“You know what I mean, Jean,” he said. “Surely you know how I love you.”
Receiving no reply, he drew her quickly to him, and kissed her upon the lips. Startled and embarrassed, she made a faint effort to free herself, but strong arms held her firm.
“Don’t! Don’t!” she gasped, while the rich blood crimsoned her face. “You have no right to do this.”
“I have the right of love,” Dane contended, as he again kissed her. “I love you, and I know that you love me.”
Jean made no further protest. Notwithstanding her confusion, she was supremely happy. Although often wooed, she had never before submitted to a lover’s kiss, nor allowed his arms to encircle her. But now it was different. She loved this man as she once thought it impossible to love any one, and she knew that he loved her. His strength and masterfulness appealed to her, and made her a willing victim. She could not deny it, neither did she wish to do so. She was content to give herself up wholly and unreservedly to her conquering hero.
And as the two stood silently there, the lordly maple seemed to reach out its great branches over their young united heads and beam its happy benediction. The ubiquitous squirrels appeared to know that something unusual was taking place. They cocked their shrewd little heads in a listening attitude, stared impudently, and then sent the news abroad to their feathered and furry comrades of the forest. Of all this, however, the lovers were unconscious, so lost were they in their new-found joy.
“I never realised that you cared so much for me,” Jean at length whispered. “When did you begin to love me?”
“From the first time I saw you by that shack at Portland Point,” Dane replied. “I was so absent-minded when I went back to the lake that Pete did not know what to make of me. I returned later and saw you at one of the camps telling stories to several children. You know what happened after that.”
“Indeed I do,” the girl declared. “I can never forget that night, nor how you saved me from Seth Lupin.”
“Have you heard from the villain since?”
“Not since coming here. But so long as he is in this country I cannot feel safe. I sometimes imagine he is prowling around here and will appear at any minute.”
“Umph, it won’t be well for him if he does when I am here,” and Dane’s hands clenched hard. “He won’t get off as easily as he did that last time. I thought he might follow you when you first arrived at this place, so ordered Pete to be on the lookout. I hoped that you would understand the meaning of that arrow in the big pine.”
“I was certain that you had much to do with that,” Jean replied. “For a while I thought that you were near, and wondered why you did not come to see me. But now I know that you were thinking of my welfare, and longing to come.”
“I was always thinking about you, Jean, and I have something here to show how much you were in my mind.”