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.