“Why don’t you waltz in and win?” Del demanded, insistently. “Don’t you cotton to her? I know you do, or you wouldn’t come back to cabin, after bein’ with her, a-walkin’-like on air. Better waltz in while you got a chance. Why, there was Emmy, a tidy bit of flesh as women go, and we took to each other on the jump. But I kept a-chasin’ pockets and chasin’ pockets, and delayin’. And then a big black lumberman, a Kanuck, began sidlin’ up to her, and I made up my mind to speak—only I went off after one more pocket, just one more, and when I got back she was Mrs. Somebody Else.
“So take warnin’. There’s that writer-guy, that skunk I poked outside the Opera House. He’s walkin’ right in and gettin’ thick; and here’s you, just like me, a-racin’ round all creation and lettin’ matrimony slide. Mark my words, Corliss! Some fine frost you’ll come slippin’ into camp and find ’em housekeepin’. Sure! With nothin’ left for you in life but pocketing!”
The picture was so unpleasant that Corliss turned surly and ordered him to shut up.
“Who? Me?” Del asked so aggrievedly that Corliss laughed.
“What would you do, then?” he asked.
“Me? In all kindness I’ll tell you. As soon as you get back you go and see her. Make dates with her ahead till you got to put ’em on paper to remember ’em all. Get a cinch on her spare time ahead so as to shut the other fellow out. Don’t get down in the dirt to her,—she’s not that kind,—but don’t be too high and mighty, neither. Just so-so—savve? And then, some time when you see she’s feelin’ good, and smilin’ at you in that way of hers, why up and call her hand. Of course I can’t say what the showdown’ll be. That’s for you to find out. But don’t hold off too long about it. Better married early than never. And if that writer-guy shoves in, poke him in the breadbasket—hard! That’ll settle him plenty. Better still, take him off to one side and talk to him. Tell’m you’re a bad man, and that you staked that claim before he was dry behind the ears, and that if he comes nosin’ around tryin’ to file on it you’ll beat his head off.”
Bishop got up, stretched, and went outside to feed the dogs. “Don’t forget to beat his head off,” he called back. “And if you’re squeamish about it, just call on me. I won’t keep ‘m waitin’ long.”
“Ah, the salt water, Miss Welse, the strong salt water and the big waves and the heavy boats for smooth or rough—that I know. But the fresh water, and the little canoes, egg-shells, fairy bubbles; a big breath, a sigh, a heart-pulse too much, and pouf! over you go; not so, that I do not know.” Baron Courbertin smiled self-commiseratingly and went on. “But it is delightful, magnificent. I have watched and envied. Some day I shall learn.”
“It is not so difficult,” St. Vincent interposed. “Is it, Miss Welse? Just a sure and delicate poise of mind and body—”