“The bridge!” she cried. “The bridge! It’s gone! I can’t cross! I’ve got to see him die!”
Her frantic eyes caught sight of the frayed rope, dangling from the firm supports which had so long held up the bridge by means of it. Instantly her quick mind saw the only chance there was to save the man whom, now, she knew she loved. She sprang for the rope and caught it, gave herself a mighty push with both her agile feet, and, hanging above certain death if hold should fail or rope break, swung across the chasm and found foothold on the mainland.
In another second she was at the side of the unconscious man. Another and she had the cartridge, sputtering fuse and all, in her right hand, another and the deadly thing was hurtling to the bottom of the deep ravine, whence an almost immediately ensuing crashing boom told her that she had not arrived a moment sooner than had been essential to the salvation of the man she loved.
She knelt by Frank, pulled his head up to her knee, chafed at his insensate hands, and called to him wildly, fearing that he was dead.
Joe Lorey was unhappy in his mountains. After the visiting party had gone down from Layson’s camp, and, in course of time, Layson himself had followed them because of the approach of the great race which was to make or mar his fortunes, the man breathed easier, although their coming and the subsequent events had made, he knew, impressions on his life which never could be wiped away. He hated Layson none the less because he had departed. He argued that he had not gone until he viciously had stolen that thing which he, Lorey, valued most: the love of beautiful Madge Brierly. He brooded constantly upon this, neglecting his small mountain farm, spending almost all his time at his illegal trade of brewing untaxed whisky in his hidden still, despite the girl’s continual urgings to give up the perilous occupation before it was too late. He had told her that he would, if she would marry him; now that she would not, he told her surlily that he would continue to defy the law even if he knew that every “revenuer” in the state was on his trail. He was conscious that there was real danger; he believed that Layson knew about the still and that the bitter enmity resulting from the fight which had so nearly proved his death might prompt him to betrayal of the secret; but with the stubbornness of the mountaineer he clung doggedly to his illegal apparatus in the mountain-cave, kept doggedly at the illegal work he did with it. It was characteristic of the man, his forbears and his breed in general, that, now, when he knew that deadly danger well might threaten, he sent more moonshine whisky from the still than ever had gone from it in like length of time, either in his father’s day or his.