E-text prepared by Al Haines
Transcriber's note: In the original book, the 's' in "Wu-las-tukw" is actually "s-acute", or Unicode U+015B, and the first 'u' in "Pu-kut" is actually "u-breve", or Unicode U+016D. In this e-text, both characters have been rendered as their standard ASCII equivalents.
THE KING'S ARROW
A Tale of the United Empire Loyalists
H. A. CODY
Author of "The Frontiersman," "The Long Patrol," "Glen of the High North," "Jess of the Rebel Trail," etc.
McClelland and Stewart Publishers Toronto George H. Doran Company
MY ANCESTORS OF THE UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS
Who Came to the St. John River, May, 1783,
This Book is Gratefully Dedicated
I WHEN THE CANNON ROARED II "COME AND TAKE IT" III CUPID'S ARROW IV THE WARNING V "TRY IT" VI WHEN THE BOW-STRING TWANGED VII OUT OF THE STORM VIII BENEATH THE SPREADING MAPLE IX LOVE'S CHARM X WHILE THE WATER FLOWS XI THE SUMMONS XII PLOTTERS IN COUNCIL XIII THE KING'S RANGERS XIV WHERE THE RANGERS LED XV THE LINE IN THE SAND XVI UNDER COVER OF NIGHT XVII THE UNKNOWN QUANTITY XVIII LOYAL FRIENDS XIX THE SMOKE SIGNAL XX TEMPERED PUNISHMENT XXI THROUGH THE WILDERNESS XXII IN DESPERATE STRAITS XXIII SIX CANDLES AND ONE XXIV TIMON OF THE WILDERNESS XXV UNMASKED XXVI BEHIND THE BOLTED DOOR XXVII THROUGH THE NIGHT AND THE STORM XXVIII WITHIN THE LONE CABIN XXIX SHELTERING ARMS XXX THE ROUND-UP XXXI PEACE AT EVENING TIME XXXII AFTER MANY DAYS XXXIII SEEDS OF EMPIRE
"Broad lands, ancestral homes, the gathered wealth Of patient toil and self-denying years Were confiscate and lost. . . . Not drooping like poor fugitives they came In exodus to our Canadian wilds, But full of heart and hope, with heads erect, And fearless eyes, victorious in defeat."
"No one will know, because none has told, all that those brave pioneers underwent for their devotion and fidelity. You will see to-day on the outskirts of the older settlements little mounds, moss-covered tombstones which record the last resting-places of the forefathers of the hamlet. They do not tell you of the brave hearts laid low by hunger and exposure, of the girlish forms washed away, of the babes and little children who perished for want of proper food and raiment. They have nothing to tell of the courageous, high-minded mothers, wives and daughters, who bore themselves as bravely as men, complaining never, toiling with men in the fields, banishing all regrets for the life they might have led had they sacrificed their loyalty. . . . No great monument is raised to their memory; none is needed; it is enshrined forever in the hearts of every Canadian and of every one who admires fidelity to principle, devotion and self-sacrifice."
"Romance of Canada," BECKLES H. WILLSON
THE KING'S ARROW
WHEN THE CANNON ROARED
A keen wind whipping in from the west swayed the tops of innumerable pines, firs, spruces, and maples. They were goodly trees, unharmed as yet by scathing fire or biting axe. Proudly they lifted their crests to the wind and the sun, while down below, their great boles were wrapped in perpetual shade and calm. Life, mysterious life, lurked within those brooding depths, and well did the friendly trees keep the many secrets of the denizens of the wild.
Through that trackless maze two wayfarers warily threaded their course on a chill May day in the year seventeen hundred and eighty-three. They were men, and their speed denoted the urgency of the business upon which they were bent. They were clad in buckskin jackets, and homespun trousers, which showed signs of hard usage. Moccasins encased their feet, and squirrel-skin caps sat lightly upon their heads. Each carried a heavy flint-lock musket in his hand, while at his side swung the inevitable powder-horn, hung low enough so as not to interfere with the small pack strapped across the shoulders.
Both travellers were peering intently forward, and when at length the glint of shimmering water glimmered through the trees their faces brightened with satisfaction. But just then the leader stopped dead in his tracks, and glanced anxiously to the left. He was an Indian of magnificent physique, and princely bearing, as straight as the trees around him. His companion, too, was standing in a listening attitude a few feet away. His keen ears had also caught a sound, and he knew its meaning. He was a white man, much younger than the Indian, although from his deeply-bronzed face he might have been mistaken for a native. He measured up nobly to the other in size and bearing, as well as in strength, woodland skill, and endurance on the trail.
"Slashers, Pete, eh?" he questioned in a low voice.
"A-ha-ha," was the reply. "No meet 'em, Dane. Too many. We go round."
Without another word he swung sharply to the right, and led the way to the water in a wide circle. Cautiously they approached the shore, and then keeping within the edge of the forest they moved slowly along, most of the time upon their hands and knees. Occasionally they paused to listen, but the only sounds they heard were the ones which had first arrested their attention, although much nearer now.
Presently they stopped and from a thicket of bushes drew forth a birch canoe, which had been cunningly hidden. It took them but a few minutes to carry it to the water, step lightly aboard, and push away from the shore. Each seized a paddle, and soon the canoe was headed for the open, with Dane squatting forward, and the Indian seated astern.
Less hardy souls would have hesitated ere venturing out upon that angry stretch of water in such a frail craft. The crooked Kennebacasis was showing its temper in no uncertain manner. Exposed to the full rake of the strong westerly wind, the waves were running high, and breaking into white-caps, threatened to engulf the reeling canoe. But the Indian was master of the situation, and steered so skilfully that only an occasional wisp of spray was flung on board.
They had gone about two hundred yards when a shot rang out from the shore, and a bullet whistled past their heads. Glancing quickly around, they saw several men in the distance with muskets in their hands. They were shouting words of defiance to which the canoeists made no reply. Intuitively Dane reached for his musket, but a sharp warning from the Indian caused him to desist.
"No shoot," he ordered. "Paddle. Quick."
And in truth there was urgent need, for the canoe had swung somewhat to the left and was in danger of being swamped by the big waves as they rolled and tossed their white foamy manes. Another bullet sang by as Dane drove his paddle into the water and forced the canoe into the eye of the wind just as a larger wave than usual was about to break. To attempt to shoot he realised would be useless, although he longed to have a try at the insulting slashers. But to reach the opposite shore in safety would require every ounce of strength and utmost skill, so he bent steadily to his task and paid no further heed to the men upon the shore.
Ahead lay two islands, separated by a narrow strip of water, and toward this opening they directed their course. It was a hard fight, and only men of great strength and thoroughly-developed muscles could have accomplished the task. Reeling, dipping, lifting, and sliding, the canoe pressed on, a fragile thing in the grip of an angry monster. But bear up it did and rode proudly at last into the smooth water between the two islands. Here the men rested and mopped their moist foreheads.
"Bad blow," the Indian casually remarked.
"Pretty heavy," Dane replied. "I wish the slashers had come after us."
"Slashers, ugh! Cowards! No come. Bimeby me ketch 'em. Me fix 'em, all sam' skunk."
Dane smiled as he again dipped his paddle into the water.
"Come, Pete, let's get on. There's a nasty run ahead, and it'll take us over two hours after we land to reach the Fort."
"Plenty rum to-night, eh?" the Indian queried, as he guided the canoe out into the open.
"Not plenty, remember, Pete. You've got to be careful this time and not take too much. If there are slashers hanging around the trading post they'll be only too anxious to get you drunk, and put you out of business. There's too much at stake to run any risk."
"Umph! me no get drunk," the Indian retorted. "Me no fool. Me no crazee white man."
It took them almost a half hour to cross to the mainland. Here they landed, concealed the canoe, and ate a frugal meal of bread and dried meat. This detained them but a short time, and they then started forth upon the trail which led along the river not far from the shore. They swung rapidly on their way, up hill and down, leaping small brooks, and crossing swamps overgrown with a tangle of alders, rank grass, and succulent weeds. Small game was plentiful. Rabbits scurried across the trail, and partridges rose and whirred among the trees. But the travellers never paused in their onward march. Although they had been on the way since early morning, they showed no sign of fatigue. Their strong athletic bodies, bent somewhat forward, swayed in rythmic motion, and their feet beat a silent tatoo upon the well-worn trail.
For over an hour they kept up this swinging gait, and only slowed down when at length the trail led them out of the thick forest into a great open portion of the country. This was marshland, and it spread out before them miles in extent. To the right were rugged wooded hills, while far away to the left the cold steel glitter of the Bay of Fundy could be distinctly seen.
For a few minutes they stopped to rest on this commanding elevation, Dane's whole soul athrill at the wonderful panorama thus suddenly presented to view. His eyes glowed, and he eagerly inhaled great draughts of the invigorating tang wafted in from the far distant sea.
"My, that's fine!" he ejaculated, giving a deep sigh of satisfaction. "That puts new life into one, eh, Pete?"
The Indian's mind, however, was not upon the marvellous things of nature. He was gazing intently down toward the marshland where something had attracted his attention.
"Plenty duck down dere," he replied. "Me get 'em bimeby."
Dane smiled, picked up his musket, and looked quizzically at his companion.
"Can't you see anything but ducks, Pete? What do you think of all that?" and he waved his hand to the left. "Isn't it great!"
"Umph!" the Indian grunted, "me see only duck; stummick say only 'duck.'"
"Come on, then, Pete," the young man ordered. "The sooner we get through with our business, the sooner you can come back for your ducks. One of those fat fellows would go well for supper."
Turning somewhat to the right, they followed the trail over the rugged hills, where through breaks in the trees they could catch occasional glimpses of the marsh and the water beyond. The way here was rough, and their progress somewhat slow. But steadily they plodded on, knowing that their destination was now not far off.
