Peter, thrust back from the door through which through which his master had gone, listened vainly for the sound of returning footsteps in the beat of rain and the crash of thunder outside. A strange thing had burned itself into his soul, a thing that made his flesh quiver and set hot fires running in his blood. As a dog sometimes senses the stealthy approach of death, so he began to sense the tragedy of this night that had brought with it not only a chaos of blackness and storm, but an anguish which roused an answering whimper in his throat as he turned toward Nada.

She was crumpled with her head in her arms, where she had flung herself with Jolly Roger's last kiss of worship on her lips, and she was sobbing like a child with its heart broken. And beside her knelt the old gray Missioner, man of God in the deep forest, who stroked her hair with his thin hand, whispering courage and consolation to her, with the wind and rain beating overhead and the windows rattling to the accompaniment of ghostly voices that shrieked and wailed in the tree-tops outside.

Peter trembled at the sobbing, but his heart and his desire were with the man who had gone. In his unreasoning little soul it was Jed Hawkins who was rattling the windows with his unseen hands and who was pounding at the door with the wind, and who was filling the black night with its menace and fear. He hated this man, who lay back in the trail with his lifeless face turned up to the deluge that poured out of the sky. And he was afraid of the man, even as he hated him, and he believed that Nada was afraid of him, and that because of her fear she was crying there in the middle of the floor, with Father John patting her shoulder and stroking her hair, and saying things to her which he could not understand. He wanted to go to her. He wanted to feel himself close against her, as Nada had held him so often in those hours when she had unburdened her grief and her unhappiness to him. But even stronger than this desire was the one to follow his master.

He went to the door, and thrust his nose against the crack at the bottom of it. He felt the fierceness of the wind fighting to break in, and the broken mist of it filled his nostrils. But there came no scent of Jolly Roger McKay. For a moment he struggled at the crack with his paws. Then he flopped himself down, his heart beating fast, and fixed his eyes inquiringly on Nada and the Missioner.

His four and a half months of life in the big wilderness, and his weeks of constant comradeship with Jolly Roger, had developed in him a brain that was older than his body. No process of reasoning could impinge upon him the fact that his master was an outlaw, but with the swift experiences of tragedy and hiding and never-ceasing caution had come instinctive processes which told him almost as much as reason. He knew something was wrong tonight. It was in the air. He breathed it. It thrilled in the crash of thunder, in the lightning fire, in the mighty hands of the wind rocking the cabin and straining at the windows. And vaguely the knowledge gripped him that the dead man back in the trail was responsible for it all, and that because of this something that had happened his mistress was crying and his master was gone. And he believed he should also have gone with Jolly Roger into the blackness and mystery of the storm, to fight with him against the one creature in all the world he hated—the dead man who lay back in the thickness of gloom between the forest walls.

And the Missioner was saying to Nada, in a quiet, calm voice out of which the tragedies of years had burned all excitement and passion:

"God will forgive him, my child. In His mercy He will forgive Roger McKay, because he killed Jed Hawkins to save YOU. But man will not forgive. The law has been hunting him because he is an outlaw, and to outlawry he has added what the law will call murder. But God will not look at it in that way. He will look into the heart of the man, the man who sacrificed himself—"

And then, fiercely, Nada struck up the Missioner's comforting hand, and Peter saw her young face white as star-dust in the lampglow.

"I don't care what God thinks," she cried passionately. "God didn't do right today. Mister Roger told me everything, that he was an outlaw, an' I oughtn't to marry him. But I didn't care. I loved him. I could hide with him. An' we were coming to have you marry us tonight when God let Jed Hawkins drag me away, to sell me to a man over on the railroad—an' it was God who let Mister Roger go back and kill him. I tell you He didn't do right! He didn't—he didn't—because Mister Roger brought me the first happiness I ever knew, an' I loved him, an' he loved me—an' God was wicked to let him kill Jed Hawkins—"

Her voice cried out, a woman's soul broken in a girl's body, and Peter whimpered and watched the Missioner as he raised Nada to her feet and went with her into his bedroom, where a few minutes before he had lighted a lamp. And Peter crept in quietly after them, and when the Missioner had gone and closed the door, leaving them alone in their tragedy, Nada seemed to see him for the first time and slowly she reached out her arms.

