The route they were following quickly led them into a sparsely inhabited mountainous district and instead of the concreted state highway they found themselves on a hilly dirt road, full of ruts and loose stones that made travel difficult. At times it was all Dean could do to manage the machine, so that he had to leave most of the task of observing the by-ways to Jane. For more than two miles they had seen neither house nor barn. Once or twice they came upon little used lanes leading off through the woods, but none of them showed any traces of the recent passing of an automobile.
As they came dashing around a curve on a steep down-grade, where hardly more than the semblance of a road had been cut into the hillside, Jane caught her breath sharply. Above the roar of their own motor she thought she heard some other noise, something that sounded like another car near-by; yet neither behind nor ahead was there another automobile in sight.
"Listen," she cried sharply.
Dean started to slow down, but it was too late. Out of a cut in the hillside, half screened by a clump of bushes at the side on which Jane was riding, a great gray motor shot out just as they were passing. Jane caught just one glimpse of the man on the driver's seat. It was Frederic Hoff, frantically twisting at the wheel in an effort to avert the threatened collision. There came a thud and a crash as the forward part of the Hoff car struck the motorcycle a glancing blow, overturning it completely. Too terrified even to shriek, Jane felt herself being catapulted out of her seat and flung high in air. Then came a blank.
Her companion did not escape so easily. The heavy machine crashed over on him and dragged him several yards. His head, as he landed in the roadway, struck a stone, and the motorcycle itself pinned him to the earth by its weight, one of his arms doubled up in an alarming fashion, as he lay there completely senseless.
Jane fortunately had landed on some soft grass, though with sufficient force to leave her badly stunned. As she lay there, a boyish figure in her disguise, her senses began gradually to revive, although it was some time before she opened her eyes.
Vaguely, as from a great distance, she began to hear voices, and it seemed to her that they were German voices, arguing about something. The voices seemed angry and excited. At first she did not bother about them.
She was wondering how badly she was hurt. Her arms and limbs had a curious sort of deadness about them, a detached sensation, as if they belonged to some one else. She wondered if she was paralyzed and dared not try to move them, fearful lest she might find that it was the terrible truth.