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POET'S CORNER.

HER VENGEANCE

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HER VENGEANCE BT B. R. PUNSHON. 'Author of "The Chcice," "The Spin of the Coin," etc., etc. CHAPTER XXVII.—CAPTURED. Hugh kne~ not in which direction to go, 1>ut ran by chance. Here in the bush there was welcome shelter from the sun, but Eira was heavy, and he himself much exhausted. He went on as long as he could till presently he stumbled and nearly fell, while a sudden darkness seemed to ewim before his eyes. He beat the weakness down, and conquered it but he could go no further, and sank beneath to tree, still supporting Eira. in his. arms. After a time she opened her eyes and looked round uncomprehendingly- "What has happened?" she asked, and then: T have had such dreanw." Hugh did not answer, for he knew those dreams of hers had been no dreams, but cruel teality. She sai up, with one hand held to her forehead- "Oh, I remember now, she said slowly; "are they following us still?" "I do not know." said Hugh; but this was not true, for he knew well, and was assured that the lynchers were hafd upon their track. "I remember," she said again, "that was Editor Keene we saw in the buggy. Where is Mr. Hethering-ton?" "I do not know, "Hugh answered. He has gone on. fr. 1 -1 toe „ ( "If 'he escaped, that uf '3ALSJ'" said EiM. "It is you who should have escaped, LVid Hugh slowly, "you who have risked so much for him." His eyes said more than his words; so mucn more, that a vivid colour spread over the pale- ness of her faco. But then she seemed to re- member. and she tried to move away from him. When he would not let her, she sa:d: "You are forgetting Miss Hetlierington. vNo," he said. "You are going to marry her," Eira. exciaim- ed quickly; "if you have forgotten that, I have ^"No," he said again. "Eira, listen. I got to Delia—I cannot explain, never loved her. It was all a mistake--& blun- ider I loved you from the first moment I saw you when you were pretending to be a flower girl. I did not understand then, but now I know I loved you." "You must not talk like that," she said '^tbere is Mio Hetherington, and beaiAes, this is not a time to talk of sueh things. We axe not safe yet. If they find us "That is why I must speak,* he said passion- ately, "because the time may be short for me —if they find us." "And tor me," sh eaidr "they will treat me the same as they will you." „ "That ifl my right to speak," he eried. that we share the same dangers. Listen. Eira, I love you. You have risked so much for us. •Tou gave me your hand to hold." • "I never did," she cried, for in fact LllM action of hers had beeft so instinctive that she bid remained half uncenscioth of it; "at leoit. I mean-well. it is nothing if I did. And you have given your word to Miss Hetherington, "If we evel get back into safety," he said, "'I will go to hr and tell her all the truth. I ehould have dope so before. I did not under- stand. It is only when the end seems near that one understands how little everything else matters beside the truth. Well, I shall tell her —if we go back "And if we do not—" Eira asked, still very *^Then I shall have done no treachery to her Iin, telling you I love you," be answered. "We have not planned or wished this, he said, with a. certain exultation in hie manner, "but it has come, and whatever comes now, you and I must share it together." She shook her ii«*d and moved a little away from lum. "•Ah1" he cried, stung by her action, 'you eave me my life, and you would deny me even "You are unjust," she said, averting her faoe. "This ia not a time to talk of such t things. They may be on us any minu "The more need to epeak while there » yet time," he cried vehemently- Eira, I love you, and I have always loved you, and you tnust love me, too." What she would have answered, one cannot Wejj tell, for at that moment they plainly heard 'someone shouting at only a. little distance be tween them. "Hark!" said Eira. "The lynchers!" "Then speak the truth now." said Hugh quickly; '•this is a good time for everything veept lies. I love you, Eira. Love me. too! She did not answer. She was listening in- ntry, but the next sound they heard was a voice calling them by name, and then Mr. Hetlierington appeared. "Be quick," he gasped out, for he, too, was touch exhausted "they are quite close." "Oh, I thought you had gone right 09, said Huerh, astonished to see him again. "And deserted you?" said his uncle. "I tried. t think, but I couldn't. Strange! If I had been a better man I might have done it. But t remembered all the mean and selfish things in my life, and J could not end it with one meaner and more selfish than any. So I came back. We will keep together. The railway^ is only ibout a mile away, if we can reach it." "There is r trair due about now," said FAr, 7,piish on and leave me. You can catch it, perhaps, and perhaps the men will not hurt ma—much." "I wish to heaven you had not