"Peter!" she whispered. "Peter—Peter—"

In the minutes that followed, Peter could feel her heart beating. Clutched against her breast he looked up at the white, beautiful face, the trembling throat, the wide-open blue eyes staring at the one black window between them and the outside night. A lull had come in the storm. It was quiet and ominous stillness, and the ticking of a clock, old and gray like the Missioner himself, filled the room. And Nada, seated on the edge of Father John's bed, no longer looked like the young girl of "seventeen goin' on eighteen." That afternoon, in the hidden jackpine open, with its sweet-scented jasmines, its violets and its crimson strawberries under their feet, the soul of a woman had taken possession of her body. In that hour the first happiness of her life had come to her. She had heard Jolly Roger McKay tell her those things which she already knew—that he was an outlaw, and that he was hiding down on the near-edge of civilization because the Royal Mounted were after him farther north—and that he was not fit to love her, and that it was a crime to let her love him. It was then the soul of the woman had come to her in all its triumph. She had made her choice, definitely and decisively, without hesitation and without fear. And now, as she stared unseeingly at the window against which the rain was beating, the woman in her girlish body rose in her mightier than in the hour of her happiness, fighting to find a way—crying out for the man she loved.

Her mind swept back in a single flash through all the years she had lived, through her years of unhappiness and torment as the foster-girl of Jed Hawkins and his broken, beaten wife; through summers and winters that had seemed ages to her, eternities of desolation, of heartache, of loneliness, with the big wilderness her one friend on earth. As the window rattled in a fresh blast of storm, she thought of the day months ago when she had accidentally stumbled upon the hiding-place of Roger McKay. Since that day he had been her God, and she had lived in a paradise. He had been father, mother, brother, and at last—what she most yearned for—a lover to her. And this day, when for the first time he had held her in his arms, when the happiness of all the earth had reached out to them, God had put it into Jed Hawkins' heart to destroy her—and Jolly Roger had killed him!

With a sharp little cry she sprang to her feet, so suddenly that Peter fell with a thump to the floor. He looked up at her, puzzled, his jaws half agape. She was breathing quickly. Her slender body was quivering. Suddenly Peter saw the fire in her eyes and the flame that was rushing into her white cheeks. Then she turned to him, and panted in a wild little whisper, so low that the Missioner could not hear:

"Peter, I was wrong. God wasn't wicked to let Mister Roger kill Jed Hawkins. He oughta been killed. An' God meant him to be killed. Peter—Peter—we don't care if he's an outlaw! We're goin' with him. We're goin'—goin'—"

She sprang to the window, and Peter was at her heels as she strained at it with all her strength, and he could hear her sobbing:

"We're goin' with him, Peter. We're goin'—if we die for it!"

An inch at a time she pried the window up. The storm beat in. A gust of wind blew out the light, but in the last flare of it Nada saw a knife in an Eskimo sheath hanging on the wall. She groped for it, and clutched it in her hand as she climbed through the window and dropped to the soggy ground beneath. In a single leap Peter followed her. Blackness swallowed them as they turned toward the trail leading north—the only trail which Jolly Roger could travel on a night like this. They heard the voice of the Missioner calling from the window behind them. Then a crash of thunder set the earth rolling under their feet, and the lull in the storm came to an end. The sky split open with the vivid fire of lightning. The trees wailed and whined, the rain fell again in a smothering deluge, and through it Nada ran, gripping the knife as her one defense against the demons of darkness—and always close at her side ran Peter.

