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Simon turned slowly, with a suspicious upward glance at Peter.

“Better go now,” he advised. “If you don’t I’ll ask you to come down and sleep with me.” As he disappeared round the end of the cabin, his scant nightgown flapping above his long and bony legs, Simon muttered under his breath: “Donald was wrong in having me tell the lad. Better to have lied and never let him know. As it is——”

An expression which only Donald McRae would have understood settled in his face, and he paused for a moment at his door to look across the open where[96] Pierre 长沙桑拿都有什么服务 Gourdon’s home lay in the radiance of the night. He could see the window of the room in which Mona slept, and the lines about his stern mouth softened.

“Poor little devils, both of them,” he said, and went in to his bed.

Peter heard the door close. It seemed easier for him now to lie down upon the blankets. The moonlight streamed in upon him, and Peter could feel it. There was always that something warm and comforting about the moon. He closed his eyes, and his thoughts no longer brought a lump into his throat or hurt him. It was as if an older mind were helping him over certain difficult places. It assured him his father was safe. The police would not get him, and it would not be long before he returned. If he failed to do that he would surely write, and Peter could then go to him.

He began to think of Mona. She was, after 长沙夜网论坛 all, the pleasantest thing he had ever had to think about, in spite of his happiness with his father. He reviewed the fight of that day and grew warm with anticipations of tomorrow and a renewal of hostilities. His hands clenched when he pictured Aleck Curry with his ugly face and big, heavy body, but they relaxed when he visioned Mona as she had taken part in the fight, with her shining black hair streaming about her and flaming eyes so beautiful he had at first been afraid to look at them. In his life in the wilderness he had never had much to do with girls, but here was one who[97] pleased him completely, and all the ideals which his father had built up in him were roused and set on fire. His mother must have been like Mona when she was a little girl, because it seemed to him his father had always pictured her like that.

Then he grew uneasy and shame crept a little upon him. It made him squirm in his blankets to think that Aleck Curry would have whipped him if Mona hadn’t joined in those last two or three minutes of the fight. That Aleck was bigger and older than he, and that he had fought under the disadvantages of hunger and exhaustion, did not satisfactorily explain his own failure to Peter. He was glad his father had not seen that fight, even though he had been taken at a great disadvantage. But Mona had seen it. She had seen him on the ground in those final moments, with Aleck about to pommel him into disgraceful submission, and she had come in to save him.

There was only one thing to do under the circumstances, and the inspiration of it comforted him. He would go out early in the morning, hunt up Aleck Curry and lick him. He was sure he could do it now, even though he was smaller and lighter than Aleck, for he would be rested and would have a good breakfast to start with.

He fell asleep. The big owl hooted softly from the top of a stub near the mill, and the flying squirrel was joined by its mate in a game of tag on the roof. The moon sailed higher, and under it a buck and a doe[98] crossed within a stone’s throw of Peter’s window. All this Peter missed in an excitement of his own as his unsettled mind traveled swiftly from one dream to another. First he was fleeing with his father, and they were pursued by a horde of enemies, and all of these enemies were Aleck Currys. After that he dreamed of Aleck and Mona, and he fought so fiercely, with Mona’s dark eyes and hair filling his vision, that Simon heard him twisting and groaning and climbed quietly up the ladder from below to look at him.

For a long time the stern Scotchman watched Peter, and in the fainter light of the moon which now filled the room a miracle of change passed over his face and it became as gentle as a woman’s. No one, since long years ago, had ever caught that gentleness in Simon McQuarrie’s face.

“It seems only yesterday,” he whispered softly to himself, in a moment when Peter’s pale face lay quietly in the crook of his arm. “Only yesterday, Helen.”

Something trembled inside him, and he knew the mother was in that room with Peter, watching over him as he had seen her many times in those years when he had cared for the two, those beautiful but pitiless years when he had hardened his heart against all hope for himself in his devotion and duty to his hunted friend, Donald McRae. Only yesterday! And yet many hard and tedious years had passed since then,[99] and through them he had gone like a piece of iron that is hardened into steel by the alchemy of fire. Tonight had come the mysterious change. He climbed down softly, his heart trembling. He loved Peter. He loved him as he had loved the mother.
CHAPTER VIII
Peter awoke with the dawn, and with that dawn he saw Five Fingers rousing itself into life. All the sweetness of spring was in the air. 长沙桑拿休闲论坛 The delicious morning song of the robins was the first cheering sound that came to him. It was like a beautiful chorus.

“A man cannot be so wicked that the song of a robin will not stir some good in his heart,” Donald McRae had taught Peter. “God made that song to begin the day with, and only those buried in the darkness of cities cannot hear or understand the message. Always think kindly of people in the cities, Peter. They are unfortunate.”

And Peter thought of that as he looked out of the window on the few log cabins at Five Fingers. He had never seen a real city, but here, with the rose-flush of the rising sun painting the eastern sky beyond the forests, was everything of beauty and glory his mind could conceive. “Here,” he seemed to hear his father saying, “is God.”

Silvery wreaths of smoke were rising from the stone and 湖南长沙桑拿论坛 clay chimneys of Five Fingers. He heard the gulls and caught the flash of their white wings over[101] the Middle Inlet. Down there, too, was the squat, black tug owned by Aleck Curry’s father—the tug which came up from Fort William three or four times a year to carry the lumber away. It was the one ugly thing he could see, and he was glad it did not belong at Five Fingers, and that Aleck Curry did not belong there. Already he was taking a possessive

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interest in the place, and his heart felt a gloating pride in the fact that he was a part of it, and Aleck Curry wasn’t.

He saw men coming up from the bottoms, leading horses. A cheery whistle came to him clearly. The mill, nearly buried in its big yellow piles of sawdust, was only a little distance away, and a man was stoking the boiler with wood. The cloud of smoke that rose out of the tall stack was white and clean, and Peter knew how sweetly it smelled. He sniffed, trying to catch it. And then a wriggling creature came under his window and began making contortions as it looked up at Peter. It was Buddy, the pup. He was just the kind of dog Peter loved, all knots and knobs, with big feet and joints and a head twice too heavy for his body.

“He’s growing,” thought Peter, as he called down to him. “He’s going to be a fine

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dog.”

A few minutes later Poleon Dufresne passed Simon’s cabin with a pail of milk and heard the Scotchman whistling. This was unusual, and he paused to thrust in a curious face at the door, smiling good morning. Simon was getting breakfast with an almost boyish[102] enthusiasm, and when Poleon saw Peter scrubbing his face his jaws fell apart in amazement.

“Morning, Poleon,” greeted Simon. “This is Peter—Peter McRae, and I’ve adopted him. He’s the son of an old friend of mine, and he came last night as a sort of surprise. He’s going to bide with me.”

This was a lot of information for Simon to give on any one subject at any one time, and Poleon came in with his pail, grinning his appreciation. He laid a hand affectionately on Peter’s shoulder and told him how glad the people in Five Fingers would be to have him among them.

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Peter liked Poleon’s round, rosy face with its cheery blue eyes, and when about to go Poleon turned a third of the contents of his pail into an earthenware crock and said to Peter:

“That’s for you, boy. Simon here doesn’t care for milk, but he must get plenty of it now for you. There’s nothing like milk to make you fat and healthy.”

It was Saturday. Peter learned that fact half an hour later while he was helping Simon wash the breakfast dishes. It came from a voice behind them, and Peter turned to find Mona standing in the door.

“It’s Saturday and there is no school,” she announced. “So I have come to get you acquainted with Five Fingers, Peter.”

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