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Title: Brothers of Peril - A Story of old Newfoundland
Author: Goodridge Roberts, Theodore, 1877-1953
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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BROTHERS OF PERIL

A Story of Old Newfoundland



_WORKS OF THEODORE ROBERTS_

_The Red Feathers_           _$1.50_
_Brothers of Peril_           _1.50_
_Hemming the Adventurer_      _1.50_


_L. C. PAGE & COMPANY_ _New England Building, Boston, Mass._


[Illustration: "A VIVID CIRCLE OF RED ON THE SNOW OF THAT NAMELESS
WILDERNESS"]



Brothers of Peril

A Story of Old Newfoundland

By

Theodore Roberts
_Author of_ "Hemming, the Adventurer"

_Illustrated by_ H. C. Edwards

[Illustration: Logo]

_Boston_ L. C. Page & Company _Mdccccv_


_Copyright, 1905_
BY L. C. PAGE & COMPANY
(INCORPORATED)

_All rights reserved_

Published June, 1905
Second Impression, March, 1908

_COLONIAL PRESS
Electrotyped and Printed by C. H. Simonds & Co.
Boston, Mass., U.S.A._



Preface


During the three centuries directly following John Cabot's discovery of
Newfoundland, that unfortunate island was the sport of careless kings,
selfish adventurers, and diligent pirates. While England, France, Spain,
and Portugal were busy with courts and kings, and with spectacular
battles, their fishermen and adventurers toiled together and fought
together about the misty headlands of that far island. Fish, not glory,
was their quest! Full cargoes, sweetly cured, was their desire--and let
fame go hang!

The merchants of England undertook the guardianship of the "Newfounde
Land." In greed, in valour, and in achievement they won their mastery.
Their greed was a two-edged sword which cut all 'round. It hounded the
aborigines; it bullied the men of France and Spain; it discouraged the
settlement of the land by stout hearts of whatever nationality. It was
the dream of those merchant adventurers of Devon to have the place
remain for ever nothing but a fishing-station. They faced the pirates,
the foreign fishers, the would-be settlers, and the natural hardships
with equal fortitude and insolence. When some philosopher dreamed of
founding plantations in the king's name and to the glory of God,
England, and himself, then would the greedy merchants slay or cripple
the philosopher's dream in the very palace of the king. Ay, they were
powerful enough at court, though so little remarked in the histories of
the times! But, ever and anon, some gentleman adventurer, or humble
fisherman from the ships, would escape their vigilance and strike a blow
at the inscrutable wilderness.

The fishing admirals loom large in the history of the island. They were
the hands and eyes of the wealthy merchants. The master of the first
vessel to enter any harbour at the opening of the season was, for a
greater or lesser period of time, admiral and judge of that harbour. It
was his duty to parcel out anchorage, and land on which to dry fish, to
each ship in the harbour; to see that no sailors from the fleet escaped
into the woods; to discourage any visions of settlement which sight of
the rugged forests might raise in the romantic heads of the gentlemen of
the fleet; to see that all foreigners were hustled on every occasion,
and to take the best of everything for himself. Needless to say, it was
a popular position with the hard-fisted skippers.

In the narratives of the early explorers frequent mention is made of the
peaceful nature of the aborigines. At first they displayed unmistakable
signs of friendly feeling. They were all willingness to trade with the
loud-mouthed strangers from over the eastern horizon. They helped at the
fishing, and at the hunting of seals and caribou. They bartered
priceless pelts for iron hatchets and glass trinkets. Later, however, we
read of treachery and murder on the parts of both the visitors and the
natives. The itch of slave-dealing led some of the more daring
shipmasters and adventurers to capture, and carry back to England,
Beothic braves and maidens. Many of the kidnapped savages were kindly
treated and made companions of by English noblemen and gentlefolk. It is
recorded that more than one Beothic brave sported a sword at his hip in
fashionable places of London Town before Death cut the silken bonds of
his motley captivity.

Master John Guy, an alderman of Bristol, who obtained a Royal Charter in
1610, to settle and develop Newfoundland, wrote of the Beothics as a
kindly and mild-mannered race. Of their physical characteristics he
says: "They are of middle size, broad-chested, and very erect.... Their
hair is diverse, some black, some brown, and some yellow."

As to the ultimate fate of the Beothics there are several suppositions.
An aged Micmac squaw, who lives on Hall's Bay, Notre Dame Bay, says that
her father, in his youth, knew the last of the Beothics. At that
time--something over a hundred years ago--the race numbered between one
and two hundred souls. They made periodical excursions to the salt water
to fish, and to trade with a few friendly whites and Nova Scotian
Micmacs. But, for the most part, they avoided the settlements. They had
reason enough for so doing, for many of the settlers considered a
lurking Beothic as fair a target for his buckshot as a bear or caribou.
One November day a party of Micmac hunters tried to follow the remnant
of the broken race on their return trip to the great wilderness of the
interior. The trail was lost in a fall of snow on the night of the first
day of the journey. And there, with the obliterated trail, ends the
world's knowledge of the original inhabitants of Newfoundland; save of
one woman of the race named Mary March, who died, a self-ordained
fugitive about the outskirts of civilization, some ninety years ago.

To-day there are a few bones in the museum at St. John's. One hears
stories of grassy circles beside the lakes and rivers, where wigwams
once stood. Flint knives and arrow-heads are brought to light with the
turning of the farmer's furrow. But the language of the lost tribe is
forgotten, and the history of it is unrecorded.

In the following tale I have drawn the wilderness of that far time in
the likeness of the wilderness as I knew it, and loved it, a few short
years ago. The seasons bring their oft-repeated changes to brown barren,
shaggy wood, and empurpled hill; but the centuries pass and leave no
mark. I have dared to resurrect an extinct tribe for the purposes of
fiction. I have drawn inspiration from the spirit of history rather than
the letter! But the heart of the wilderness, and the hearts of men and
women, I have pictured, in this romance of olden time, as I know them
to-day.

