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crimson stuff which seemed to reflect a richer rose-flush in her cheeks. A curious thought came to Philip as
he looked at her. Like a flash the memory of a certain night came to him--when it had taken Miss Brokaw
and her maid two hours to make a toilet for a ball. And Jeanne, in the heart of a wilderness, had made herself
more beautiful than Eileen. He imagined, as she stood before him, a little embarrassed by the admiration in his
eyes, the sensation Jeanne would create in a ballroom at home. And then he laughed--laughed joyously at
thoughts which he could not reveal to Jeanne, and which she, by some quick intuition, knew that she should
not ask him to express.
Twice again Philip made the portage, accompanied the second time by Jeanne, who insisted on carrying a
small pack and two paddles. In spite of his determination and splendid physique, Philip began to feel the
effects of the tremendous strain which he had been under for so long. He counted back and found that he had
slept but six hours in the last forty-eight. There was a warning ache in his shoulders and a gnawing pain in the
bones of his forearms. But he knew that he had not yet made sufficient headway up the Churchill. It would not
be difficult for him to make a camp far enough back in the bush to avoid discovery; but, at the same time, if
he and Jeanne were pursued, the stop would give their enemies a chance to get ahead of them. This danger he
wished to escape.
He flattered himself that Jeanne saw no signs of his weakening. He did not know that Jeanne put more and
more effort into her paddle, until her arms and body ached, because she saw the truth.
The Churchill narrowed and its current became swifter as they progressed. Five portages were made between
sunrise and eleven o'clock. They ate dinner at the fifth, and rested for two hours. Then the journey was
resumed. It was three o'clock when Jeanne dropped her paddle and turned to Philip. There were deep lines in
his face. He smiled, but there was more of haggard misery than cheer in the smile. There was an unnatural
flush in his cheeks, and he began to feel a burning pain where the blow had fallen upon his head before. For a
full half-minute Jeanne looked at him without speaking. "Philip," she said--and it was the first time she had
spoken his name in this way, "I insist upon going ashore immediately. If you do not land--now--in that
opening ahead, I shall jump out, and you can go on alone."
"As you say--my Captain Jeanne," surrendered Philip, a little dizzily.
Jeanne guided the canoe to the shore, and was the first to spring out, while Philip steadied the light craft with
his paddle. She pointed to the luggage.
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Flower of the North
"We will want the tent--everything," she said, "because we are going to camp here until to-morrow."
Once on shore, Philip's dizziness left him. He pulled the canoe high up on the bank, and then Jeanne and he
set off, side by side, to explore the high, wooded ground back from the river. They followed a well-worn
moose trail, and two or three hundred yards from the stream came upon a small opening cluttered by great
rocks and surrounded by clumps of birch, spruce, and banskian pine. The moose trail crossed this rough open
space; and, following it to the opposite side, Philip and Jeanne came upon a clear, rippling little stream,
scarcely two yards in width, hidden in places under thick caribou moss and jungles of seedling pines. It was
an ideal camping spot, and Jeanne gave a little cry of delight when they found the cold water of the creek.
Philip then returned to the river, concealed the canoe, covered up all traces of their landing, and began to carry
the camping outfit back to the open. The small silk tent for Jeanne's use he set up in a little grassy corner of
the clearing, and built their fire a dozen paces from it. With a sort of thrilling pleasure he began cutting balsam
boughs for Jeanne's bed. He cut armful after armful, and it was growing dusk in the forest by the time he was
done. In the glow and the heat of the fire Jeanne's cheeks were as pink as an apple. She had turned a big flat [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]