From where she perched, Garnet could not hear the sounds of blows or the heavy panting of the men, but she could see the staggering steps and the reeling back and forth. Her nails bit into her palms as she watched the crazy scene, but before she could formulate any plan to help her husband, even if she had been in range, the fight ceased abruptly. The man had pulled out a pistol and was holding it at Jeremiahís head.

  Garnetís breath came in panting gasps, but she could do nothing. She crouched like a frightened animal and stared, terrified in case any incautious sound or movement might make the gunman fire. The suddenly one of the circling riders uttered a yell and rode straight at the pair. The horse reared aside at the last moment and fell on its side, the rider was thrown clear and rolled into the melee, knocking Jeremiah and the other man off their feet. As all three struggled up again, Jeremiah made a lunge for the door of his house. There was a confused few moments while the two others regained their balance and converged on the door, the loose horse plunging off to add to the general confusion.

There was a sudden puff of smoke and the thin snap of a pistol from within the house, and Garnet knew Jeremiah was firing at the invaders. If she could only reach the store-room, she could snatch up an axe and ... and the men would fell her with their pistols long before she was close enough to do them any harm. She wrung her hands impotently as more shots were exchanged. She had no idea how much ammunition Jeremiah had to hand. Most of it, she thought, was in the lean-to.

Some sort of parley seemed to be going on, for she could hear voices now, raised in speech instead of uncouth yells. She was not close enough to make out the words, but the tone of one voice was chillingly familiar. The hair seemed to rise along the back of her neck, but she had no chance of recognising the man until a lucky shot from Jeremiah struck his cabbage tree hat and sent it bowling away. The lower part of his face was obscured by some kind of muffler, but as he recoiled from the shot his face turned upward and she saw the livid patch of a scar across his cheek and eye.


Garnetís skin crawled. Harbord was a murderer, now turned bushranger, and whether it was blind chance or not, his presence could mean nothing good for Goldís Kingdom.


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