He could not see her in that pitchy blackness, except when the lightning flashes came. Then she was like a ghostly wraith, with drenched clothes clinging to her until she seemed scarcely dressed, her wet hair streaming and her wide, staring eyes looking straight ahead. After the lightning flashes, when the world was darkest, he could hear the stumbling tread of her feet and the panting of her breath, and now and then the swish of brush as it struck across her face and breast. The rain had washed away the scent of his master's feet but he knew they were following Jolly Roger, and that the girl was running to overtake him. In him was the desire to rush ahead, to travel faster through the night, but Nada's stumbling feet and her panting breath and the strange white pictures he saw of her when the sky split open with fire held him back. Something told him that Nada must reach Jolly Roger. And he was afraid she would stop. He wanted to bark to give her encouragement, as he had often barked in their playful races in the green plain-lands on the farther side of Cragg's Ridge. But the rain choked him. It beat down upon him with the weight of heavy hands, it slushed up into his face from pools in the trail and drove the breath from him when he attempted to open his jaws. So he ran close—so close that at times Nada felt the touch of his body against her.

In these first minutes of her fight to overtake the man she loved Nada heard but one voice—a voice crying out from her heart and brain and soul, a voice rising above the tumult of thunder and wind, urging her on, whipping the strength from her frail body in pitiless exhortation. Jolly Roger was less than half an hour ahead of her. And she must overtake him—quickly—before the forests swallowed him, before he was gone from her life forever.

The wall of blackness against which she ran did not frighten her. When the brush tore at her face and hair she swung free of it, and stumbled on. Twice she ran blindly into broken trees that lay across her path, and dragged her bruised body through their twisted tops, moaning to Peter and clutching tightly to the sheathed knife in her hand. And the wild spirits that possessed the night seemed to gather about her, and over her, exulting in the helplessness of their victim, shrieking in weird and savage joy at the discovery of this human plaything struggling against their might. Never had Peter heard thunder as he heard it now. It rocked the earth under his feet. It filled the world with a ceaseless rumble, and the lightning came like flashes from swift-loading guns, and with it all a terrific assault of wind and rain that at last drove Nada down in a crumpled heap, panting for breath, with hands groping out wildly for him.

Peter came to them, sodden and shivering. His warm tongue found the palm of her hand, and for a space Nada hugged him close to her, while she bowed her head until her drenched curls became a part of the mud and water of the trail. Peter could hear her sobbing for breath. And then suddenly, there came a change. The thunder was sweeping eastward. The lightning was going with it. The wind died out in wailing sobs among the treetops, and the rain fell straight down. Swiftly as its fury had come, the July storm was passing. And Nada staggered to her feet again and went on.

Her mind began to react with the lessening of the storm, dragging itself out quickly from under the oppression of fear and shock. She began to reason, and with that reason the beginning of faith and confidence gave her new strength. She knew that Jolly Roger would take this trail, for it was the one trail leading from the Missioner's cabin through the thick forest country north. And in half an hour he would not travel far. The thrilling thought came to her that possibly he had sought shelter in the lee of a big tree trunk during the fury of the storm. If he had done that he would be near, very near. She paused in the trail and gathered her breath, and cried out his name. Three times she called it, and only the low whine in Peter's throat came in answer. Twice again during the next ten minutes she cried out as loudly as she could into the darkness. And still no answer came back to her through the gloom ahead.

The trail had dipped, and she felt the deepening slush of swamp-mire under her feet. She sank in it to her shoe-tops, and stumbled into pools knee-deep, and Peter wallowed in it to his belly. A quarter of an hour they fought through it to the rising ground beyond. And by that time the last of the black storm clouds had passed overhead. The rain had ceased. The rumble of thunder came more faintly. There was no lightning, and the tree-tops began to whisper softly, as if rejoicing in the passing of the wind. About them—everywhere—they could hear the run and drip of water, the weeping of the drenched trees, the gurgle of flooded pools, and the trickle of tiny rivulets that splashed about their feet. Through a rift in the breaking clouds overhead came a passing flash of the moon.

