When Calico drew alongside the bay horse and brought Carley breast to breast with Glenn, and then inch by inch forged ahead of him, Carley pealed out an exultant cry. Either it frightened Calico or inspired him, for he shot right ahead of Glenn’s horse. Then he lost the smooth, wonderful action. He seemed hurtling through space at the expense of tremendous muscular action. Carley could feel it. She lost her equilibrium. She seemed rushing through a blurred green and black aisle of the forest with a gale in her face. Then, with a sharp jolt, a break, Calico plunged to the sand. Carley felt herself propelled forward out of the saddle into the air, and down to strike with a sliding, stunning force that ended in sudden dark oblivion.
Upon recovering consciousness she first felt a sensation of oppression in her chest and a dull numbness of her whole body. When she opened her eyes she saw Glenn bending over her, holding her head on his knee. A wet, cold, reviving sensation evidently came from the handkerchief with which he was mopping her face.
“Carley, you can’t be hurt—really!” he was ejaculating, in eager hope. “It was some spill. But you lit on the sand and slid. You can’t be hurt.”
The look of his eyes, the tone of his voice, the feel of his hands were such that Carley chose for a moment to pretend to be very badly hurt indeed. It was worth taking a header to get so much from Glenn Kilbourne. But she believed she had suffered no more than a severe bruising and scraping.
“Glenn—dear,” she whispered, very low and very eloquently. “I think—my back—is broken. . . . You’ll be free—soon.”
Glenn gave a terrible start and his face turned a deathly white. He burst out with quavering, inarticulate speech.
Carley gazed up at him and then closed her eyes. She could not look at him while carrying on such deceit. Yet the sight of him and the feel of him then were inexpressibly blissful to her. What she needed most was assurance of his love. She had it. Beyond doubt, beyond morbid fancy, the truth had proclaimed itself, filling her heart with joy.
Suddenly she flung her arms up around his neck. “Oh—Glenn! It was too good a chance to miss! . . . I’m not hurt a bit.”
The day came when Carley asked Mrs. Hutter: “Will you please put up a nice lunch for Glenn and me? I’m going to walk down to his farm where he’s working, and surprise him.”
“That’s a downright fine idea,” declared Mrs. Hutter, and forthwith bustled away to comply with Carley’s request.
So presently Carley found herself carrying a bountiful basket on her arm, faring forth on an adventure that both thrilled and depressed her. Long before this hour something about Glenn’s work had quickened her pulse and given rise to an inexplicable admiration. That he was big and strong enough to do such labor made her proud; that he might want to go on doing it made her ponder and brood.