come with ps but gone another way," said Hugh. "But it is too late now." He and his uncle took Eira between them and they hurried on. When they had gone •Jbout half a mile they heard the whistle of an engine, and saw above the trees a long trail of white smoke The train had passed. They had missed it, fend safety, by perhaps two minutes. Bjehind them men were shouting, and the .kound of the shouting seemed to be converging Ðn the path they followed. They came at last io the railroad, and by it they sank down ex- hausted, unable to proceed another step.. L "If that WM tha eastward train," Eira panted, "it passes the westward train near Athens, and 60 the westward train should pass her- soon. There is still a chance for uj," bu*; she did not speak with hope. 'I don't much care!" Mr. Hetherington gasped out. "I would rathei they found us than go another yard." Hugh and Eira sat in siience. Mi. Hether- ington lav at full length, breathing heavily. Behind them the sound of shouting rrrew ever more distinct, the mob of lynchers gre'v ever nearer. Hugh and Eira held other by the hand. Quite suddenly Mr K^i^nugton raised his head. His ear, close to the greund, had caught first of all the sound 01 an approach- 109 train. Hugh and Eira heard too. They looked at each other; they lived h gaintheir lips approached and they kissed. Mr. Hether- ington sat upright. "It's a train," he said. "This way, cross the railroad track, boys, and pnsb straight shouted a vo>oe apparently hundred yards north of where "Hey sat. "Y. wo are saved," whispered Hugh. Ho l-cofc Bira's hand, and said with paesion in his voice, "You are mine, for we have kissed." "That is nothing," she said, resisting him, "a.nd you are not mine but Delia Hethering- ton's." "By God!" cried Mr. Hetherington entranc- ed, "how bsautiful it is to hear a train com- ing." "Here they are!" screamed a loud voice just behind them; "here they are, boys, all three of them!" A rush of men appeared; as if by magrc every tree-trunk disclosed a man, every bush r spurted an enemy;, from all sides men came running, as if the old earth were sick and vomited men. "This is the end. and I can't pretend any more." said Eira. "I love you. Hugh. and you are mine, and nov Dla. Iielh^rinEton's." there!" Hugh should, and sprang forward to mee* the rush of their enemies. He felt in himself the swelling strength of heart and tongue to make alltheee men listen. know, understand :n9 felt he had but to speak to show himself their master. "You hear me!" he shouted. "I want to apeak for a moment." But it seemed they did not mean to give him even the moment he asked for; and so to gam that moment he jumped forward and knocked the first man head over heebs. It was the worst, most foolish tbinpr he could have done. Shouting with rage at this act of defiance so that Hugh's voiÚ lost in a tumult of cries, the other men bore down on him and overwhelmed him and flung him to the ground. As he lay one kicked him on the head so brutally that he lost consciousness, and the last thing he heard above the shouts of his triumphant enemies was the whistle of an ap- proaching locomotive and the roar of the pass- ing train. Once again they had safety by not much more than a couple of m'nutea. When he recovered his senses he was lying no longer among the trees, but out on the open prairie, though not much more than or three hundred yards from the edge or bush. The sun was now near to setting, a dying glory in the west. Close by him sat, Mr. Hethenngton, looking pale and rather dazed. Hi3 hands were bound behind him and hie mouth was bleeding, as if from a heavy blow. At a little distance stood Eira. Her clothing was torn and one cheek was bruised her hair was loose and hung down in a tangled mass of darkness that veiled her to below her waist. A cord had been tied around her neck, and the other end of this was held by one among a group of men close by. These men were talking among themselves and looked at her sideways, and, as it seemed, with a strange abhorrence. But she paid them np heed, and stood very still and silent. "Now, what's all this?" Hugh muttered to his uncle. "Theæ devils have got us," said Mr. Hether- ington, looking round at him and speaking with difficultly, so sore was his mouth. "They aco all mad, and they will not listen to a word. Do you know what thoy say they are going to do to us?" what?" eaid Hugh. His uncle did not answer, and looking further away, Hugh saw a number of men, apparently busy with three posts it seemed they had just been filing upright in the ground. Hugh won- dered vaguely what they were for, and he noticed that a wagon laden with wood had that moment emerged from the shelter of the hush. One of the men from the group near Eira separated from the others and came towards Hugh. Hugh waited, eager to speak to him, but when he was near he quite deliberately, and without saying a word, kicked Hunrh heavily in the ribe. At once Hugh put out his hand, and catching