“Bob MacNair! Put on your hat!”
A puzzled look crept into the man’s eyes, his face flushed like the face of a schoolboy who had been caught in a foolish prank, and he returned the hat awkwardly to his head.
“I thought—that is—you wrote in the letter, here—” he paused as his fingers groped at the pocket of his shirt.
Chloe interrupted him. “If any man ever takes his Stetson off to me again I’ll—I’ll hate him!”
Bob MacNair stared down upon the belligerent figure before him. He noticed the clenched fists, the defiant tilt of the shoulders, the unconscious out-thrust of the chin—and then his eyes met squarely the flashing eyes of the girl.
For a long, long time he gazed into the depths of the upturned eyes, and then, either the significance of her words dawned suddenly upon him, or he read in that long glance the wondrous message of her love. With a low, glad cry he sprang to her and gathered her into his great, strong arms and pressed her lithe, pliant body close against his pounding heart, while through his veins swept the wild, fierce joy of a mighty passion. Bob MacNair had come into his own!
There was a lively commotion among the Indians, and MacNair raised his head to meet the gaze of LeFroy and Constable Craig and two others of the men of the Mounted.
“Where is Lapierre?” asked the constable.
Chloe struggled in confusion to release herself from the encircling arms, but the arms closed the tighter, and with a final sigh of surrender the girl ceased her puny struggles.
Constable Craig’s lips twitched in a suppressed smile. “Ripley was right,” he muttered to himself as he awaited MacNair’s reply. “They have found each other at last.”
And then the answer came. MacNair stared straight into the officer’s eyes, and his words rang with a terrible meaning.
“Lapierre,” he said, “has gone away from here. If you see him again you shall never forget him.” His eyes returned to the girl, close-held against his heart. Her two arms stole upward until the slender hands closed about his neck. Her lips moved, and he bent to catch the words.
“I love you,” she faltered, and glancing shyly, almost timidly into his face, encountered there the look she had come to know so well—the suspicion of a smile upon the lips and just the shadow of a twinkle playing in the deep-set eyes. She repeated, softly, the words that rang through her brain: “I love you—Brute MacNair!”