After crossing an exceptionally bad piece of ground, they came out upon a pleasant little lake lying like a gem among the hills. At its outlet was a small saw-mill, but now idle, and with no one in sight. Here they paused for a few minutes, and when they were about to proceed a great roar startled them. It was quickly followed by three more in rapid succession, and then all was still.
"It's the Fort cannon!" Dane exclaimed, much excited. "Something's happening over there. Maybe that old pirate, Crabtree, has come up the harbour again. He won't find Fort Howe as easy to take as Fort Frederick, let me tell you that. Come on, Pete, let's see the fun."
Hurrying on their way, ere long they reached the summit of a hill above the lake, from which position they were able to obtain the first view of the Fort away in the distance. The guns were silent now, and no sign of life could they see.
Below stretched a deep wooded valley through which the trail ran. It did not take the excited men long to speed down the hill and up the opposite side. The roar of the cannon had roused these hardy sons of the wild, and the fire of a new adventure thrilled their souls. The great guns had roared, and what else did it mean but a fight with a desperate foe in the narrow harbour? And if they could see the struggle, what a tale they would have to tell their comrades around the camp fires in the heart of the great forest.
As they gained the summit of the hill, the trail led them through clearings where the trees had been cut for fuel. Piles of brush were on all sides, and in places cords of wood lined the way which here widened into a rough road. They were coming into the limits of civilisation now, and the view of the Fort was much more distinct. The great guns gave no further voice, but as they neared the crest of the hill which slopes down to the harbour, a new and peculiar sound fell upon their ears. They paused and listened intently, but could not understand its meaning.
Cautiously they advanced, alert, and ready to flee to the shelter of the forest should occasion require. For a time nothing unusual could they see, although the strange sound was becoming more audible. Reaching at length the brow of the hill, they stopped dead in their tracks at a wonderful sight. Below lay the harbour, where vessels large and small were riding calmly at anchor. Where had they come from? and what were they doing there? Such were the questions which leaped to Dane's mind. Small boats were coming from the ships, loaded with people, while on the shore and some distance from the water throngs of men, women, and children were either huddled in groups, or hurrying to and fro in the most excited manner. Tents and rude brush shacks dotted the hillside, before which people were standing, while bundles and household effects were scattered about on every side.
Never had Dane been so greatly puzzled. Why had the Fort guns roared? What were those ships doing there in the harbour? That they did not belong to the pirates he felt certain, for they bore the English flag, and he could see red-coated soldiers mingling with the people on the shore. In his intense interest he forgot for the moment his important mission, and he was upon the point of hastening down the hill to find out for himself the meaning of the strange scene when Pete touched his arm.
"What all dat beeg fuss, eh?" he asked.
The Indian's question startled him, and brought him to himself.
"Blamed if I know, Pete," he replied. "It's beyond me, for I never saw anything like it before. Anyway, I'm going to find out. You take my pack and gun and go back to the lake. Get a duck for supper, a good big fat fellow. I'll be there as soon as I can, and tell you what I can learn at the Fort. We've run across something to-day, Pete, more than we expected."
"COME AND TAKE IT"
Fort Howe occupied an important position at the mouth of the St. John River when the present Province of New Brunswick was a part of Nova Scotia. It was well situated, and from the summit of a high hill commanded the harbour, a large stretch of the river, and the entire surrounding country for miles in extent. It looked down upon the ruins of Fort Frederick, which it replaced, and across to the site of another old Fort where the brave and noble Lady LaTour and her little band of men made their gallant resistance to a treacherous foe.
Fort Howe proved a great comfort to the trading post at Portland Point, and to the thirty or more families settled in the vicinity. Scarcely had it been erected, and its guns mounted, when the rapacious pirate from Machias, A. Greene Crabtree by name, appeared upon the scene, as he had done before with disastrous results. But this time he received the surprise of his life. He viewed with astonishment the new Fort upon the hill, and the flag of England floating from the ramparts. So great was his astonishment that he beat a hasty retreat, and troubled no more the little settlement at Portland Point.
Fort Howe was not a large place, containing in all two blockhouses and barracks, with twelve rooms for the officers, and accommodation for one hundred men. The armament consisted of two five and a half inch brass mortars, and eight iron guns, the latter including two eighteen-pounders, four six-pounders, and two four-pounders.
Although Fort Howe was small, yet it meant a great deal to the people scattered along the St. John River and its various tributaries. It was the seat of authority where all knew that true British justice would be meted out by the brave, sturdy commander in charge, Major Gilfred Studholme. It had a restraining influence upon restless, warlike Indians, and rebels dwelling along the river. At the same time it filled the hearts of all loyal, peaceful people with a feeling of security. To them it was a symbol of England's power, and they often discussed it around their camp fires, and in their lonely forest homes.
As Dane Norwood paused for a minute upon the brow of the opposite hill, after he had left the Indian, a feeling of pride and awe welled up in his heart as he looked across at the Fort. He had heard much about it, but never until this day had he set eyes upon the place. He saw the big flag fluttering in the breeze, and the black muzzels of the cannon frowning seaward. He longed to hear them roar again, and he wondered how far they would shoot, much farther, he had been told, than the largest flint-lock ever made.
Leaving the brow of the hill, he moved swiftly down a narrow trail which led to a large pond of water below. At its outlet was a tidal grist mill, back of which a strong dam had been built. Along this latter was a foot path which he followed, and soon reached the opposite bank. From here a well-constructed road, lined with trees, wound up the hill to the Fort. Dane walked somewhat slower now, and his heart beat fast. He was at the end of his long journey, and soon he would be in the presence of the man of whom he had heard so much. He slipped his hand beneath his buckskin jacket and felt, as he had done so often during the last three days, a small package hidden in an inside pocket. In a few minutes more it would be delivered into the hands of the owner, and his responsibility would be ended.
When part way up the hill he came to a strong barricade, where he was suddenly confronted and challenged by a sentry, who demanded where he was going and what he wanted.
"I have a message for the commander of the Fort," Dane told him. "I must see him at once."
"The Major is out at present," the soldier replied. "But let me have your message and I shall give it to him as soon as he comes back."
"I have orders to give it to the Major himself and to no one else," the courier explained. "It is very important."
"It certainly must be," and the soldier smiled. "But the Major is very busy to-day, so may not have time to see you. He is down at the trading post just now looking after the wants of those people who have come in the ships. They have upset things in general, and are making matters pretty lively around here, let me tell you that. The Major is almost at his wits' end."
"Who are they?" Dane eagerly asked, "and where did they come from?"
"Why, don't you know?" the soldier asked in surprise.
"No, I have not the least idea. When I heard the Fort guns roar, I thought maybe old Crabtree had come back again."
The soldier laughed and looked curiously at the young man.
"Say, where do you hail from, anyway, that you haven't heard about the coming of the Loyalists? Why, we've been expecting them for some time."
"I never heard of them," Dane confessed, "and have no idea who they are."
"They are the ones who stood by King George during the Revolutionary War, of course. When England gave up the fight, and peace was decided upon, the Loyalists were in a bad way. Their property was confiscated, and they themselves treated very badly. They would not live under the new flag of their enemies, so they got out, and here they are."
Dane glanced out toward the ships with the light of intense interest in his eyes. What a story he would have to tell his comrades in the wilderness. They all knew about the war, but no word had reached them of the coming of the Loyalists.
"Didn't you want them to come here?" he asked turning to the sentry.
"Want them? Why, we had nothing to say about the matter."
"But didn't you fire upon them? I heard the roar of the guns when out in the hills."
The soldier threw back his head and gave a hearty laugh. He was enjoying this conversation, as it broke the monotony of his duty.
"We weren't firing upon them," he explained. "That was only a salute of welcome."
"What are all those people going to do?" Dane asked. "How are they to make a living?"
"Oh, I suppose many will settle here, while others will take up land and farm. It will be some time, though, before everything is straightened out. Just look at that crowd down there," and he motioned to the trading post. "I guess we'll have our hands full keeping order. I don't envy the Major his job."
"And there are others he must handle as well," Dane replied. "I must see him at once. Which is the best road to take?"
"You better follow that one along the side of the hill," the soldier advised, pointing to the right. "There is a short cut down over the bank some distance ahead. You can't miss it. There is another along the waterfront leading to the mill-pond. That's the best one to take coming back."
Thanking the friendly sentry, Dane hurried away, and in about fifteen minutes came near the trading post. He walked slower now, greatly interested in everything he beheld, from the quaint store to the people gathered ground the building.
For years this post at Portland Point had been the Mecca for the entire country. The owners, Simonds and White, carried on an extensive trade with both Indians and whites. Enduring and overcoming great difficulties, they laid the foundation of what to-day is the City of St. John. The most important event, however, in all their career at Portland Point was the arrival of the thousands of exiles in their midst. They gave them a hearty welcome, and did all in their power to aid them in the land of their adoption.
As Dane approached the crowd, he looked keenly about for Major Studholme. Although he had never seen him, he imagined that he would know him at once. He surely would be a large man, of princely bearing, who would be busy issuing orders to his men. But although he saw a number of soldiers, there was no one who measured Up to his ideal of the commander of the Fort.
At length he observed a man, who from his uniform seemed to be an officer, seated at a small rough table near the store door. He was busy writing, and passing pieces of paper to men standing before him. Surely he must be the Major, Dane thought, so stepping forward, he stood for a few minutes close to the table. He soon learned that the officer was issuing orders to the Loyalists for boards, shingles, clapboards, and bricks for the building of their houses. For a while he had no chance to speak to the man, but waiting his opportunity, he at last stood before him.
"Are you Major Studholme?" he asked.
