Only at the last, before red and whirling lights had obscured the view, before consciousness was dissolved in unconsciousness, came horror and agony, for the eyes saw Captain Stewart back away and raise the thing he had struck with, a large revolver, saw Coira O’Hara, a swift and flashing figure in the moonlight, throw herself upon him before he could fire, heard together a woman’s scream and the roar of the pistol’s explosion, and then knew no more.
* * * * *
MEDEA’S LITTLE HOUR
When Coira O’Hara came to herself from the moment’s swoon into which she had fallen, she rose to her knees and stared wildly about her. She seemed to be alone in the place, and her first thought was to wonder how long she had lain there. Captain Stewart had disappeared. She remembered her struggle with him to prevent him from firing at Ste. Marie, and she remembered her desperate agony when she realized that she could not hold him much longer. She remembered the accidental discharge of the revolver into the air; she remembered being thrown violently to the ground—and that was all.
Where was her father, and where was Ste. Marie? The first question answered itself, for as she turned her eyes toward the west she saw O’Hara’s tall, ungainly figure disappearing in the direction of the house. She called his name twice, but it may be that the man did not hear, for he went on without pausing and was lost to sight.
The girl became aware of something which lay on the ground near her, half in and half out of the patch of silver moonlight. For some moments she stared at it uncomprehending. Then she gave a sharp scream and struggled to her feet. She ran to the thing which lay there motionless and fell upon her knees beside it. It was Ste. Marie, his face upturned to the sky, one side of his head black and damp. Stewart had not shot him, but that crashing blow with the clubbed revolver had struck him full and fair, and he was very still.
For an instant the girl’s strength went out of her, and she dropped lax across the body, her face upon Ste. Marie’s breast. But after that she tore open coat and waistcoat and felt for a heart-beat. It seemed to her that she found life, and she began to believe that the man had only been stunned.