Desperately blue over the defection of Elsie Banks, Rosalie had found little to make her evening cheerful indoors, but the fresh, crisp air set her spirits bounding the instant she closed Mrs. Luce’s door from the outside. We have only to refer to Roscoe’s lively narrative for proof of what followed almost instantly. She was seized, her head tightly wrapped in a thick cloak or blanket; then she was thrown into a sleigh, and knew nothing more except a smothering sensation and the odour of chloroform.
When she regained consciousness she was lying on the ground in the open air, dark night about her. Three men were standing nearby, but there was no vehicle in sight. She tried to rise, but on account of her bonds was powerless to do so. Speech was prevented by the cloth which closed her lips tightly. After a time she began to grasp the meaning of the muttered words that passed between the men.
“You got the rig in all right, Bill—you’re sure that no one heard or saw you?” were the first questions she could make out, evidently arising from a previous report or explanation.
“Sure. Everybody in these parts goes to bed at sundown. They ain’t got nothing to do but sleep up ’ere.”
“Nobody knows we had that feller’s sleigh an’ horses out—nobody ever will know,” said the big man, evidently the leader. She noticed they called him Sam.
“Next thing is to git her across the river without leavin’ any tracks. We ain’t on a travelled road now, pals; we got to be careful. I’ll carry her down to the bank; but be sure to step squarely in my footprints—it’ll look like they were made by one man. See?”
“The river’s froze over an’ we can’t be tracked on the ice. It’s too dark, too, for any one to see us. Go ahead, Sammy; it’s d—— cold here.”
The big man lifted her from the ground as if she were a feather, and she was conscious of being borne swiftly through a stretch of sloping woodland down to the river bank, a journey of two or three hundred yards, it seemed. Here the party paused for many minutes before venturing out upon the wide expanse of frozen river, evidently making sure that the way was clear. Rosalie, her senses quite fully restored by this time, began to analyse the situation with a clearness and calmness that afterward was the object of considerable surprise to her. Instead of being hysterical with fear, she was actually experiencing the thrill of a real emotion. She had no doubt but that her abductors were persons hired by those connected with her early history, and, strange as it may seem, she could not believe that bodily harm was to be her fate after all these years of secret attention on the part of those so deeply, though remotely, interested.
Somehow there raced through her brain the exhilarating conviction that at last the mystery of her origin was to be cleared away, and with it all that had been as a closed book. No thought of death entered her mind at that time. Afterward she was to feel that death would be most welcome, no matter how it came.