Ruth tried to bend over Bonbright, to lift his head, to give him assistance, but Dulac jerked her away.
“Don’t touch him. Don’t dare to touch him,” he said.
“He doesn’t—move,” she said, in a horrified whisper. “Maybe you’ve-killed him.”
“He deserved it. ... And you—have you anything to say? What are you doing here—with him?”
“Let me go,” she panted. “Let me see—I must see. He can’t be—dead. ... You—you beast!” she cried, shrilly. “He was good. He meant no harm. ... He loved me, and that’s why this happened. It’s my fault— my fault.”
“Be still,” he commanded. “He loved you—you admit it. You dare admit it—and you here alone with him at night.”
“He asked—me—to—marry—him,” she said, faintly. “He was not—what you think. ... He was a good—boy.”
Suddenly she tried to break from him to go to Bonbright, but he clutched her savagely. “Help! ... Help! ...” she cried. Then his hand closed over her mouth and he gathered her up in his arms and carried her away.
He did not look behind at Bonbright huddled there with the ribbon of moonlight pointing across the lake at his limp body, but half staggered, half ran to his waiting car. ... A snarled word, and the engine started. Ruth, choking, helpless, was carried away, leaving Bonbright alone and still. ...
Bonbright was on his hands and knees on the edge of the lake, dizzily slopping water on his head and face. He was struggling toward consciousness, fighting dazedly for the power to act. As one who, in a dream, reviews the events of another half-presented dream, he knew what had happened. Consciousness had not fully deserted him. Dulac had attacked him; Dulac had carried Ruth away. ... Somehow he had no fears for her personal safety, but he must follow. He must know that she was safe. ...
Not many minutes had passed since Dulac struck him down. His body was strong, well trained to sustain shocks and to recover from them, thanks to four years of college schooling in the man’s game of football. Since he left college he had retained the respect for his body which had been taught him, and with golf and tennis and gymnasium he had kept himself fit ... so that now his vital forces marshaled themselves quickly to fight his battle for him. Presently he raised himself to his feet and stood swaying dizzily; with fingers that fumbled he tied his handkerchief about his bruised head and staggered toward his car, for his will urged him on to follow Dulac.
To crank the motor (for the self-starter had not yet arrived) was a task of magnitude, but he accomplished it and pulled himself into the seat. For a moment he lay upon the steering wheel, panting, fighting back his weakness; then he thrust forward his control lever and the car began to move. The motion, the kindly touch of the cool night air against his head, stimulated him; he stepped on the gas pedal and the car leaped forward as though eager for the pursuit.