"No," the officer replied, laying down his pen with a sigh of weariness. "I am merely acting in the Major's place."
Then he looked at Dane more closely, and his interest became aroused. He knew at once that this young man was not one of the newly-arrived exiles, but a courier from the wilderness. He noted his buckskin garb, finely-built body, erect manner, and the bright open countenance. He had seen special couriers before, and they had all been men worthy of more than a passing glance. But this young man surpassed them all, and he looked upon him with admiration.
"Is there anything I can do for you?" he at length asked.
"I have a message for the Major," Dane explained, "and I must deliver it to him."
"Give it to me," and the officer reached out his hand. "I am Lieutenant Street, and I shall see that the Major gets it."
"That I cannot do," Dane replied as he drew back a step. "I have strict orders to give it to Major Studholme, and to no one else."
"It must be very important, then," and the officer smiled.
"It is, and the Major must get it at once. Where is he?"
"Over there," and the Lieutenant motioned across the water to the right where the small boats were still busy landing people from the ships. "He's got his hands full straightening things out. But he can do it if any one can."
The officer now turned his attention to several impatient men who were standing near, so further conversation was out of the question. Dane had taken no notice of those around him. Neither did he see three men watching his every movement. They had evidently overheard his conversation with the officer, and seemed greatly pleased. As Dane left the place and walked toward the road leading to the mill-pond, the three followed. They kept some distance behind until they came to a grove of rough tangled trees, when they started forward at a run. Dane, hearing them coming, stopped and looked back. Instinctively the caution of the wild possessed him, causing him to stand on the defensive, and his eyes to gleam with the light of danger.
"What do you want?" he demanded, as the three suddenly stopped before him. "You seem to be in a hurry."
"We are," one of the men replied. "We want that message you have for the Major."
"What do you want it for?"
"Never mind about that. Hand it over, and be damn quick about it, too."
Dane's body now quivered with excitement, and the thrill of battle swept upon him. His eyes narrowed until they became mere slits, and his hands clenched hard as he drew himself to his full height.
"If you want the message I carry, come and take it," he challenged. "That is the only way you can get it."
"Don't be a fool," another of the men warned. "You might as well hand over that message first as last. It will save you a lot of trouble. We're going to get it, so make up your mind to that."
"How?" Dane asked.
"Oh, you'll soon know. Out with it. We're in a hurry."
"So am I," Dane replied.
Then he slightly crouched, and with a sudden tiger-like spring he was upon them. A sledge-hammer drive to the jaw of one sent him reeling backwards among the trees, while a mighty swinging blow to the right crumpled up another in the middle of the road. So astonished was the third at this unexpected attack, and the complete knock-out of his companions, that he did not raise a hand in their defence. A sudden terror possessed him, so leaping aside just in time to escape the whirlwind of a man charging upon him, he ran as he had never run in his life before.
Dane stood looking after him, and a smile overspread his face.
"Hi, there, you've forgotten the message," he called. "Come back and get it."
But the man paid no heed. He kept steadily on, and only slowed down to a walk as he neared the store. Dane next turned his attention to the other two men. They had both recovered, and were sitting upon the ground, rubbing their injured faces in the most doleful manner.
"Why, what's the matter?" he bantered. "Did something hit you?"
"Did it?" one of them growled. "Did lightning ever hit a tree? Who in h—— are you, anyway?"
"Oh, I'm the man with the message. I've got it yet; don't you want it? I thought you were in a hurry."
As the crestfallen men made no reply, Dane stepped toward them.
"I'll tell you who I am," he began. "I am the King's Arrow. I go where I am sent, and I hit the bull's eye every time, and hit it hard, too. Do you doubt it?"
"Good Lord, no!" was the gasping confession from each.
"And let me tell you further," Dane continued, "that as I have dealt with you now, so others will deal with you in the future if you try any more of your mean tricks. Perhaps you will not get off so easily then as you have this time. I know who you are. You are employed by the slashers to spy upon the King's men, engaged in the lawful business of cutting masts for his Majesty's navy. They are well named, for they are slashing everywhere, and ruining the forests. But they have about reached the end of their tether, and you can tell them so from me, Dane Norwood, the King's Arrow."
Without another word he turned, and walked rapidly along the road leading to the mill-pond.
Before a rude shack, somewhat back from the water, a middle aged colored woman was seated upon a block of wood. In her hands she held a waffle-iron, the farther end of which was thrust into a small fire between several stones. She was a bunty little body, clad in a plain grey dress, with a cap, somewhat in the form of a white turban, adorning her head. Her naturally good-natured face bore an anxious expression, and a worried look appeared in her eyes as she turned them occasionally to the people moving about farther down the hill.
Presently she drew the iron from the fire, unclamped it, and with remarkable deftness turned out a nicely-browned waffle into a dish by her side. She then greased both halves of the pan, filled them with batter, reclamped the iron and thrust it again into the fire. This she did several times until the dish was almost filled with delicious-smelling waffles.
"Guess dey'll suit de Cun'l," she said to herself. "He's mighty fond of waffles, he shur' is. An' Missie Jean is, too, fo' dat matter. I wonder what's keepin' dem. Dey's generally on time fo' supper. But, den, t'ings are so upset dese days dat only de Lo'd knows what's goin' to happen next."
Then she began to sing in a subdued voice the Twenty-third psalm, the only piece she knew.
"I hab no doubt about de Lo'd bein' my Shepa'd," she commented, "an' I guess He'll not let me want. But He hasn't led me into green past'rs dis time. I wonder if de Good Lo'd made dis place, anyway," and she gazed ruefully around. "It looks to me as if de deb'l had a mighty big hand in it, fo' sich a mixed up contraption of a hole I nebber set my two eyes on befo'. An' to t'ink dat de Cun'l had to leab his nice home in Ol' Connec., an' come to a jumpin'-off place like dis. I hope de ever-lastin' fire will be seben times hot when it gits dem skunks dat stirred up ructions 'ginst good King George, I sa'tinly do."
A slight noise startled her, and turning her head, she smiled as she saw a girl standing near her side.
"Land sakes! Missie Jean, how yo' did scare me!" she exclaimed. "I thought mebbe it was a bear or a tager comin' out ob de woods, fo' one nebber knows what to 'spect next in dis place."
"I am sorry I frightened you, Mammy," the girl smilingly replied, "And it was too bad that I interrupted you in your interesting talk about 'everlasting fire,' 'ructions,' and 'King George.' You seem to be in a fighting mood."
"I is, Missie Jean, I is in a turrible fightin' mood. I'd like jes at dis very minute to hab my two hands on dem rascals dat turned on good King George, an' den druve us all out ob our homes. I'd show dem a t'ing or two, I sa'tinly would."
"I don't doubt it," the girl replied, as she stooped and helped herself to a waffle. "If you could fight as well as you can cook you would be a wonder."
"I could cook on our stove in Ol' Connec., Missie Jean, but it's mighty hard work on dat," and she looked contemptuously at the rude fire-place. "To t'ink that we should ebber come to dis!"
"Why, I think it's great, Mammy."
"What' not better'n Ol' Connec.?"
"Oh, not at all. But this might be worse. I miss our dear old home in Connecticut, and yet I have often longed for a life such as this. I am sure you will like it, too, Mammy, when you get used to it."
"I kin nebber git used to it, chile. I'se been torn up by de roots from de ol' home where I was born an' bred, an' I kin nebber take root agin, 'specially in sich a rocky hole as dis."
"But we're not going to stay here, Mammy. We are going up the river, and make a new home in a beautiful place among the trees."
"Ah, chile, dat's what makes me tremble. It's bad 'nuf here, de Lo'd knows, but up dere! Why, dere's bears, an' tagers dat'll eat ye up in a jiffy. An' dere's Injuns, too, dat'll skin ye alive, an' scalp ye, an' roast ye fo' dinner. No, I kin nebber take root in a place like dat."
"But we'll be pioneers, Mammy," the girl reminded. "Just think what an honour it will be to take part in holding this land for King George. People will be proud of what we are doing in years to come."
"I don't want to be no pioneers, Missie Jean, an' I'm not hankerin' after no honour. It suits dis ol' woman better to hab her skin an' scalp now, even if dey are black, den to hab folks ye don't know nuffin' 'bout blubberin' over ye a hundred years from now. Dem's my solemn sent'ments."
"But daddy thinks there is a great purpose in our coming here, Mammy. He says he believes that the Lord is overruling our defeat, and that the driving us out from our homes and scattering us abroad will be the means of extending King George's sway, and raising up a great nation in this land."
"Missie Jean," and Mammy raised a warning finger, "I doan want to predjis you 'ginst yer daddy's jeg'ment, remember. But I can't see de Lo'd's hand in dis racket. It doan seems nat'ral to me fo' de Lo'd to let King George lose a good an' beau'ful country, an' den gib him sich a jumpin'-off place as dis instead. An', chile, I doan believe dat de Lo'd ever meant yo' to come here."
"Why, Mammy? Do I look any the worse for it?"
"Yo' couldn't look worse, Missie Jean, not if yo' tried ebber so hard."
"Come, come, Mammy, I am surprised at you," and the girl's eyes sparkled with merriment. "What do you mean by saying I couldn't look worse? I didn't know I was as hideous as all that."
"I didn't say yo' was hidjus, Missie Jean. I jes said yo' couldn't look worse, an' ye can't. Yo' kin only look beau'ful. Why, chile, it makes my ol' heart ache when I t'ink of sich a lubly creature as yo' bein' buried alive 'way off in de woods."
"But I don't intend to be buried alive, Mammy. I hope to live a good many years yet, and only buried when I am dead."
"Ah, chile, dere is more ways den one of bein' buried alive. I am t'inkin' of de lonely life in de woods, wif no nice young men to look at yer pretty face, lubly eyes, an' beau'ful hair. An' ye'll hab no chance to wear fine clothes an' be admired."