T. R.

_November, 1904._



CONTENTS


CHAPTER                                                      PAGE
     I. A BOY WINS HIS MAN-NAME                                 1

    II. THE OLD CRAFTSMAN BY THE SALT WATER                     9

   III. THE FIGHT IN THE MEADOW                                16

    IV. OUENWA SETS OUT ON A VAGUE QUEST                       24

     V. THE ADMIRAL OF THE HARBOUR                             34

    VI. THE FANGS OF THE WOLF SLAYER                           43

   VII. THE SILENT VILLAGE                                     56

  VIII. A LETTER FOR OUENWA                                    65

    IX. AN UNCHARTERED PLANTATION                              73

     X. GENTRY AT FORT BEATRIX                                 83

    XI. THE SETTING-IN OF WINTER                               94

   XII. MEDITATION AND ACTION                                 104

  XIII. SIGNS OF A DIVIDED HOUSE                              116

   XIV. A TRICK OF PLAY-ACTING                                126

    XV. THE HIDDEN MENACE                                     133

   XVI. THE CLOVEN HOOF                                       140

  XVII. THE CONFIDENCE OF YOUTH                               148

 XVIII. EVENTS AND REFLECTIONS                                156

   XIX. TWO OF A KIND                                         164

    XX. BY ADVICE OF BLACK FEATHER                            174

   XXI. THE SEEKING OF THE TRIBESMEN                          183

  XXII. BRAVE DAYS FOR YOUNG HEARTS                           190

 XXIII. BETROTHED                                             200

  XXIV. A FIRE-LIT BATTLE. OUENWA'S RETURN                    207

   XXV. FATE DEALS CARDS OF BOTH COLOURS IN THE LITTLE FORT   217

  XXVI. PIERRE D'ANTONS PARRIES ANOTHER THRUST                227

 XXVII. A GRIM TURN OF MARCH MADNESS                          233

XXVIII. THE RUNNING OF THE ICE                                241

  XXIX. WOLF SLAYER COMES AND GOES; AND TROWLEY
          RECEIVES A VISITOR                                  252

   XXX. MAGGIE STONE TAKES MUCH UPON HERSELF                  264

  XXXI. WHILE THE SPARS ARE SCRAPED                           273

 XXXII. THE FIRST STAGE OF THE HOMEWARD VOYAGE IS
          BRAVELY ACCOMPLISHED                                279

XXXIII. IN THE MERRY CITY                                     287

 XXXIV. PIERRE D'ANTONS SIGNALS HIS OLD COMRADES,
          AND AGAIN PUTS TO SEA                               294

  XXXV. THE BRIDEGROOM ATTENDS TO OTHER MATTERS THAN LOVE     306

 XXXVI. OVER THE SIDE                                         317

XXXVII. THE MOTHER                                            323



BROTHERS OF PERIL

A Story of Old Newfoundland



CHAPTER I.

A BOY WINS HIS MAN-NAME


The boy struck again with his flint knife, and again the great wolf tore
at his shoulder. The eyes of the boy were fierce as those of the beast.
Neither wavered. Neither showed any sign of pain. The dark spruces stood
above them, with the first shadows of night in their branches; and the
western sky was stained red where the sun had been. Twice the wolf
dropped his antagonist's shoulder, in a vain attempt to grip the throat.
The boy, pressed to the ground, flung himself about like a dog, and
repeatedly drove his clumsy weapon into the wolf's shaggy side.

At last the fight ended. The great timber-wolf lay stretched dead in
awful passiveness. His fangs gleamed like ivory between the scarlet jaws
and black lips. A shimmer of white menaced the quiet wilderness from the
recesses of the half-shut eyelids.

For a few minutes the boy lay still, with the fingers of his left hand
buried in the wolf's mane, and his right hand a blot of red against the
beast's side. Presently, staggering on bent legs, he went down to the
river and washed his mangled arm and shoulder in the cool water. The
shock of it cleared his brain and steadied his eyes. He waded into the
current to his middle, stooped to the racing surface, and drank
unstintingly. Strength flooded back to blood and muscle, and the slender
limbs regained their lightness.

By this time a few pale stars gleamed on the paler background of the
eastern sky. A long finger-streak of red, low down on the hilltops,
still lightened the west. A purple band hung above it like a belt of
magic wampum--the war-belt of some mighty god. Above that, Night, the
silent hunter, set up the walls of his lodge of darkness.

The boy saw nothing of the changing beauty of the sky. He might read it,
knowingly enough, for the morrow's rain or frost; but beyond that he
gave it no heed. He returned to the dead wolf, and set about the
skinning of it with his rude blade. He worked with skill and speed. Soon
head and pelt were clear of the red carcass. After collecting his arrows
and bow, he flung the prize across his shoulder and started along a
faint trail through the spruces.

The trail which the boy followed seemed to lead away from the river by
hummock and hollow; and yet it cunningly held to the course of the
stream. Now the night was fallen. A soft wind brushed over in the
tree-tops. The voices of the rapids smote across the air with a deeper
note. As the boy moved quietly along, sharp eyes flamed at him, and
sharp ears were pricked to listen. Forms silent as shadows faded away
from his path, and questioning heads were turned back over sinewy
shoulders, sniffing silently. They smelt the wolf and they smelt the
man. They knew that there had been another violent death in the valley
of the River of Three Fires.

After walking swiftly for nearly an hour, following a path which less
primitive eyes could not have found, the boy came out on a small meadow
bright with fires. Nineteen or twenty conical wigwams, made of birch
poles, bark, and caribou hides, stood about the meadow. In front of each
wigwam burned a cooking-fire, for this was a land of much wood. The
meadow was almost an island, having the river on two sides and a shallow
lagoon cutting in behind, leaving only a narrow strip of alder-grown
"bottom" by which one might cross dry-shod. The whole meadow, including
the alders and a clump of spruces, was not more than five acres in
extent.

The boy halted in front of the largest lodge, and threw the wolfskin
down before the fire. There he stood, straight and motionless, with an
air of vast achievement about him. Two women, who were broiling meat at
the fire, looked from the shaggy, blood-stained pelt to the stalwart
stripling. They cried out to him, softly, in tones of love and
admiration. Jaws and fangs and half-shut eyes appeared frightful enough
in the red firelight, even in death.

"Ah! ah!" they cried, "what warrior has done this deed?"

"Now give me my man-name," demanded the boy.

The older of the two women, his mother, tried to tend his wounded arm;
but he shook her roughly away. She seemed accustomed to the treatment.
Still clinging to him, she called him by a score of great names. A
stalwart man, the chief of the village, strode from the dark interior of
the nearest wigwam, and glanced from his son to the untidy mass of hair
and skin. His eyes gleamed at sight of his boy's torn arm and the white
teeth of the wolf.

"Wolf Slayer," he cried. He turned to the women. "Wolf Slayer," he
repeated; "let this be his man-name--Wolf Slayer."

So this boy, son of Panounia the chief, became, at the age of fourteen
years, a warrior among his father's people.

The inhabitants of that great island were all of one race. In history
they are known as Beothics. At the time of this tale they were divided
into two nations or tribes. Hate had set them apart from one another,
breaking the old bond of blood. Each tribe was divided into numerous
villages. The island was shared pretty evenly between the nations. Soft
Hand was king of the Northerners. It was of one of his camps that the
father of Wolf Slayer was chief.

