“And well that it should,” the trader agreed, nodding his head in approval. “Don’t you think so, Major?”
The latter, however, was busily writing, so did not hear the question. Presently he paused and turned to the courier.
“So you think the Loyalists will be in danger along the river?” he asked.
“They will, unless the slashers and others who are against the King can be stopped.”
“Who is the ringleader in this rebellion?”
For the first time since entering the room Dane failed to reply. His bronzed face flushed, and his eyes dropped. This both the Major and the trader noted, and their curiosity became aroused. They felt that this courier knew more than he was willing to divulge.
“Are you afraid to tell?” the Major questioned.
Dane suddenly lifted his head, and an angry expression glowed in his eyes.
“Do you think I am afraid?” he demanded. “Do I look it?”
“Well, no,” and the Major slightly smiled. “But why will you not tell me the name of the ringleader?”
“Because I have a special reason.”
“Suppose I make you?”
Although this reply was low and calm, yet the Major had sufficient knowledge of human nature to know that those two small words meant a great deal. He truly realised that nothing, not even death, could force this sturdy courier to divulge the secret against his will. He wisely dropped the subject, and turned again to the table. Nothing now was heard in the room but the scratching of the quill across the paper as the Major fashioned the bold comely letters of his answer to William Davidson, the King’s purveyor. When he had signed his name, he picked up a small sand-box, and lightly sprinkled the paper. This done, he rose to his feet, crossed the room, and opened the door.
“Parker, bring me a fire,” he ordered.
The soldier thus addressed evidently knew what was needed, for in a few minutes he entered, bearing in his hands a small iron receptacle containing a few hot coals. He stood perfectly rigid before the table while the Major held a stick of sealing-wax to the hot iron, and allowed a few drops to fall upon the back of the folded letter. When the Major had pressed his signet ring upon the wax, the task was finished, the soldier saluted and left the room. After the Major had addressed the letter, and sprinkled it until the ink was dry, he handed it to the courier.
“Take this to Davidson,” he ordered. “I am glad that I have met you, young man, and I hope to hear from you again.”
Dane took the letter, placed it carefully in an inside pocket of his jacket, bade the two men good morning, and at once left the room.
“What do you think of him?” the Major asked turning toward the trader.
“A remarkable young man,” was the emphatic reply. “But I am surprised that I have not heard of him before.”