And Maren Le Moyne?
Within the cabin she had turned to that portion which was her own, the while Marie’s sharp eyes followed her with questions that were ripe on her tongue.
“Maren,” she cried, as the girl passed the inner door, unable to longer hold herself, “know you the factor well?”
But Maren only shook her head and closed the slab door between.
Once alone she laid the gift on the bed, covered with a patchwork quilt made from the worn garments that had seen the long trail, and stood bending above, looking closely at each beauty of colour, of softness and design.
She spread the straight sleeves apart, smoothing out the dangling fringe, and her hand lingered with a strange gentleness a-down the glowing plastron of bright beads.
This was the first gift a man had ever given her, other than De Courtenay’s red flower, and somehow it pleased her vastly.
She fell to thinking of the factor, of his open face, his light head forever tilted back with the square chin lifted, of the mouth above and of the eyes, clear as the new day and anxious as a child’s the while she halted above his offering, and unconsciously she began within her mind to compare him with all other men she had ever known.
There was Prix Laroux. Not like. Also Jean Folliere and Anthon Brisbee of Grand Portage, who came to the wilderness each year. Neither were they like this man, nor Cif and Pierre Bordoux, nor Franz LeClede, nor yet her brother Henri. These she knew and they were of a different pattern.
Also there was that venturer of the great beauty and the silken curls who had spoken so prettily. With all his grace, he was unlike this strong young man whose tongue faltered and whose eyes were anxious.
Verily, for the first time; this maid of the wilderness was thinking of men.
And it was because he had seemed so ill-beset that she had taken the gift so readily.
She would not have him stumble longer under the sharp eyes of Marie.
And then thought of him faded from her mind and she fell to contemplation of the doeskin garment again. Things of its like she had seen at Grand Portage, but nothing of its great beauty, and for the first time she gave thought to self-adornment. She was strong, this woman, and given to serious dreams, and the small things of womanhood had left her wide apart in a land of her own wherein there were only visions of afar country, of travel and of conquest, and perhaps of a man, old and rugged and kindly, who had followed the long trail, and this small new thought lodged wonderingly in her mind.
For the first time she was conscious of the plainness of the garment that folded her form, and she held up her arms and looked at them, brown beneath the up-rolled sleeves.
Yes, some day she would put it on, this gorgeous thing of white fringe and sparkling colour, because she had told that man she would.