"We'll find him now, Peter," moaned the girl. "We'll find him—now. He can't be very far ahead—"

And Peter waited, holding his breath, listening for an answer to the cry that went out for Jolly Roger McKay.

The glory of July midnight, with a round, full moon straight overhead, followed the stress of storm. The world had been lashed and inundated, every tree whipped of its rot and slag, every blade of grass and flower washed clean. Out of the earth rose sweet smells of growing life, the musky fragrance of deep moss and needle-mold, and through the clean air drifted faintly the aroma of cedar and balsam and the subtle tang of unending canopies and glistening tapestries of evergreen breathing into the night. The deep forest seemed to tremble with the presence of an invisible and mysterious life—life that was still, yet wide-awake, breathing, watchful, drinking in the rejuvenating tonic of the air which had so quietly followed thunder and lightning and the roar of wind and rain. And the moon, like a queen who had so ordered these things, looked down in a mighty triumph. Her radiance, without dust or fog or forest-smoke to impede its way, was like the mellow glow of half-day. It streamed through the treetops in paths of gold and silver, throwing dark shadows where it failed to penetrate, and gathering in wide pools where its floods poured through broad rifts in the roofs of the forest. And the trail, leading north, was like a river of shimmering silver, splitting the wilderness from earth to sky.

In this trail, clearly made in the wet soil, were Jolly Roger's foot-prints, and in a wider space, where at some time a trapper had cleared himself a spot for his tepee or shack, Jolly Roger had paused to rest after his fight through the storm—and had then continued on his way. And into this clearing, three hours after they left the Missioner's cabin, came Nada and Peter.

They came slowly, the girl a slim wraith in the moon-light; in the open they stood for a moment, and Peter's heart weighed heavily within him as his mistress cried out once more for Jolly Roger. Her voice rose only in a sob, and ended in a sob. The last of her strength was gone. Her little figure swayed, and her face was white and haggard, and in her drawn lips and staring eyes was the agony of despair. She had lost, and she knew that she had lost as she crumpled down in the trail, crying out sobbingly to the footprints which led so clearly ahead of her.

"Peter, I can't go on," she moaned. "I can't—go on—"

Her hands clutched at her breast. Peter saw the glint of the moonlight on the ivory sheath of the Eskimo knife, and he saw her white face turned up to the sky—and also that her lips were moving, but he did not hear his name come from them, or any other sound. He whined, and foot by foot began to nose along the trail on the scent left by Jolly Roger. It was very clear to his nostrils, and it thrilled him. He looked back, and again he whined his encouragement to the girl.

"Peter!" she called. "Peter!"

He returned to her. She had drawn the knife out of its scabbard, and the cold steel glistened in her hand. Her eyes were shining, and she reached out and clutched Peter close up against her, so that he could hear the choke and throb of her heart.

"Oh, Peter, Peter," she panted. "If you could only talk! If you could run and catch Mister Roger, an' tell him I'm here, an' that he must come back—"

She hugged him closer. He sensed the sudden thrill that leapt through her body.

"Peter," she whispered, "will you do it?"

For a few moments she did not seem to breathe. Then he heard a quick little cry, a sob of inspiration and hope, and her arms came from about him, and he saw the knife flashing in the yellow moonlight.

He did not understand, but he knew that he must watch her carefully. She had bent her head, and her hair, nearly dry, glowed softly in the face of the moon. Her hands were fumbling in the disheveled curls, and Peter saw the knife flash back and forth, and heard the cut of it, and then he saw that in her hand she held a thick brown tress of hair that she had severed from her head. He was puzzled. And Nada dropped the knife, and his curiosity increased when she tore a great piece out of her tattered dress, and carefully wrapped the tress of hair in it. Then she drew him to her again, and tied the knotted fold of dress securely about his neck; after that she tore other strips from her dress, and wound them about his neck until he felt muffled and half smothered.

