“I understand,” she murmured, and hid her face in a tuft of thick grass, placing her hands upon her ears.
Ralph bowed his head for an instant in prayer. Then he lifted it and there was no fear upon his face.
“Come on, murderer,” he said, addressing Swart Piet, “and do your butcher’s work. Why do you delay? You cannot often find the joy of slaughtering a defenceless man in the presence of his new-made wife. Come on then and win the everlasting curse of God.”
Now Swart Piet glanced at him out of the corners of his round eyes; then he ordered one of the Kaffirs to go up to him and shoot him.
The man went up and lifted his gun, but presently he put it down again and walked away, saying that he could not do this deed. Thrice did Van Vooren issue his command, and to three separate men, the vilest of his flock, but with each of them it was the same; they came up lifting their guns, looked into Ralph’s grey eyes and slunk away muttering. Then, cursing and swearing in his mad fury, Swart Piet drew the pistol from his belt and rushing towards Ralph fired it into him so that he fell. He stood over him and looked at him, the smoking pistol in his hand, but the wide grey eyes remained open and the strong mouth still smiled.
“The dog lives yet,” raved Swart Piet; “cast him into the sea, and let the sea finish him.”
But no man stirred; all stood silent as though they had been cut in stone, and there, a little nearer the cliff edge, lay the silent form of Suzanne.
Then Van Vooren seized Ralph and dragged him by the shoulders to the brink of the precipice. His hair brushed the hair of Suzanne as his body was trailed along the ground, and as he passed he whispered one word, “Remember,” into her ear, and she raised her head to look at him and answered, “Now, and always.” Then she let her head fall again.
Stooping down, Swart Piet lifted Ralph in his great arms, and crying aloud: “Return into the sea out of which you came,” he hurled him over the edge of the cliff. Two seconds later the sound of a heavy splash echoed up its sides; then, save for the murmur of the waterfall and the surge of the surf upon the beach, all was still again.
HOW RALPH CAME BACK TO THE STEAD
For a few moments Swart Piet and his black ruffians stood staring now at each other and now over the edge of the cliff into the deep sea-hole. There, however, they could see nothing, for the moonbeams did not reach its surface, and the only sound they heard was that of the dripping of the little waterfall, which came to their ears like the tinkle of distant sheep-bells. Then Swart Piet shivered and laughed aloud, a laugh that had more of fear than of merriment in it.
“The Englishman called down the everlasting curse of God on me,” he cried. “Well, I have waited for it, and it does not come, so now for man’s reward,” and going to where Suzanne lay, he set his arms beneath her and turned her over upon her back. “She has swooned,” he said; “perhaps it is as well,” and he stood looking at her, for thus in her faint she seemed wonderfully fair with the moonbeams playing upon her deathlike face.