The more he thought, the fiercer became the battle. Night had closed around him, and the steadily increasing nor’east wind sang the prelude of a coming storm. Dane glanced at the moon riding high above the tops of the pointed trees. He knew the meaning of its overcast appearance, and the circle which surrounded it. There was no time to be lost. He must decide at once. But which should it be? Pete was asleep, and the fire was low. Mechanically he stooped and threw a few sticks upon the hot coals. As the flames leaped up they illuminated the ground for some distance around. They brought into clear relief the line made by the Indian upon the sand. This primitive symbol arrested his attention, and a sudden fancy entered his mind. Picking up a small stick, he wrote in the sand on the south of the line the word “King,” and on the north “Jean.” These he compared with critical eyes.
“Same number of letters in each,” he mused. “One stands for duty, the other for love. K-i-n-g, J-e-a-n,” he spelled. “They both sound good, and have a fine ring about them. I am bound to both, and must decide now. Oh, Lord, which shall it be!”
The perspiration stood out in beads upon his forehead, so intense was his emotion.
“I can’t decide against Jean!” he groaned. “And I can’t be disloyal to the King!”
Again his mother’s words came to his mind. “Be loyal to God and the King above all things.” How would she choose if she were in his place? Yes, he knew. Not for an instant would she have hesitated. For a few minutes he stood staring straight before him. His face was pale, and his hands clenched hard, and his lips were firmly compressed. At length he turned, walked over to where Pete was lying, and touched him upon the shoulder. The Indian opened his eyes and looked around.
“Come, Pete, it’s time we were away.”
“Down to the Fort.”
“Geeve up white woman, eh?”
“Give her up? No,” Dane savagely replied. “I’ll never give her up. But don’t ask me any more questions now.”
In a few minutes they were on their way, wind and tide being favourable. They had gone but a mile, when rounding a bend a big camp fire upon the shore attracted their attention. People were moving about, and these Dane surmised were the Loyalists Captain Leavitt had mentioned who were following in open boats. Some were seated before the fire in a most dejected manner. The cries of children reached him, accompanied by women’s soothing words. Dane had no desire to stop, for his own trouble was all that he could now endure. So on the canoe sped, past the forlorn exiles, and forward to the Fort beyond.
UNDER COVER OF NIGHT
With a mingled feeling of anxiety and relief Jean watched the Loyalists and rangers march forth against the rebels. She had no doubt as to the outcome of the undertaking, but she felt uneasy about her father, and how he would stand the journey. On the other hand, she cherished the thought that on the morrow Dane would be with her, and all would be well.