“Sir Benjamin remarked that when a man wrote about nature he seemed to regard himself as a first deputy of God.
“‘And undertakes to lend him a hand in the work of creation,’ I suggested. ’Even your great Doctor Johnson has stated that swallows spend the winter at the bottom of the streams, forgetting that they might find it a rather slippery place to hang on to and a winter a long time to hold their breaths. Even Goldsmith has been divinely reckless in his treatment of ‘Animated Nature.’
“‘I am surprised, sir, at your familiarity with English authors,’ he declared. ’When we think of America we are apt to think of savages and poverty and ignorance and log huts.’
“’You forget, sir, that we have about all the best books and the leisure to read them,’ I answered.
“‘You undoubtedly have the best game,’ said he. ’Tell us about the shooting and fishing.’
“I told of the deer, the moose and the caribou, all of which I had killed, and of our fishing on the long river of the north with a lure made of the feathers of a woodpecker, and of covering the bottom of our canoe with beautiful speckled fish. All this warmed the heart of Sir Benjamin who questioned me as to every detail in my experience on trail and river. He was a born sportsman and my stories had put a smile on his face so that I felt sure he had a better feeling for me when we arose from the table.
“Then I had an hour alone with Margaret in a corner of the great hall. We reviewed the years that had passed since our adventure and there was one detail in her history of which I must tell you. She had had many suitors, and among them one Lionel Clarke—a son of the distinguished General. Her father had urged her to accept the young man, but she had stood firmly for me.
“‘You see, this heart of mine is a stubborn thing,’ she said as she looked into my eyes.
“Then it was that we gave to each other the long pledge, often on the lips of lovers since Eros strung his bow, but never more deeply felt.
“‘I am sure the sky will clear soon,’ she said to me at last.
“Indeed as I bade them good night, I saw encouraging signs of that. Sir Benjamin had taken a liking to me. He pressed my hand as we drank a glass of Madeira together and said:
“‘My boy, I drink to the happiness of England, the colonies and you.’”
“‘"Time and I” and the will of God,’ I whispered, as I left their door.”
The young man was elated by the look and sentiments which had gone with the parting cup at Sir Benjamin’s. But Franklin, whom he saw the next day, liked not the attitude of the Baronet.
“He is one of the King’s men on the Big chess board,” said the old philosopher. “All that he said to you has the sound of strategy. I have reason to believe that they are trying to tow us into port and Margaret is only one of many ropes. Hare’s attitude is not that of an honest man.”