Jean said nothing more just then, but while her father and Dane talked, she whispered something to Mammy. At once the colored woman became very busy, and when at last Dane bade the Colonel good-bye, a basket filled with provisions was set before him.
“It’s fo’ yo’ an’ de Injun,” Mammy explained. “I hope de Good Lo’d’ll be wif yo’, an’ help yo’ skedaddle dem rebels. But yo’ can’t do nuffin’ wifout grub, Mistah Dane. No matt’r if yo’ is in lub, yo’ mus’ eat to lib.”
Dane smiled as he took the basket, and thanked the big-hearted woman.
“I shall not forget your kindness, Mammy,” he told her. “And neither will Pete. He has a great memory for such things. Why, all the Indians along the river know already what you have done for his little child, and they will also hear of this.”
The memory of that night never passed from Jean’s mind. She accompanied Dane to the shore, and stood there for a few minutes after the two couriers had left, She knew that Dane loved her with all the strength of his manly nature, and she never felt this more than when he had held her in his arms and kissed her ere stepping into the canoe. She did not want him to go, and how unfortunate it was that the summons should come to him in the midst of the merry-making, and when she was so happy. A spirit of depression suddenly swept upon her, which was foreign to her nature. She tried to banish it even after she returned to the house. But neither the cheerfulness of the fire, nor the conversation with her father and Mammy could dispel the strange feeling of some impending calamity.
PLOTTERS IN COUNCIL
Leaving Jean standing upon the shore, Dane settled down to work and headed the canoe for the main channel. His time of idleness was now over, and he knew that stern duty lay ahead. Although it was hard for him to go away from the girl he loved, yet the spirit of a new adventure thrilled his soul. It was a call, insistent, imperative, and never had he disobeyed the voice. To him danger was a tonic, and the great wild with all its mystery and uncertainty was his playground. His nature demanded activity, and the lure of something beyond was as breath to his being.
The bark canoe seemed like a thing of life as it cut through the water and the night, straight for the open. It trembled as with excitement, impelled by the strong arms wielding the paddles. It was well seasoned to such work. It was Pete’s favourite craft, and it knew all the streams for leagues around. It had poked its nose into every creek, cove, and tributary of the St. John River from the Kennebacasis to the Shogomoc. It knew the windings of the Washademoak, and the rolling billows of windy Grand Lake had tested its endurance. It had battled with running ice; it had been borne over innumerable portages; and it had lain concealed in many secret places while enemies had sped by in the darkness but a few yards away. It bore the scars of ice, rocks, and bullets, and its long, lean body had been patched and repatched. But notwithstanding all these years of hardships, it was as eager now as the hardy men who drove it forward to rush into new adventures.