But there is one language which is universal the world over, and this is sign language. Kathlyn quickly stooped and drew in the dust the shape of the rest house. Then she pointed in the direction from whence she had come. He smiled and nodded excitedly. He understood now. Next, being unarmed, she felt the need of some sort of weapon. So she drew the shape of a rifle in the dust, then produced four rupees, all she had. The shepherd gurgled delightedly, ran into the hut, and returned with a rifle of modern make and a belt of cartridges. With a gesture he signified that it was useless to him because he did not know how to use it.
He took the rupees and Kathlyn took the rifle, vaguely wondering how it came into the possession of this poverty-stricken hillman. Of one thing she was certain; it had become his either through violence of his own or of others. She examined the breech and found a dead shell, which she cast out. The rifle carried six cartridges, and she loaded skillfully, much to the astonishment of the hillman. Then she swung the butt to her shoulder and fired up at the ledge where the panthers had last been seen.
The hillman cried out in alarm and scuttled away to his hut. When he peered forth again Kathlyn made a friendly gesture, and he approached timidly. Once more she pointed to the dust, at the picture of the rest house; and then, by many stabs of his finger in the air, he succeeded in making the way back sufficiently clear to Kathlyn, who smiled, shouldered the rifle and strode confidently down the winding path; but also she was alert and watchful.
There was not a bit of rust on the rifle, and the fact that one bullet had sped smoothly convinced her that the weapon was serviceable. Some careful hunter had once possessed it, for it was abundantly oiled. To whom had it belonged? It was of German make; but that signified nothing. It might have belonged to an Englishman, a Frenchman, or a Russian; more likely the latter, since this was one of the localities where they crossed and recrossed with their note-books to be utilized against that day when the Bear dropped down from the north and tackled the Lion.
Kathlyn had to go down to the very bottom of the ravine. She must follow the goat path, no matter where it wound, for this ultimately would lead her to the rest house. As she started up the final incline, through the cedars and pines, she heard the bark of the wolf, the red wolf who hunted in packs of twenty or thirty, in reality far more menacing than a tiger or a panther, since no hunter could kill a whole pack.
To this wolf, when hunting his kill, the tiger gave wide berth; the bear took to his cave, and all fleet-footed things of the jungles fled in panic.
Kathlyn climbed as rapidly as she could. She dared not mount a tree, for the red wolf would outwit her. She must go on. The bark, or yelp, had been a signal; but now there came to her ears the long howl. She had heard it often in the great forests at home. It was the call of the pack that there was to be a kill. She might shoot half a dozen of them, and the living rend the dead, but the main pack would follow on and overtake her.