"Mammy." There was a note in the girl's voice which caused the colored woman to glance quickly up.
"What is it, chile?"
"I want to tell you something, Mammy. This is not the time to talk about such things, nor to wail and lament about our lot. I have just been down helping some of those women with their children. They are almost heart-broken, and I did what I could to cheer them up. I have made up my mind that no matter how badly I feel, no one is to know anything about it. I am going to forget my own troubles in helping others. And, Mammy, I want you to do the same. If you talk to others as you have been talking to me, it will make them more depressed than ever. They need smiles, words of cheer, and a helping hand. And you can do that, remember. Never mind about me, or admiring young men. There are more serious things to think about just now."
"Land sakes, chile!" the colored woman exclaimed, holding up both hands. "I nebber heard yo' talk dat way befo'. But I guess yo're right, an' I'se ready to do what I kin. But here comes de Cun'l! An', oh, Missie Jean, de Major's wif him! Dere won't be 'nuf waffles to go 'round, an' de fire's 'most out. What in de world is I to do?"
"Never mind, Mammy," the girl comforted, "they have hardly time to think about eating. Just give them what you have."
"But dese waffles are col', chile, an' I know how fond men are of eatin'. Nuffin' kin make dem fergit dere stummicks."
Smiling at the colored woman's worries, Jean at once set to work to renew the fire. There were a few hot coals, so by the time the men arrived, she had the fire burning brightly, and Mammy was preparing to cook an extra supply of waffles.
Colonel Sterling was a fine looking man. His white hair, flowing beard, and commanding presence would have distinguished him in any company. His face was genial, and his grey eyes shone with pleasure and pride as they rested upon his daughter who now turned to meet him.
"Is supper ready, dear?" he enquired, "I am hungry, and I know the Major is, too."
"There is the supper," and Jean pointed to the dish of waffles. "But I'm afraid it's not much for two hungry men. The Major, I am sure, will find it pretty poor fare."
"Not at all, Miss Jean," the officer smilingly assured her. "I recall so well the choice waffles I had at your old home in Stamford the last time I visited there. And I am confident, too, that your excellent cook has lost none of her skill since then."
He looked toward Mammy as he spoke, causing the faithful servant almost to drop the iron she was holding, so great was her confusion at such a compliment from so great a person.
Major Gilfred Studholme was the right man in the right place at this critical time in the history of Portland Point. He had served with distinction on behalf of his King in numerous engagements, and his heart went out in sympathy to the thousands of refugees so suddenly thrust upon him for protection. This soldier had held his post secure in the face of hostile savages and lawless marauders, and he was equally faithful now in the discharge of his duties to the newcomers.
Leaving Mammy to recover from her embarrassment and to continue her cooking, Jean went into the little shack, the only home she now knew, and brought forth a small table. This she placed near the door, covered it with a white cloth, and again went inside for dishes. Her supply of the latter was most meagre, as the rest had not been unpacked. Her eyes grew a little misty as she recalled what the Major had said about the last time he had been with them in their old home in Stamford. She had a clear remembrance of that day, of the neatly-arranged table, with fresh flowers in the centre, and the light of pleasure and contentment upon her dear mother's face. What changes had taken place since then! Her mother had been laid to rest, the old home was gone, and they were exiles in a strange cruel land.
Hastily wiping her eyes with a delicately-embroidered handkerchief, she collected a few dishes, and had just reached the door when she suddenly stopped. Standing before the Major she saw a young man, clad in the most peculiar manner she had ever seen. But his face and bearing were what chiefly attracted her, while a pleasurable sensation, such as she had never before experienced, swept through her being.
"I am Dane Norwood," the young man was saying, "and I bring a message from William Davidson, the King's purveyor. Here it is," and he handed forth a letter he had taken from the inside pocket of his jacket.
"Are you in the King's service?" the Major asked as he took the missive.
"I am," was the reply. "I am a special courier, known as the 'King's Arrow,' and I always go where I am sent. That is why I am here."
"Where are your manners, then?" the Major demanded with a twinkle in his eyes.
"Manners! What manners?"
"When you approach a superior officer, of course."
"Oh, you mean the salute. I have heard of it, but never saw it given."
"What! you never saluted any one; not even the King's purveyor?"
"No. Where I live we are all equal when it comes to that. We never bother about such things. The only salute I know is the kind I handed out to those slashers a short time ago when they tried to take that message from me."
"Where was that?" the Major questioned.
"Just over there along that road," and Dane motioned to the right.
"Where are they now?"
"I think two are busy nursing their faces, while the third is hiding somewhere around the trading post. He was running that way the last time I saw him."
"And you defeated the three of them single-handed?"
"Why, that was nothing. I would be a mighty poor courier if I couldn't take care of myself, especially when slashers are around."
A bright smile illumined the Major's face as he held out his right hand.
"Young man, I am proud of you," he said, "and I shall mention you to the General Officers in my next report. We need such men as you to-day."
"I don't care for any honour," Dane replied. "I only want an answer to that letter, so I can get away early in the morning. Davidson is pretty anxious up river."
"Why, sure enough," the Major agreed. "I must not keep you longer than is necessary."
Opening the envelope, which was marked with a big broad arrow, he drew forth the paper within, unfolded it, and glanced rapidly over the contents. As he did so, a serious expression overspread his face, and he remained a minute or two lost in deep thought.
All this Jean had heard and seen from the door where she was standing with the dishes in her hands. When, however, the Major began to read the letter, she stepped outside, and placed the cups, saucers, and plates upon the table. It was then that Dane first saw her, and his eyes opened wide with surprise and admiration. Presently Jean turned, and seeing the courier's ardent gaze, her eyes dropped, and a deep flush of embarrassment suffused her face. This all happened in a few seconds, but in that brief space of time that quaint little archer, Cupid, had been busy, and two youthful hearts had been pierced by his subtle arrows.
Never before had Dane beheld such a vision of loveliness and maidenly charm. The girl fascinated him, and moved by a sudden impulse, he was upon the point of going to her side, fearful lest she should vanish, when the Major's voice restrained him.
"Come to the Fort early in the morning," he heard the officer say. "I wish to have a talk with you there."
"I shall be on hand, and early at that," Dane replied.
With another fleeting glance toward the girl, he turned and moved swiftly away toward the lake back in the hills.
Dane walked as in a dream along the trail to the lake. Something had come into his life during the last half hour which had wrought a subtle mystic change. He did not try to analyse it, as he had never experienced such a feeling before. He only knew that back there where the land slopes to the harbour he had beheld a vision which had thrilled his entire being. The face and form of the girl with the large questioning eyes were all that he saw as he hurried on his way. Everything else was blotted from his mind, even the urgency of his important mission. The spirit of the wild was upon him, and an overmastering impulse was surging through his heart. He must see her again; he must look upon her face; he must hear her speak. His passion was intense. It was a living fire, the ardour of a great first love.
The Indian noted the change which had come over his master, and wondered. He made no comment, however, as he squatted upon the ground, slowly turning a wooden spit on which a fat duck was roasting over a small fire. Dane sat down upon a log, with his eyes upon Pete, although in fact he was hardly aware what he was doing, for his thoughts were elsewhere.
When the duck was at last cooked, the Indian divided it, and gave half to Dane.
"Fine bird, dat," he remarked. "Me shoot him on wing. Taste good, eh?"
"Does it?" Dane asked, rousing for a minute from his reverie. He then relapsed into silence.
"What de matter?" Pete presently asked. "See sometin', eh?"
"Why, what makes you think there is anything the matter?" the young man queried.
"Dane so still. Dane no talk, no smile, no eat. Dane seek, mebbe. Bad medicine, eh?"
Dane laughed and looked at his companion.
"I am all right, Pete," he assured. "But I've seen and heard great things to-day. I also knocked out two slashers, while the third ran away."
"A-ha-ha, good," the Indian grunted. "Dem all slashers in beeg canoe, eh?" and he motioned toward the harbour.
"No, no; they are King George's people. They were driven out of their own homes, and have come here. There are thousands of them, so I learned."
"All stay here?"
"Some will, but many will go up river, and settle on the land."
"Ugh! too many white men dere now. Chase Injun, kill moose, ketch feesh. Injun all starve."
"Don't you worry about that," Dane replied. "These are all King George's people, so they will treat the Indians right."
"Mebbe so," and Pete shook his head in a somewhat doubtful manner. "Me see bimeby."
At length Dane rose to his feet, and looked over toward the harbour. The sun had disappeared beyond the far distant hills, and dusk was stealing up over the land. A stiff breeze was drifting in from the Bay, chilly and damp. Dane thought of the Loyalists in their wretched shacks, and of the ones who had no shelter at all. He longed to know how they were making out, and especially her who was so much in his mind.
"You stay here, Pete, and keep guard," he ordered. "I'm going to see how King George's people are making out."
"Come back soon, eh?" the Indian asked.
"I shall not be long, Pete. You get camp fixed up for the night, and keep the fire going."
"A-ha-ha. Me feex t'ings, a'right."
Leaving the Indian, Dane hurried away from the lake, descended into the valley, and climbed the hill on the opposite side. By the time he reached the height above the waterfront, the dusk had deepened into a weird darkness. Here he paused and looked down upon the strange scene below. Hundreds of camp-fires, large and small, emitted their fitful ruddy glow, while beyond, the lights of a score of anchored ships were reflected in the wind-ruffled water. A murmur of many voices drifted up to the silent watcher on the brow of the hill, mingled with shrill cries of children, and the sound of beating hammers, as weary men worked late at their rude dwellings.