And all the time she was talking to him in a half sobbing, excited little voice, and the blood in Peter's body ran swifter, and the strange thrill in him was greater. When she had finished she rose to her feet, and stood there swaying back and forth, like one of the spruce-top shadows, while she pointed up the moonlit trail.

"Go, Peter!" she cried softly. "Quick! Follow him, Peter—catch him—bring him back! Mister Roger—Jolly Roger—go, Peter! Go—go—go—"

It was strange to Peter. But he was beginning to understand. He sniffed in Jolly Roger's footprints, and then he looked up quickly, and saw that it had pleased the girl. She was urging him on. He sniffed from one footprint to another, and Nada clapped her hands and cried out that he was right—for him to hurry—hurry—

Impulse, thought, swiftly growing knowledge of something to be done thrilled in his brain. Nada wanted him to go. She wanted him to go to Jolly Roger. And she had put something around his neck which she wanted him to take with him. He whined eagerly, a bit excitedly. Then he began to trot. Instinctively it was his test. She did not call him back. He flattened his ears, listening for her command to return, but it did not come. And then the thrill in him leapt over all other things. He was right. He was not abandoning Nada. He was not running away. She WANTED him to go!

The night swallowed him. He became a part of the yellow floods of its moonlight, a part of its shifting shadows, a part of its stillness, its mystery, its promise of impending things. He knew that grim and terrible happenings had come with the storm, and he still sensed the nearness of tragedy in this night-world through which he was passing. He did not go swiftly, yet he went three times as fast as the girl and he had traveled together. He was cautious and watchful, and at intervals he stopped and listened, and swallowed hard to keep the whine of eagerness out of his throat. Now that he was alone every instinct in him was keyed to the pulse and beat of life about him. He knew the Night People of the deep forests were awake. Softly padded, clawed, sharp-beaked and feathered—the prowlers of darkness were on the move. With the stillness of shadows they were stealing through the moonlit corridors of the wilderness, or hovering gray-winged and ghostly in the ambuscades of the treetops, eager to waylay and kill, hungering for the flesh and blood of creatures weaker than themselves. Peter knew. Both heritage and experience warned him. And he watched the shadows, and sniffed the air, and kept his fangs half bared and ready as he followed the trail of McKay.

He was not stirred by the impulse of adventure alone. Without the finesse of what man might charitably call reason in a beast, he had sensed a responsibility. It was present in the closely drawn strips of faded cloth about his neck. It was, in a way, a part of the girl herself, a part of her flesh and blood, a part of her spirit—something vital to her and dependent upon him. He was ready to guard it with every instinct of caution and every ounce of courage there was in him. And to protect it meant to fight. That was the first law of his breed, the primal warning which came to him through the red blood of many generations of wilderness forefathers. So he listened, and he watched, and his blood pounded hot in his veins as he followed the footprints in the trail. A bit of brush, swinging suddenly free from where it had been prisoned by the storm, drew a snarl from him as he faced the sound with the quickness of a cat. A gray streak, passing swiftly over the trail ahead of him, stirred a low growl in his throat. It was a lynx, and for a space Peter paused, and then sped soft-footed past the moon-lit spot where the stiletto-clawed menace of the woods had passed.

