“My God;—and his fate—?”
“He was instantly killed, and left lying where he dropped!”
There was a scream of agony, just here, and a heavy fall.
Anita had fainted!
THE TRANSIENT TRIUMPH.
Redburn sprung from his seat, ran over to her side, and raised her tenderly in his arms.
“Poor thing!” he murmured, gazing into her pale, still face, “the shock was too much for her. No wonder she fainted.” He laid her on the couch, and kept off the others who crowded around.
“Bring cold water!” he ordered, “and I will soon have her out of this fit.”
Alice hastened to obey, and Anita’s face and hands were bathed in the cooling liquid until she began to show signs of returning consciousness.
“You may now give me the particulars of the affair,” Redburn said, rising and closing the door, for a chilly breeze was sweeping into the cabin.
Alice proceeded to comply with his request by narrating what had occurred and, as nearly as possible, what had been said. When she had concluded, he gazed down for several moments thoughtfully into the face of Anita. There was much yet that was beyond his powers of comprehension—a knotty problem for which he saw no immediate solution.
“What do you think about it, “General"?” he asked, turning to the mine-locater. “Have we sufficient evidence to hang this devil in scarlet?”
“Hardly, boyee, hardly. ’Peers te me, ‘cordin’ to ther gal’s tell, thet thar war a fair shake all around, an’ as duelin’ ar’ more or less ther fashun ‘round these parts,—considera’bly more o’ less ‘n less o’ more—et ain’t law-fell ter yank a critter up by ther throat!”
“I know it is not, according to the customs of this country of the Black Hills; but, look at it. That fellow, who I am satisfied is a black-hearted knave, has not only taken the life of poor Harris, but, very probably, has given his sister her death-blow. The question is: should he go unpunished in the face of all this evidence?”
“Yes. Let him go; I will be the one to punish him!”
It was Anita who spoke. She had partly arisen on the couch; her face was streaked with water and slightly haggard; her hair blew unconfined about her neck and shoulders; her eyes blazed with a wild, almost savage fire.
* * * * *
“Let him go!” she repeated, more of fierceness in her voice than Redburn had ever heard there, before. “He shall not escape my vengeance. Oh, my poor, poor dead brother!”
She flung herself back upon the couch, and gave herself up to a wild, passionate, uncontrollable outburst of tears and sobs—the wailings of a sorrowing heart. For a long time she continued to weep and sob violently; then came a lull, during which she fell asleep, from exhaustion—a deep sleep. Redburn and Alice then carried her into an adjoining room, where she was left under the latter’s skillful care. Awhile later the cabin was wrapped in silence.