Salomy Jane slept little that night, nor did her father. But towards morning he fell into a tired man’s slumber until the sun was well up the horizon. Far different was it with his daughter: she lay with her face to the window, her head half lifted to catch every sound, from the creaking of the sun-warped shingles above her head to the far-off moan of the rising wind in the pine trees. Sometimes she fell into a breathless, half-ecstatic trance, living over every moment of the stolen interview; feeling the fugitive’s arm still around her, his kisses on her lips; hearing his whispered voice in her ears—the birth of her new life! This was followed again by a period of agonizing dread—that he might even then be lying, his life ebbing away, in the woods, with her name on his lips, and she resting here inactive, until she half started from her bed to go to his succor. And this went on until a pale opal glow came into the sky, followed by a still paler pink on the summit of the white Sierras, when she rose and hurriedly began to dress. Still so sanguine was her hope of meeting him, that she lingered yet a moment to select the brown holland skirt and yellow sunbonnet she had worn when she first saw him. And she had only seen him twice! Only twice! It would be cruel, too cruel, not to see him again!
She crept softly down the stairs, listening to the long-drawn breathing of her father in his bedroom, and then, by the light of a guttering candle, scrawled a note to him, begging him not to trust himself out of the house until she returned from her search, and leaving the note open on the table, swiftly ran out into the growing day.
Three hours afterwards Mr. Madison Clay awoke to the sound of loud knocking. At first this forced itself upon his consciousness as his daughter’s regular morning summons, and was responded to by a grunt of recognition and a nestling closer in the blankets. Then he awoke with a start and a muttered oath, remembering the events of last night, and his intention to get up early, and rolled out of bed. Becoming aware by this time that the knocking was at the outer door, and hearing the shout of a familiar voice, he hastily pulled on his boots, his jean trousers, and fastening a single suspender over his shoulder as he clattered downstairs, stood in the lower room. The door was open, and waiting upon the threshold was his kinsman, an old ally in many a blood-feud—Breckenridge Clay!
“You are a cool one, Mad!” said the latter in half-admiring indignation.
“What’s up?” said the bewildered Madison.
“You ought to be, and scootin’ out o’ this,” said Breckenridge grimly. “It’s all very well to ‘know nothin’;’ but here Phil Larrabee’s friends hev just picked him up, drilled through with slugs and deader nor a crow, and now they’re lettin’ loose Larrabee’s two half-brothers on you. And you must go like a derned fool and leave these yer things behind you in the bresh,” he went on querulously, lifting Madison Clay’s dust-coat, hat, and shotgun from his horse, which stood saddled at the door. “Luckily I picked them up in the woods comin’ here. Ye ain’t got more than time to get over the state line and among your folks thar afore they’ll be down on you. Hustle, old man! What are you gawkin’ and starin’ at?”