Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

the ladies are here between me and the guides who are toting you."

"Ysonde," I murmured, " pardon me for my profanity-I am dazed-where are you?"

"Here, Bobby," whispered Ysonde-"close beside you; don't talk, dear, you are very much hurt."

"Are you speaking to me, Ysonde?" I said, doubting my senses.

"To you, Bobby," she whispered close to my ear, "did n't you know that I loved you? Ah, try to live and you will know!"

My strength was ebbing fast, but I think I muttered something that she understood, for the light touch of her hand was on my cheek, and I felt it tremble. Somebody gave me water,-I was choking, and my burning lips shrank and cracked beneath the cool draught. I could hear Jimmy Ellis muttering to Buck Hanson, and Hanson's replies.

Look out, Buck, here's a rut,-Mr. Blylock, can you dip your pine knot this side?-so fashion, -steady, Buck.”

"Steady, it is,-hold up his legs,-Mr. Blylock, throw a stun by that windfall,-there's a lucivee sneakin' araound in behind

Crack! spoke Blylock's rifle, and then I heard Buck's nasal drawl: "A stun is jest 's good, Mr. Blylock, they 're scairt haf tu deth-I suspicion it's the pork they 're after !"

"Throw that pork into the woods, Jimmy,"

said Blylock, "we 'll be in before long. Good heavens how dark it is-lay him down and throw that pork away-there may be a panther among them."

There be," drawled Buck, "I seen him."

"You did? Why did n't you say so! I can't waste cartridges on those infernal lynxes."

"I sez to you, Mr. Blylock, sez I, throw stuns, it's jest as good," replied Buck, placidly; and I was lifted again, fore and aft.

"It's incredible," grumbled Blylock; "what's got into all these moth-eaten lynxes and mangy panthers; I've been twenty years in these woods, and I never before saw even a tom-cat."

"I ain't seed nothing like this, there's three 'r four bob-cats raound us now, and I ha'n't never seed but one so close before,-Jimmy was there that night. I jest disremember if it was about gummin' time—"

Crack! went Blylock's rifle, and I heard a whine from the thickets on the left.

"Thet 's the panther-let him hev it again,' said Ellis.

Again the rifle cracked.

"The darned cuss!" drawled Buck;

again, Mr. Blylock!"

"

"shoot

"No need," said Ellis-"listen! There he

goes lopin' off. Hear him snarl !"

"Hit, I guess," said Buck, and we moved on. Once I heard Buck complain that a particularly bold lynx kept trotting along the trail behind,

"smellin' and sniffin' almighty close to my shins," he asserted, and there certainly was an awful yell when Blylock wheeled in his tracks and fired. I heard Ellis laughing, and Buck said, "haow them lucivees du screech!"

"Worse 'n a screech-owl," added Ellis.

That is the last thing I remembered until I woke in my bed in the Rosebud Inn.

The bandage was still on my eyes,-I felt too weak to raise a finger,-and the rest of my body seemed stiff and hard as wood. I heard somebody rocking in a rocking-chair and I spoke.

"I am here," said Ysonde,-but her voice. seemed choked and unsteady.

"What time is it?" I asked, incoherently. "Half past eleven," said Ysonde.

"I am hungry," said I, and that was my last effort until they brought me a bowl of beef broth with an egg in it, and I had managed to swallow it all.

I heard the door close, and for a moment I thought I was alone, but presently the rockingchair creaked, and I called again: "Ysonde.” "I am here."

"What is the matter with me?"

"You have been ill."

"How long?"

"Two days, Bobby. You will get well-the claws poisoned you. Try to sleep now."

What claws?"

The the panther's-don't you remember?"

"No-yes, a little. Where are the lynxes? Where is Blylock?"

Ysonde laughed softly.

"Mr. Blylock has gone to Boston on important business. I will tell you all about it when you can get up. He's to be married."

"And Lynda?"

"Lynda is downstairs. Shall I call her?" "No."

The next day I drank more broth, and two days later I sat up,- it took me half an hour and

some groans to do so.

"I think," said I, listening to the rockingchair, "that it is high time I saw something. Lift my bandage, please, Ysonde."

"Only one side," she said, and lowered the cloth that concealed my right eye-the sightless

one.

There was a silence, a wretched moment of suspense, and then Ysonde cried: "What—what is it can't you see can't you see me !-Oh, Bobby!"

When I spoke I hardly knew what I said, but it was something about Keen's assuring me that nobody but an oculist could tell that I was blind in my right eye. I remember I felt very angry at Keen, and demanded to know how Ysonde could see that my right eye was sightless. I am glad I was spared the agony of her face-I would willingly have been spared the agony of her voice as she cried. "Did I do that?"

I tried to move, but her arms were about me,I tried to explain, but her warm mouth closed my lips; I only thought that it was very pleasant to be blind.

The eyes of an oculist and the eyes of love see everything. Who says that love is blind?

Her tears fell on my cheeks; when she asked pardon, I answered by asking pardon, and she— but, after all, that is our own affair.

"And my left eye," said I, "is that gone, too?"

"Almost well," said Ysonde, "it was a sympathetic shock, or something; I was afraid the claws had struck it, but Dr. Keen——”

"Keen !"

"Yes-he's gone to Holderness now. Don't you remember his being here with Dr. Conroy, the surgeon?"

"No," said I, "I was too badly mauled. I have been clawed by a panther, then?"

"A little," said Ysonde, with gentle sarcasm. After a moment I inquired about the present health of the panther, and was assured that he was probably flourishing his tail in excellent spirits somewhere among the Scaur crags.

"Then Blylock did n't hit him?"

"He hit something, for I heard it scream-Oh, my darling, what a horrible night !—and you dying, as I believed, and the tangled brush, and the flare of the torch, and the firing "

[blocks in formation]
« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »