as he did so, but Levi was too intent in turning over the contents of the chest to notice the slight sound.
Hiram’s face was ghastly pale and drawn. For one moment he opened his lips as though to speak, but no word came. So, white, silent, he stood for a few seconds, rather like a statue than a living man, then, suddenly, his eyes fell upon the bag, which Levi had brought with him, no doubt, to carry back the treasure for which he and his companion were in search, and which still lay spread out on the sand where it had been flung. Then, as though a thought had suddenly flashed upon him, his whole expression changed, his lips closed tightly together as though fearing an involuntary sound might escape, and the haggard look dissolved from his face.
Cautiously, slowly, he stepped over the edge of the sand hill and down the slanting face. His coming was as silent as death, for his feet made no noise as he sank ankle-deep in the yielding surface. So, stealthily, step by step, he descended, reached the bag, lifted it silently. Levi, still bending over the chest and searching through the papers within, was not four feet away. Hiram raised the bag in his hands. He must have made some slight rustle as he did so, for suddenly Levi half turned his head. But he was one instant too late. In a flash the bag was over his head—shoulders—arms—body.
Then came another struggle, as fierce, as silent, as desperate as that other—and as short. Wiry, tough, and strong as he was, with a lean, sinewy, nervous vigor, fighting desperately for his life as he was, Levi had no chance against the ponderous strength of his stepbrother. In any case, the struggle could not have lasted long; as it was, Levi stumbled backward over the body of his dead mate and fell, with Hiram upon him. Maybe he was stunned by the fall; maybe he felt the hopelessness of resistance, for he lay quite still while Hiram, kneeling upon him, drew the rope from the ring of the chest and, without uttering a word, bound it tightly around