For over an hour they kept up this swinging gait, and only slowed down when at length the trail led them out of the thick forest into a great open portion of the country. This was marshland, and it spread out before them miles in extent. To the right were rugged wooded hills, while far away to the left the cold steel glitter of the Bay of Fundy could be distinctly seen.
For a few minutes they stopped to rest on this commanding elevation, Dane’s whole soul athrill at the wonderful panorama thus suddenly presented to view. His eyes glowed, and he eagerly inhaled great draughts of the invigorating tang wafted in from the far distant sea.
“My, that’s fine!” he ejaculated, giving a deep sigh of satisfaction. “That puts new life into one, eh, Pete?”
The Indian’s mind, however, was not upon the marvellous things of nature. He was gazing intently down toward the marshland where something had attracted his attention.
“Plenty duck down dere,” he replied. “Me get ’em bimeby.”
Dane smiled, picked up his musket, and looked quizzically at his companion.
“Can’t you see anything but ducks, Pete? What do you think of all that?” and he waved his hand to the left. “Isn’t it great!”
“Umph!” the Indian grunted, “me see only duck; stummick say only ‘duck.’”
“Come on, then, Pete,” the young man ordered. “The sooner we get through with our business, the sooner you can come back for your ducks. One of those fat fellows would go well for supper.”
Turning somewhat to the right, they followed the trail over the rugged hills, where through breaks in the trees they could catch occasional glimpses of the marsh and the water beyond. The way here was rough, and their progress somewhat slow. But steadily they plodded on, knowing that their destination was now not far off.
After crossing an exceptionally bad piece of ground, they came out upon a pleasant little lake lying like a gem among the hills. At its outlet was a small saw-mill, but now idle, and with no one in sight. Here they paused for a few minutes, and when they were about to proceed a great roar startled them. It was quickly followed by three more in rapid succession, and then all was still.
“It’s the Fort cannon!” Dane exclaimed, much excited. “Something’s happening over there. Maybe that old pirate, Crabtree, has come up the harbour again. He won’t find Fort Howe as easy to take as Fort Frederick, let me tell you that. Come on, Pete, let’s see the fun.”
Hurrying on their way, ere long they reached the summit of a hill above the lake, from which position they were able to obtain the first view of the Fort away in the distance. The guns were silent now, and no sign of life could they see.
Below stretched a deep wooded valley through which the trail ran. It did not take the excited men long to speed down the hill and up the opposite side. The roar of the cannon had roused these hardy sons of the wild, and the fire of a new adventure thrilled their souls. The great guns had roared, and what else did it mean but a fight with a desperate foe in the narrow harbour? And if they could see the struggle, what a tale they would have to tell their comrades around the camp fires in the heart of the great forest.