Flora long remembered the dreary two day’s ride, for although she had borne it with courage, Edgar’s news had caused her a painful shock. She had, from the beginning, been strongly drawn to George, and when he had been carried off the knowledge that she loved him had been brought home to her. Now, looking back with rudely opened eyes, there was little comfort in recognizing that he had made no demands on her affection. Bitter as she was, she could not blame him; she had been madly foolish and must suffer for it. She called her pride to the rescue, but it failed her. The torturing anxiety about the man’s fate remained, and with it a humiliating regret, which was not altogether selfish, that it was Sylvia Marston he had chosen. Sylvia, who was clever, had, of course, tricked him; but this was no consolation. It was, however, needful to hide her feelings from her father and assume an interest in his remarks, though, when he spoke, it was always of Lansing and what had probably befallen him.
The prairie was dazzlingly bright, the trail they followed was thick with fine black dust, and most of the day the heat was trying; the girl felt utterly jaded and very heavy of heart, but when it appeared desirable she forced herself to talk. Her father must never suspect her folly, though she wondered uneasily how far she might have betrayed it to West. Reaching the homestead at length, she resumed her duties, and anxiously waited for news of George. Once that she heard he was safe, it would, she thought, be easier to drive him out of her mind forever.
As it happened, George had received only a few bruises in the bluff, and, after realizing that there was no chance of escape for the present, he lay still in the bottom of the wagon. He blamed himself for riding so readily into the trap, since it was obvious that his assailants had known he was going to visit Grant, and had stretched a strand of fence wire or something of the kind across the trail. They would have removed it afterward and there would be nothing left to show what had befallen him. This, however was a matter of minor consequence and he endeavored to determine which way his captors were driving. Judging the nature of the trail by the jolting, he decided that they meant to leave the wood where he entered it, which suggested that they were going south, and this was what he had anticipated. Though he was sore from the effect of his fall and the rough handling which had followed it, he did not think he would suffer any further violence, so long as he made no attempt to get away. The men, no doubt, only intended to prevent his giving evidence, by keeping him a prisoner until after the trial.
When morning came, the wagon was still moving at a good pace, though the roughness of the motion indicated that it was not following a trail. This was all George could discover, because one of the men tied his arms and legs before removing the jacket which had muffled his head.