Presently in the midst of their antics the squirrels suddenly started, ceased their scolding, and scurried rapidly away. That something had frightened them Jean was certain, and she grew nervous. She was about to back the canoe from the shore and leave the place, when the tall form of a man unexpectedly emerged from the forest and stood before her. So great was her own fright that for a few seconds she was completely unnerved, although she uttered no sound. Her face became very white, and her heart beat wildly. Then recognising the intruder as Dane Norwood, she gave a slight hysterical laugh, and her tense body relaxed.
“Oh, my, how you frightened me!” she gasped. “I didn’t know you at first.”
“Forgive me,” the young man apologised, as he stepped to the side of the canoe. “I came upon you sooner than I expected.”
“Did you know I was here?” Jean asked.
“Yes. I happened to see you as I crossed the brook farther up.”
“Where were you going?”
“To see you, of course. It has taken me three months to get here, and when I do arrive I frighten you almost out of your senses.”
Jean smiled as she picked up the paddle. She had to be doing something, for she felt the hot glow stealing into her cheeks beneath Dane’s ardent gaze. She was greatly struck by the remarkable change in his appearance. The travel-stained buckskin suit he had worn when first she met him had been replaced by a new one, neat and clean. It fitted him perfectly, making him appear taller and nobler than ever.
“Have you been really travelling three months to get here?” Jean asked. “You do not look like it.” She glanced at his clothes, and this Dane noted.
“I have not been travelling all that time to get here,” he explained. “I did not mean that. But Davidson has kept me so busy the last three months that I could not get away, although I tried several times.”
“And you were not here before?” Jean asked in surprise. “Why, I thought it was you who gave us those presents, and stuck that arrow into the tree.”
“Oh, Pete did that. He was keeping an eye over you.”
“Who is Pete?”
“My Indian; the one who generally travels with me. You surely must have met him.”
“No, I never did.”
“But this is his canoe! How did you get it, then? It must be a sign of special favour, for I never knew him to let any one have his favourite canoe before.”
“A big Indian left it with me the night of the great storm when he brought his little child to our place. It is there now.”
“That must have been Pete!” Dane exclaimed in astonishment. “I have not seen him for several weeks, and did not know what had happened to him. It is very seldom that he leaves me for such a length of time. I am puzzled, though, about the child.”
“He said that its mother is dead, and he wanted us to look after it for one moon, and maybe two. I hope he will leave it with us a long time, for we are very fond of it.”