“How does that suit you, dear?” he asked, turning to Jean who was standing near by.
“I think it is great, daddy,” was the enthusiastic reply. “This is the happiest and most peaceful time I have known for years. It is like a perfect calm after a terrible storm.”
“I am very thankful, Jean, that our wanderings are at last ended. Here we shall stay for a time until we can choose a suitable place for our future home. When we get our house built we should be quite comfortable. We are on English soil, at any rate, and that is a great satisfaction. We are not likely to be molested here.”
“Not if the Indians and rebels leave us alone, daddy.”
“You must not worry about them, dear. We have had no quarrel with them, so why should they molest us? I feel that we are perfectly safe.”
Night at length shut down slowly over the land, and a deep silence reigned on all sides. The weary children were asleep in the tents, and men and women were gathered upon the shore. A fire of drift-wood had been built, and around the bright cheerful blaze all were gathered. The small crew of the schooner had come ashore, and were taking part in the general conversation. For some time they sat there, talking of bygone days and plans for the future.
Colonel Sterling took little part in the talk. He sat upon a block of wood, with Jean seated on the ground by his side, her right arm resting upon his knee as she gazed dreamily into the fire. He was much interested in studying the flame-illumined faces of that little circle of men and women. He knew the history of their lives, what they had suffered during the war, and how much they had sacrificed for conscience’s sake. A few were bowed with age, and their late trials had deepened the furrows upon their faces, and increased the whiteness of their hoary heads. Upon them the removal from their old homes had been the hardest. There were others, middle-aged men and women, whose eyes glowed with the light of a high resolve. Their features expressed determination which nothing could daunt. These said but little, leaving the younger ones to do most of the talking. There were youths and maidens, more free from care than their elders, who chatted and laughed in the most animated manner.
As the evening wore on and the conversation gradually died down, Simon Winters brought forth his fife and began to play an old familiar tune. At once all talking ceased, and hearts thrilled with memories of other days. Several tunes did Simon play, and when he had ended, the Colonel brought forth a small, well-worn book from an inside coat pocket. This he opened and then glanced around upon the little band.
“Friends,” he began, “the hour is late, and we are all weary. But ere we separate, I ask you to join with me in a brief service of prayer and praise. But first of all, we need a message from the Great Book.”