PART II. The Country of the Saints.
5. CHAPTER V. THE AVENGING ANGELS.
The creature was too unwieldy to lift, so the hunter
contented himself with cutting away one haunch and part of
the flank. With this trophy over his shoulder, he hastened
to retrace his steps, for the evening was already drawing in.
He had hardly started, however, before he realized the
difficulty which faced him. In his eagerness he had wandered
far past the ravines which were known to him, and it was no
easy matter to pick out the path which he had taken.
The valley in which he found himself divided and sub-divided
into many gorges, which were so like each other that it was
impossible to distinguish one from the other. He followed
one for a mile or more until he came to a mountain torrent
which he was sure that he had never seen before. Convinced
that he had taken the wrong turn, he tried another, but with
the same result. Night was coming on rapidly, and it was
almost dark before he at last found himself in a defile which
was familiar to him. Even then it was no easy matter to keep
to the right track, for the moon had not yet risen, and the
high cliffs on either side made the obscurity more profound.
Weighed down with his burden, and weary from his exertions,
he stumbled along, keeping up his heart by the reflection
that every step brought him nearer to Lucy, and that he
carried with him enough to ensure them food for the remainder
of their journey.
He had now come to the mouth of the very defile in which he
had left them. Even in the darkness he could recognize the
outline of the cliffs which bounded it. They must, he
reflected, be awaiting him anxiously, for he had been absent
nearly five hours. In the gladness of his heart he put his
hands to his mouth and made the glen re-echo to a loud halloo
as a signal that he was coming. He paused and listened for
an answer. None came save his own cry, which clattered up
the dreary silent ravines, and was borne back to his ears in
countless repetitions. Again he shouted, even louder than
before, and again no whisper came back from the friends whom
he had left such a short time ago. A vague, nameless dread
came over him, and he hurried onwards frantically, dropping
the precious food in his agitation.