His face was swollen until it looked as though he had the mumps. He was blubbering and gasping for his breath, and for a moment he did not see Mona.鏉窞鍥涘閰掑簵姘寸枟
“Are you licked?” demanded Peter, coming close to him.
Aleck drew back and put up a shielding hand. “I guess I got enough,” he conceded.
“If you ain’t sure鈥擨 mean if you aren’t sure鈥擨’ll finish it,” said Peter.
“I got enough.”
“Then gimme the slung-shot.”
Aleck surrendered the weapon. In that moment he caught a dim vision of Mona. He gulped and swallowed a lump in his throat.
“Now promise Mona you won’t bother her any more. Promise鈥攐r I’ll lick you again!”
“An’ you won’t throw stones at her gulls?”
“All right, Fatty. Now go on back to the tug. And stay there!”
He watched Aleck until he had disappeared among the cedars. Then, his business done, he turned toward Mona. A little shyly, with shining eyes, she came to him. He wiped his eye. He could just see her.
“Oh, Peter!” she whispered softly. He 鏉窞娲楁荡涓績 could feel her soft little handkerchief at his face, just as he had felt it that first day in the edge of the forest. And she was saying, “Peter鈥攜ou’re glorious!”
And then something happened that sent a tremble through the world on which Peter stood. Raising herself on tiptoe, Mona kissed him softly and sweetly on his swollen lips.
“There, that is what Aleck Curry has wanted all the time, and I’m giving it to you. Say thank you, Peter!”
“Thank you,” said Peter.
Peter was conscious of the fact that he had lived
鏉窞鐢峰＋spa姘寸枟a long time in the last three days and four nights. His adventures during that brief period of time had run the entire gamut of human emotions, with the possible exception of a desire to laugh, and his fourteen years of life seemed entirely out of fact. This philosophy did not strike Peter, but it did work into the 鏉窞鍝釜娴村満鏈夋湇鍔?troubled soul of Simon McQuarrie as he told Pierre Gourdon why it was that Peter’s father was a hunted man, fleeing for his life, and how it had come about that Peter was now in Five Fingers seeking refuge with him.
“And I’m going to keep him,” he said. “I love the boy.”
What Simon had to say struck deep into Pierre Gourdon’s heart, for it recalled the day of years ago when he had made his great fight in the sea to save a strange woman and her little girl, and had succeeded in bringing only the child,
Mona, ashore. And 鏉窞妗戞嬁榫欏嚖 Mona had grown to be a part of his soul. So when Simon had finished, Pierre nodded his head thoughtfully and said:
“Mona brought Peter to me today. He has the making of a man in him. And he has promised to whip Aleck Curry if he troubles Mona again.” He chuckled and shrugged his shoulders. “Aleck is almost twice as big as Peter,” he added. “But the boy has courage. It may happen. And鈥攚e will make this a home for him, Simon.”
“And if that round-headed young blackguard of an Aleck sets upon Peter again,” said Simon slowly, “I’ll make his father take it out of his hide or never sell him another foot of lumber!”
The gentle smile did not leave Pierre’s eyes. A forest man, and son of