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God's Country--And the Woman by James Oliver Curwood

Part 5 out of 5

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"KILL! KILL! KILL!" she cried. "Hero--KILL! NIPA HAO, boys!

As her own voice rang out, Lang's screams ceased, and then she saw
Philip dragging himself to his knees. At her calls there came a
sudden surge in the pack, and those who could not get at Lang
leaped upon the remaining three. With a cry Josephine fell upon
her knees beside Philip, clasping his head in her arms, holding
him in the protection of her own breast as they looked upon the
terrible scene.

For a moment more she looked, and then she dropped her face on
Philip's shoulder with a ghastly cry. Still partly dazed, Philip
stared. Screams such as he had never heard before came from the
lips of the dying men. From screams they turned to moaning cries,
and then to a horrible silence broken only by the snarling grind
of the maddened dogs.

Strength returned to Philip quickly. He felt Josephine limp and
lifeless in his arms, and with an effort he staggered to his feet,
half carrying her. A few yards away was a small tepee in which
Lang had kept her. He partly carried, partly dragged her to this,
and then he returned to the dogs.

Vainly he called upon them to leave their victims. He was seeking
for a club when through the balsam thicket burst John Adare and
Father George at the head of a dozen men. In response to Adare's
roaring voice the pack slunk off. The beaten snow was crimson.
Even Adare, as he faced Philip, could find no words in his horror.
Philip pointed to the tepee.

"Josephine--is there--safe," he gasped. As Adare rushed into the
tepee Philip swayed up to Father George.

"I am dizzy--faint," he said. "Help me--"

He went to Lang and dropped upon his knees beside him. The man was
unrecognizable. His head was almost gone. Philip thrust a hand
inside his fang-torn coat--and pulled out a long envelope. It was
addressed to the master of Adare. He staggered to his feet, and
went to Thoreau. In his pocket he found the second envelope.
Father George was close beside him as he thrust the two in his own
pocket. He turned to the forest men, who stood like figures turned
to stone, gazing upon the scene of the tragedy.

"Carry them--out there," said Philip, pointing into the forest.
"And then--cover the blood with fresh snow."

He still clung to Father George's arm as he staggered toward a
near birch.

"I feel weak--dizzy," he repeated again. "Help me--pull off some

A strange, inquiring look filled the Missioner's face as he tore
down a handful of bark, and at Philip's request lighted a match.
In an instant the bark was a mass of flame. Into the fire he put
the letters.

"It is best--to burn their letters," he said. Beyond this he gave
no explanation. And Father George asked no questions.

They followed Adare into the tepee. Josephine was sobbing in her
father's arms. John Adare's face was that of a man who had risen
out of black despair into day.

"Thank God she has not been harmed," he said.

Philip knelt beside them, and John Adare gave Josephine into his
arms. He held her close to his breast, whispering only her name--
and her arms crept up about him. Adare rose and stood beside
Father George.

"I will go back and attend to the wounded, Philip," he said. "Jean
is one of those hurt. It isn't fatal."

He went out. Father George was about to follow when Philip
motioned him back.

"Will you wait outside for a few minutes?" he asked in a low
voice. "We shall need you--alone--Josephine and I."

And now when they were gone, he raised Josephine's face, and said:

"They are all gone, Josephine--Lang, Thoreau, AND THE LETTERS.
Lang and Thoreau are dead, and I have burned the letters. Jean was
shot. He thought he was dying, and he told me the truth that I
might better protect you. Sweetheart, there is nothing more for me
to know. The fight is done. And Father George is waiting--out
there--to make us man and wife. No one will ever know but
ourselves--and Jean. I will tell Father George that it has been
your desire to have a SECOND marriage ceremony performed by him;
that we want our marriage to be consecrated by a minister of the
forests. Are you ready, dear? Shall I call him in?"

For a full minute she gazed steadily into his eyes, and Philip did
not break the wonderful silence. And then, with a deep sigh, her
head drooped to his breast. After a moment he heard her whisper:

"You may call him in, Philip. I guess--I've got to be--your wife."

And as the logs of the Devil's Nest sent up a pall of smoke that
rose to the skies, Metoosin crouched shiveringly far back in the
gloom of the pit, wondering if the dogs he had loosed had come to
the end of the trail.


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