Down into this Babel of confusion Dane slowly made his way. He passed the spot where he had met the Major, and he looked eagerly for the girl who had won his heart. But she was nowhere to be seen, although a small fire was burning near the shack, before which the colored woman was keeping watch, swaying her body, and humming her favourite psalm.
Farther down the hill the people had settled closer together, and as Dane moved through this strange medley of shacks, brush houses, tents, sails fastened to sticks driven into the ground, and other rude contrivances, he realised for the first time the sadly-pathetic condition of these outcast people. Although many of them were hidden from view, he could see numbers huddled about their fires, and children wrapped in blankets asleep upon the ground, while here and there tired mothers were nursing and soothing their fretful babes.
Little attention was paid to the young courier as he moved from place to place, except an occasional glance at his curious costume. In fact, most of these exiles were strangers to one another, as they had come on different ships, and had only met for the first time on the day of their landing. The ones who had sailed on the same vessels, and had thus become acquainted, naturally kept together as much as possible. But they were all comrades in distress, sufferers in a common cause, united by the golden bond of sympathy.
Down by the water men were sorting out and piling up their household effects, which had been carelessly dumped upon the shore. But others not so engaged were gathered in little groups around camp-fires, either discussing their present prospects, or relating their experiences on the vessels, and their hardships during and after the war. To some of these tales Dane listened with wide-eyed wonder, and a burning indignation in his heart. What stories he would have to tell when he went back to his woodland home.
All that he heard, however, was not of a sad or gloomy nature. These sturdy men enjoyed humorous yarns, and as Dane listened to several, he joined in the laughter that ensued. One, especially, appealed to him. It was told by a big strapping fellow, who hitherto had taken little part in the talk.
"Your yarns can't equal that of the shoemaker of Richmond, Virginia" he began. "When the rebels were passing through the town he stood in the door of his house and cried out 'Hurrah for King George.' He followed the soldiers to a wood, where they had halted, and began again to hurrah for King George. When the commanding officer and his aides had mounted and were moving on, the shoemaker followed, still hurrahing for King George. The officer, therefore, ordered that he should be taken to the river and ducked. This was done, and he was plunged several times under the water. But whenever his head appeared above the surface he would shout for King George. He was then taken to his own house, where his wife and four daughters were crying and beseeching him to hold his tongue. The top of a barrel of tar was knocked off, and the man was plunged in headlong. He was then pulled out by the heels, and rolled in a mass of feathers, from a bed which had been taken from his own house, until he presented a strange, horrible sight. But through it all, whenever he could get his mouth open, he would hurrah for King George. He was then driven out of the town, and the officer warned him that he would be shot if he troubled them again. That is the story as it was told me, and I think it a mighty good one."
Dane longed to hear more tales of that wonderful land, and of the great fights which had taken place. But just then a strange sound startled him. It was the roll of a drum, followed almost immediately by the shrill notes of several fifes. He could not see the musicians, as they were some distance away to the left. But he knew what they were playing, for he was quite familiar with the tune and words of the old fireside song. A sudden silence fell upon the little band around the fire. Bronzed faces became grave, and more than one man's eyes grew misty with honest tears.
Barely had the notes of this tune died away when the men were roused to action by the stirring strains of the National Anthem. They sprang to their feet as one, and stood at attention. Somewhere a strong voice took up the words, and in an instant all over that hillside hundreds of men and women were singing as they had never sung before.
God save our gracious King, Long live our noble King, God save the King.
Though driven from their homes; exiles in a strange land; surrounded by unknown dangers, and with a most uncertain future, nothing could dampen their spirit of loyalty to their King across the sea.
To Dane this was all wonderful. He longed to see the musicians, and to watch them as they played. He walked over in the direction from which the music had come, and had almost reached what he supposed was the spot, when he suddenly stopped. There before him he beheld the real object of his visit. She was seated on the ground before a fire, with several children gathered about her. They were all listening with rapt attention to some story she was telling them. Dane was held spellbound at the pretty scene before him. He could look upon the girl to his heart's content without being seen, for he was sheltered by a cluster of rough, tangled trees. In all his life he had never beheld such a beautiful face. He longed to know her name, and to hear her speak. He recalled the glance she had given him with her expressive eyes ere they had dropped before his ardent gaze. But he knew that he was nothing to her, and no doubt she had never thought of him again. How could he leave without finding out who she was, and where she was going? But she was a complete stranger to him, and he had no right to approach any nearer. It would be much better to worship at a distance and await a favourable opportunity.
Presently he was aroused by a slight noise near at hand. Glancing quickly around to his right, his keen eyes detected the form of a man slinking along among the bushes. Dane could not see his face, but from his attitude it was quite evident that the girl near the fire was the object of his special attention. At length he stopped, and, crouching behind a small pile of brush kept his eyes fixed upon the unsuspecting girl.
Dane was now thoroughly aroused, and he was about to spring forward and demand an explanation for the man's suspicious actions, when the crouching figure rose suddenly to a standing position, and then stepped quickly forward. The reason was at once apparent, for glancing toward the fire, Dane saw that the girl had just left the children to their parents' care with the evident intention of returning home. In order to do so, it was necessary for her to cross an upper portion of the hillside, considered too rough and rocky for any one to pitch his abode. There was not the slightest semblance of a trail, but the girl had traversed the place several times that day, so was quite sure of her way. Nevertheless, she glanced somewhat anxiously around as she hurried onward, especially so where the bushes and scrubby trees stood the thickest.
Dane followed the man who was slinking along after the girl, and for a while he was able to keep him in view. Then he disappeared among the trees, and as Dane stepped quickly forward so as not to miss him altogether, a sudden cry of fear fell upon his ears. That it came from the girl he was well aware; telling plainly that she was in need of help. He leaped at once to her assistance, and in another minute he saw her struggling in the arms of her assailant, and trying to free herself from his grasp. The next instant Dane was by her side, while a blow from the clenched fist of his right hand sent the cowardly villain reeling back among the trees. Then like a tiger Dane was upon him, his fingers clutching his throat as he pinned him to the ground. The fallen man fought and struggled desperately to tear away that fearful vise-like grip, but all in vain. At length his striving ceased, and his body relaxed. Then Dane unloosened his hold, and looked at the girl.
"Shall I kill him?" he asked.
"No, no!" was the startled reply. "That would be terrible!"
"But he tried to harm you. If I kill him, he won't have a chance to try again."
"Let him go," the girl pleaded. "Perhaps this will teach him a lesson."
Dane, however, hesitated. A passionate impulse urged him to make an end of such a cowardly creature. The spirit of the wild was strong upon him, and his nature craved complete satisfaction. How could it be otherwise? Steeped for years in the ways of the wilderness, he had become a part of all that he had seen and heard. He knew how the beasts of the forest and the monarchs of the air dealt with their prey. He had at times watched two great bull moose locked in deadly combat, until one had gone down to defeat and death. And around campfires at night he had listened to rough men as they related tales of terrible fights, grewsome murders, and sudden deaths. Everywhere he turned it was the same savage struggle, with only one outcome, the survival of the strongest, and death to the vanquished.
While he thus sat upon the fallen man's body, reasoning with himself what to do, the girl touched him lightly upon the arm.
"Let him go," she urged. "You wouldn't kill a man when he is down, would you? That would be cowardly."
This appeal had an immediate effect, and slowly, though somewhat reluctantly, Dane rose to his feet.
"He deserves to be killed," he growled. Then he touched the man with the toe of his right foot. "Get up, you brute," he ordered.
This command was at once obeyed. The defeated assailant scrambled to his feet, and started to move away. But Dane caught him roughly by the arm, and faced him sharply around.
"Just a word," he began. "You get clear this time, you devil, whoever you are. But if you lay hands on this young woman again I'll break every bone in your body. You won't escape, for I am Dane Norwood, the King's Arrow, and what I say I mean. Get out of this now as fast as you can."
The next instant the man was gone, swallowed up by the darkness.
"Oh, how can I ever thank you enough?" the girl impulsively asked. "You have saved me from that creature. I didn't know that he was here."
"Who is he?" Dane asked. "And where did he come from?"
"He is Seth Lupin, a man I hate and fear. He must have come on one of the other vessels, most likely as a stowaway. He is not a Loyalist, for he was a coward during the war, and has no right to be numbered among us. I am sure that daddy does not know he is here, and I am almost afraid to tell him for fear he might do something desperate to the villain. But, then, we shall soon be away from this place, so it is hardly likely that Seth will follow us."
They were walking slowly now, picking their way with difficulty across the rough hillside. Dane's soul was athrill in the presence of this girl who had affected him in such a wonderful manner. It was almost too good to be true that he had rescued her, and was now so close to her.
"Where are you going?" he asked.
"Up river, I believe. But just where I do not know. Daddy hasn't drawn his lot of land yet."
"What is your name?"
"I like it. But Jean what?"
"Did you ever live in the woods?"
"No. This is my first experience."
"Do you think you will like it? Won't you be afraid?"
"I am going to do my best to like it. And why should I be afraid?"
"Because of men, especially the slashers; that's why."
"Who are the slashers?"
"Rebels who oppose the King's men in cutting masts. They wander everywhere, slashing as they go, and ruining the forests."
"But why should I be afraid of them? They have never heard of me."
"But they will soon hear of you, though." Dane stopped abruptly, and laid his hand upon her arm. "Say, do you know how beautiful you are?"
Jean was somewhat startled by this strange question.
"What makes you ask that?"
"Because if you don't know, then you are not aware of your danger. That villain, Lupin, knows of your beauty, so he followed you here. The slashers and others will soon know, too, and I might not always be on hand. This is just a friendly warning."
Jean's heart was beating rapidly, while the darkness hid her flushed face.
"T-thank you," she stammered. "I think I understand your meaning, although I am not used to such plain words, especially from a stranger. But I feel I can trust you."
