His mind naturally turned to the previous evening when he had sat with the Colonel and his daughter before the big fire-place. The vision of the girl’s face, lighted by the dancing flames, stood out before him clear and distinct. How her eyes had shone as, urged by the Colonel, he related story after story of adventures in the heart of the untamed forest among Indians, slashers, and wild beasts. The time had passed all too quickly, and when he at length rose to leave, the Colonel offered him the use of his tent near the cabin. But Dane had reluctantly declined. He had his own camping-outfit on the shore of the lake, where he had left gun, blanket, and a small supply of food that afternoon. He did not mind the walk through the forest, dark though it was. He was more at home in the woodland ways than on city streets. His was the instinct of the wild, and he travelled more by intuition than by sight.
There was another reason why he wished to camp by the lake. He correctly surmised that the food supply at the settlement was getting low. The men were not hunters, and although supplied with guns, they had made little use of them in obtaining game from the surrounding hills, considering them chiefly as weapons of defence in case of attack. With Dane, however, it was different. To him the forests and streams were Nature’s great larder, filled with all manner of good things.
As he lay there thinking of the girl at the settlement, the morning light strengthened, and the trees along the eastern shore threw out long uneven shadows upon the water. Not a ripple ruffled the mirror-like surface, except those caused by the feeding ducks. Dane’s special attention was directed to a spot on the western shore which he had carefully examined the day before. From the newly-made foot-prints he knew that this was a favourite resort of moose, deer, and caribou where they came to drink and to wallow in the mud. And in this he was not mistaken, for as he patiently waited, the great antlered-head of a bull moose suddenly emerged from the forest. The lordly animal paused for a few seconds and looked around. Dane was fully alert now. With his gun resting across a fallen log, he trained his eye along the smooth dark barrel. Then as the moose stepped forward and its right side was presented to view, he pulled the trigger. The loud report resounded through the silent forest reaches, and sent the ducks scurrying wildly out of the water. With a snort of pain and surprise the moose threw back its great head, lifted its fore feet from the ground, reeled for an instant, and crashed over on its side, a huge bulk of quivering, lifeless flesh.
Half an hour later Dane was speeding toward the settlement, carrying a choice piece of meat suspended from a stout stick across his right shoulder. He surprised Mammy in the act of preparing the fire for breakfast as he approached with noiseless steps, and held the meat before her.