the fellow by the ankle threw him down. Some of the oth. men laughed, and the overthrown one got up and walked away. swearing and scowling at Hugh over his shoulder as he went. "Will you Irive me some water? I am thirsty," Mr. Hetherington asked. "You will want water for something ely- than drinking soon, you black villain," said one man, spitting as in sign of abhorrence. "Have you not told them who WI6&re?" Hugh asked hie uncle. will not listen," his uncle muttered; "they are all mad. They hit me on the mouth and eaid that was a game we had tried before; they said that was played out. Hugh, do you, know what they say they are going to do with us?" "No," answered Hugh. "What?" But Mr. Hetherington did not reply. He bowed his head as in despair, and seemed to sink into an apathy, overwhelmed by the strangely awful fate that threatened them. There came towards the three prisoners a tall, thin man with a. white face like that of a corpap and a màdman's burning eye. Hugh knew him at once for Editor Keene. "You, James Hetherington, nigger, he besran in a loud voice. That is my name," interposed Mr. Hether- ington rousing himself for a moment, "but I am not a nigger I am as white as you are.' "You don't look it," said one man standing near. "If he answers to his name we might have made a mistake in," said a third man, "he might as well admit his colour we can all see for ourselves." j. "And you other nigger," Keene continued to Hugh, "you have had a fair trial and been found guilty——" 4. "Why a trial! shouted Hugh in great ex- citement, petting to his feet, "thAt is all we want—a fair trial; let us be tried; hand us over to the polioe, and we can prove our story "Or else go on appealing and appealing from one court to another for the next few years, said Keene coldly, "and then get off at last on some smart dodge of your lawyer's. No, this is our own job, and we will run it our way we are not going to have lawyers playing with the honour and the lives of our women.' A low murmur of hate and rage echoed this declaration, and not a man there but looked at the two prisoners as though wishing to see them already suffering. Hugh held himself upright and cried loudly: "I tell you we are white men-I tell you we are Englishmen—we are as white as you, I 6aHe spoke with such a vehemence and strength of conviction that for a moment one or two seemed to doubt. Bu* Editor Keene said cold- iy; „ or black, what does it matter? You murderd Mrs. Bryan-that is the main ihuiflT; whether you are white or black does not matter -1.. "Always trust Editor Keene for talking horsa- senea," said admiringlv a little man with a narrow face and red hair. "But we are innocent!" ccied Hugh. HOb. you are all sorts of thines," retorted Keene. "If you are innocent, how is it your boots fit the tracks made at the Bryan farm? There are footmarks there, made by a man wearin. a boot with three largo naus showing on the left heel. Your left boot has three exactly similar nails showing on its heiel. xlow do you explain that? If you are innocent, why are there blood marks on your partner's trou- &ers"? Why does a picco of stuff we found caught on the wire fence at the farm just fit with a tear on his coat, eh?" ■ It flashed upon Hugh in an instant that this was all part of the snare in which they had be9n taken. No doubt the clothes Dodd had provided for them had been specially prepared to confirm the suspicions so carefully roused against them. "Well, let us be tried," he said despairingly. "If you will give us a fair trial we can explain everything." "You havfe been tried already, said Keene coldly. "If you were knocked silly and didn't know what war going on, you have only your- self to thank. You have been tried and found guilty by Judge Lynch, and we want no more of your -slack. Jabez Hunt, just go and stand bv the prisoner, and if he gives any more jaw, knock him over the head." The man addressed as Jabez, who was the same who had already kicked Hugh and been overturned for his pains, came forward grin- ning with a heavy stick in his hand. •"You also, Eira Siddle," Keene continued. "There is no need to try you at all, for we have all seen you doing what not a man of us would ever have believed the meanest white woman living, would ha.ve done. You ha.ve gone against your own race and your own sex, and you have been ready to help the murderers of another white woman to escape. Worse even than that, you actually tried to escape with them." Bia face and voice expressed a. genuine horror that was sUmpel also on the face of every listener. They a.!l thought Eira's action a crime beyond credence; not one of them. in fact, would have believed it possible had they not thought they had seen it themselves—it was to them the unpardonable sin. The loathing and abhorrence they felt towards the two men was intensified tenfold towards the woman who they thought had betrayed her woman-

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HER VENGEANCE