The Mystery HTML version

Five Hundred Yards' Range
Percy Darrow, with the keenness that always characterised his mental apprehension, had
understood enough of my strangled cry. He had not hesitated nor delayed for an
explanation, but had turned track and was now running as fast as his long legs would
carry him back toward the opening of the ravine. My companions stood watching him,
but making no attempt either to shoot or to follow. For a moment I could not understand
this, then remembered the disappearance of Perdosa. My heart jumped wildly, for the
Mexican had been gone quite long enough to have cut off the assistant's escape. I could
not doubt that he would pick off his man at close range as soon as the fugitive should
have reached the entrance to the arroyo.
There can be no question that he would have done so had not his Mexican impatience
betrayed him. He shot too soon. Percy Darrow stopped in his tracks. Although we heard
the bullet sing by us, for an instant we thought he was hit. Then Perdosa fired a second
time, again without result. Darrow turned sharp to the left and began desperately to scale
the steep cliffs.
I once took part in a wild boar hunt on the coast of California. Our dogs had penned a
small band at the head of a narrow barranca, from which a single steep trail led over the
hill. We, perched on another hill some three or four hundred yards away, shot at the
animals as they toiled up the trail. The range was long, but we had time, for the severity
of the climb forced the boars to a foot pace.
It was exactly like that. Percy Darrow had two hundred feet of ascent to make. He could
go just so fast; must consume just so much time in his snail-like progress up the face of
the hill. During that time he furnished an excellent target, and the loose sandstone showed
where each shot struck.
A significant indication was that the men did not take the trouble to get nearer, for which
manoeuvre they would have had time in plenty, but distributed themselves leisurely for a
shooting match.
"First shot," claimed Handy Solomon, and without delay fired off-hand. A puff of dust
showed to the right. "Nerve no good," he commented, "jerked her just as I pulled."
Pulz fired from the knee. The dust this time puffed below.
"Thought she'd carry up at that distance," he muttered.
The Nigger, too, missed, and Thrackles grinned triumphantly.
"I get a show," said he. He spread his massive legs apart, drew a deep breath, and raised
his weapon. It lay in his grasp steady as a log, and I saw that Percy Darrow's fate was in
the hands of that dangerous class of natural marksman that possesses no nerves. But for