It was dark, and suddenly void of men. Overhead the stars were mustering, and in the west the sky was still a pale, bright, almost greenish blue. The tops of the pine trees and the roofs of Horsell came out sharp and black against the western afterglow.
Nothing was changed save for that and a terrible astonishment. The little group of black specks with the flag of white had been swept out of existence, and the stillness of the evening, so it seemed to me, had scarcely been broken.
A cry of rage rose from the owner of the primitive craft, and his spear grazed my shoulder and buried itself in the bow of the boat beyond.
A glance over my shoulder showed me that the copper-colored one had plunged in after me and was swimming rapidly in pursuit.
I had covered some hundred yards from shore when it became evident that my pursuer must grasp the stern of the skiff within the next half-dozen strokes.
His hand was reaching upward for the stern when I saw a sleek, sinuous body shoot from the depths below.
As I looked at that hopeless struggle my eyes met those of the doomed man, and I could have sworn that in his I saw an expression of hopeless appeal.
Unconsciously I had ceased paddling as the serpent rose to engage my pursuer, so now the skiff still drifted close beside the two.