At the look which leaped into the eyes of the stranger her own began to waver, to shift from one to the other, and lastly dropped in confusion.
“But spoiled at the end by foolishness,” said Maren Le Moyne, and all the pleasure had slipped from her deep voice, leaving it cold as steel.
Abruptly she turned away, her high head shining in the sun, her strong shoulders swinging slightly as she walked.
Francette looked after her, with small hands clinched and breast heaving with, anger, and there had the stranger made her second enemy in Fort de Seviere within the first fortnight.
Along the northern wall there was much bustle and scurry, the noise of voices and of preparation, for the men were busy with the raising of the first new cabin. As some whimsical fate would have it, there were the hewn logs that Bard McLellan had prepared a year back for his own new house when he should have married the pretty Lila of old McKenzie, who sickened suddenly in the early autumn when the leaves were dropping in the forest and fled from his eager arms. No heart had been left in the breast of the trapper after that and the logs lay where he had felled them.
Now McElroy, tactful of tongue and gentle, touched the sore spot, and Bard gave sad consent to their use.
“Take them, M’sieu,” he said wearily; “my pain may save another’s need.”
So the first new cabin went up apace.
Anders McElroy looked over his settlement day by day and there was great satisfaction in his eyes. Fort de Seviere was none so strong that it could afford to look carelessly on the acquisition of five good men and hardy trappers, and, beside, somehow there was a pleasanter feeling to the warm spring air since they had arrived-a new sense of bustle and accomplishment.
Often he stood in the door of the factory and looked to where the women sang at their work or carried the shining pails full of water from the one deep well of the settlement, situated near the gate in the eastern wall, and the smiles were ever ready in his blue eyes.
A handsome man was this factor of Fort de Seviere, tall and well formed, with that grace of carriage which speaks of perfect manhood; his head, covered with a thick growth of sun-coloured hair curling lightly at the ends, tossed ever back, ready to laugh. Scottish blood, mingled with a strong Irish strain, ran riot in him, giving him at once both love of life and honour.
They had known what they were doing, those lords of the H. B. Company, when they had sent this young adventurer from Fenchurch Street to the new continent, and, after five years among the hardships of the trade, he found himself factor of Fort de Seviere,—lord of his little world, even though that world were but one tiny finger of the great system spreading itself like a stretching hand outward from the shores of the Bay to that interior whose fringed skirts alone had been explored.