With a roar, MacNair scrambled up the ladder, automatic in hand. On the firing ledge’s narrow rim a riverman snapped together the breech of his shotgun, and looked up—his face close to the face of MacNair. And as he looked his jaw sagged in terror. MacNair jammed the barrel of the automatic into the open mouth and fired.
Chloe Elliston lay in the snow, partially stunned by her fall from the top of the stockade. She was not unconscious—her hearing and vision were unimpaired, but her numbed brain did not grasp the significance of the sights and sounds which her senses recorded. She wondered vaguely how it happened she was lying there in the snow when she distinctly remembered that she was standing upon the narrow firing ledge urging MacNair to fight. There was MacNair now! She could see him distinctly. Even as she looked the man drew his pistol and fired. Something struck the snow almost within reach of her hand. It was a revolver. Chloe glanced upward, but saw only the log wall of the stockade which seemed to tower upward until it touched the sky.
A blood-curdling cry rang out upon the air—a sound she had heard of nights echoing among rock-rimmed ridges—the pack-cry of the wolf-breed. She shuddered at the nearness of the sound and turned, expecting to encounter the red throat and slavering jaws of the fang-bared leader of the pack, and instead she saw only MacNair.
Then along the wall of the forest came thin grey puffs of smoke, and her ears rang with the crash of the rifle-volley. She heard the wicked spit and thud of the bullets as they ripped at the logs above her, and tiny slivers of bark made black spots upon the snow. A piece fell upon her face, she brushed it away with her hand. The sounds of the shots increased ten fold. Answering spurts of grey smoke jutted from the walls above her. The loop-holes bristled with rifle-barrels!
In her nostrils was the rank smell of powder-smoke, and across the clearing, straight toward her, dashed many men with ladders. A man fell almost at her side, his ladder, tilting against the wall, slipped sidewise into the snow, crashing against one of the protruding rifle-barrels as it fell. Two other men came, and uprighting the ladder, climbed swiftly up the wall. Chloe saw that they were MacNair’s Indians.
The scene changed with lightning rapidity. Men with rifles were in the clearing, now running and shooting, and falling down to remain motionless in the snow. Above the uproar of the guns a new sound rolled and swelled. An eery, blood-curdling sound that chilled the heart and caused the roots of her hair to prickle along the base of her skull. It was the war-cry of the Yellow Knives as they fired, and ran, and clambered up the ladders,