“Be we leavin’ Pappy Lon?” demanded the girl.
“Forever and forever?”
“For Flukey, yep; but for yerself—”
Flea stared in speechless wonder and fright. “I don’t want to stay without Flukey!” she cried.
“I ain’t a tellin’ ye what ye want to do; only how the shadders run. But that’s a weary day off. The good land be yers and Flukey’s for the seekin’ of it.”
“Air Flukey goin’ to be catched a thievin’?”
“Yep, some day.”
“With Pappy Lon?”
“Nope, with yerself, Flea.”
“I ain’t no thief,” replied Flea sulkily. “I ain’t never took nothin’, not so much as a chicken! And Flukey wouldn’t nuther if Pappy Lon didn’t make him.”
From behind Screech Owl’s shrouding gray hair two black eyes glittered.
“The good land, the good land!” whispered the madwoman. “It be all comin’ for yerself and Flukey.”
[Illustration: “Am I on the right road to Glenwood?”]
“Be I goin’ to—” Flea sat back on her bare toes, her face suddenly darkening with rage. “I won’t go with him! I won’t, Screechy, if he was in every old eye in yer head! I won’t, so there!”
The darkness hid from Screech Owl the glint in Flea’s eyes.
“Who be it Lon said you was goin’ with, Flea?”
Scraggy must have forgotten her conversation with Lem but an hour or two before; for she evinced no knowledge of any man interested in Flea.
“A one-armed man. Pappy says I’m to be his woman. Be I, Screechy?”
“Nope; but I see a hook a whirlin’ in the air into the good land, a whirlin’ and a whirlin’ after ye. I see it a stealin’ on ye in the night when ye think ye’re safe. I see the sharp p’int of it a stickin’ into yer soft flesh—”
“Don’t, don’t!” pleaded Flea in a smothered voice. “Ye said as how I were goin’ with Flukey to a good land down behind the college hill.”
“So ye be,” assented the Owl; “but after ye get to the good land the sharp p’int of the hook’ll come and rip at ye. I see it a haulin’ ye back away from them what ye loves—”
Flea grasped the woman’s arm between her fingers and pressed nearer Scraggy with a startled cry. The cat, hissing, lashed a bushy tail from side to side. His eyes flashed green, and a cry came from Flea’s lips. In another instant she was speeding away down the rocks.
At three o’clock the next morning a boat left the lighthouse at the head of Cayuga Lake and was rowed toward the western shores. As before, two men and a boy were in it. The lad was still at the rudder, while the men swiftly cut the water stroke by stroke. For three miles down the lake no one spoke; but when the boat scraped the shore in front of his hut Lon broke the silence.
“It weren’t a bad haul tonight, were it, Lem?” he said almost jovially. “And tomorry ye come up to the shanty for the dividin’. Ye know I wouldn’t cheat a hair o’ yer head, don’t ye, Lem?”