The excited twitter of their speech scaled up. "You travel with the beasts " the alien's accusation came crisply while the others gabbled. "That which hunts could not have tracked you had not the stink of the beast things been on you." "I know no beasts," Dalgard faced up to that squarely. "The sea people are my friends!"
In Ross's grasp the alien's body was fragile, but he moved fluidly as Murdock fought to break his grip on the hand weapon and pin him to the sand. Ross was too intent upon his own part of the struggle to heed the sounds of a shot over his head and a thin, wailing cry. He slammed his opponent's hand against a stone, and the white face, inches away from his own, twisted silently with pain.
The alien's hat comes off instinctively though it may be less convenient to shed boots than sandals as he enters the sacred structure. The great tongueless bell is another striking accessory to the temple services. Near at hand stands the belfry out of which boom forth tidings of the hours.
But that chance which hovers over any battlefield turned in Shann's favor. At just the right moment the Throg stretched his head up from the usual hunched position where the carapace extended over his wide shoulders to protect one of the alien's few vulnerable spots, the soft underside of his throat. And the fire-sharpened point of the spear went deep.
Had he taught the Italians to work out their self-regeneration from within, instead of preparing them to accept an alien's yoke, he would have won a far more lasting meed of fame. As it was, together with the passion for liberty which became a religion with his followers, he strove to revive the obsolete tactics of an earlier age, and bequeathed to Florence the weak policy of waiting upon France.
But Taggi, outraged at the nature of creature he had attacked, squalled and retreated. Shann had had his precious seconds of distraction. He fired, the core of the stun beam striking full into the flat dish of the alien's "face." That bolt, which would have shocked a mammal into insensibility, only slowed the Throg. Shann rolled again, gaining a temporary cover behind the wrecked ship.
Her new German friend volunteered to supply the necessary gum, outfit, and to provide an apartment where she might safely indulge in smoking. She declined at first. But finally, on Mollie Gretna's return from France, where she had been acting as a nurse, Rita and Mollie accepted the suave alien's invitation to spend an evening in his private opium divan.
Was it kind, was it even well-mannered, to spoil a young girl's pleasure at an evening party with bitter talk of fire-escapes and overstrained floors? John the Baptist, God knows, should have been a gentleman.... But if any thoughts like this played through the alien's mind, he certainly wore no air of perplexity or hesitancy.
It, however, seemed that she blocked the passage, and a quartermaster drove her, expostulating in an agony of terror, forward among the rest. Nobody appeared concerned about this alien's tragedy, except one man, but Agatha was not astonished when Wyllard rose and quietly laid his hand upon the official's shoulder.
Shann was still thinking along that line as he splashed through the surf which broke about the lower jaw of the skull island, climbed up one of the pointed rocks which masqueraded as a tooth, and reached for a higher hold to lead him to the nose slit, the gateway to the alien's hiding place. The clak-claks screamed and dived about him, highly resentful of his intrusion.