It seems that when Jerry left us at the Manor that afternoon and took to the woods he had no very clear notion of what he was going to do. All that he knew was that he could not bear the sight or touch or hearing of his fellow beings, least of all of those of us who were kind to him. In fact, he had no very clear notion of anything, for his brain was whirling with terrible grinding, reiterating blows like machinery that is out of order. What thoughts he had were chaotic, mere fragments of incidents, and conversations jumbled and mostly irrelevant. But the vision of the figures in the automobile dominated all. I am sure that he was mentally unsound and that his actions were instinctive. He walked furiously, because walk he must, because violent physical exercise had always been his panacea, and because the very act of locomotion was an achievement of some sort. After awhile he found himself running swiftly along the paths that led to the Sweetwater, and then following the stream through the gorge in the hills, leaping over the rocks until he reached the wall and the broken grille. There he paused for a moment and tried to reason with himself. But he found that he could not think and that his legs still urged him on. They were bent on carrying him to Briar Hills, he knew that much now, and that he had no power to stop them. The violence of his exercise, he said, had cleared the chaos from his brain and only the vision of the red automobile remained, Marcia’s roadster. He knew it well. Had he not driven it? There was no mistake. It crossed his disordered brain that red for a machine was a frightful color, a painful color it seemed to him, and he wondered why he hadn’t thought that before. Red, blood color, the color that seemed to be in his eyes at that very moment. All the trees were tinged with it, the rocks, even the pools in the brook, around the edges especially—and they had always seemed so cool, so very cool.
He leaped down the rocks and before he realized it had crawled under the broken railing and was in the forest beyond. He did not run now but walked quickly and with the utmost care over fallen tree-trunks and rocks, avoiding the paths and seeking the deep woods, still moving ever nearer to his goal. He made a wide detour around the Laidlaws’ place and went half a mile out of his way to avoid the sight of some farmers working in an open field. As he neared Marcia’s land he grew more crafty, even crawling upon his hands and knees across a clearing where there was little cover. He had no notion as yet of what he was going to do when he got there except that he hoped to find the girl and Lloyd together.
He saw the house at last and the garden, from a distance. The house had a red roof. Red again! It glared horribly in the afternoon sunlight. He turned his head so that he might not look at it and moved stealthily around a stone wall toward the woods beyond the garden—Marcia’s woods, pine woods they were, their floor carpeted with brown needles where he and she had used to go and walk of an afternoon to the rocks by Sweetwater Spring, the source of the stream, they said, which Jerry had named the “blushful Hippocrene,” the fountain of the Muses who met there to do Marcia, their goddess, honor.