“To go down there a man would have to take his life in his hand, I see. Well, I don’t think I will try,” dryly observed the lawyer as he left the room.
He could no longer hide his excitement at the thought that Hazen meditated this undertaking.
“How he must want money!” thought he. That a man should face such a horror for another man’s profit did not seem likely enough to engage his consideration for a moment.
Lawyer Harper knew the world—or thought he did.
Next day the whole town was thrown into a hubbub. Word had gone out through every medium possible to so small a place, that Alfred Hazen, Georgian’s long-lost brother, was going to dare Death Eddy in a final attempt to recover his sister’s body.
The Man of Mystery
It was a gray day, chill and ominous. As the three most interested in the event came together on the road facing the point from which Hazen had decided to make his desperate plunge, the dreariness of the scene was reflected in the troubled eye of the lawyer and that of the still more profoundly affected Ransom. Only Hazen gazed unmoved. Perhaps because the spot was no new one to him, perhaps because an unsympathetic sky, a stretch of rock, the swirl of churning waters without any of the lightness and color which glancing sunlight gives, meant for him but one thing—the thing upon which he had fixed his mind, his soul.
The rocky formation into which the stream ran at this point as into a pocket, revealed itself in the bald outlines of the point which, curving half-way upon itself, held in its cold embrace the unseen vortex. One tree, and one only, disturbed the sky line. Stark and twisted into an unusual shape from the steady blowing of the prevalent east winds, it imprinted itself at once upon the eye and unconsciously upon the imagination. To some it was the keeper of that hell-gate; the contorted sentinel of bygone woes and long-buried horrors, if not the gnomish genius of others yet to come. To-day it was the sign-post to a strange deed—the courting of an uncanny death that one of the many secrets hidden in that hole of miseries might be unlocked.
Under this tree a small group of strong and determined men was already collected; not as spectators but helpers in the adventurous attempt about to be undertaken by their old friend and playmate. The spectators had been barred from the point and stood lined up in the road overlooking the eddy. They were numerous and very eager. Hazen’s brows drew together in his first exhibition of feeling, as he saw women and even children in the crowd, and caught the expression of morbid anticipation with which they all turned as he stepped with his two associates over the rope which had been stretched across the base of the out-curving head line.