Soft Hand was a great chief, and wise beyond his generation. For more
than fifty years he had held the richest hunting-grounds in the island
against the enemy. His strength had been of both head and hand. Now he
was stiff with great age. Now his hair was gray and scanty, and
unadorned by flaming feathers of hawk and sea-bird. The snows of eighty
winters had drifted against the walls of his perishable but ever defiant
lodges, and the suns of eighty summers had faded the pigments of his
totem of the great Black Bear. Though he was slow of anger, and fair in
judgment, his people feared him as they feared no other. Though he was
gentle with the weak and young, and had honoured his parents in their
old age and loved the wife of his youth, still the strongest warrior
dared not sneer.

The village of this mighty chief was situated at the head of Wind Lake.
On the night of Wolf Slayer's adventure, Soft Hand and his grandson
arrived at the lesser village on the River of Three Fires. They
travelled in bark canoes and were accompanied by a dozen braves. The
grandson of the old chief was a lad of about Wolf Slayer's age. He was
slight of figure and dark of skin. His name was Ouenwa. He was a dreamer
of strange things, and a maker of songs. He and Wolf Slayer sat together
by the fire. Wolf Slayer held his wounded arm ever under the visitor's
eyes, and talked endlessly of his deed. For a long time Ouenwa listened
attentively, smiling and polite, as was his usual way with strangers.
But at last he grew weary of his companion's talk. He wanted to listen,
in peace, to the song of the river. How could he understand what the
rapids were saying with all this babbling of "knife" and "wolf" in his
ears?

"All this wind," he said, "would kill a pack of wolves, or even the
black cave-devil himself."

"There is no wind to-night," replied Wolf Slayer, glancing up at the
trees.

"There is a mighty wind blowing about this fire," said Ouenwa, "and it
whistles altogether of a great warrior who slew a wolf."

"At least that is not work for a dreamer," retorted the other, sullenly.
Ouenwa's answer was a smile as soft and fleeting as the light-shadows of
the fire.

At an early hour of the next morning the great chief's party started
up-stream in their canoes, on the return journey to Wind Lake. For hours
Soft Hand brooded in silence, deaf to his grandson's hundred questions.
He had grown somewhat moody in the last year. He gazed away to the
forest-clad, mist-wreathed capes ahead, and heeded not the high piping
of his dead son's child. His mind was busy with thoughts of the events
of the past night. He recalled the tones of Panounia's voice with a
shake of the head. He recalled the sullen smouldering of that stalwart
chief's eyes. He sighed, and glanced at the lad in the forging craft
beside him.

"I grow old," he murmured. "The voice of my power is breaking to its
last echo. My command over my people slips like a frozen thong of raw
leather. And Panounia! What lurks in the dull brain of him?"

The sun rose above the forest spires, clear and warm. The mists drew
skyward and melted in the gold-tinted azure. Twillegs flew, piping,
across the brown current of the river. Sandpipers, on down-bent wings,
skimmed the pebbly shore. A kingfisher flashed his burnished feathers
and screamed his strident challenge, ever an arrow-flight ahead of the
voyagers. He warned the furtive folk of the great chief's approach.

"Kingfisher would be a fitting name for the boy who killed the wolf,"
said Ouenwa.

The old man glanced at him sharply. His thin face was sombre with more
than the shadow of years.

"Nay," he replied. "His is no empty cry. Beware of him, my son!"



CHAPTER II.

THE OLD CRAFTSMAN BY THE SALT WATER


Montaw, the arrow-maker, dwelt alone at the head of a small bay. His
home was half-wigwam, half-hut. The roof was of poles, partly covered
with the hides of caribou and partly with a square of sail-cloth, which
had been given him by a Basque fisherman in exchange for six beaver
skins. The walls of the unusual lodge were of turf and stone. Here and
there were signs of intercourse with the strangers out of the Eastern
sea,--an iron fishhook, a scrap of gold lace, and a highly polished
copper pot. Of these treasures the recluse was justly proud, for had he
not acquired them at risk of sudden extinction by the breath of the
clapping fire-stick?

The arrow-maker was an old man. In his youth he had been a hunter of
renown and a great traveller, and had sojourned long in the lodges of
the Southern nation. He had loved a woman of that people,--and she had
given him laughter in return for his devotion. Journeying back to his
own hunting-grounds, he had planned a huge revenge. At once all his
skill and bravery had been turned to less open ways than those of the
lover and warrior. In little more than a year's time he had driven the
tribes to a lasting and bitter war. Even now as he sat before the door
of his lodge, he was shaping spear-heads and arrow-heads for the
fighting men of Soft Hand's nation. Some arrows he made of jasper, and
some of flint, and some of purple slate. Those of slate would break off
in the wound. They were the grim old craftsman's pets.

One day a young man from the valley of the River of Three Fires brought
Montaw a string of fine trout, in payment for a spear-head. For awhile
they talked together in the sunlight at the door of the lodge.

"For the chase," said the old man, "I make the long shape of flint,
three fingers wide, and to this I bind a long and heavy shaft. Such an
arrow will hold in the side of the running deer, and may be plucked out
after death."

"I have even seen it, father," replied the young man, in supercilious
tones; for he considered himself a mighty hunter.

"For the battle," continued the arrow-maker, "I chip the flint and
shape the narrow splinters of slate. All three are good in their way if
the bow be strong--and the arm."

The old craftsman made a song. It was rough as his arrow-heads.


     "Arrows of gray and arrows of black
       Soon shall be red.
     What will the white moon say to the proud
       Warriors, dead?

     "Arrows of jasper, arrows of flint,
       Arrows of slate.
     So, with the skill of my hands, I shape
       Arrows of hate.

     "Fly, my little ones, straight and true,
       Silent as sleep.
     Tell me, wind, of the flints I sow,
       What shall I reap?

     "Sorrow will come to their council-fires.
       Weeping and fear
     Will stalk to the heart of their great chief's lodge,
       Year after year.

     "When the moon rides on the purple hills,
       Joyous of face,
     Then do I give, to the men of my tribe,
       Heads for the chase.

     "When the chief's fire on the hilltop glows
       Like a red star,
     Then do I give, to the men of my tribe,
       Heads for the war.

     "Arrows of jasper, arrows of flint,
       Arrows of slate.
     Thus, in the door of my lodge, I nurse
       Battle and hate!"


One evening, as he sat before his lodge looking seaward, his trained
ears caught the sound of a faint call from the wooded hills behind. He
did not turn his head or change his position. But he held his breath,
the better to listen. Again came the cry, very weak and far away.

"It is the voice of a woman," he said, and smiled grimly.

Cheerless and desolately gray, the light of the east faded into the
desolate gray of the sea. Black, like stalking shadows, stood the little
islands of the headlands. The last of the light died out like the heart
of fire in the shroud of cooling ashes. Again came the cry, whispering
across the stillness.

