Never before had Dane beheld such a vision of loveliness and maidenly charm. The girl fascinated him, and moved by a sudden impulse, he was upon the point of going to her side, fearful lest she should vanish, when the Major’s voice restrained him.
“Come to the Fort early in the morning,” he heard the officer say. “I wish to have a talk with you there.”
“I shall be on hand, and early at that,” Dane replied.
With another fleeting glance toward the girl, he turned and moved swiftly away toward the lake back in the hills.
Dane walked as in a dream along the trail to the lake. Something had come into his life during the last half hour which had wrought a subtle mystic change. He did not try to analyse it, as he had never experienced such a feeling before. He only knew that back there where the land slopes to the harbour he had beheld a vision which had thrilled his entire being. The face and form of the girl with the large questioning eyes were all that he saw as he hurried on his way. Everything else was blotted from his mind, even the urgency of his important mission. The spirit of the wild was upon him, and an overmastering impulse was surging through his heart. He must see her again; he must look upon her face; he must hear her speak. His passion was intense. It was a living fire, the ardour of a great first love.
The Indian noted the change which had come over his master, and wondered. He made no comment, however, as he squatted upon the ground, slowly turning a wooden spit on which a fat duck was roasting over a small fire. Dane sat down upon a log, with his eyes upon Pete, although in fact he was hardly aware what he was doing, for his thoughts were elsewhere.
When the duck was at last cooked, the Indian divided it, and gave half to Dane.
“Fine bird, dat,” he remarked. “Me shoot him on wing. Taste good, eh?”
“Does it?” Dane asked, rousing for a minute from his reverie. He then relapsed into silence.
“What de matter?” Pete presently asked. “See sometin’, eh?”
“Why, what makes you think there is anything the matter?” the young man queried.
“Dane so still. Dane no talk, no smile, no eat. Dane seek, mebbe. Bad medicine, eh?”
Dane laughed and looked at his companion.
“I am all right, Pete,” he assured. “But I’ve seen and heard great things to-day. I also knocked out two slashers, while the third ran away.”
“A-ha-ha, good,” the Indian grunted. “Dem all slashers in beeg canoe, eh?” and he motioned toward the harbour.
“No, no; they are King George’s people. They were driven out of their own homes, and have come here. There are thousands of them, so I learned.”
“All stay here?”
“Some will, but many will go up river, and settle on the land.”