You do not know him as I do. I
tell you that he is a gentleman."
Clayton was a generous and chivalrous man, but something in the girl's
breathless defense of the forest man stirred him to unreasoning
jealousy, so that for the instant he forgot all that they owed to this
wild demi-god, and he answered her with a half sneer upon his lip.
"Possibly you are right, Miss Porter," he said, "but I do not think
that any of us need worry about our carrion-eating acquaintance. The
chances are that he is some half-demented castaway who will forget us
more quickly, but no more surely, than we shall forget him. He is only
a beast of the jungle, Miss Porter."
The girl did not answer, but she felt her heart shrivel within her.
She knew that Clayton spoke merely what he thought, and for the first
time she began to analyze the structure which supported her newfound
love, and to subject its object to a critical examination.
Slowly she turned and walked back to the cabin. She tried to imagine
her wood-god by her side in the saloon of an ocean liner. She saw him
eating with his hands, tearing his food like a beast of prey, and
wiping his greasy fingers upon his thighs. She shuddered.
She saw him as she introduced him to her friends--uncouth,
illiterate--a boor; and the girl winced.
She had reached her room now, and as she sat upon the edge of her bed
of ferns and grasses, with one hand resting upon her rising and falling
bosom, she felt the hard outlines of the man's locket.
She drew it out, holding it in the palm of her hand for a moment with
tear-blurred eyes bent upon it. Then she raised it to her lips, and
crushing it there buried her face in the soft ferns, sobbing.
"Beast?" she murmured. "Then God make me a beast; for, man or beast, I
She did not see Clayton again that day. Esmeralda brought her supper
to her, and she sent word to her father that she was suffering from the
reaction following her adventure.
The next morning Clayton left early with the relief expedition in
search of Lieutenant D'Arnot. There were two hundred armed men this
time, with ten officers and two surgeons, and provisions for a week.
They carried bedding and hammocks, the latter for transporting their
sick and wounded.
It was a determined and angry company--a punitive expedition as well as
one of relief. They reached the site
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