Now that he was alone, and no longer accompanied by a human presence whose footsteps and scent held the wild things aloof and still, Peter felt nearer and nearer to him the beat and stir of life. Powerful beaks, instead of remaining closed and without sound, snapped and hissed at him as the big gray owls watched his passing. He heard the rustling of brush, soft as the stir of a woman's dress, where living things were secretly moving, and he heard the louder crash of clumsy and piggish feet, and caught the strong scent of a porcupine as it waddled to its midnight lunch of poplar bark. Then the trail ended, and Jolly Roger's scent led into the pathless forest, with its shifting streams and pools of moonlight, its shadows and black pits of darkness. And here—now—Peter began his trespass into the strongholds of the People of the Night. He heard a wolf howl, a cry filled with loneliness, yet with a shivering death-note in it; he caught the musky, skunkish odor of a fox that was stalking prey in the face of a whispering breath of wind; once, in a moment of dead stillness, he listened to the snap of teeth and the crackle of bones in one of the dark pits, where a fisher-cat—with eyes that gleamed like coals of fire—was devouring the warm and bleeding carcass of a mother partridge. And beaks snapped at him more menacingly as he went on, and gray shapes floated over his head, and now and then he heard the cries of dying things—the agonized squeak of a wood-mouse, the cry of a day-bird torn from its sleeping place by a sinuous, beady-eyed creature of fur and claw, the noisy screaming of a rabbit swooped upon and pierced to the vitals by one of the gray-feathered pirates of the air. And then, squarely in the center of a great pool of moonlight, Peter came upon a monster. It was a bear, a huge mother bear, with two butter-fat cubs wrestling and rolling in the moon glow. Peter had never seen a bear. But the mother, who raised her brown nose suddenly from the cool mold out of which she had been digging lily-bulbs, had seen dogs. She had seen many dogs, and she had heard their howl, and she knew that always they traveled with man. She gave a deep, chesty sniff, and close after that sniff a whoof that startled the cubs like the lashing end of a whip. They rolled to her, and with two cuffs of the mother's huge paws they were headed in the right direction, and all three crashed off into darkness.

In spite of his swelling heart Peter let out a little yip. It was a great satisfaction, just at a moment when his nerves were getting unsteady, to discover that a monster like this one in the moonlight was anxious to run away from him. And Peter went on, a bit of pride and jauntiness in his step, his bony tail a little higher.

A mile farther on, in another yellow pool of the moon, lay the partly devoured carcass of a fawn. A wolf had killed it, and had fed, and now two giant owls were rending and tearing in the flesh and bowels of what the wolf had left. They were Gargantuans of their kind, one a male, the other a female. Their talons warm in blood, their beaks red, their slow brains drunk with a ravenous greed, they rose on their great wings in sullen rage when Peter came suddenly upon them. He had ceased to be afraid of owls. There was something shivery in the gritting of their beaks, especially in the dark places, but they had never attacked him, and had always kept out of his reach. So their presence in a black spruce top directly over the dead fawn did not hold him back now. He sniffed at the fresh, sweet meat, and hunger all at once possessed him. Where the wolf had stripped open a tender flank he began to eat, and as he ate he growled, so that warning of his possessorship reached the spruce top.

In answer to it came a stir of wings, and the male owl launched himself out into the moon glow. The female followed. For a few moments they floated like gray ghosts over Peter, silent as the night shadows. Then, with the suddenness and speed of a bolt from a catapult, the giant male shot out of a silvery mist of gloom and struck Peter. The two rolled over the carcass of the fawn, and for a space Peter was dazed by the thundering beat of powerful wings, and the hammering of the owl's beak at the back of his neck. The male had missed his claw-hold, and driven by rage and ferocity, fought to impale his victim from the ground, without launching himself into the air again. Swiftly he struck, again and again, while his wings beat like clubs. Suddenly his talons sank into the cloth wrapped about Peter's neck. Terror and shock gave way to a fighting madness inside Peter now. He struck up, and buried his fangs in a mass of feathers so thick he could not feel the flesh. He tore at the padded breast, snarling and beating with his feet, and then, as the stiletto-points of the owl's talons sank through the cloth into his neck, his jaws closed on one of the huge bird's legs. His teeth sank deep, there was a snapping and grinding of tendon and bone, and a hissing squawk of pain and fear came from above him as the owl made a mighty effort to launch himself free. As the five-foot pinions beat the air Peter was lifted from the ground. But the owl's talons were hopelessly entangled in the cloth, and the two fell in a heap again. Peter scarcely sensed what happened after that, except that he was struggling against death. He closed his eyes, and the leg between his jaws was broken and twisted into pulp. The wings beat about him in a deafening thunder, and the owl's beak tore at his flesh, until the pool of moonlight in which they fought was red with blood. At last something gave way. There was a ghastly cry that was like the cry of neither bird nor beast, a weak flutter of wings, and Gargantua of the Air staggered up into the treetops and fell with a crash among the thick boughs of the spruce.

