“I must have those at once!” he realized. “When the machine went over the edge, they were thrown out, just as the girl was. A miracle she wasn’t carried down, with the car, and crushed or burned to death down there by the river, with that poor devil of a chauffeur!”
Laying her down in the soft grass along the wall, he ran back to where the wraps were, and, detaching them from the branches, quickly regained the road once more.
“Now for the old sugar-house in the maple-grove,” said he. “Poor shelter, but the best to be had. Thank heaven it’s fair weather, and warm!”
The task was awkward, to carry both the girl and the bulky robes, but Gabriel was equal to it She had by now regained some measure of rationality; and though very pale and shaken, manifested her nerve and courage by no longer weeping or asking questions.
Instead, she lay in his arms, eyes closed, with the blood stiffening on her face; and let him bear her whither he would. She seemed to sense his strength and mastery, his tender care and complete command of the situation. And, like a hurt and tired child, outworn and suffering, she yielded herself, unquestioningly, to his ministrations.
Thus Gabriel, the discharged, blacklisted, outcast rebel and proletarian, bore in his arms of mercy and compassion the only daughter of old Isaac Flint, his enemy, Flint the would-be master of the world.
Thus he bore the woman who had been betrothed to “Tiger” Waldron, unscrupulous and cruel partner in that scheme of dominance and enslavement.
Such was the meeting of this woman and this man. Thus, in his arms, he carried her to the old sugar-house.
And far below, the mighty river gleamed, unheeding the tragedy that had been enacted on its shores, unmindful of the threads of destiny even now being spun by the swift shuttles of Fate.
In the branches, above Gabriel and Catherine, birdsong and golden sunlight seemed to prophesy. But what this message might be, neither the woman nor the man had any thought or dream.
AN HOUR AND A PARTING.
Arriving at the sugar-house, tired yet strong, Gabriel put the wounded girl down, quickly raked together a few armfuls of dead leaves, in the most sheltered corner of the ramshackle structure, and laid the heavy auto-robe upon this improvised bed. Then he helped his patient to lie down, there, and bade her wait till he got water to wash and dress her cut.
“Don’t worry about anything,” he reassured her. “You’re alive, and that’s the main thing, now. I’ll see you through with this, whatever happens. Just keep calm, and don’t let anything distress you!”
She looked at him with big, anxious eyes—eyes where still the full light of understanding had not yet returned.
“It—it all happened so suddenly!” she managed to articulate. “He was drunk—the chauffeur. The car ran away. Where is it? Where is Herrick—the man?”