Apparently he had not come for barter, nor for anything save the love of the unusual, the thirst for adventure that had brought him primarily to the wilderness.
“A fine fit of apoplexy would he have, that peppery old uncle at Montreal, Elsworth McTavish, could he see his precious nephew following his whims up and down the land, leaving his post in the hands of his chief trader,” thought McElroy, as he looked at the scene before him.
While he stood so, there was a rustle of women behind him and voices that bespoke more eager eyes for the Indians, and he glanced over his shoulder.
Micene Bordoux and Mora LeClede approached, and between them walked Maren Le Moyne. McElroy’s heart pounded hard with a quick excitement as he saw the listless droop of the face under the black braids and stopped with a prescience of disaster. His glance went swiftly to the long-haired gallant in the braided coat. Surely were the elements brought together.
It seemed as if Fate was weaving these little threads of destiny, for no sooner did Maren Le Moyne step through the gate among the lodges than her very nearness drew round upon his heel De Courtenay.
His eyes lighted upon her and the sparkling smile lit up his features. With inimitable grace he swung the child from his shoulder, tossed it to a timid squaw watching like a hawk, and, shaking back his curls, came forward.
“Ah, Ma’amselle!” he said, bending before her with his courtly manner, “you see, as I said in the early spring,—I have come back to Fort de Seviere.”
“So I see, M’sieu,” smiled Maren, with a touch of whimsical amusement at the memory of that morning, and his venturesome spirit. “Have you by chance brought me a red flower?”
“Why else should I come?” he returned, and, with a flourish, brought from his bosom a second birchbark box which he held out to the girl.
Over her face there spread a crimson flood at this swift, literal proving of a secret pact and she stood hesitating, at loss.
The stretch of beach was alive with spectators. Near the wall a group of girls hugged together, with Francette Moline in the centre; down by the canoes Pierre Garcon and Marc Dupre stood, the dark eyes of the latter watching every move, while at the door of the chief’s lodge, directly before the fort and between it and the river, Edmonton Ridgar talked in low tones with Negansahima. Indeed, like father and son seemed this strangely assorted pair. Maren remembered afterward how near together they had stood, the wild savage in his elk teeth and scant buckskin garments, an indiscreet band of yellow paint showing a corner above his blanket, and the dark, wiry trader with the grey eyes. Scattered, here and there among the braves were many Bois-Brules, lean Runners of the Burnt Woods, belonging she knew to the North-west Company. Also in that moment she saw the frowning face and ugly eyes of Bois DesCaut beneath the white lock on his temple. Long afterward was the girl to recall that evening scene.