He lunged for it; a short, hoarse cry came from his lips as he realized he had reached too far and had lost his balance. The cry was pinched off short as the blood-warm waters of the Caribbean Sea dosed over his head.
The door opened then—opened as suddenly as if it were on a spring—and Rainsford stood blinking in the river of glaring gold light that poured out. The first thing Rainsford’s eyes discerned was the largest man Rainsford had ever seen—a gigantic creature, solidly made and black bearded to the waist. In his hand the man held a longbarreled revolver, and he was pointing it straight at Rainsford’s heart.
“But you can’t mean—” gasped Rainsford. “And why not?” “I can’t believe you are serious, General Zaroff. This is a grisly joke.” “Why should I not be serious? I am speaking of hunting.” “Hunting? Great Guns, General Zaroff, what you speak of is murder.”
“You’ll find this game worth playing,”
Rainsford held his breath. The general’s eyes had left the ground and were traveling inch by inch up the tree. Rainsford froze there, every muscle tensed for a spring. But the sharp eyes of the hunter stopped before they reached the limb where Rainsford lay; a smile spread over his brown face. Very deliberately he blew a smoke ring into the air; then he turned his back on the tree and walked carelessly away, back along the trail he had come. The swish of the underbrush against his hunting boots grew fainter and fainter.
A blue gap showed between the trees dead ahead. Ever nearer drew the hounds. Rainsford forced himself on towardthat gap. He reached it. It was the shore of the sea. Across a cove he could see thegloomy gray stone of the chateau. Twenty feet below him the sea rumbled and hissed.Rainsford hesitated. He heard the hounds. Then he leaped far out into the sea. . . .
“Get ready, General Zaroff.” The general made one of his deepest bows. “I see,” he said. “Splendid! One of us is to furnish a repast for the hounds. The other will sleep in this very excellent bed. On guard, Rainsford.” . . . He had never slept in a better bed, Rainsford decided.
“Rainsford!” screamed the general. “How in God’s name did you get here?” “Swam,” said Rainsford. “I found it quicker than walking through the jungle.” The general sucked in his breath and smiled. “I congratulate you,” he said. “You have won the game.” Rainsford did not smile. “I am still a beast at bay,” he said, in a low, hoarse voice.