Captain Sanglier shrugged his shoulders; then he looked earnestly from Jasper towards the Quartermaster, and from the Quartermaster towards Jasper.
“I care not for your envy, or your hypocrisy, or even for your human natur’,” returned Pathfinder. “Jasper Eau-douce is my friend; Jasper Eau-douce is a brave lad, and an honest lad, and a loyal lad; and no man of the 55th shall lay hands on him, short of Lundie’s own orders, while I’m in the way to prevent it. You may have authority over your soldiers; but you have none over Jasper and me, Master Muir.”
“Bon!” ejaculated Sanglier, the sound partaking equally of the energies of the throat and of the nose.
“Will ye no’ hearken to reason, Pathfinder? Ye’ll no’ be forgetting our suspicions and judgments; and here is another circumstance to augment and aggravate them all. Ye can see this little bit of bunting; well, where should it be found but by Mabel Dunham, on the branch of a tree on this very island, just an hour or so before the attack of the enemy; and if ye’ll be at the trouble to look at the fly of the Scud’s ensign, ye’ll just say that the cloth has been cut from out it. Circumstantial evidence was never stronger.”
“Ma foi, c’est un peu fort, ceci,” growled Sanglier between his teeth.
“Talk to me of no ensigns and signals when I know the heart,” continued the Pathfinder. “Jasper has the gift of honesty; and it is too rare a gift to be trifled with, like a Mingo’s conscience. No, no; off hands, or we shall see which can make the stoutest battle; you and your men of the 55th, or the Sarpent here, and Killdeer, with Jasper and his crew. You overrate your force, Lieutenant Muir, as much as you underrate Eau-douce’s truth.”
“Well, if I must speak plainly, Pathfinder, I e’en must. Captain Sanglier here and Arrowhead, this brave Tuscarora, have both informed me that this unfortunate boy is the traitor. After such testimony you can no longer oppose my right to correct him, as well as the necessity of the act.”
“Scelerat,” muttered the Frenchman.
“Captain Sanglier is a brave soldier, and will not gainsay the conduct of an honest sailor,” put in Jasper. “Is there any traitor here, Captain Flinty-heart?”
“Ay,” added Muir, “let him speak out then, since ye wish it, unhappy youth! That the truth may be known. I only hope that ye may escape the last punishment when a court will be sitting on your misdeeds. How is it, Captain; do ye, or do ye not, see a traitor amang us?”
“Oui — yes, sair — bien sur.”
“Too much lie!” said Arrowhead in a voice of thunder, striking the breast of Muir with the back of his own hand in a sort of ungovernable gesture; “where my warriors? — where Yengeese scalp? Too much lie!”