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Chapter 7 (continued)
My words seemed to cheer them both, and they were for starting off at once in pursuit. There was no reason why we should delay, and we set forth down the river. As we tramped along, we discussed a question that was uppermost in the mind of each--what we should do with Snider when we had captured him, for with the action of pursuit had come the optimistic conviction that we should succeed. As a matter of fact, we had to succeed. The very thought of remaining in this utter wilderness for the rest of our lives was impossible.
We arrived at nothing very definite in the matter of Snider's punishment, since Taylor was for shooting him, Delcarte insisting that he should be hanged, while I, although fully conscious of the gravity of his offense, could not bring myself to give the death penalty.
I fell to wondering what charm Victory had found in such a man as Snider, and why I insisted upon finding excuses for her and trying to defend her indefensible act. She was nothing to me. Aside from the natural gratitude I felt for her since she had saved my life, I owed her nothing. She was a half-naked little savage--I, a gentleman, and an officer in the world's greatest navy. There could be no close bonds of interest between us.
This line of reflection I discovered to be as distressing as the former, but, though I tried to turn my mind to other things, it persisted in returning to the vision of an oval face, sun-tanned; of smiling lips, revealing white and even teeth; of brave eyes that harbored no shadow of guile; and of a tumbling mass of wavy hair that crowned the loveliest picture on which my eyes had ever rested.
Every time this vision presented itself I felt myself turn cold with rage and hate against Snider. I could forgive the launch, but if he had wronged her he should die--he should die at my own hands; in this I was determined.
For two days we followed the river northward, cutting off where we could, but confined for the most part to the game trails that paralleled the stream. One afternoon, we cut across a narrow neck of land that saved us many miles, where the river wound to the west and back again.
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