"It may be the voice of a child, lost in the woods," said the
arrow-maker. He rose from his seat and entered the lodge. He blew the
coals of his fire back to a tiny flame. He drew up to it the burnt ends
of faggots. Then he took in his hand another of his Eastern prizes--a
broad-bladed knife--and started across the tumbled rocks toward the edge
of the wood. Though old, he was still strong and tough of limb and
courageous of heart. Sure and swift he made his way through the heavy
growth of spruce. Once he paused for the space of a heart-beat, to make
sure of his direction. Again and again was the piteous cry repeated.

The old man kept up his tireless trot through underbrush and swamp, and
displayed neither fatigue nor caution until he reached the bank of a
narrow and turbulent stream. Here he drew into the shadow of a clump of
firs. He lay close, and breathed heavily. By this time the moon had
cleared the knolls. Its thin radiance flooded the wilderness. In the air
was a whisper of gathering frost. The water of the little river twisted
black and silver, and worried at the fanged rocks that tore it, with a
voice of agony.

The crying had ceased; but the eyes of the old craftsman questioned the
farther shore with a gaze steady and keen. There seemed to be something
wrong with the shadows. A bent figure slipped down to the edge of the
stream where the water spun in an eddy. It dropped on hands and knees
and crawled to the black and unstable lip of the tide. Again the cry
rang abroad, thin and high above the complaining tumult of the current.
The watcher left his hiding-place and waded the stream. At the edge of
the spinning eddy he found a woman. She lay exhausted. A long shaft hung
to her left shoulder. Blood trickled down her bare and rounded arm. The
arrow-maker lifted her against his shoulder and bathed her face in the
cool water until her eyelids lifted.

"Chief," she whispered, "pluck out the arrow."

He shook his head. His trade was with battle and death, but it was half
a lifetime since he had felt the gushing of human blood on his hands.

"Father," she cried, faintly, "I pray you, pluck it out. The pain of it
eats into my spirit. It sprang to me from a little wood, bitter and
noiseless--and I heard not so much as the twang of the string."

The old man held her with his left arm. With strong and gentle fingers
he worked the arrow in the wound. She quivered with the pain of it.
Blood came more freely. He trembled at the hot touch of it across his
fingers. He had dwelt so long in the quiet of his craft. Then the barbed
blade came away from the wound, and he clutched it in his reeking palm.
The woman sobbed with mingled pain and relief. The old man stepped into
the moonlight and lifted the arrow to his eyes.

"It is none of my making," he said.

He heard the woman sobbing in the dark. Returning to her he bound her
shoulder with his belt of dressed leather. Then, lifting her tenderly,
he again forded the flashing current of the complaining river.



CHAPTER III.

THE FIGHT IN THE MEADOW


Even while the arrow-maker carried the wounded woman, arrows of the same
shape as that which had stabbed her tender flesh were threatening the
little village on the River of Three Fires. For days several war-parties
from the South had been stealing through the country, raiding the lesser
villages, and bent on destroying the nation of Soft Hand, and possessing
his hunting-grounds. It was a laggard of one of the smaller bands that
had wounded the woman. She had been far from her lodge at the time,
seeking some healing herbs in the forest, and he had fired on her out of
fear that she had discovered him and would warn her people. In her pain
and fright, she had wandered coastward for several miles.

Silent as shadows, the invading warriors drew down toward the little
meadow. Clouds were over the face of the white October moon. A cold mist
floated in the valley. The leaders of the invaders, lying low among the
alders at the edge of the clearing, could see the unguarded people
moving about their red fires. There was a scent of cooking deer-meat in
the chill air. The chief of the attacking party lay on the damp grass
and peered between the stems of the alders. He smiled exultantly. A
quick slaughter, and then to a feast already prepared. He and his braves
had enjoyed but poor fare during their long march.

So shall I leave him, sniffing the breath of the cooking fires, and turn
to Wolf Slayer. Late of that afternoon Wolf Slayer had sallied forth in
quest of something to kill. The woods had seemed deserted, and in less
than an hour after his valorous exit from the camp, he had fallen asleep
on a warm and sheltered strip of shingle. The river flashed in front,
and on three sides brooded the crowding trees. When he awoke, the sun
had set, and the river, a curved mirror for the western sky, was red as
fire--or blood. Down-stream, about two hundred yards distant, a sombre
bluff thrust its rocky breast into the water. The boy gazed at this, and
his eyes widened with dismay. Then they narrowed with hate. Out of the
shelter of the rocks and the shadows, and into the flaming waters, came
figure after figure. They waded knee-deep, hip-deep, shoulder-deep, into
that molten glory. Then they swam; and the ripples washed back from
gleaming neck and shoulder like lighter flames. One by one they stole
from the shadow, swam the radiance, and again sought the shadow.

The boy trembled. The devils of fear and rage had their fingers on him.
Spellbound, he watched close upon a hundred warriors make the passage of
the river. Then he, too, sank noiselessly into the shelter of the trees.
He was old enough to know what this meant, and his heart hurt him with
its pent-up fury as he crawled through the underbrush. He was dismayed
at the sound of his own breathing. He heard the distant rapping of a
woodpecker, the fall of a spent leaf from an alder, and the soft breath
of a dying wind; and the familiar sounds filled him with awe. And yet,
but for these sounds, the whole world might be dead and the forest
empty. Thought of the hundred fighting men moving steadily upon the
unguarded homes of his people, with no more warning than the sound of a
swamp-bird's flight, was like a nightmare. But presently the courage
that had helped him slay the wolf came to him, and he thought of the
glory to be won by saving the threatened village. He did not strengthen
his heart to the task for sake of his mother's life and the lives of his
playmates; but because the warriors would call him a hero. Keeping just
within the edge of the woods, he moved up-stream as speedily as he might
without making any sound. He came upon a brown hare crouched beside a
clump of ferns. He might have touched it with his hand, so unaware was
it of his presence. He passed beneath an alder branch whereon perched a
big slate-gray jay. It was not a foot from his back as he crawled under,
and it did not take flight. But it eyed him intently, to make sure that
he was not a fox. Sometimes he lay still for a little, listening. He
heard nothing, though he started at a hundred fancied sounds. Twilight
deepened into dusk, and dusk into gloom. The moon sailed up over the
hills, and long banners of cloud passed across the face of it.

Presently Wolf Slayer came within sight of the fires of the village. The
red light flashed on the angry river beyond, but left the lagoon in
darkness. He crawled into the water inch by inch, scarcely breaking the
calm, black surface. Then he swam, without noise of splashing, and
landed at the foot of the meadow like a great beaver. He crawled into
the red circle of one of the fires, and told his news to the braves
gathered around. Men slipped from fire to fire. Without any unwonted
disturbance, the whole village armed itself. Suddenly, with a fierce
shout and a flight of arrows, the alders were attacked. The invaders
were checked at the very moment of their fancied victory.