"In a country such as this we use plain language, Miss Sterling. I have warned you of your danger because I am deeply interested in your welfare. You can trust me, for, thank God, I have had a noble mother's training, and was taught to respect women. But, we are almost at your home, so I must leave you."
"Forgive me," Jean begged, as Dane was about to hurry away. "I appreciate what you have told me and done for me to-night, I shall always remember your kindness, and I hope to see you again."
"I hope so, too, and soon at that," was the fervent reply.
Dane hardly knew how he reached the lake. He felt that he had made a fool of himself. Never before had he spoken to a girl in such a straightforward manner. What must she think of him?
"I could not help it," he told himself. "She needed to be warned. She doesn't realise her danger. She can't surely know how beautiful she is."
The early morning sun, slanting in through a small window, found Major Studholme seated at his table lost in deep thought. The letter Dane had brought was lying open before him. Occasionally he glanced toward it, and each time his brow knitted in perplexity. At length he rose and paced rapidly up and down the room. With the exception of the table and a few stools this office was destitute of any furniture. It was as bleak as the hill upon which Fort Howe was situated. Here the men of the garrison received their orders, and it was here that the Major interviewed visitors from Portland Point, and couriers from all sections of the country. This commanding officer was the same to all men, so the humblest workman in the trading company's employ, or the uncouth native from the heart of the wilderness received just as much attention as men of high rank. Stern and unbending in the line of duty, Major Studholme realised the importance of his position, and that as a superior officer in the service of his King he must render even-handed justice, irrespective of color or rank. A sharp rat-tat-tat upon the door startled him.
"Come in," he called.
At once the door swung open, and a stalwart, sturdy man entered, carrying a stout stick in his hand which he used as a cane.
"Ah, good morning, Mr. Simonds," the Major accosted, his face brightening with pleasure and relief as he held out his hand. "I didn't expect you so early."
"Umph! this is not early," the visitor replied. "It seems late to me. Why, I've been up all night. Not a wink of sleep have I had. But, say, I've something here that'll refresh us both."
Drawing a flask from an inner pocket, he stepped forward and placed it upon the table.
"Have a noggin, Major. The Polly arrived last night, straight from the West Indies, and Leavitt brought me some special Old Jamaica. I thought maybe you'd like to test it."
In a twinkling two mugs were produced, and filled to the brim.
"To the King, God bless him," Simonds toasted.
"To the King," the Major responded, as he raised his mug and clinked it against the visitor's.
When this toast had been drunk, the Major again filled the mugs.
"Now, another," he cried. "To the Loyalists, especially to Colonel Sterling's daughter, the fairest of them all."
"To the Loyalists and the Colonel's daughter," Simonds repeated.
Again the mugs clinked, and two honest men drank their second toast. This done, they took their seats at the table, and settled down to business of a most important nature.
James Simonds was really the business pioneer of Portland Point. He was a man of outstanding ability and remarkable energy. For years he had been the moving spirit and leader in numerous enterprises. Of him and his partner, James White, it was said that "At one time the fishery claimed their attention, at another the Indian trade; at one time the building of houses for themselves and their tenants, at another the dyking of the marsh; at one time they were engaged in the erection of a mill, at another the building of a schooner; at one time they were making a wharf, at another laying out roads or clearing land; at one time they were furnishing supplies and cordwood to the garrison, at another in burning and shipping lime." In addition to this they owned and employed a score of vessels, both schooners and sloops, which plied not only on the river, but beyond the Bay to distant ports.
It was only natural that the commanding officer of Fort Howe should call upon the senior partner of the company for advice and assistance in time of need. And two serious problems had now been thrust upon him. One was the care and disposal of the three thousand Loyalists; the other, the arrival of Dane Norwood with news of threatening trouble up river.
"How many vessels have you on hand?" the Major asked.
"Only a few," Simonds replied. "But I expect several more in a few days. The Peggy & Molly is already spoken for by the people on the Union. They haven't disembarked, as they plan to go up river at once."
"And you say the Polly arrived last night?"
"Yes, and she is unloading now."
"Well, I want you to keep her for Colonel Sterling, and a number of other people."
"So the Colonel is going to leave, is he? I was hoping that he would stay here. Where does he expect to settle?"
"It is not decided yet. However, we shall know in a few days when the lots are drawn."
"There will be a big load, I suppose. They'll want to take their boards, shingles, and household effects, no doubt."
"Yes, if you can manage it; otherwise Leavitt will have to make two trips. And there is something else I want to send."
The Major leaned forward, and touched the letter lying upon the table.
"I received this yesterday from Davidson," he explained, "and he requests immediate help."
"He does? What's wrong?"
"The slashers are giving him no end of trouble. There is danger of a serious outbreak, and he has not enough men to cope with the situation."
"So he wants you to send soldiers?"
"He does, and at once. But I cannot spare any men now, as I have barely enough to guard this place. There are rebels in our midst, and it is hard to tell what mischief they are planning."
"How do you know that?" the trader asked in surprise. "I thought they were all up river."
"And so did I until last night. But the young man who brought this letter from Davidson was attacked by three slashers as he was searching for me. They met him as he was coming from your store along the waterfront. Fortunately he was able to put the three to route."
"How did he know they were slashers?"
"Because they demanded the letter he was carrying. It proves that they were spies, and knew from whence the courier had come."
"It does seem reasonable," the trader agreed. "But I did not know they were hanging around our store. There has been such a crowd there, though, the last two days that I could not tell the slashers from the Loyalists. However, I shall keep a sharp watch after this, and if I catch them I shall let you know at once. But what about Davidson? He must be hard pressed, or he would not have sent you that urgent appeal."
"I can't send him any men, Mr. Simonds, that's certain," and the Major thrummed upon the table as he spoke. "Why, it would take a regiment to do any good, and I have barely fifty men in all. But I am going to send him a supply of guns and ammunition. They must go on the Polly, and you are to give Leavitt strict instructions to see that they are delivered to Davidson as speedily as possible. That is the best I can do."
A sharp rap sounded upon the door, and at once a soldier entered. He advanced to the centre of the room, stopped, clicked his heels together, saluted, and stood at attention.
"Well, Parker, what is it?" the Major asked..
"A man to see you, sir."
"Send him in at once."
Again the soldier saluted, wheeled, and left the room. In another minute Dane entered, and at once walked over to where the two men were sitting. His free and easy manner was in striking contrast to the soldier's, and this the Major noted. He admired the courier's frank open countenance, and clear, fearless eyes. He was a man after his own heart.
"I am glad to see you on time," he accosted.
"I generally try to be," Dane replied. "Have you the message for Davidson?"
"It's not ready yet, but I shall write it at once."
The Major turned to the table, drew a sheet of paper toward him, and picked up a quill pen, which he examined critically before dipping it into the ink. Again he turned to the courier.
"The situation is serious up river, is it not?" he asked.
"It certainly is. Davidson must have help."
"Where is the greatest danger?"
"That is hard to tell. The slashers are scattered over a wide extent of country, and are to be found in most unexpected places. Why, you have them in and around here. My Indian and I were fired upon yesterday while crossing the Kennebacasis, and I was attacked by three while leaving the trading post."
"And you were fired upon yesterday, you say?" the Major asked in surprise. "How far out?"
"About ten miles. We had just crossed the portage from the main river to the Kennebacasis when we heard the slashers at work. We launched our canoe, and were heading for this side when they blazed at us several times."
"Dear me! Dear me!" the Major groaned. "I didn't know they were as bold as all that."
"And they will be bolder yet," Dane warned.
"In what way?"
"They will stir up the Indians, if I am not much mistaken."
"But the Indians are friendly to us. Why, we made a treaty with them right here nearly five years ago."
"I know that. But the Indians have become quite restless of late. When the war was on they received special attention from the English and the Americans. Both sides were anxious to win their good will and support, and gave them many presents. But now that the war is over the Indians are neglected, so they are becoming surly, and ready for mischief. Mark my word, the arrival of these Loyalists will make matters worse."
"In what way?"
"The slashers will do their utmost to stir up the Indians. They will tell them that these newcomers will settle on their hunting-grounds, and kill all their game, while they will be driven out and left to starve."
"Surely they will not do that."
"They have been doing it already, although they know nothing as yet about the coming of the Loyalists. They have been filling the minds of the Indians with all kinds of false stories. So far their words have had little definite effect, but when the natives see so many white people settling along the river, I am afraid they will remember what the slashers have told them, and trouble will follow. Some of the Indians, I am sure, will stand by the treaty, but I have my doubts about many others."
During this conversation Mr. Simonds had been a silent and interested listener. When, however, Dane had ended, he brought his stick down upon the floor with a bang.
"I believe you are right, young man," he began. "White and I have had our suspicions of this for some time, and your words confirm what we have by chance heard. Where do you live, and how is it I have never seen you before?"
"I live in no special place," Dane replied. "My business as the King's Arrow takes me everywhere, although this is the first time I have been sent here."
"How did you come to get that name?"
"Davidson gave it to me. You know, every white pine that is considered suitable for the King's navy is marked with a broad arrow, I guess that suggested the idea to Davidson, as I am always darting here and there like an arrow. Anyway, the name has stuck to me ever since."
"And well that it should," the trader agreed, nodding his head in approval. "Don't you think so, Major?"
The latter, however, was busily writing, so did not hear the question. Presently he paused and turned to the courier.
"So you think the Loyalists will be in danger along the river?" he asked.
"They will, unless the slashers and others who are against the King can be stopped."
"Who is the ringleader in this rebellion?"
For the first time since entering the room Dane failed to reply. His bronzed face flushed, and his eyes dropped. This both the Major and the trader noted, and their curiosity became aroused. They felt that this courier knew more than he was willing to divulge.
