Rhoda gasped. She felt as one feels when in a dream one falls an unexpected and endless distance. The relief from the pressure of Kut-le’s will that had forced her on, for so long, left her weak and aimless.
Yet somehow she found the strength to say:
“Kut-le, we must give each other up! I love you so that I can let you go! Oh, can’t you see how I feel about it!”
Again Kut-le looked far off over vista of mountains and canon. His eyes were deep and abstracted, as if he saw into the years ahead with knowledge denied to Rhoda. Then he turned to Rhoda and searched her face with burning gaze. He eyed her hair, her lovely heart-broken face, her slender figure. For a moment his face was tortured by a look of doubt that was heart-shattering. He lifted Rhoda across his chest in the old way and held her to him with passionate tenderness. He laid his face against hers and she heard him whisper:
“O my love! Love of my youth and my manhood!” Then he set her very gently to her feet. “Don’t cry,” he said. “I can’t bear it!”
Rhoda threw her arms above her head in an abandonment of agony.
“Oh, I cannot, cannot bear this!” Then she added more calmly: “I suffer as much as you, Kut-le!”
Again the look of unspeakable grief crossed the young Indian’s face, but it immediately became inscrutable. He led Rhoda along the canon edge.
“Do you see that little trail going down?” he said.
“Yes,” said Rhoda wonderingly.
“Then go!” said Kut-le quietly.
Rhoda looked up at him blankly.
“Go!” he said sternly. “Go back to your own kind and I will go on, alone. Don’t stop to talk any more. Go now!”
Rhoda turned and looked at Cesca squatting by the horses, at Molly hovering near by with anxious eyes. Never to make the dawn camp, again—never to hear Molly humming over the stew-pot! Suddenly Rhoda felt that if she could have Molly with her she would not be so utterly separated from Kut-le.
“Let Molly go with me!” she said. “I love Molly!”
“No!” said Kut-le. “You are to forget the desert and the Indians. Go now!”
With awe and grief too deep for words, Rhoda obeyed the young chief’s stern eyes. She clambered down the rough trail to a break in the canon wall, then, clinging with hands and feet, down the sheer side. The tall figure, beautiful in its perfect symmetry, stood immovable, the face never turning from her. Rhoda knew that she never was to forget this picture of him. At the foot of the canon wall she stood long, looking up. Far, far above, the straight figure stood in lonely majesty, gazing at the life for which he had sacrificed so much. Rhoda looked until, tear-blinded, she turned away.
THE END OF THE TRAIL
The canon was sandy and rough. Rhoda could see the monastery set among olive-trees. Beyond this where the canon opened to the desert she knew that the white men’s camp lay, though she could not see it.