“You must not let them come here,” he was saying. “Keep them away for a day or two, at least.”
“I can’t,” the other replied. “They are on their way now, and should be here sometime to-night.”
At this Jean stepped forward and held out the noggin of rum. Dave eagerly seized the mug, and drained it to the last drop.
“My, that’s great!” he declared, smacking his lips. “Fill it again, won’t you?”
“No more now, Dave,” his chief told him. “You may have another, though, before you leave. And you must leave soon and stop those men. They must wait until I am better.”
“But I can’t stop them, chief. They won’t listen to me. They’re out for a big time, an’ they’re goin’ to have it. An’ besides, there’s that gang comin’ from the Washademoak, an’ they expect to meet them.”
“Oh, Lord! I know it,” the injured man groaned. “But that doesn’t make any difference. I want you to stop that first gang from coming here. Tell them that I am very sick and can’t see them now.”
“Don’t stop them, chief,” Dave pleaded. “This is about the last chance they’ll have. The rangers are on the way, so I hear, so we must get ahead of them. Davidson, the devil, has got wind of this.”
“How did he hear?”
“How did he hear?” Dave repeated with a laugh. “How did he hear about that meeting on the Wed-nee-bak, an’ round up that bunch at the lake? I guess you know as well as anybody.”
“Never mind about that now, Dave. All I want you to do is to stop those men from coming here to-night. Tell them to leave me out this time, and to march straight overland until they meet the men coming eastward. I can’t talk any more now, as my side hurts me very much. Daughter, give this man some more rum.”
Jean started at this order, and quickly left the room. She was greatly excited, for she realised that serious trouble of some kind was on foot. She believed that the rebels were about to attack that helpless band of Loyalists on the A-jem-sek as others had planned to do to the ones at Loyal. What she had gathered from Dave’s words led her to believe that the latter attempt had failed. This was the first news she had received, and it greatly relieved her mind. But what about the others, those suffering men, women and children but a short distance away?
She was thankful when Dave at last left the house, and she was once more alone with the invalid. The latter was very still, staring straight before him. Jean crossed the room and stood by his side.
“I want to know the truth,” she began. “Is an attack to be made upon those Loyalists?”
“What do you mean?” the man asked in surprise.
“Just what I said. The rebels planned to wipe out the Loyalists down river, and it looks to me as if they are about to try the same upon the ones on the A-jem-sek.”
“Nonsense, girl,” was the impatient reply. “It is foolish to think of such a thing.”