel herself crushing inside them, and fought against their cruel pressure, then broke limply and hung a resistless weight against him. She was not unconscious, but her strength was gone, and if the arms had closed a little more they would have killed her.
And she could hear—clearly. She heard suddenly the shots that came from up the kloof, scattered shots, then many of them, and after that the strange, wild cries that only the Eskimo herdsmen make.