"Are you afraid to tell?" the Major questioned.
Dane suddenly lifted his head, and an angry expression glowed in his eyes.
"Do you think I am afraid?" he demanded. "Do I look it?"
"Well, no," and the Major slightly smiled. "But why will you not tell me the name of the ringleader?"
"Because I have a special reason."
"Suppose I make you?"
Although this reply was low and calm, yet the Major had sufficient knowledge of human nature to know that those two small words meant a great deal. He truly realised that nothing, not even death, could force this sturdy courier to divulge the secret against his will. He wisely dropped the subject, and turned again to the table. Nothing now was heard in the room but the scratching of the quill across the paper as the Major fashioned the bold comely letters of his answer to William Davidson, the King's purveyor. When he had signed his name, he picked up a small sand-box, and lightly sprinkled the paper. This done, he rose to his feet, crossed the room, and opened the door.
"Parker, bring me a fire," he ordered.
The soldier thus addressed evidently knew what was needed, for in a few minutes he entered, bearing in his hands a small iron receptacle containing a few hot coals. He stood perfectly rigid before the table while the Major held a stick of sealing-wax to the hot iron, and allowed a few drops to fall upon the back of the folded letter. When the Major had pressed his signet ring upon the wax, the task was finished, the soldier saluted and left the room. After the Major had addressed the letter, and sprinkled it until the ink was dry, he handed it to the courier.
"Take this to Davidson," he ordered. "I am glad that I have met you, young man, and I hope to hear from you again."
Dane took the letter, placed it carefully in an inside pocket of his jacket, bade the two men good morning, and at once left the room.
"What do you think of him?" the Major asked turning toward the trader.
"A remarkable young man," was the emphatic reply. "But I am surprised that I have not heard of him before."
"It is strange. But look here, Mr. Simonds," and the Major brought his fist down heavily upon the table, "if I had a regiment of men like that courier to send to Davidson, we would have no more trouble with the slashers and other rebels."
"You're about right, Major. But I'm wondering why he refused to tell us the name of that ringleader. I must get White to work at this. He may be able to find out, for he can do more with the Indians than anybody else."
"I wish you would look carefully into this matter," the Major replied. "If we can round up that ringleader, it may put a sudden stop to the whole trouble. I shall send half of my men to capture him if he can be found."
WHEN THE BOW-STRING TWANGED
The little schooner Polly, of twenty tons burden, had come on the flood tide up through the Reversible Falls. She had then slipped out of the Narrows where the grey, weather-beaten limestone rocks frown high on both sides, and was clipping merrily across the big basin of Grand Bay straight for Beaubear's River. She was well loaded, for over a dozen families were on board, with their household effects, together with a large supply of boards and shingles. In addition, there were the guns which Major Studholme was sending up river to William Davidson, the King's purveyor.
It was a beautiful early June day, and as Jean Sterling stood close at the bow she thought that she had never beheld a more perfect sight. Everywhere she looked great sweeping forests were to be seen crowding to the very water's edge. She breathed a deep sigh of relief, for she was glad to be speeding at last toward her new home in the wilderness. Surely there she would find refuge from the man who had been dogging her steps ever since she landed at Portland Point. He had not spoken to her after his defeat by Dane Norwood, but she knew that he had ever been near, following and watching her wherever she went. She thought, too, of him who had rescued her that night, and her eyes brightened. He had seldom been out of her mind since then, and she recalled again his pleasing presence and the words he had spoken. She wondered if she should ever see him again, or whether he had forgotten her altogether.
She was aroused by her father's voice, and glancing quickly around she saw him coming toward her, and with him the captain of the schooner, Jonathan Leavitt.
"Been indulging in day-dreams?" her father asked.
"I believe I have," she smilingly replied, while a conscious blush stole into her cheeks. "And why shouldn't I?" she hastily added. "Who could help having daydreams in such a wonderful place as this?"
"I am glad to see you so bright and happy, dear. Poor Old Mammy is indulging in night-dreams, and moaning about our terrible lot."
"Night-mares, I should say," the captain laughingly corrected. "To hear her wail and lament one would think that we are all going to be scalped alive before morning."
"And there are others who have the same idea," the Colonel replied. "They can see nothing but misery and death right ahead."
"But is there any real danger, captain?" Jean asked.
"There is always more or less danger in a country such as this," was the quiet reply. "This river has witnessed stirring scenes. Look at those little clearings over yonder, for instance," and he pointed to the western shore. "A few settlers had their homes there, but the Indians drove them out, and burned their houses. It has been the same in other places, and it may happen again. But I have made many trips on this river, and the natives have never troubled me yet. It may be because I sail on the Polly," he added with a twinkle in his eyes.
"What has the Polly to do with it, captain?"
"Oh, she leads a charmed life. She has got into no end of difficult places, but has always come out on top. I have driven her through storms between here and the West Indies that would have swamped a much larger vessel. At one time she was forced by a wild gale on the top of the wharf at Newburyport. But she was pulled off all right. Several times she was captured by pirates, though generally she was able to show her heels in a lively manner to the fastest pursuer. She has carried all kinds of loads, from fish taken at Annapolis and Passamaquoddy to barrels of rum from Jamaica. But this is the most important cargo she ever carried, and she seems proud of it. She's English to the core, the Polly is. Now, look how she swings away from that point. She doesn't like the place."
"Why?" the colonel asked. "It is a most beautiful spot."
"Indeed it is, but the Polly always shies off when she comes here. No doubt it's due to the current from that little stream, the Beaubear, but I like to think that this schooner knows that the old French Fort, Boishebert, was situated on that point. You can see the ruins of the place from here. No, the Polly doesn't like the French; guess she's had too much to do with them, the same as her captain."
They were out of Grand Bay now and bearing up through a fine stretch of water known as the "Long Reach." The land on both sides of the river was rugged, while far ahead the outlines of several islands could be discerned.
"And there's another," the captain exclaimed in disgust.
"Another what?" Jean asked.
"Oh, a place where the French once held out. It's that first island you see away up there. The Indian name is 'Ah-men-henik,' but the French called it 'Isle au Garce,' for what reason I don't know. Anyway, there were lively times on that island when the French had a trading post there. It now belongs to Captain Isaac Caton. There's a small rocky island a little above, which the French called 'Isle de trent,' while just above is the 'Isle of Vines.' It is in behind that where you are to land, just below Oak Point."
"Is it a pretty place?" Jean asked, now much excited. "Have you ever been there?"
"Not often, Miss. I generally keep out in the main channel, as I haven't the time to run into any of the out-of-the-way places. But I guess you'll like it all right."
"I am going to like it," the girl declared with enthusiasm. "And what is more, I am going to do my best to make others like it, too. It will be our home only for a while until daddy and the other men can look around and choose places where they are to settle permanently. Mammy, I believe, will be the hardest one to manage. She means well, and makes all kinds of promises, though she is very forgetful. I must now go and cheer her up."
An hour and a half later the Polly left the channel and glided in through a narrow opening between the first island and the mainland. Captain Leavitt was at the wheel, for navigation here was difficult. Jean was standing by his side, her eyes and face aglow with animation.
"What a wonderful and beautiful place this is!" she exclaimed. "Those islands lying over there, and that long point running out into the river make this a perfect harbour. Where do we land, captain?"
"Straight ahead, Miss, where those big pines stand the thickest," the captain replied as he gave the wheel a rapid turn to the left. "Say, I nearly struck that bar," he added. "I didn't know it ran out so far from the island."
In less than a half hour the Polly was brought up head to the wind, and the anchor dropped. The small boat, which had been towed astern, was brought into service, and the passengers taken ashore. It was a snug cove where these exiles had determined for a time to make their wilderness home. The land lifted gradually back to the high hills, all covered with a dense forest. Eastward, toward the point, the trees were thinner, and in some spots the land had been cleared, evidently by early French settlers. To the northwest the water extended inland in the form of a marshy creek, with a fair-sized brook beyond, flanked on both sides by high hills.
It wanted but two hours to sunset when the passengers were landed, and their household effects brought ashore. It was a busy time, for camping sites had to be chosen, underbrush cleared away, and tents pitched. But men and women alike worked with a hearty good will. There was something thrilling and invigorating in this new and strange life. It was most restful after the tumult and distractions of war, the unpleasant ocean voyage, and the landing at desolate Portland Point. The warmth and brightness of the day, the fragrance of the forest, and the happy laughter of children racing along the sandy shore charmed and inspired the parents' hearts. Even Old Mammy forgot for a time her gloomy forbodings, and was quite cheerful as she helped Jean to unpack some of their household belongings.
The Colonel had pitched his tent in a snug retreat several rods back from the water. When the last peg had been driven securely into the ground, he stepped back to view the effect.
"How does that suit you, dear?" he asked, turning to Jean who was standing near by.
"I think it is great, daddy," was the enthusiastic reply. "This is the happiest and most peaceful time I have known for years. It is like a perfect calm after a terrible storm."
"I am very thankful, Jean, that our wanderings are at last ended. Here we shall stay for a time until we can choose a suitable place for our future home. When we get our house built we should be quite comfortable. We are on English soil, at any rate, and that is a great satisfaction. We are not likely to be molested here."
"Not if the Indians and rebels leave us alone, daddy."
"You must not worry about them, dear. We have had no quarrel with them, so why should they molest us? I feel that we are perfectly safe."
Night at length shut down slowly over the land, and a deep silence reigned on all sides. The weary children were asleep in the tents, and men and women were gathered upon the shore. A fire of drift-wood had been built, and around the bright cheerful blaze all were gathered. The small crew of the schooner had come ashore, and were taking part in the general conversation. For some time they sat there, talking of bygone days and plans for the future.
