Suddenly he reached out and his great hands came gently down upon her softly rounded shoulders. It was a wonderful caress. They held her firmly while he gazed into her eyes.
“Say, Nancy,” he cried, in a voice that was deep with emotion. “You mean that? Those words? You’ve quit the Skandinavia? What—what are you going to do?”
“I—I’m going to the forests with Father Adam. I’m going to help the boys we’ve so often talked about. I’m—”
“Not on your life!”
The man’s denial rang out with all the force of his virile nature.
“Say, listen right here. You’ve quit them. You’ve quit Peterman. And you reckon from one fool play you’re going right over to another. No, sir, not on your life. It’s my chance now, and by God I don’t pass it. I’m kind of a rough citizen and don’t know the way a feller should say this sort of stuff. But I’m crazy to marry you and have been that way ever since you came along, and sat right in this office, and invited me to take tea in the parlour of that darnation bug, Peterman. Do you know all that means, Nancy? It means I’m just daft with love for you, and have been ever since I set eyes on you, for all I had to treat you worse than a ‘hold-up.’ Say, my dear, will you give me the chance to show you? Can you forget it all? Can you? I’ll raise every sort of hell to fix you good and happy. And you and me, together, we’ll just send this great Sachigo of ours booming sky high, and in a year I promise to hand you the wreckage that was once the Skandinavia. Marry me, dear, and I’ll show you the thing a man can be and do. And I’ll make you forget the ruffian I’ve had to act towards you. Will you let me help you to forget? Will you—?”
Nancy’s eyes were frankly raised to the passionate gaze which revealed the depths of the man’s great heart.
“I have,” she said in a low voice. “I’ve forgotten everything but—but—you.”
She moved as she spoke. There was no hesitation. All her soul was shining in her eyes, and she yielded to the impulse she was powerless to deny. She came to him, releasing herself from the great hands that held her shoulders. She reached up and placed her soft arms about the neck that rose trunk-like above his shoulders. In a moment she was caught and crushed in his arms.
“Why—that’s just fine!”
The exclamation broke from the man out of sheer delight and happiness. And the while he bent down and kissed the smiling upturned face, and permitted one hand to wander caressingly over the girl’s wealth of beautiful hair.
LOST IN THE TWILIGHT
A fierce wind swept down off the hills. So it had blown all night and all the day before. The sky was overcast, and the thermometer had dropped below zero. It was one of those brief “freeze-ups” such as Father Adam had awaited, and it might last two or three days. Then would come prompt reaction, and the rapidity of the thaw would be an hundred-fold increased.