The Wastrel laughed, still advancing. “Fire! That was what drew me to you in the beginning. Well, kill me. Either we go forth together, or they shall bury me.”
For a little while they manoeuvred around the table. Suddenly the Wastrel took hold of the edge and flung the table aside. Even in this dread moment Ruth was conscious of a pathetic interest in the scattering pencils.
He reached for her, and she struck savagely. But with the skill of a fencer he met the blow and broke it, seizing the wrist.
“It looks as though, we should go together,” he said, pulling her toward him.
Ruth was strong in body and soul. She fought him with tooth and nail. Three times she escaped. Chairs were overturned. Once she reached the bamboo curtain, clutched at it and tore it down as his arms went around her waist. The third time she escaped she reached the inconsequent barricade of the overturned table.
“If there is any honour in you, stop and think. I love my husband. I love him!” She was weak and dizzy: from horror as much as from physical exertion. She knew that the next time he caught her she would not be able to free herself. “What good would it do you to destroy me? For I have courage to kill myself.”
The Wastrel laughed. He had heard this talk before.
The race began once more; but this time Ruth knew that there would be no escape. If only she had thought to plunge the scissors into her own heart! Hoddy ... to return and find her either gone or dead! But even as the Wastrel’s arms gathered her, there came the sound of hurrying steps on the veranda.
“Hoddy!” she cried.
Spurlock stepped into the room. One of those hanging moments ensued—hypnotic.
Spurlock had seen Rollo heading for the jungle, and for some reason he could not explain the incident had bothered him. Fretting and fidgeting, he had, after an hour or so, turned to McClintock.
“I’m going back for Ruth.”
“Wrong? What the devil could be wrong?” McClintock had demanded, irascibly. He had particular reasons for wanting to keep Spurlock away from the jetty.
“I haven’t any answer for that; but I’m going back after her. She wanted to come, and I wouldn’t let her.”
“Run along, then.”
* * * * *
“To me, you dirty blackguard!” cried Spurlock, flinging aside his helmet. That he was hot and breathless was of no matter; in that moment he would have faced a dozen Samsons.
“She was mine before you ever saw her.” The Wastrel tried to reach Ruth’s lips.
Head down, fists doubled, Spurlock rushed: only to be met with a kick which was intended for the groin but which struck the thigh instead. Even then it sent Spurlock spinning backward, to crash against the wall. He felt no pain from this cowardly kick. That would come later. Again he rushed. He dodged the boot this time, and smashed his left upon the Wastrel’s lips, leaving them bloody pulp.