“I don’t want to shoot you,” said the girl presently, and, through her voice’s persistent sternness, Gavin fancied he could read a thrill of very feminine concern. “I don’t want to shoot you. If I can help it. You will put your hands up.”
Meekly, Brice obeyed.
“Now,” she resumed, “you will turn around, and go back the way you came. And you will go as fast as you can travel. I shall follow you to the second turning. Then I shall fire into the air. That will bring—one or more of the men. And they will see you don’t turn back. I’m—I’m giving you that much chance to get away. Because I—I don’t want—”
She hesitated. The grimness had begun to seep out of her sweet voice. The revolver-muzzle wobbled, ever so little.
“I’m sorry,” began Brice. “But—”
“I don’t care to hear any explanations,” she cut him short, sternly. “Your coming along that path could mean only one thing. You will do as I say.—You will turn about and make what use you can of the start I’m offering you. Now—”
“I’m sorry,” repeated Brice, more determinedly, and trying hard to keep his twitching face straight. “But I can’t do what you ask. It was hard enough coming along that path, while the light lasted. If I were to go back over it in the dark, I’d break my neck on a million mangrove roots. If it’s just the same to you, I’ll take my chances with the pistol. It’ll be an easier death, and in pleasanter company. So, if you really must shoot then blaze away!”
He lowered his upraised arms, folding them melodramatically on his breast, while he sought, through the gloom, to note the effect of his solemnly uttered speech. The effect was far different and less sensational than he had expected. At the first sound of his voice that was audible above the collie’s barks, the girl lowered the revolver and leaned forward to get a clearer view of his face, beneath the shadow of the vine-leaves.
“I—I thought—” she stammered, and added lamely “I thought you were—were—were some one else.” She paused, then she went on with some slight return of her earlier sternness “Just the same, your coming here by that path...”
“There is no magic about it,” he assured her, “and very little mystery. I was taking a stroll along the shore, when I happened upon that mass of dynamite and fur and springs, yonder. (In his rare moments of calm, he is a collie,—the best type of show collie, at that.) He ran ahead of me, through the tangle of mangrove boughs. I followed, and found a path. He seemed anxious to explore the path, and I kept on following him, until—”
The girl seemed for the first time aware of the dog’s noisy presence.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, looking at the rackety and leaping collie in much surprise. “I thought it was the stable dog that had treed Simon Cameron! I didn’t notice. He— Why!” she cried, “that’s Bobby Burns! We lost him, on the way here from the station! My brother has gone back to Miami to offer a reward for him. He came from the North, this morning. We drove into town to get him. On the way out, he must have fallen from the back seat. We didn’t miss him till we— How did you happen to find him?”