He smiled and held out his hand and his eyes were encouraging. The hands of the two men tightened. Carl stumbled blindly away at the heels of the Indian girl. Philip watched them go—watched Keela lead the way with the lithe, soft tread of a wild animal, and mount—watched Carl swing heavily into the saddle and follow. Silhouetted darkly against the watery moon, the silent riders filed off into the swamp-world to the south. For an instant Philip experienced a sudden flash of misgiving but Philip was just and honorable in all things and having disciplined himself to faith in his friend, maintained it.
Then his eyes wandered slowly to the wigwam of Diane. Thinking of the story of the candle-stick, with his mouth twisted into a queer, wry smile, Philip fumbled for his pipe.
“Requiescat in pace,” said Philip, “the hopes of Philip Poynter!”
UNDER THE WILD MARCH MOON
Southward under the watery moon and the wild, dark clouds rode the Indian girl, following a trail blazed only for Indian eyes. The aquatic world about them had grown steadily wilder, more remote from the haunts of men. Fording miry creeks, silver-streaked with moon-light, trampling through dense, dark, tangled brakes and on, under the wild March moon, followed Carl, a prey to the memory of the Indian girl as he had seen her that night at Sherrill’s.
Keela’s face, vividly dark and lovely, had mocked his restless slumbers this many a day. Keela’s eyes, black like a starless night or the cloud-black waters of Okeechobee had lured and lured to sensual conquest.
But a great shame was adding its torment to the terrible pain in his head and the fevered singing of his pulses. In the torture of his self-abasement, the over-strung ligament in his head fell ominously to droning again. Everything seemed remote and unreal. He hated the awful silence about him—the crash of his horse’s feet through the matted brush and the twist of palmetto, resolved itself into dancing ciphers.
Ahead Keela stopped. Motionless, like a beautiful sculptured thing, she sat listening as Carl rode up beside her.
“What is it?” he asked.
“I fancied some one followed,” said Keela soberly. “It may not be.” She rode forward, glancing keenly at the trail behind her.
Thus they rode onward until the east grew pale and gray. A bleak dawn was breaking in melancholy mists over the Everglades. The lonely expanse of swamp and metallic water, of grass-flats and tangled wilds, loomed indistinctly out of the half light in sinister skeleton.
Keela glanced with furtive compassion at the haggard face of the rider behind her. Since midnight he had ridden in utter silence, growing whiter it seemed as the night waned.
“Another hour!” said Keela in her soft, clear voice. “Be of courage. When the sun rises there behind the cypress, we shall be at our journey’s end.”