“You can’t help yourself,” Jean reminded, “so it is better for you to keep quiet. Some of those supplies are going, whether you like it or not.”
“But this is a hold-up, a robbery,” the man charged.
“I don’t care what you call it, and I’m not worrying about that. I only know that men, women, and children are starving not far away, so while there is food here they are going to have some of it.”
Jean was surprised at her boldness. But it was not time for half-way measures. If the owner would not agree to let the supplies go, she would take matters into her own hands.
“Oh, but for this confounded pain in my side I would soon teach you who is master of this house,” the man shouted. “You are an impudent hussy, and I believe the story you told me about being carried away is a lie. And how do I know but what you are lying about those Loyalists? You and your Indian companions may keep what you take for yourselves.”
“You can believe me or not, just as you wish,” Jean quietly and firmly replied. “But those supplies are going to the Loyalists in the morning. I would be ashamed to be called Colonel Sterling’s daughter if I were afraid to use strong measures to save starving people.”
At these words the man suddenly lifted himself on his right elbow, and peered keenly at the girl.
“Light the rest of those candles,” he ordered. “I must see your face. I want to know if you are telling me the truth.”
Jean did so, and then returned to the man’s side.
“Stand there,” he commanded, “a little to the right, so I can see your face. Ah, that’s better. Now, tell me your father’s Christian name.”
“James,” the girl replied.
“Yes, but James what? He has a second name, has he not?”
“Witrow. James Witrow Sterling; that’s his full name.”
“What was your mother’s name?”
“But her maiden name?”
“And your name?”
“Priscilla Jean, although I only get ‘Jean.’”
“After whom were you named?”
“A very dear friend of my parents.”
“Who was she?”
“Priscilla Jean Norman, so I have been told.”
“Where is she now?”
“I do not know. She and her husband disappeared years ago, and no word has been received from them since. They were the dearest friends my father had, and he feels the loss very keenly.”
“Is your mother alive?”
“No; she died several years ago.”
With a deep sigh the man dropped back upon the pillow, and remained silent for a few minutes. Jean sat down by his side, lost in thought. What was the meaning of the man’s sudden excitement? she asked herself. And why did he question her so closely about her parents’ names? Perhaps he had known them in the past. At length the man stirred, reached out his right hand and touched hers.