If the two brothers expected her to make a scene, they were disappointed. Numb with the shock of the blow, she made no outcry and no reproach.
“Git a move on ye, gal,” ordered Ranse after he had finished eating. “You’re goin’ with us, so you better hurry.”
“What are you goin’ to do with me?” she asked dully.
“Why, Dave don’t want you any more. We’re goin’ to send you home.”
“I reckon yore folks will kill the fatted calf for you,” jeered Hugh Roush. “They tell me you always been mighty high-heeled, ’Lindy Clanton. Mebbe you won’t hold yore head so high now.”
The girl rode between them down from the hills. Who knows into what an agony of fear and remorse and black despair she fell? She could not go home a cast-off, a soiled creature to be scorned and pointed at. She dared not meet her father. It would be impossible to look her little brother Jimmie in the face. Would they believe the story she told? And if they were convinced of its truth, what difference would that make? She was what she was, no matter how she had become so.
On the pike they met old Nance Cunningham returning from the mill with a sack of meal. The story of that meeting was one the old gossip told after the tragedy to many an eager circle of listeners,
“She jes’ lifted her han’ an’ stopped me, an’ if death was ever writ on a human face it shorely wuz stomped on hers. ’I want you to tell my father I’m sorry,’ she sez. ’He swore he’d marry me inside of an hour. This man hyer—his brother—made out like he wuz a preacher an’ married us. Tell my father that an’ ask him to forgive me if he can.’ That wuz all she said. Ranse Roush hit her horse with a switch an’ sez, ‘Yo’ kin tell him all that yore own self soon as you git home.’ I reckon I wuz the lastest person she spoke to alive.”
They left the old woman staring after them with her mouth open. It could have been only a few minutes later that they reached Quicksand Creek.
’Lindy pulled up her horse to let the men precede her through the ford. They splashed into the shallows on the other side of the creek and waited for her to join them. Instead, she slipped from the saddle, ran down the bank, and plunged into the quicksand.
“Goddlemighty!” shrieked Ranse. “She’s a-drowndin’ herself in the sands.”
They spurred their horses back across the creek and ran to rescue the girl. But she had flung herself forward face down far out of their reach. They dared not venture into the quivering bog after her. While they still stared in a frozen horror, the tragedy was completed. The victim of their revenge had disappeared beneath the surface of the morass.
“Call Me Jimmie-Go-Get-’Em”
The boy had spent the night at a water-hole in a little draw near the foot of the mesa. He had supped on cold rations and slept in his blanket without the comfort of glowing pinon knots. For yesterday he had cut Indian signs and after dark had seen the shadow of Apache camp-fires reflected in the clouds.