Garrison blotted out the insult to his mother’s memory with his knuckles. “And that’s for your friendship,” he said, smashing home a right cross.
Crimmins arose very slowly from the white road, and even thought of flicking some of the fine dust from his coat. He was smiling. The moon was very bright. Crimmins glanced up and down the deserted pike. From the distant town a bell chimed the hour of eight. He had twenty pounds the better of the weights, but he was taking no chances. For Garrison, all his wealth of hard-earned fistic education roused, was waiting; waiting with the infinite patience of the wounded cougar.
Crimmins looked up and down the road again. Then he came in, a black-jack clenched until the veins in his hand ridged out purple and taut as did those in his neck. A muscle was beating in his wooden cheek. He struck savagely. Garrison side-stepped, and his fist clacked under Crimmins’ chin. Neither spoke. Again Crimmins came in.
A great splatter of hoof-beats came from down the pike, sounding like the vomitings of a Gatling gun. A horse streaked its way toward them. Crimmins darted into the underbrush bordering the pike. The horse came fast. It flashed past Garrison. Its rider was swaying in the saddle; swaying with white, tense face and sawing hands. The eyes were fixed straight ahead, vacant. A broken saddle-girth flapped raggedly. Garrison recognized the fact that it was a runaway, with Sue Desha up.
Another horse followed, throwing space furiously. It was a big bay gelding. As it drew abreast of Garrison, standing motionless in the white road, it shied. Its rider rocketed over its head, thudded on the ground, heaved once or twice, and then lay very still. The horse swept on. As it passed, Garrison swung beside it, caught its pace for an instant, and then eased himself into the saddle. Then he bent over and rode as only he could ride. It was a runaway handicap. Sue’s life was the stake, and the odds were against him.
Sue declares her love.
It was Waterbury who was lying unconscious on the lonely Logan Pike; Waterbury who had been thrown as the bay gelding strove desperately to overhaul the flying runaway filly.
Sue had gone for an evening ride. She wished to be alone. It had been impossible to lose the ubiquitous Mr. Waterbury, but this evening The Rogue had evinced premonitory symptoms of a distemper, and the greatly exercised colonel had induced the turfman to ride over and have a look at him. This left Sue absolutely unfettered, the first occasion in a week.
She was of the kind who fought out trouble silently, but not placidly. She must have something to contend against; something on which to work out the distemper of a heart and mind not in harmony. She must experience physical exhaustion before resignation came. In learning a lesson she could not remain inactive. She must walk, walk, up and down, up an down, until its moral or text was beaten into her mentality with her echoing footsteps.