“Ugh! too many white men dere now. Chase Injun, kill moose, ketch feesh. Injun all starve.”
“Don’t you worry about that,” Dane replied. “These are all King George’s people, so they will treat the Indians right.”
“Mebbe so,” and Pete shook his head in a somewhat doubtful manner. “Me see bimeby.”
At length Dane rose to his feet, and looked over toward the harbour. The sun had disappeared beyond the far distant hills, and dusk was stealing up over the land. A stiff breeze was drifting in from the Bay, chilly and damp. Dane thought of the Loyalists in their wretched shacks, and of the ones who had no shelter at all. He longed to know how they were making out, and especially her who was so much in his mind.
“You stay here, Pete, and keep guard,” he ordered. “I’m going to see how King George’s people are making out.”
“Come back soon, eh?” the Indian asked.
“I shall not be long, Pete. You get camp fixed up for the night, and keep the fire going.”
“A-ha-ha. Me feex t’ings, a’right.”
Leaving the Indian, Dane hurried away from the lake, descended into the valley, and climbed the hill on the opposite side. By the time he reached the height above the waterfront, the dusk had deepened into a weird darkness. Here he paused and looked down upon the strange scene below. Hundreds of camp-fires, large and small, emitted their fitful ruddy glow, while beyond, the lights of a score of anchored ships were reflected in the wind-ruffled water. A murmur of many voices drifted up to the silent watcher on the brow of the hill, mingled with shrill cries of children, and the sound of beating hammers, as weary men worked late at their rude dwellings.
Down into this Babel of confusion Dane slowly made his way. He passed the spot where he had met the Major, and he looked eagerly for the girl who had won his heart. But she was nowhere to be seen, although a small fire was burning near the shack, before which the colored woman was keeping watch, swaying her body, and humming her favourite psalm.
Farther down the hill the people had settled closer together, and as Dane moved through this strange medley of shacks, brush houses, tents, sails fastened to sticks driven into the ground, and other rude contrivances, he realised for the first time the sadly-pathetic condition of these outcast people. Although many of them were hidden from view, he could see numbers huddled about their fires, and children wrapped in blankets asleep upon the ground, while here and there tired mothers were nursing and soothing their fretful babes.
Little attention was paid to the young courier as he moved from place to place, except an occasional glance at his curious costume. In fact, most of these exiles were strangers to one another, as they had come on different ships, and had only met for the first time on the day of their landing. The ones who had sailed on the same vessels, and had thus become acquainted, naturally kept together as much as possible. But they were all comrades in distress, sufferers in a common cause, united by the golden bond of sympathy.