“This is a duty on which a girl is not called to reflect; she must feel, in a matter of conscience.”
The bee-hunter fairly sighed, and from a very resolute he became a very irresolute sort of person. As was natural to one in his situation, he let out the secret current his thoughts had taken, in the remarks which followed.
“I do not like the manner in which Peter and Pigeonswing are now talking together,” he said. “When an Injin is so earnest, there is generally mischief brewing. Do you see Peter’s manner?”
“He seems to be telling the young warrior something that makes both forget themselves. I never saw two men who seem so completely to forget all the rest of the world as them two savages! What can be the meaning, Bourdon, of so much fierce earnestness?”
“I would give the world to know-possibly the Chippewa may tell me. We understand each other tolerably well, and, just as you spoke, he gave me a secret sign that I have a right to think means confidence and friendship. That savage is either a fast friend, or a thorough villain.”
“Is it safe to trust any of them, Bourdon? No—no—your best way will be to go down the lakes, and get back to Detroit as soon as you can. Not only your property, but your life, is at risk.”
“Go, and leave you here, Margery—here, with a brother whose failing you know as well as I do, and who may, at any moment, fall back into his old ways! I should not be a man to do it!”
“But brother can get no liquor, now, for it is all emptied. When himself for a few days, Gershom is a good protector, as well as a good provider. You must not judge brother too harshly, from what you have seen of him, Bourdon.”
“I do not wish to judge him at all, Margery. We all have our failin’s, and whiskey is his. I dare say mine are quite as bad, in some other way. It’s enough for me, Margery, that Gershom is your brother, to cause me to try to think well of him. We must not trust to there being no more liquor among us; for, if that so’ger is altogether without his rations, he’s the first so’ger I ever met with who was!”
“But this corporal is a friend of the minister, and ministers ought not to drink!”
“Ministers are like other men, as them that live much among ’em will soon find out. Hows’ever, if you will stay, Margery, there is no more to be said. I must cache [Footnote: A Western term, obviously derived from cacher, to conceal. Cache is much used by the Western adventurers.] my honey, and get the canoe ready to go up stream again. Where you go, Margery, I go too, unless you tell me that you do not wish my company.”
This was said quietly, but in the manner of one whose mind was made up. Margery scarce knew how to take it. That she was secretly delighted, cannot be denied; while, at the same time, that she felt a generous and lively concern for the fortunes of le Bourdon, is quite as certain. As Gershom just then called to her to lend her assistance in preparing to embark, she had no leisure for expostulation, nor do we know that she now seriously wished to divert the bee-hunter from his purpose.