“What is that you have?” she asked,
“A pin of some kind—a rather strange design; I just found it here, entangled in this blanket.”
She took it from my hand, her eyes opening wide as she, stared at the trinket.
“Why,” she exclaimed in surprise, “I have seen one exactly like it before—Kirby wore it in his tie.”
WE ACCEPT A REFUGEE
I looked again at the thing with a fresh curiosity, yet with no direct thought of any connection. The undisguised terror manifest in her face, however, caused me to realize the sudden suspicion which this discovery had aroused.
“That means nothing,” I insisted, taking the pin back into my own possession. “It is probably the emblem of some secret order, and there may be thousands of them scattered about. Anyhow this one never belonged to Joe Kirby. He could never have been here. My guess is the fellow is back at Yellow Banks before now. Forget it, Eloise, while we eat. Then a few hours’ sleep will restore your nerves; you are all worn out.”
We had nearly completed the meal, seated around what remained of the shattered table. I do not recall what we conversed about, if indeed we conversed at all. My own thoughts, rambling as they were, centered on Eloise, and my desire to bring her safely to the Ottawa fort. How white and drawn the poor girl’s face looked in the bright daylight; and how little of the food on her plate she was able to force down. What intense weariness found expression in those eyes which met mine. And she continued to try so hard to appear cheerful, to speak lightly. It was pitiful. Yet in spite of all this never to my sight had she seemed more attractive, more sweet of face. I could not remove my eyes from her, nor do I think she was unobservant, for a tinge of red crept slowly into the white cheeks, and a new light flashed across at me from beneath the shadowing lashes.
The boy Asa sat at the very end of the table, facing the open door, eating as though he had not tasted food for a week. He was a homely, uninteresting lout, but Tim had compelled him to wash, and in consequence his freckled face shone, and the wet shock of hair appeared more tousled than ever. From the time of sitting down he had scarcely raised his eyes from off the pewter plate before him; but at last this was emptied, and he lifted his head, to stare out through the open door. Into his face came a look of dumb, inarticulate fright, as his lips gave utterance to one cry of warning.
With swift turn of the head I saw what he meant—a man on horseback, riding at a savage gait up the trail, directly for the cabin, bent so low in the saddle his features could not be discerned, but, from his clothing, unquestionably white. I was without the door, Tim beside me rifle in hand, when the fellow swept around the base of the oak, still staring behind him, as though in fright of pursuers, and flogging his straining horse with the end of a rein. He appeared fairly crazed with fear, unaware in his blind terror of the close proximity of the cabin.