“Now, another,” he cried. “To the Loyalists, especially to Colonel Sterling’s daughter, the fairest of them all.”
“To the Loyalists and the Colonel’s daughter,” Simonds repeated.
Again the mugs clinked, and two honest men drank their second toast. This done, they took their seats at the table, and settled down to business of a most important nature.
James Simonds was really the business pioneer of Portland Point. He was a man of outstanding ability and remarkable energy. For years he had been the moving spirit and leader in numerous enterprises. Of him and his partner, James White, it was said that “At one time the fishery claimed their attention, at another the Indian trade; at one time the building of houses for themselves and their tenants, at another the dyking of the marsh; at one time they were engaged in the erection of a mill, at another the building of a schooner; at one time they were making a wharf, at another laying out roads or clearing land; at one time they were furnishing supplies and cordwood to the garrison, at another in burning and shipping lime.” In addition to this they owned and employed a score of vessels, both schooners and sloops, which plied not only on the river, but beyond the Bay to distant ports.
It was only natural that the commanding officer of Fort Howe should call upon the senior partner of the company for advice and assistance in time of need. And two serious problems had now been thrust upon him. One was the care and disposal of the three thousand Loyalists; the other, the arrival of Dane Norwood with news of threatening trouble up river.
“How many vessels have you on hand?” the Major asked.
“Only a few,” Simonds replied. “But I expect several more in a few days. The Peggy & Molly is already spoken for by the people on the Union. They haven’t disembarked, as they plan to go up river at once.”
“And you say the Polly arrived last night?”
“Yes, and she is unloading now.”
“Well, I want you to keep her for Colonel Sterling, and a number of other people.”
“So the Colonel is going to leave, is he? I was hoping that he would stay here. Where does he expect to settle?”
“It is not decided yet. However, we shall know in a few days when the lots are drawn.”
“There will be a big load, I suppose. They’ll want to take their boards, shingles, and household effects, no doubt.”
“Yes, if you can manage it; otherwise Leavitt will have to make two trips. And there is something else I want to send.”
The Major leaned forward, and touched the letter lying upon the table.
“I received this yesterday from Davidson,” he explained, “and he requests immediate help.”
“He does? What’s wrong?”
“The slashers are giving him no end of trouble. There is danger of a serious outbreak, and he has not enough men to cope with the situation.”