Sir Arthur bowed, but found no word. He could only look questioningly at Law.
“Madam,” said the latter, “Sir Arthur Pembroke journeys through as the messenger of Lord Bellomont, governor at Albany, to spread peace among the Western tribes. He has by mere chance blundered upon our valley, and will delay over night. It seemed well you should be advised.”
Mary Connynge, gray and pale, haggard and horrified, dreading all things and knowing nothing, found no manner of reply. Without a word she turned and fled back into the cabin.
Sir Arthur once more looked about him. Motioning to the others of the party to remain outside the gate, Law led him within the stockade. On one hand stood Pierre Noir, tall, silent, impassive as a savage, leaning upon his gun and fixing on the red coat of the English uniform an eye none too friendly. Jean Breboeuf, his piece half ready and his voluble tongue half on the point of breaking over restraint, Law quieted with a gesture. Back of these, ranged in a silent yet watchful group, their weapons well in hand, stood numbers of the savage allies of this new war-lord. Pembroke turned to Law again.
“You are strongly stationed, sir; but I do not understand.”
“It is my home.”
“As well this as any, where one leaves an old life and begins a new,” said Law. “’Tis as good a place as any if one would leave all behind, and if he would forget.”
“And this—that is to say—madam?”
Sir Arthur stumbled in his speech. John Law looked him straight in the eye, a slow, sad smile upon his face.
“Had we here the plank of poor La Salle his ship,” said he, “we might nail the message of that other renegade above our door—’Nous sommes tous sauvages!’”
That night John Law dreamed as he slept, and it was in some form the same haunting and familiar dream. In his vision he saw not the low roof nor the rude walls about him. To his mind there appeared a little dingy room, smaller than this in which he lay, with walls of stone, with door of iron grating and not of rough-hewn slabs. He saw the door of the prison cell swing open; saw near it the figure of a noble young girl, with large and frightened eyes and lips half tremulous. To this vision he outstretched his hands. He was almost conscious of uttering some word supplicatingly, almost conscious of uttering a name.
Perhaps he slept on. We little know the ways of the land of dreams. It might have been half an instant or half an hour later that he suddenly awoke, finding his hand clapped close against his side, where suddenly there had come a sharp and burning pain. His own hand struck another. He saw something gleaming in the light of the flickering fire which still survived upon the hearth. The dim rays lit up two green, glowing, venomous balls, the eyes of the woman whom he found bending above him. He reached out his hand in the instinct of safety. This which glittered in the firelight was the blade of a knife, and it was in the hand of Mary Connynge!