Beulah stood close to him, her eyes burning into his. She was ready to fight for her love to a finish. “Do you think I’m going to give you up now . . . now . . . just when we’ve found out how much we care . . . because of any reason under heaven outside ourselves? By God, no! That’s a solemn oath, Roy Beaudry. I’ll not let you go.”
He did not argue with her. Instead, he began to tell her of his father and his mother. As well as he could remember it he related to her the story of that last ride he had taken with John Beaudry. The girl found herself visioning the pathetic tenderness of the father singing the “li’l’-ole-hawss” song under the stars of their night camp. There flashed to her a picture of him making his stand in the stable against the flood of enemies pouring toward him.
When Roy had finished, she spoke softly. “I’m glad you told me. I know now the kind of man your father was. He loved you more than his own life. He was brave and generous and kind. Do you think he would have nursed a grudge for seventeen years? Do you think he would have asked you to give up your happiness to carry on a feud that ought never to have been?”
“You are going to marry me, not Hal Rutherford. He is a good man now, however wild he may have been once. But you needn’t believe that just because I say so. Wait and see. Be to him just as much or as little as you like. He’ll understand, and so shall I. My people are proud. They won’t ask more of you than you care to give. All they’ll ask is that you love me—and that’s all I ask, dear.”
“All you ask now, but later you will be unhappy because there is a gulf between your father and me. You will try to hide it, but I’ll know.”
“I’ll have to take my chance of that,” she told him. “I don’t suppose that life even with the man you love is all happiness. But it is what I want. It’s what I’m not going to let your scruples rob me of.”
She spoke with a low-voiced, passionate intensity. The hillgirl was fighting to hold her lover as a creature of the woods does to protect its young. So long as she was sure that he loved her, nothing on earth should come between them. For the moment she was absorbed by the primitive idea that he belonged to her and she to him. All the vital young strength in her rose to repel separation.
Roy, yearning to take into his arms this dusky, brown-cheeked sweetheart of his, became aware that he did not want her to let his arguments persuade her. The fierce, tender egoism of her love filled him with exultant pride.
He snatched her to him and held her tight while his lips found her hot cheeks, her eager eyes, her more than willing mouth.