Turning about, he dashed back into the depths of the wood. It was after five when he again approached the rendezvous, carrying a quantity of plums and other fruits and a number of gaudy feathers that he had found. Away back in the wood he began to shout to her, long before he was in sight of the hill. She answered cheerily, venturing into the wood to meet him. Her clothes were white, clean, even shapely.
THE SIGN OF DISTRESS
The next morning before she was awake he arose and made a tour of the beach in quest of shell fish, took a plunge in the cool waters of the bay, and again inspected the little footprints in the sand. He smiled as he placed his own foot, a number nine, beside the dainty imprint. On his way back to the cave he killed a huge turtle, the meat of which he promised should keep them alive for several days, if nothing better could be found. As he turned the bend he saw her standing on the ledge at the mouth of the cave, the wind blowing her hair and skirts freely. He called to her, and she turned her face eagerly in his direction. They met among the trees some distance from the spring.
“Where have you been?” she cried, her cheeks glowing.
“Hunting wild beasts,” he replied valiantly.
“Pooh! Wild flowers, you mean. I thought perhaps you had gone off to join the monkeys for an old-time frolic in the trees.”
“You won’t be so frivolous when I tell you of the narrow escape I have had. See that trusty club? See the blood on it?” They were standing close to each other as he held up the blood-spattered stick.
“Oh, Hugh,” she gasped, “is it blood?”
“Life’s blood,” he answered laconically.
“Not yours, Hugh? You are not hurt?” she cried.
“This is the beast’s blood, Tennys. I am not so much as scratched, but it was a frightful encounter,” he went on, with well-assumed gravity.
“Tell me about it. Where was it? What was it? Tell me everything,” she begged. He took her arm and together they proceeded toward their wild home.
“After breakfast I’ll take you around the bend and prove to you my valor.”
“But I cannot wait and, besides, you have proved your valor. Do tell me where the blood came from.”
“That awful thing plunged from the underbrush upon me so suddenly that I was almost paralyzed,” he said soberly. “I didn’t have much time to think, and I don’t know what I should have done if it had not been for this excellent club, which I had cut for a rather inglorious purpose. With one of the very best strokes a golfer ever made I cracked his skull.”