“Did Davidson get the prisoners down all right?” Dane asked as he was about to let go of the rail.
“Yes, they’re waiting trial now. But that letter will tell you all about it.”
In another minute the canoe was adrift, and the Loyalists were waving their hands as the Polly sped on her way. Dane at once opened the letter, and read its contents. As he did so, his face became very grave, and a spirit of rebellion welled up within him.
“Look at this, Pete,” and he held forth the letter as soon as he had stepped ashore. “Davidson has ordered us both to Fort Howe.”
“Why?” the Indian asked.
“To tell what we heard at the Wedneebak. We are wanted as witnesses against Flazeet and Rauchad. What do you think of that?”
“We go, eh?”
“How can we? What about Jean?”
“Dane always go when chief call, all sam’ wild goose, eh?”
“I always have, Pete. But it is different now. Jean needs me. She is in danger. She may be cold. She may be hungry. She may be——”
Dane did not finish his sentence, for Pete had suddenly stooped, and with a small stick was drawing a line upon the sand, east by west.
“See,” he said, “King dere,” and he touched the ground on the south side of the line with the point of his stick. He did the same on the north side, adding, “white woman dere. King, white woman, eh?”
“That’s just it, Pete. It’s between Jean and the King, between love and duty. I must think it out. You sleep.”
For over an hour Dane paced up and down the shore, his mind rent by conflicting emotions. He was in the King’s service, and it was his duty to respond whenever called. But why did not Davidson leave him alone now? What right had he to send for him when he knew of the importance of his mission in searching for the missing girl? At times he felt inclined to disobey the summons. He could make a living in some other way. It was not necessary for him to remain in the King’s service. Some one else could do the work. But each time a voice whispered that such a course would not be honourable. He had not yet taken his discharge, and so was not free. How could he ever again face Davidson and the rangers? They would consider him a traitor, and he well knew how they would discuss him around their camp fires. To them his deflection from duty would be an unpardonable offence. They would condone almost anything rather than disloyalty to the King. Duty to him overshadowed every other matter, even that of the heart.
As Dane paced up and down thinking of these things, his mother’s words flashed into his mind. “Be always loyal to God and the King above all things,” she had impressed upon him. “The King is God’s anointed one, and he rules by divine right.” Dane had never doubted this, neither did he do so now. But he had since learned that love, too, is a divine thing, and cannot lightly be disobeyed. What is the King to me? he asked himself. A mere name. But Jean is a living reality. The King lives in luxury, and has millions to look after his interests. But Jean is now wandering somewhere in the wilderness, in great need, and with no one to help her. Why should I not go to her first of all? I can live without the King, but not without Jean.