The fighting scattered. Here three men struggled together in the
shallows at the head of the lagoon. Farther out, one tossed his arms and
sank into the black depths. In the open a half-score warriors bent their
bows. Among the twisted stems of the alders they pulled and strangled,
like beasts of prey. Back in the spruces they slew with clubs and
knives, feeling for one another in the dark. Their war-cries and shouts
of hate rang fearfully on the night air, and awoke unholy echoes along
the valley.

In the front of the battle Wolf Slayer fought like a man. His lack of
stature saved him from death more than once in that fearful encounter.
Many a vicious blow glanced harmless, or missed him altogether, as he
stumbled and bent among the alders. At first he fought with a long,
flint knife,--the work of the old arrow-maker. But this was splintered
in his hand by the murderous stroke of a war-club. He wrenched a spear
from the clutch of a dying brave. A leaping figure went down before his
unexpected lunge. It rolled over; then, queerly sprawling, it lay still.
An arrow from the open ripped along an alder stem, rattled its shaft
among the dry twigs, and struck a glancing blow on the young brave's
neck. He stumbled, grabbing at the shadows. He fell--and forgot the
fight.

In light and darkness the battle raged on. Wigwams were overthrown, and
about the little fires warriors gave up their violent lives. At last the
encampment was cleared, and saved from destruction; and those of the
invaders who remained beside the trampled fires had ceased to menace.
Along the black edges of the forest ran the cries and tumult of the
struggle. Spent arrows floated on the lagoon. Red knives lifted and
turned in the underbrush.

Wolf Slayer, dizzy and faint, crawled back to the lodges of his people.
Other warriors were returning. They came exultant, with the lust of
fighting still aflame in their eyes. Some strode arrogantly. Some
crawled, as Wolf Slayer had. Some staggered to the home fires and reeled
against the lodges, and some got no farther than the outer circle of
light. And many came not at all.

The chief, with a great gash high on his breast (he had bared arms and
breast for the battle), sought about the clearing and trampled fringe of
alders, and at last, returning to the disordered camp, found Wolf
Slayer. With a glad, high shout of triumph, he lifted the boy in his
arms and carried him home. The mother met them at the door of the lodge.
In fearful silence the man and woman washed and bound the young brave's
wound, and watched above his faint breathing with anxious hearts.

"Little one, strengthen your feet against the turn of the dark trail,"
whispered the mother. "See, our fires are bright to guide you back to
your own people."

"Little chief, though this battle is ended, there are many good fights
yet to come," whispered the father. "The fighters of the camp will have
great need of you when we turn from our sleep. The old bear grumbles at
the mouth of his den!--will you not be with us when we singe his fur?"

"Hush, hush!" cried the woman.

The boy, opening his eyes, turned the feet of his spirit from the dark
trail.

"I saw the lights of the lost fires," he murmured, "and the hunting-song
of dead braves was in my ears."

Wolf Slayer was nursed back to health and strength. Not once--not even
at the edge of Death's domain--had his arrogance left him. It seemed
that the days of suffering had but hardened his already hard heart. Lad
though he was, the villagers began to feel the weight of his hand upon
them. He bullied and beat the other boys of the camp.



CHAPTER IV.

OUENWA SETS OUT ON A VAGUE QUEST


In the dead of winter--in that season of sweeping winds and aching
skies, when the wide barrens lie uncheered of life from horizon to
horizon--Soft Hand sent many of his warriors to the South. They followed
in the "leads" of the great herds of caribou, going partly for the meat
of the deer and partly to strike terror into the hearts of the Southern
enemy. At the head of this party went Panounia, chief of the village on
the River of Three Fires, and with him he took his hardy son, Wolf
Slayer. Grim plans were bred on that journey. Grim tales were told
around the big fire at night. The evil thing which Panounia hatched,
with his bragging tongue, grew day by day and night by night. The hearts
of the warriors were fired with the shameful flame. They dreamed things
that had never happened, and wrought black visions out of the
foolishnesses of their brains.

"The bear nods," they repeated, one to another, after the chief had
talked to them. "The bear nods, like an old woman over a pot of stew.
But for Panounia, surely the men of the South would have scattered our
lodges and led us, captive, to the playgrounds of their children and
their squaws. Such a fate would warm the heart of Soft Hand, for is not
our Great Chief an old woman himself?"

So, far from the eye and paw of the great bear, the foxes barked at his
power. The moon heard it, and the silent trees, and the wind which
carries no messages.

About this time Ouenwa, the grandson of Soft Hand, decided to make a
journey of many days from the lodges at the head of Wind Lake to the
Salt Water. He felt no interest in the Southern invasion. His eyes
longed for a sight of the edges of the land and the breast of the great
waters beyond. He had heard, in his inland home, rumour of mighty wooden
canoes walled higher than the peak of a wigwam, and manned by
loud-mouthed warriors from beyond the fogs and the rising sun. Some
wiseacre, squatted beside the old chief's fire, hinted that the
strangers were gods. He told many wonderful stories to back his
argument. Soft Hand nodded. But Ouenwa smiled and shook his head.

"Would gods make such flights for the sake of a few dried fishes and a
few dressed pelts of beaver and fox?" he asked.

"The gods of trade would do so," replied the wiseacre. "Also," he added,
"they slay at great distances by means of brown stakes which are
flame-tongued and smoke-crowned and thunder-voiced."

"But do these gods not fight with knives--long knives and short?"
inquired the lad. "I have heard it said that they sometimes fall out
over the ordering of their affairs, even as we mortals do."

"And what wonderful knives they are," cried the old gossip. "They are
coloured like ice. They gleam in the sunlight, like a flash of lightning
against a cloud. They cut quicker than thought, and the red blood
follows the edge as surely as the rains follow April."

"I have yet to see these gods," replied Ouenwa, "and in my heart I pray
that they be but men, for the gods have proved themselves but cheerless
companions to our people."

At that Soft Hand looked up. "Are the seasons not arranged to your
liking, boy?" he asked, quietly.

"Nay, I did not mean that," cried Ouenwa; "but strange men promise
better and safer company than strange gods."

Now he was journeying toward the ocean of his dreaming and the ports of
his desire. His eyes would search the headlands of fog. Out of the east,
and the sun's bed, would lift the magic canoes of the strangers. But the
journey was a hard one. The boy's only companion was a man of small
stature and unheroic spirit, whom the old chief could well spare. They
took their way down the frozen, snow-drifted lake, dragging their food
and sleeping-bags of skin on a rough sledge. The wind came out of a
steel-blue sky, unshifting and relentless. The dry snow ran before it
over the level surface, and settled in thin, white ridges across their
path. At the approach of night they sought the wooded shore, and in the
shelter of the firs built their fire.

