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A Mating in the Wilds by Ottwell Binns

However beautiful Miskodeed may be


Stane

laughed easily. "I know nothing whatever about her capacity as a healer," he said. "I have only spoken to her on two occasions, and on neither of them did we discuss wounds or the healing of them."

"Then----" she began, and broke off in sudden confusion.

He looked at her in some surprise. There was a look on her face that he could not understand, a look of mingled gladness and relief.

"Yes?" he asked inquiringly. "You were about to say--what?"

"I was about to say the girl was a comparative stranger to you!"

"Quite correct," he replied. "Though she proved herself a friend on the night I was kidnapped, for I saw her running through the bushes towards my tent, and she cried out to warn me, just as I was struck."

"If she knew that you were to be attacked she ought to have warned you before," commented Helen severely.

"Perhaps she had only just made the discovery or possibly she had not been able to find an opportunity."

"She ought to have made one," was the answer in uncompromising tones. "Any proper-spirited girl would have done."

Stane did not pursue the argument, and a moment later his companion asked: "Do you think her pretty?"

"That

is hardly the word for Miskodeed," answered Stane. "'Pretty' has an ineffective sort of sound, and doesn't describe her quality. She is beautiful with the wild beauty of the wilds. I never saw an Indian girl approaching her before."

Helen Yardely frowned at the frank enthusiasm with which he spoke.

"Wild? Yes," she said disparagingly. "That is the word. She is just a savage, with, I suppose, a savage's mind. Her beauty is--well, the beauty of the wilds as you say. It is barbaric. There are other forms of beauty that----"

She broke off abruptly, and the blood ran rosily in her face. Stane saw it and smiled.

"Yes," he answered gaily. "That is true. And I think that, however beautiful Miskodeed may be, or others like her, their beauty cannot compare with that of English women."

"You think that?" she cried, and then laughed with sudden gaiety as she rose to her feet. "But this is not a debating class, and I've work to do--a house to build, a meal to cook--a hundred tasks appealing to an amateur. I must go, Mr. Stane, and if you are a wise man you will sleep."

She left the tent immediately, and as he lay there thinking over the conversation, Stane caught the sound of her voice. She was singing again. He gave a little smile at her sudden gaiety. Evidently she had recovered from the mood of the early morning, and as he listened to the song, his eyes glowed with admiration. She was, he told himself, in unstinted praise, a girl of a thousand, accepting a rather desperate situation with light heart; and facing the difficulties of it with a courage altogether admirable. She was no helpless bread-and-butter miss to fall into despair when jerked out of her accustomed groove. Thank Heaven for that! As he looked down at his injured leg he shuddered to think what would have been the situation if she had been, for he knew that for the time being he was completely in her hands; and rejoiced that they were hands so evidently capable.

Then he fell to thinking over the situation. They would be tied down where they were for some weeks, and if care was not exercised the problem of food would grow acute. He must warn her to ration the food and to eke it out. His thought was interrupted by her appearance at the tent door. She held in her hand a fishing line that he had purchased at the Post and a packet of hooks.


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