“Forgive me,” Jean begged, as Dane was about to hurry away. “I appreciate what you have told me and done for me to-night, I shall always remember your kindness, and I hope to see you again.”
“I hope so, too, and soon at that,” was the fervent reply.
Dane hardly knew how he reached the lake. He felt that he had made a fool of himself. Never before had he spoken to a girl in such a straightforward manner. What must she think of him?
“I could not help it,” he told himself. “She needed to be warned. She doesn’t realise her danger. She can’t surely know how beautiful she is.”
The early morning sun, slanting in through a small window, found Major Studholme seated at his table lost in deep thought. The letter Dane had brought was lying open before him. Occasionally he glanced toward it, and each time his brow knitted in perplexity. At length he rose and paced rapidly up and down the room. With the exception of the table and a few stools this office was destitute of any furniture. It was as bleak as the hill upon which Fort Howe was situated. Here the men of the garrison received their orders, and it was here that the Major interviewed visitors from Portland Point, and couriers from all sections of the country. This commanding officer was the same to all men, so the humblest workman in the trading company’s employ, or the uncouth native from the heart of the wilderness received just as much attention as men of high rank. Stern and unbending in the line of duty, Major Studholme realised the importance of his position, and that as a superior officer in the service of his King he must render even-handed justice, irrespective of color or rank. A sharp rat-tat-tat upon the door startled him.
“Come in,” he called.
At once the door swung open, and a stalwart, sturdy man entered, carrying a stout stick in his hand which he used as a cane.
“Ah, good morning, Mr. Simonds,” the Major accosted, his face brightening with pleasure and relief as he held out his hand. “I didn’t expect you so early.”
“Umph! this is not early,” the visitor replied. “It seems late to me. Why, I’ve been up all night. Not a wink of sleep have I had. But, say, I’ve something here that’ll refresh us both.”
Drawing a flask from an inner pocket, he stepped forward and placed it upon the table.
“Have a noggin, Major. The Polly arrived last night, straight from the West Indies, and Leavitt brought me some special Old Jamaica. I thought maybe you’d like to test it.”
In a twinkling two mugs were produced, and filled to the brim.
“To the King, God bless him,” Simonds toasted.
“To the King,” the Major responded, as he raised his mug and clinked it against the visitor’s.
When this toast had been drunk, the Major again filled the mugs.