During the journey Ouenwa's guide proved but a cheerless companion. He
had no heart for any adventure that might take him beyond the scent of
his people's cooking-fires. He considered the conversation of his young
master but a poor substitute for the gossip of the lodges. The scant
fare of his own cooking left his stomach uncomforted. He hated the
weariness of the march and dreaded the silence of the night. The cry of
the wind across the tree-tops was, to his craven ear, the voice of some
evil spirit. The barking of a fox on the hill set his limbs a-tremble.
The howl of a wolf struck him cold. The sudden leaping of a hare in the
underbrush was enough to shake his poor wits with fright. But he feared
the anger of Soft Hand more than all these terrors, and so held to
Ouenwa and his mission.

On the third day of the journey the blue sky thickened to gray, the wind
veered, and a great storm of snow overtook them. The snowflakes were
large and damp. The travellers turned aside and climbed the bank of the
river to the thickets of evergreens. With their rude axes of stone they
broke away the fir boughs and reared themselves a shelter in the heart
of the wood. Into this they drew their sledge of provisions and their
sleeping-bags. Then they collected whatever dry fuel they could
find--dead twigs and branches, tree-moss and birch bark--and, with his
ingenious contrivance of bow and notched stick, Ouenwa started a blaze.
They roasted dried venison by holding it to the flame on the ends of
pointed sticks. Each cooked what he wanted, and ate it without talk. All
creation seemed shrouded in silence. There was not a sound save the
occasional soft hiss of a melting snowflake in the fire. The storm
became denser. It was as if a sudden, colourless night had descended
upon the wilderness, blotting out even the nearer trees with its reeling
gray. The old retainer crouched low, and gazed out at the storm from
between his bony knees. His eyes fairly protruded with superstitious
terror.

"What do you see?" inquired Ouenwa. The awe of the storm was creeping
over his courage like the first film of ice over a bright stream. The
old man did not move. He did not reply. Ouenwa drew closer to him, and
heaped dry moss on the fire. It glowed high, and splashed a ruddy circle
of light on the eddying snowflakes as on a wall.

"Hark!" whispered the old man. Yes, it was the sound of muffled
footsteps, approaching behind the impenetrable curtain of the storm. The
boy's blood chilled and thinned like water in his veins. He clutched his
companion with frenzied hands. The fear of all the devils and shapeless
beings of the wilderness was upon him. In the whirling snow loomed a
great figure. It emerged into the glow of the fire.

"Ah! ah!" cried the old man, cackling with relief. For their visitor was
nothing more terrible than a fellow human. The stranger greeted them
cordially, and told them that, but for the glow of their fire, he would
have been lost.

"But what are you doing here--an old man and a child?" he asked.

Ouenwa told him. He explained his identity, and his intention of
dwelling with the great arrow-maker of his grandfather's tribe to learn
wisdom.

"Then are we well met," replied the other, "for my lodge is not half a
spear-throw from the lodge of the arrow-maker. The old man has been as a
father to me since the day he saved my wife from death. Now I hunt for
him, and work at his craft, and have left the river to be near him. My
children play about his lodge. My wife broils his fish and meat. Truly
the old man has changed since the return of laughter and friendship to
his lodge."

The stranger's name was Black Feather. He was taller than the average
Beothic, and broad of shoulder in proportion. His hair was brown, and
one lock of it, which was worn longer than the rest, was plaited with
jet-black feathers. His garments consisted of a shirt of beaver skins
that reached half-way between hip and knee, trousers of dressed leather,
and leggins and moccasins of the same material. Around his waist was a
broad belt, beautifully worked in designs of dyed porcupine quills. His
head was uncovered.

Black Feather seated himself beside Ouenwa, and replied, good-naturedly,
and at great length, to the youth's many questions. He told of the
high-walled ships, and of how he had once seen four of these monsters
swinging together in the tide, with little boats plying between them,
and banners red as the sunset flapping above them. He told of trading
with the strangers, and described their manner of spreading out lengths
of bright cloth, knives and hatchets of gray metal, and flasks of strong
drink.

"Their knives are edged with magic," he said. "Many of them carry
weapons called muskets, which kill at a hundred paces, and terrify at
even a greater distance. But a nimble bowman might loose four arrows in
the time that they are conjuring forth the spirit of the musket."

The storm continued throughout the day and night, but the morning broke
clear. The travellers crawled from their weighted shelter and looked
with gratitude upon the silver shield of the sun. After a hearty
breakfast, they set out on the last stage of their journey. Their
racquets of spruce wood woven across with strips of caribou hide sank
deep in the feathery snow, and lifted a burden of it at every step. But
they held cheerfully on their way. Black Feather walked ahead, and Pot
Friend, the old gossip, brought up the rear. The thong by which they
dragged the sledge passed over the right shoulder of each, and was
grasped in the right hand. After several hours of tramping along the
level of the river's valley, Black Feather turned toward the western
bank and led them into the woods. Presently, after experiencing several
difficulties with the sledge, they emerged on the barren beyond the
fringe of timber. They ascended a treeless knoll that rounded in front
of them, blindingly white against the pale sky. Old Pot Friend grumbled
and sighed, and might just as well have been on the sledge, for all the
pulling he did. On reaching the top of the knoll Black Feather swept his
arm before him with a gesture of finality. "Behold!" he said.

An exclamation of wonder sprang to Ouenwa's lips, and
died--half-uttered. Before him lay a wedge of foam-crested winter sea
beating out against a far, glass-clear horizon. To right and left were
sheer rocks and timbered valleys, wave-washed coves, ice-rimmed islands,
and crouching headlands. Even Pot Friend forgot his weariness and
shortness of breath for the moment, and surveyed the outlook in silence.
It was many years since he had been so far afield. His little soul was
fairly stunned with awe. But presently his real nature reasserted
itself. He pointed with his hand.

"Smoke!" he exclaimed. "And the roofs of two lodges. Good!"

Black Feather smiled. Ouenwa did not hear the old man's cry of joy.

"I see the edge of the world," he said.

"But the ships come over it, and go down behind it," replied Black
Feather.

"That is foolishness," said Pot Friend, who was filled with his old
impudence at sight of the fire and the lodges. "No canoe would venture
on the great salt water. I say it, who have built many canoes. And, if
they voyaged so far, they would slip off into the caves of the Fog
Devils. I believe nothing of all these stories of the strangers and
their winged canoes."

"Silence!" cried the boy, turning on him with flashing eyes. "What do
you know of how far men will venture?--you, who have but heart enough to
stir a pot of broth and lick the spoon."

"I have brought you safely through great dangers," whined the old
fellow.

Montaw, the aged arrow-maker, welcomed his visitors cordially, and was
grateful for the kind messages from his chief, Soft Hand, and for the
gift of dressed leather. He accepted the charge and education of Ouenwa.
He set the unheroic Pot Friend to the tasks of carrying water and wood,
and snaring hares and grouse. He taught Ouenwa the craft of chipping
flints into shapes for spear-heads and arrow-heads, and the art of
painting, in ochre, on leather and birch bark.



