“Leave yore dad out of it. He ain’t here, and, anyway, I ain’t having any truck with him. Just say the word, Miss Beulah, and I’ll git a pole and haul you up in a jiffy.”
Beulah made a mistake. She should have waited till she was out of the pit before she faced the new issue. But her horror of the man was overpowering. She unscabbarded swiftly the revolver at her side and lifted it defiantly toward him.
“I’ll stay here.”
Again he foamed into rage. The girl had stalemated him once more. “Then stay, you little wild cat. You’ve had yore chance. I’m through with you.” He bared his teeth in a snarling grin and turned his back on her.
Beulah heard him slouching away. Presently there came the sound of a furiously galloping horse. The drumming of the hoofbeats died in the distance.
During the rest of the day she saw no more of the man. It swept over her toward evening in a wave of despair that he had left her to her fate.
The Bad Man Decides not to Shoot
Beulah woke from a sleep of exhaustion to a world into which the morning light was just beginning to sift. The cold had penetrated to her bones. She was stiff and cramped and sore from the pressure of the rock bed against her tender young flesh. For nearly two days she had been without food or drink. The urge of life in her was at low tide.
But the traditions among which she had been brought up made pluck a paramount virtue. She pushed from her the desire to weep in self-pity over her lot. Though her throat was raw and swollen, she called at regular intervals during the morning hours while the sun climbed into view of her ten-foot beat. Even when it rode the heavens a red-hot cannon ball directly above her, the hoarse and lonely cry of the girl echoed back from the hillside every few minutes. There were times when she wanted to throw herself down and give up to despair, but she knew there would be opportunity for that when she could no longer fight for her life. The shadow was beginning to climb the eastern wall of the pit before Beaudry’s shout reached her ears faintly. Her first thought was that she must already be delirious. Not till she saw him at the edge of the prospect hole was she sure that her rescuer was a reality.
At the first sight of her Roy wanted to trumpet to high heaven the joy that flooded his heart. He had found her—alive. After the torment of the night and the worry of the day he had come straight to her in his wandering, and he had reached her in time.
But when he saw her condition pity welled up in him. Dark hollows had etched themselves into her cheeks. Tears swam in her eyes. Her lips trembled weakly from emotion. She leaned against the side of the pit to support her on account of the sudden faintness that engulfed her senses. He knelt and stretched his hands toward her, but the pit was too deep.