“What if he doesn’t show?” Maribelle said.
“Try to keep the faith, darling,” Judith replied.
They were alone, miles from the Warumbi village. The only protection they’d brought along was a solitary hunting rifle, which Maribelle didn’t even know how to fire, and Judith’s revolver, a piece which looked like it might have belonged to Wyatt Earp or Jesse James, both by its design and appearance of age. Maribelle wondered if it had ever been fired. Would either weapon be enough, should they encounter a lion or leopard or hyena?
*I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with this thing.*
“This is where I’ve encountered our friend more times than any other,” Judith said. “We’re smack dab in the middle of his territory. He’s bound to show pretty soon.”
“Yeah,” Maribelle said. And what then? It had all seemed simple enough back in the village, when the idea struck her. Hey, let’s just run out and warn the creature that Phil Hamm is gunning for him. Failing to take into account that, for one, the Blackmane might not be so easy to find and, two, it—he—might not be appreciative of what they were trying to do on his behalf. What if he decided to repay their kindness by eating one or both of them?
“We mustn’t make the mistake of projecting onto the creature Human ideals and modes of thinking,” Judith had warned, more than once. It surprised Maribelle that Judith had agreed to her plan that, Maribelle now realized, was not at all well considered. Of course she didn’t have much time to come up with a better one, Maribelle thought. She looked at Judith, all proper in her blouse and skirt, glasses and straw hat. With a revolver as long as Judith’s forearm hanging in a holster at her thigh. Did Judith bring the guns also to protect them from the Blackmane, she wondered, just in case, worst case scenario? How much did Judith trust the creature?