CHAPTER V.

THE ADMIRAL OF THE HARBOUR


Spring brought ice-floes and bergs from the north, and millions of
Greenland seals. For weeks the little bay on which Montaw and Black
Feather had their lodges was choked with battering ice-pans and crippled
bergs. Many of the tribesmen came to the salt water to kill the seals.
Soft Hand sent a canoe-load of beaver pelts to Ouenwa, so that the boy
might trade with the strangers when they arrived out of the waste of
waters.

At last summer came to the great Bay of Exploits, and with it many
ships--ships of England, of France, of Spain, and of Portugal. All were
in quest of the world-renowned codfish. By this time the ice had rotted,
and drifted southward. The first craft to enter Wigwam Harbour (as the
English sailors called the arrow-maker's bay) was the Devon ship, _Heart
of the West_. Her master, John Trowley, was an ignorant, hard-headed,
and hard-fisted old mariner of the roughest type; but, by the laws of
those waters, he was Admiral of Wigwam Harbour for that season. It was
not long before every harbour had its admiral,--in every case the master
of the first vessel to drop anchor there. The shores were portioned off
in strips, so that each ship might have a place for drying-stages,
whereon to cure its fish. Then the great business of garnering that rich
harvest of the north began, amid the rattling of boat-gear, the shouting
of orders in many tongues, and the volleying of oaths. Ouenwa, watching
the animated scene, was fired with a desire to voyage in one of the
strange vessels, and to taste the world that lay beyond the rim of the
sea.

One day, soon after their arrival, three men from the _Heart of the
West_ ascended the twisting path to the arrow-maker's lodge. The old
craftsman and Black Feather and Ouenwa advanced to meet them without
fear, for up to that time the adventurers and the natives had been on
the best of terms. The strangers smiled and bowed to the Beothics. They
displayed a handful of coloured glass beads, a roll of red cloth, and a
few sticks of tobacco. Old Montaw's eyes glistened at sight of the
Virginian leaf. He had already learned the trick of drawing on the stem
of a pipe and blowing fragrant clouds of smoke into the air. He said
that to do so added to the profundity of his thoughts. And all winter he
had gone without a puff. He produced a mink skin from his lodge and
exchanged it for one of the coveted sticks of tobacco. Black Feather
also traded, giving skins of mink, fox, and beaver for a piece of cloth,
a dozen beads, and a knife. But Ouenwa stood aside and watched the
strangers. One of them he recognized as the great captain who shouted
and swore at the captains of the other ships, and pointed out to them
places where they might anchor their ships--for it was none other than
Master John Trowley. The young man with the gold lace in his hat, and
the long sword at his side--surely, he, too, was a chief, despite his
quiet voice and smooth face. Ouenwa's surmise was correct. The youth was
Master Bernard Kingswell, only son of a wealthy widow of Bristol. His
father, who had been knighted a few years before his premature death,
had been a merchant of sound views and adventurous spirit. The son
inherited the adventurous spirit, and was free from the bondage of the
counting-house. The third of the party was a common seaman. That much
Ouenwa could detect at a glance.

Master Kingswell stepped over to the young Beothic.

"Trade?" he inquired, kindly, displaying a string of glass beads in the
palm of his hand. Ouenwa shook his head. He knew only such words of
English as Montaw had taught him, and he feared that they would prove
entirely inadequate for the purpose that was in his mind. However, he
would try. He pointed to Trowley's ship, and then to the far and
glinting horizon.

"Take Ouenwa?" he whispered, scarce above his breath.

"To see the ship?" inquired Master Kingswell.

"Off," replied Ouenwa, with a wave of his arms. "Out, off!"

Kingswell looked puzzled, and made no reply. The young Beothic bent a
keen glance upon him; then he tapped himself on the chest.

"Take Ouenwa," he whispered. He plucked the Englishman by the coat.
"Come, chief, come," he cried, eagerly.

Kingswell followed to the nearest lodge. Ouenwa pulled aside the flap of
caribou hide that covered the doorway, and motioned for the visitor to
enter. For a second the Englishman hesitated. He had heard many tales of
the treachery of these people. What menace might not lurk in the gloom
of the round, fur-scented lodge? But he did not lack courage; and,
before the other had time to notice the hesitation, he stepped within.
The flap of rawhide fell into place behind him. Save for the red glow
that pulsated from the hearthstone in the centre of the floor, and the
fingers of sunlight that thrust through the cracks in the apex of the
roof, the big lodge was unilluminated.

"What do you want?" asked Master Kingswell, with his shoulders against
the slope of the roof and a tentative hand on his sword-hilt. For
answer, Ouenwa held a torch of rolled bark to the fire until it flared
smoky red, and then lifted it high. The light of it flooded the sombre
place, showing up the couches of skins, Montaw's copper pot, and a great
bale of pelts. The boy pointed to the pelts. Then he pressed the palm of
his hand against the Englishman's breast.

"Ouenwa give beaver," he said. "Take Ouenwa Englan'. Much good trade."

Kingswell understood. But he saw obstacles in the way of carrying out
the young Beothic's wish. The other savages might object. They might
look on it as a case of kidnapping. Lads had been kidnapped before from
the eastern bays, and, though they had been well treated, and made pets
of in England, their people had ceased to trade with the visitors, and
all their friendship had turned to treachery and hostility. On the other
hand, he should like to take the youth home with him. He tried to
explain his position to Ouenwa, but failed signally. They parted,
however, with the most friendly feelings toward one another.

After the interview with Kingswell, Ouenwa spent most of his time gazing
longingly at the ships in the bay, and picturing the life aboard them,
and the countries from which they had come. One morning Kingswell called
to him from the land-wash. He ran down, delighted at the attention.
Kingswell pointed to a small, open boat which the carpenter of the
_Heart of the West_ had just completed. Then, by signs and a few words,
he told Ouenwa that he was going northward in the little craft, to
explore the coast, and that he would be back with the fleet before the
birch leaves were yellow. Ouenwa begged to be taken on the expedition
and afterward across the seas. He offered his canoe-load of beaver
skins. He tried to tell of his great desire to see the lodges of the
strangers, and to learn their speech. He did not want to live the life
of his own people. Kingswell caught the general trend of the Beothic's
remarks. He had no objection to driving a good bargain. So he made clear
to him that he was to come alongside the ship, with the beaver skins, on
the following night.

The sky was black with clouds, and a fog wrapped the harbour, when
Ouenwa stepped into his loaded canoe and pushed out toward the spot
where Trowley's ship lay at anchor. He had dragged his skins from
Montaw's lodge earlier in the night, without disturbing the slumbers of
either his guardian or Pot Friend. Age had dulled their ears and
thickened their sleep. He paddled noiselessly. Sounds of roistering came
to his ears, muffled by the fog. Presently the admiral's ship loomed
close ahead. Lights blinked fore and aft. She seemed a tremendous thing
to the lad, though in truth she was but of one hundred tons. Singing and
laughter were ripe aboard.

