The Valley of Silent Men eBook

James Oliver Curwood
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 287 pages of information about The Valley of Silent Men.

They were halfway through the Chute when he shot against a rock with terrific force.  The contact tore Marette from him.  He plunged for her, missed his grip, and then saw her opposite him, clinging to the same rock.  The babiche rope had saved her.  Fastened about her waist and tied to his wrist, it still held them together—­with the five feet of rock between them.

Panting, their life half beaten out of them, their eyes met over that rock.  Now that he was out of the water, the blood began streaming from Kent’s arms and shoulders and face, but he smiled at her as a few moments before she had smiled at him.  Her eyes were filled with the pain of his hurts.  He nodded back in the direction from which they had come.

“We’re out of the worst of it,” he tried to shout.  “As soon as we’ve got our wind, I will climb over the rock to you.  It won’t take us longer than a couple of minutes, perhaps less, to make the quiet water at the end of the channel.”

She heard him and nodded her reply.  He wanted to give her confidence.  And he had no intention of resting, for her position filled him with a terror which he fought to hide.  The babiche rope, not half as large around as his little finger, had swung her to the downstream side of the rock.  It was the slender thread of buckskin and his own weight that were holding her.  If the buckskin should break—­

He thanked God that it was the tough babiche that had been around his pack.  An inch at a time he began to draw himself up on the rock.  The undertow behind the rock had flung a mass of Marette’s long hair toward him, so that it was a foot or two nearer to him than her clinging hands.  He worked himself toward that, for he saw that he could reach it more quickly than he could reach her.  At the same time he had to keep his end of the babiche taut.  It was, from the beginning, an almost superhuman task.  The rock was slippery as oil.  Twice his eyes shot down-stream, with the thought that it might be better to cast himself bodily into the water, and after that draw Marette to him by means of the babiche.  What he saw convinced him that such action would be fatal.  He must have Marette in his arms.  If he lost her—­even for a few seconds—­the life would be beaten from her body in that rock-strewn maelstrom below.

And then, suddenly, the babiche cord about his wrist grew loose.  The reaction almost threw him back.  With the loosening of it a cry came from Marette.  It all happened in an instant, in almost less time than his brain could seize upon the significance of it—­the slipping of her hands from the rock, the shooting of her white body away from him in the still whiter spume of the rapids, The rock had cut the babiche, and she was gone!  With a cry that was like the cry of a madman he plunged after her.  The water engulfed him.  He twisted himself up, freeing himself from the undertow.  Twenty feet ahead of him—­thirty—­he caught a glimpse of a white arm and then of Marette’s face, before she disappeared in a wall of froth.

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The Valley of Silent Men from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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