“Doan yo’ worry ’bout dem, chile,” the old woman replied. “Dey’s well able to take care of demselves. Yo’ might hab reason to be anxious if yo’ daddy was alone. But he’s got Mistah Dane wif him, an’ dat young man knows de woods better’n I used to know my cookin’-stove in Ol’ Connec. No, yo’ needn’t worry one bit. Dey’ll turn up all right, ‘specially when dey’s good an’ hungry; dat’s jes like men.”
But Jean did worry, especially when another hour passed and the men had not returned. Supper had been ready for some time, and even Mammy was beginning to show her impatience. She fussed with the baby, glanced often toward the fire, where the dishes were being kept hot, and at last lighted the dip-candles which she had placed upon the table.
“De Cun’l likes to hab de room bright,” she remarked, “’specially when he comes home. He kin see yo’ pretty face all de better, Missie Jean. An’ Mistah Dane’ll need a good light when he comes in, an’ he’ll be ‘sprised when he sees how yo’ look. I nebber saw yo’ look better’n yo’ do jes now, wif yo’ hair fixed up so nice, de lobely col’r in yo’ cheeks, an’ wearin’ dat beau’ful dress yo’ brung from Ol’ Connec.”
Jean turned and smiled upon the woman. She had been standing at the open door for some time, watching and listening for the hunters.
“You must not flatter me, Mammy, or you will make me vain,” she replied. “Oh, I wish they would come! I am getting so anxious.”
Scarcely had she finished speaking when the absent ones appeared suddenly before her. Seeing her father leaning heavily on Dane’s arm, she gave a slight cry of fear, and darted to his side.
“Daddy, daddy, what is the matter?” she asked. “Are you hurt?”
“Let me get into the house, dear, and I shall tell you,” the Colonel replied. “I feel very tired.”
Seated before the fire, and later at the table, the story of the fight with the moose was told. The Colonel described the scene most vividly, and gave the courier great credit. He said nothing, however, about the quarrel, neither did Dane refer to it. That had passed with the running water over which they had clasped hands of enduring friendship. It was well, they were both aware, that none should know of it but themselves.
Jean was greatly interested in this adventure, and she watched her father with beaming eyes, forgetting at times her supper. Dane thought that he had never seen her look so beautiful. He admired the dress she was wearing, and he was pleased to see the Love-Charm at her throat. He observed the flickering light dancing upon her soft, wavy hair, and the varying expressions playing upon her face as she listened to her father. His heart was full of joy, and he realised more than ever before how pleasant it was to return from the hills to the light and warmth of a home where love dwelt.
They had finished their supper, and the Colonel was resting upon a settle near the fire, when a knock sounded upon the door, and a number of young people at once entered. They were in the gayest of moods, and surrounding Jean and Dane, they led them out of the house. Down to the shore they hurried, where the big bonfire was blazing merrily, and great forked flames were leaping high into the air.