And he knew no more.
TO THE VICTOR BELONGS—?
It was a month before Ridgeway was able to leave his couch and to sit beneath the awning in front of the temple. Not that he had been so severely wounded in the battle of June thirtieth, but that his whole system had collapsed temporarily.
After the first terrible fear, Tennys gave herself entirely to the task of caring for him. Night and day she watched, worked, and prayed over the tossing sufferer. In seasons of despair, created by the frequent close encroachments of death, she experienced dreams that invariably ended with the belief that she heard his dying gasps. Until she became thoroughly awake and could hear the movements of the two savages who sat faithfully in the next room with their Izor, her heart was still with a terror so depressing that it well-nigh drove her mad.
The wounds in his legs and side were closed and the great bruises on his back and head were reduced. When he, faint and weak, began to understand what was going on about him, he saw the face of one of the two women over whom he had raved in his delirium. In the hours when death seemed but a step away he had plaintively called for Grace and then for Tennys. A strange gladness filled the heart of the one beside him when he uttered the unconscious appeal to her. Sometimes she found herself growing red over the things he was saying to her in his ravings; again she would chill with the tender words that went to Grace. Then came the day when he saw and knew her. Often in the days of his convalescence she would start from a reverie, certain that she heard him call as he did in delirium, only to sink back and smile sadly with the discovery that she had been dreaming.
The village of Ridgehunt was a great hospital for weeks after the fight. Lady Tennys herself had ordered the dead to be buried in the trenches. For the first time in the history of the island the Oolooz men had been beaten. She spent many hours in telling Hugh of the celebrations that followed the wonderful achievements.
“There is one thing about our friends that I have not told you, Hugh,” she said one night as they sat under the awning. “You have been so weak that I feared the shock might hurt you.”
“You think of my comfort always,” he said gratefully.
“You never knew that they brought a number of prisoners to the village and—and—oh, it is too horrible to tell you.”
“Brought them to the village? What for?”
“They intended to eat them,” she said, shuddering.
“Great Scott! They are not cannibals?”
“I couldn’t believe it until I saw them making ready for their awful feast out there. I shall never be able to eat meat again. Alzam brought me a piece of the horrid stuff. They executed the prisoners before I could interfere.”
“Oh, that’s too horrible!”