This theory seemed possible enough; yet what she might decide to do now, under the stress of these new conditions, was no less a problem. She possessed no knowledge regarding the others, such as I did. She had no means of guessing that the two others had already actually escaped, and were even then beyond the power of their pursuers. Her one thought still would be the continuation of deceit, the insistence that she was Rene. To do otherwise would defeat her purpose, make her previous sacrifice useless. She must still fight silently for delay. Why, she had not so much as trusted me. From the very beginning she had encouraged me in the belief that she was a negress, never once arousing the faintest suspicion in my mind. Not by the slip of the tongue, or the glance of an eye, had she permitted either of us to forget the barrier of race between. Nothing then, I was convinced, short of death or disgrace, could ever compel her to confess the truth yet. Kirby might suspect, might fear, but he had surely never learned who she was from her lips—that she was Eloise Beaucaire.
And was she? Was the proof of her identity, as yet produced, the story of Elsie Clark, sufficiently satisfactory to my own mind? It became more so as I thought, as I remembered. Every link in the chain of evidence seemed to fall noiselessly into its place, now that I compared my own experience with the details furnished me by the mulatto girl. No other conclusion appeared possible, or probable; no other solution fully met the facts in the case. The conviction that this young woman was white, educated, refined, the daughter of good blood—no fleeing negress, cursed with the black stain of an alien race, a nameless slave—brought to me a sudden joy in discovery I made no attempt to conceal. “Eloise Beaucaire, Eloise Beaucaire”—the name repeated itself on my lips, as though it were a refrain. I knew instantly what it all meant—that some divine, mysterious hand had led from the very hour of my leaving Fort Armstrong, and would continue to lead until the will of God was done. It was not in the stars of Fate that such villainy should succeed; such sacrifice as hers fail of its reward. I might not know where to turn, or what to do; yet it was with far lighter heart, a heart stimulated by new hope, the gleam of love, that I faced the task before me.
THE LANDING AT YELLOW BANKS
Nevertheless, in spite of this resolve, and the fresh courage which had been awakened within me by the faith that from now on I battled for the love of Eloise Beaucaire, no immediate opportunity for service came. All that the dark girl knew of her present whereabouts was that she had been lifted on board, and, in all probability, taken below. Certainly the girl had not been cabined on the upper deck; nor was I at present in any position to seek openly the place of her confinement. I could only wait patiently, and observe.