“Halt right there, James!”
The call came from the top of the ridge and a warning shot was fired into the air.
Peter was scrambling down the slope on the back of Champion.
James was about four meters from the opposite bank and he swung around, at the same time groping for his own gun stuck into a leather contraption near his knee.
“Hold it!” shouted Peter.
“Peter!” screamed Marion and she tried to turn the horse around before James could get a hold of the reins in her hand or take a shot at her.
Everything that transpired from this point onwards made Jeremy’s head spin.
There were about six buffaloes in the reeds which no one seemed to have noticed. These came crashing and splashing out of their cover with great speed. In the dark of night with only faint moonlight and their own senses to guide them, they charged straight at the two persons on the horses and bumped headlong into the one James was riding.
His gun went off and the loud bang made them change direction so swiftly it made the senses whirl. James fell from the saddle as he lost his balance in the pandemonium and the startled wild animals ran right over him, trampling the body into the mud and water. They veered off and disappeared with considerable noise up the far bank, through the thick bush and into the night.
Marion’s horse bolted and she lost control, was thrown off the saddle and went flapping through the air. As she hit the water her head struck a boulder, the force of the fall of such velocity that her skull got crushed with a grinding crunch and she was dead instantly.
By now the horrified Peter was dashing through the water to try and restore some wild sense of order, if only in his mind, but stumbled upon a severely injured James who was with much groaning struggling to lift himself from the mud next to the patch of reeds.
“You good-for-nothing Savage! Deserter!” Peter screamed. He pounced onto the wounded man, grabbed him by the throat and tried hard to strangle the last breath from the sagging body. Frustrated, infuriated beyond bearing he lifted the rifle and pulled the trigger, shot his old friend point blank between the eyes and watched as he fell dead at his feet.
His glazed eyes took in Marion’s inanimate form being pushed to and fro in the slight current.
Then he turned his back on the scene and with tears streaming down his cheeks he went back to his horse.
“Back to the base, Champion. I will tell them there I could not track these two down,” he whispered and then broke down sobbing.
“My wife and my friend… I warned her it was not safe to stay..!”
To be continued.