Into that froth he shot after her. He came out of it blinded, groping wildly for her, crying out her name. His fingers caught the end of the babiche that was fastened about his own wrist, and he clutched it savagely, believing for a moment that he had found her. Thicker and more deadly the rocks of the lower passage rose in his way. They seemed like living things, like devils filled with the desire to torture and destroy. They struck and beat at him. Their laughter was the roar of a Niagara. He no longer cried out. His brain grew heavy, and clubs were beating him—beating and breaking him into a formless thing. The rock-drifts of spume, lather-white, like the frosting of a monster cake, turned gray and then black.
He did not know when he ceased fighting. The day went out. Night came. The world was oblivion. And for a space he ceased to live.
An hour later the fighting forces in his body dragged Kent back into existence. He opened his eyes. The shock of what had happened did not at once fall upon him. His first sensation was of awakening from a sleep that had been filled with pain and horror.
Then he saw a black rock wall opposite him; he heard the sullen roar of the stream; his eyes fell upon a vivid patch of light reflected from the setting sun. He dragged himself up until he was on his knees, and all at once a thing that was like an iron hoop— choking his senses—seemed to break in his head, and he staggered to his feet, crying out Marette’s name. Understanding inundated him with its horror, deadening his tongue after that first cry, filling his throat with a moaning, sobbing agony. Marette was gone. She was lost. She was dead.
Swiftly, as reason came, his eyes took in his environment. For a quarter of a mile above him he could see the white spume between the chasm walls, darkening with the approach of night. He could hear more clearly the roar of the death-floods. But close to him was smooth water, and he stood now on a shelving tongue of rock and shale, upon which the current had flung him. In front of him was a rock wall. Behind him was another. There was no footing except where he stood. And Marette was not with him.
Only the truth could batter at his brain as he stood there. But his physical self refused to accept that truth. If he had lived, she must live! She was there—somewhere—along the shore—among the rocks—
The moaning in his throat gave way to the voicing of her name. He shouted, and listened. He swayed back along the tongue of rock to the boulder-strewn edge of the chasm wall. A hundred yards farther on was the opening of the Chute. He came out of this, his clothes torn from him, his body bleeding, unrecognizable, half a madman,— shouting her name more and more loudly. The glow of the setting sun struck him at last. He was out from between the chasm walls, and it lighted up the green world for him. Ahead of him the river widened and swept on in tranquil quiet.