Colonel Sterling took little part in the talk. He sat upon a block of wood, with Jean seated on the ground by his side, her right arm resting upon his knee as she gazed dreamily into the fire. He was much interested in studying the flame-illumined faces of that little circle of men and women. He knew the history of their lives, what they had suffered during the war, and how much they had sacrificed for conscience's sake. A few were bowed with age, and their late trials had deepened the furrows upon their faces, and increased the whiteness of their hoary heads. Upon them the removal from their old homes had been the hardest. There were others, middle-aged men and women, whose eyes glowed with the light of a high resolve. Their features expressed determination which nothing could daunt. These said but little, leaving the younger ones to do most of the talking. There were youths and maidens, more free from care than their elders, who chatted and laughed in the most animated manner.
As the evening wore on and the conversation gradually died down, Simon Winters brought forth his fife and began to play an old familiar tune. At once all talking ceased, and hearts thrilled with memories of other days. Several tunes did Simon play, and when he had ended, the Colonel brought forth a small, well-worn book from an inside coat pocket. This he opened and then glanced around upon the little band.
"Friends," he began, "the hour is late, and we are all weary. But ere we separate, I ask you to join with me in a brief service of prayer and praise. But first of all, we need a message from the Great Book."
Then in a clear strong voice he read the ninety-first psalm, and as the words of promise sounded forth an intense silence reigned. The psalm ended, the Colonel closed the book, and dropping upon his knees began to repeat the Lord's Prayer. All immediately followed his example, including the captain and the crew of the schooner. As they rose to their feet, one man started to sing. The words and tune were familiar, and in another minute old and young were lifting up their voices in Isaac Watts' grand hymn of comfort and hope.
O God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come, Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home.
Never before had the silent, brooding forest witnessed a like gathering, nor its dark mysterious depths re-echoed with such unfamiliar sounds. But that camp-fire scene was merely a prelude to the tide of progress already setting, when unnamed rivers, hidden lakes, crouching valleys, lofty hills, and secret woodland depths would know those sounds, and rejoice in the knowledge.
An hour later silence reigned over the camp in the wilderness, broken only by the occasional hoot of an owl, or the light steps of some little forest creature.
About midnight the moon rose beyond the eastern hills, and rode high above the Isle of Vines. It cast its bright beams across the now placid water, and stole on furtive foot into the camping ground of the weary sleepers. As the river and shore thus became illuminated, a tall Indian stepped out from the darkness of the forest, and stood for a few minutes gazing upon the ghost-like tents. In one hand he carried a heavy flint-lock, and in the other a string of fine trout, while across his right shoulder hung a long bow and several arrows. He was not at all surprised at the sight before him, as he had been lurking near all the evening, watching with intense interest the group about the camp-fire. His attention now, however, was fixed upon the tent where Jean and Old Mammy were sleeping, and the Colonel's form wrapped in his blankets just outside.
At length he placed his gun and fish upon the ground, unslung the bow from his back, and fitted an arrow to its place. Then the bow-string twanged, and the arrow hurtled through the air, and sank deep into a great pine tree a few feet from where the Colonel was lying. For several minutes the Indian stood as motionless as the trees around him. Then picking up the fish, he glided silently forward, and reaching the pine, he fastened them to the embedded arrow. This done, he cast a quick glance toward the still form near at hand, turned and moved swiftly away. In another minute he had recovered his weapons, and disappeared in the depths of the great gloomy forest.
OUT OF THE STORM
Early the next morning Old Mammy drew back the flap of the tent, stepped outside, and waddled over to where she had prepared supper the previous evening. She had always prided herself upon being the first to rise, and she was determined that she would continue the custom here in the wilderness.
The sun had just risen above the far off eastern horizon, and was struggling to disentangle itself from the drifting tresses of fog hanging in massy banks over the river. Slowly but surely it slipped away from each misty, tremulous embrace, and then like a giant refreshed by the encounter assumed the offensive. Before the mighty champion's silent fiery darts the surging foggy battalions wavered, loosened their hold on river and land, and broke in utter confusion. Wildly they scattered and fled, but escape they could not, and ere long not the slightest vestige remained of their once proud ranks.
Of all this Old Mammy saw nothing, as she was too busy digging among the ashes of the fire-place for a few live coals. It was only Jean who witnessed the magnificent sight. She had slipped out of the tent shortly after her old servant, and had hurried down to the shore for her morning wash. Here Mother Nature had provided her with basin and mirror combined in the calm water at her feet. Straight and lithe she stood, her dark, unbound hair flowing in ripples to her waist. Her face, turned eastward, was aglow with health and animation, and her eyes shone with the light of a joyous surprise.
"Isn't it wonderful!" she breathed. "I never saw anything like it. Why, it's a real fairy-land."
She was startled by a cry from Mammy, and turning quickly around, she saw the woman pointing excitedly to the big pine tree. The Colonel, aroused from slumber, had leaped to his feet, and was staring straight before him as Jean hurried up from the shore.
"What is the matter?" the girl asked.
"Look, look!" Mammy cried, pointing to the tree. "De debbil has been here."
Jean's eyes were now resting upon the object of the woman's excitement, and she, too, was filled with astonishment. She stared at the trout and the arrow, and then looked wonderingly at her father.
"How do you suppose they got there, daddy?" she questioned.
"It was de debbil, I tell ye," Mammy insisted before the Colonel could speak. "He's been in dis place, an' dat's his mark."
"He must be very friendly, then," the Colonel replied. "I don't mind how often he comes if he leaves fish, and they are trout at that."
By this time the entire camp had been aroused, and men, women and children were gathered near, gazing with wide-eyed astonishment upon the big pine. There were numerous conjectures as to the meaning of the arrow and the fish. Most, however, were of the opinion that it was the work of Indians, and that no doubt they were lurking near. Fearful glances were cast along the silent forest aisles, and vivid imagination pictured dusky warriors ready to swoop down with terrible war-whoops. But Old Mammy scoffed at this idea.
"It's de debbil, I tell ye, an' no Injun," she declared. "Dat's his mark, an' he's plannin' some mischief. It's a warnin' to us all. We nebber should hab come to sich a place as dis."
The Colonel listened with considerable amusement to what was being said. At length, however, he stepped forward and laid his right hand upon the fish. With a cry of fear Mammy sprang to his side.
"Doan touch 'em! Doan touch 'em!" she shrieked. "It ain't safe! It ain't safe!"
"Why, Mammy, what do you mean?" the Colonel asked.
"Go 'way, go 'way," the excited woman pleaded. "Dey belong to de debbil, an' he'll bewitch ye. Doan touch 'em."
"Look here, Mammy," and there was a note of sternness in the Colonel's voice, "I want you to be quiet. I thought you had more sense. The devil had nothing to do with this. It's the Lord's arrow, it seems to me. He sent the ravens of old to feed his faithful servant in the wilderness, so perhaps he has sent the Indians to do the same to us now. Anyway, we are going to have a taste of fish for breakfast. It would be a shame to throw away such excellent trout."
Jean had been a silent and interested spectator of all that had taken place. Like her father she was somewhat amused at the various expressions of fear. She was not afraid of the Indians, neither was she superstitious enough to believe that the devil had anything to do with the arrow and the fish. But when the Colonel spoke about the "Lord's Arrow," she gave a sudden start, while the light of understanding dawned in her eyes. The "King's Arrow" at once came into her mind, and she thought of him who had come to her rescue at Portland Point. Could it be possible that he had anything to do with it? she asked herself. Was that arrow a token that he was near? And were the fish a sign of his care? She glanced around as if expecting to see him emerge from the forest to explain the whole matter. Her heart beat fast, and the rich blood tingled to her cheeks. She withdrew a few steps lest her confusion should be observed. The King's Arrow. The King's Arrow. It kept surging through her mind. It could be no one else, she reasoned. She longed to speak, to tell of the discovery she had made. But how could she explain? Would she not betray her feelings, and thus increase her embarrassment? Would it not be better to remain silent than to lay bare to others the thoughts which were agitating her heart and mind?
She was aroused by her father bidding her to help prepare one of the fish for breakfast, as Mammy would have nothing to do with it. She obeyed with alacrity, pleased to have something to do. As she looked upon the speckled beauty she thought how like an arrow it appeared; its long, lithe body resembling the smooth shaft; the head and gills the barbed point; and the spreading tail the feathered end. She wondered if there was a meaning in all this, or was it merely her own foolish imagination?
She thought much about this during the days that followed, although she mentioned it to no one, not even to Old Mammy. For several nights a number of the younger men had kept watch, with their special attention directed to the big pine. This, however, soon proved very irksome, and as nothing further happened, the watch was discontinued. The men worked hard by day erecting their rude log cabins, so they could ill afford to sit up all night. A feeling of security gradually pervaded the camp, and all became cheerful and hopeful.
At a meeting held one night they decided upon the name "Loyal" for their little community.
"I feel we could not choose a better one," the Colonel said. "Every one here is an outcast for loyalty to the King, and when we get our flag-staff erected, the Union Jack floating above the trees will be a reminder to friend and foe alike of our unswerving devotion."
No one had interfered with the arrow embedded in the pine, and that lordly tree had been left standing while most of its nearby companions had fallen beneath the axe. Not a day passed that Jean did not glance toward the arrow, and each time she thought of him who had become so real to her. But for two weeks no further sign was vouchsafed, until one morning as she came forth from her tent she saw a brace of fine partridges hanging from the arrow. Once more excitement spread throughout the camp, and again various conjectures were heard as to the presence of the partridges. The birds were carefully examined, and several small pieces of lead were found in their bodies. Jean showed these to Mammy in her effort to convince the superstitious servant that the devil had nothing to do with it.
"Why, these birds were shot, Mammy," she explained. "Some one with a gun did it, and brought them to us."