Half-stunned by a blow from Joe’s mighty fist, M’Ginnis saw Heine felled by Spider, who, having promptly and scientifically kicked him unconscious, snatched the revolver from his lax fingers and turned to pursue. As he came M’Ginnis fired rapidly but, dazed by the blow, his aim was wild, so he turned and ran, with the Spider in hot pursuit. The moon was down, and it was very dark, and soon M’Ginnis found himself in the denser gloom of trees. On he ran, twisting and doubling, on and on, until spent and breathless, he paused to hearken. Far away, voices shouted to each other, voices that gradually grew more distant; so, finally having caught his breath, M’Ginnis went on again. But the wood was full of noises—strange rustling and sudden, soft night sounds—and at every sound the fugitive paused to listen, finger on trigger. And ever as he went the wild blood throbbed and pulsed within his brain, sounding now like the pad-pad of pursuing feet that would not be shaken off, and again like a voice that mumbled and muttered querulous words in the air about him, and at such times he glanced around upon the dark, but the words would not be stilled:
“She’s married—married—married! You drove her into his arms—you did—you did—you did! And he’s alive still and with her, alive—alive—alive!”
And sometimes as he stumbled along through that place of gloom, he cursed bitterly beneath his breath, and sometimes he ground sweating jaws since needs must he hearken to that taunting devil-voice:
“Alive and with his wife beside him—alive! And yours the fault—yours—yours! Your shot at Spike so near the house lost you the game—lost—lost! Your shot at Spike was a call for help—saved the life of the man you came to kill! Your shot at Spike lost you the game—lost—lost!”
So, followed by the pad-pad of running feet, haunted by the querulous demon-voice, M’Ginnis stumbled out upon the road—a lonely road at most times but quite desolate at this hour. The fugitive hastened along, dogged by sounds that none but he might hear, yet to him these sounds were dreadfully real, so real that once, goaded to a paroxysm of blind fury, he whirled about and fired wildly—a shot that seemed to split asunder the deep night silence, filling it with a thousand echoes. Once more he turned and ran, ran until his breath laboured painfully and the sweat ran from him, but ever the sounds were close about him.
At last he beheld lights that moved, and reaching a way-side halt, clambered aboard a late trolley and crouched as far from the light as possible. But even so, his disordered dress, his pallor, and the wild glare of his eyes drew the idle glances of the few passengers.
“Looks like you’d been through th’ mill, bo!” said one, a great, rough fellow; but meeting M’Ginnis’s answering glare, he quailed and shrank away.