Peter raised himself weakly, the severed leg of the owl dropping from his jaws. He was half blinded. Every muscle in his body seemed to be torn and bleeding, yet in his discomfort the thrilling conviction came to him that he had won. He tensed himself for another attack, hugging the ground closely as he watched and waited, but no attack came. He could hear the flutter and wheeze of his maimed adversary, and slowly he drew himself back—still facing the scene of battle—until in a farther patch of gloom he turned once more to his business of following the trail of Jolly Roger McKay.

There was no mark of bravado in his advance now. If he had possessed an over-growing confidence, Gargantua's attack had set it back, and he stole like a shifty fox through the night. Driven into his brain was the knowledge that all things were not afraid of him, for even the snapping beaks and floating gray shapes to which he had paid but little attention had now become a deadly menace. His egoism had suffered a jolt, a healthful reaction from its too swift ascendency. He sensed the narrowness of his escape without the mental action of reasoning it out, and his injuries were secondary to the oppressive horror of the uncanny combat out of which he had come alive. Yet this horror was not a fear. Heretofore he had recognized the ghostly owl-shapes of night more or less as a curious part of darkness, inspiring neither like nor dislike in him. Now he hated them, and ever after his fangs gleamed white when one of them floated over his head.

He was badly hurt. There were ragged tears in his flank and back, and a last stroke of Gargantua's talons had stabbed his shoulder to the bone. Blood dripped from him, and one of his eyes was closing, so that shapes and shadows were grotesquely dim in the night. Instinct and caution, and the burning pains in his body, urged him to lie down in a thicket and wait for the day. But stronger than these were memory of the girl's urging voice, the vague thrill of the cloth still about his neck, and the freshness of Jolly Roger's trail as it kept straight on through the forest's moonlit corridors and caverns of gloom.

It was in the first graying light of July dawn that Peter dragged himself up the rough side of a ridge and looked down into a narrow strip of plain on the other side. Just as Nada had given up in weakness and despair, so now he was almost ready to quit. He had traveled miles since the owl fight, and his wounds had stiffened, and with every step gave him excruciating pain. His injured eye was entirely closed, and there was a strange, dull ache in the back of his head, where Gargantua had pounded him with his beak. The strip of valley, half hidden in its silvery mist of dawn, seemed a long distance away to Peter, and he dropped on his belly and began to lick his raw shoulder with a feverish tongue. He was sick and tired, and the futility of going farther oppressed him. He looked again down into the strip of plain, and whined.

Then, suddenly, he smelled something that was not the musty fog-mist that hung between the ridges. It was smoke. Peter's heart beat faster, and he pulled himself to his feet, and went in its direction.

Hidden in a little grassy cup between two great boulders that thrust themselves out from the face of the ridge, he found Jolly Roger. First he saw the smouldering embers of a fire that was almost out—and then his master. Jolly Roger was asleep. Storm-beaten and strangely haggard and gray his face was turned to the sky. Peter did not awaken him. There was something in his master's face that quieted the low whimper in his throat. Very gently he crept to him, and lay down. The movement, slight as it was, made the man stir. His hand rose, and then fell limply across Peter's body. But the fingers moved.

Unconsciously, as if guided by the spirit and prayer of the girl waiting far back in the forest, they twined about the cloth around Peter's neck—his message to his master.

And for a long time after that, as the sun rose over a wonderful world, Peter and his master slept.

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