For the first time a fear of the strangers took possession of Ouenwa.
Even his trust in Kingswell faltered. He ceased paddling, and listened,
with bated breath, to the hoarse shouts of merriment and the clapping
oaths. Then curiosity overcame his fear. He slid his long canoe under
the stem of the _Heart of the West_. A cheering glow of candle-light
yellowed the fog above him. He stood up and found that his head was on a
level with the sill of a square port. It stood open. He heard
Kingswell's voice, and Trowley's. The master-mariner's was gusty and
argumentative. It broke out at intervals, like the flapping of a sail.

Ouenwa steadied himself with his hands on the casing of the open port,
and lifted to tiptoe. Now he could see into the little cabin, and hear
the conversation of its inmates. Happily for his feelings, he could
understand only a word or two of that conversation. He saw Kingswell and
the master of the ship seated opposite one another at a small table.
Upon the table stood candles in metal sticks, a bottle, and glasses. The
old sea-dog's bearded face was working with excitement. He slapped his
great flipper-like hand on the polished surface of the board.

"Now who be master o' this ship?" he bawled. "Tell me that, will 'e. Who
be master?"

"I am the owner, you'll kindly remember, John Trowley," replied
Kingswell, with a ring of anger in his voice, but a smile on his lips.

"Ay, ye be owner, but John Trowley be skipper," roared the other,
glaring so hard that his round, pale eyes fairly bulged from his face.
"An' no dirty redskin sails in ship o' mine unless as a servant, or
afore the mast,--no, not if he pays his passage with all th' pelts in
Newfoundland."

"You are mistaken, my friend," replied Kingswell. "I'll carry fifty of
these people back to Bristol, if it so pleases me."

"I'll put ye in irons, my fine gentleman," retorted the seaman.

"You are drunk," cried the young adventurer, drawing back his right hand
as if to strike the great, scowling face that bent toward him across the
table.

"Drunk, d'ye say! An' ye'd lift yer hand against the ship's master,
would ye?" shouted Trowley. He lurched forward, and a knife flashed
above the overturned bottle and glasses.

Ouenwa emitted a horrified scream, and hurled his paddle spear-wise into
the cabin. The rounded point of the blade caught Trowley on the side of
the head, and sent him crashing to the deck.



CHAPTER VI.

THE FANGS OF THE WOLF SLAYER


When Trowley recovered consciousness, he was lying in his berth, with a
bandage around his head. Kingswell looked in at him, smiling in a way
that the old mariner was beginning to fear as well as hate.

"I hope you are feeling more amiable since your sleep," said Kingswell.

Trowley muttered a word or two of apology, damned the rum, and asked the
time of day. His recollections of the argument in the cabin were hazy
and fragmentary.

In reply to his question the gentleman told him that the sun was well
up, the fog cleared, and that he was having his boat provisioned for the
coastwise exploration trip.

"And mind you," he added, grimly, "that the eighty beaver skins which
are now being stowed away in my berth are my property."

"Certainly, sir," replied Trowley. "An' may I ask how ye come by such a
power o' trade in a night-time?"

"Yes, you may ask," replied Kingswell. He grinned at the wounded skipper
for fully a minute, leaning on the edge of the bunk. Then he said: "I'll
now bid you farewell until October. Don't sail without me, good Master
Trowley, and look not upon the rum of the Indies when that same is red.
A knife-thrust given in drunkenness might lead to the gallows."

He turned and nimbly scaled the companion-ladder, leaving the shipmaster
speechless with rage.

Half an hour later the staunch little craft _Pelican_ spread her square
sail and slid away from the _Heart of the West_. She was manned by old
Tom Bent, young Peter Harding, and Richard Clotworthy. Master Bernard
Kingswell sat at the tiller, with Ouenwa beside him. Their provisions,
extra clothing, arms, and ammunition were stowed amidships and covered
with sail-cloth. The sun was bright, and the sky blue. The wind bowled
them along at a clipping pace. From a mound above the harbour Black
Feather gazed after them under a level hand. In the little harbour
Trowley's ship alone swung in her anchorage. The others had run out to
the fishing-grounds,--for in those days the fishing was done over the
sides of the ships, and not from small boats. On either side the brown
shores fell back, and the dancing waters widened and widened. White
gulls screamed above and around them, flashing silvery wings, snowy
breasts, and inquisitive eyes.

Ouenwa looked back, and then ahead, and felt a great misgiving. But
Kingswell patted him on the shoulder, and the sailors nodded their heads
at him and grinned.

Soon they were among the fleet. The ungainly, high-sterned vessels
rocked and bobbed under naked spars. The great business that had brought
them so far was going forward. Along both sides of every ship were hung
barrels, and in each barrel was stationed a man with two or more
fishing-lines. Splashing desperately, the great fish were hauled up,
unhooked, and tossed to the deck behind. As the little _Pelican_ slid
by, the fishers paused in their work to cheer her, and wave their caps.
The masters shouted "God speed" from their narrow quarter-decks, and
doffed their hats. Kingswell waved them gracious farewells; Ouenwa gazed
spellbound toward the widening outlook; and Tom Bent trimmed the sail to
a nicety.

They passed headland after headland, rocky island after rocky island,
cove after cove. The shores behind them turned from brown to purple,
and from purple to azure. The waves ran higher and the wind freshened.
Kingswell shaped the boat's course a few points to the northward. The
stout little craft skipped like a lamb and plunged like some less
playful creature. Spray flew over her blunt bows, and the sailors
laughed like children, and called her a brave lass, and many other
endearing names, as if she were human.

"A smart wench, sir," said Tom Bent to Master Kingswell. The commander
nodded, and shifted the tiller knowingly. His blue eyes were flashing
with the excitement of the speed and motion. His bright, pale hair
streamed in the wind. He leaned forward, to pick out the course through
a group of small islands that cluttered the bay ahead of them. He gave
an order, and the seamen hauled on the wet sheet. But Ouenwa did not
share the high spirits of his companions. A terrible, unknown feeling
got hold of him. His dark cheeks lost their bloom. Kingswell glanced at
him.

"Let it go, lad," he said. "A sailor is made in this way. Tom, pass me
along a blanket."

With his unemployed hand he fixed a comfortable rest for the boy, and
helped him to a drink of water. For an hour or more he maintained a hold
on the young Beothic's belt, for, by this time, the soaring and sinking
of the _Pelican_ were enough to unsteady even a seasoned mariner. As
for Ouenwa!--the poor lad simply clung to the gunwale with the grip of
despair, and entertained regretful, beautiful visions of level shores
and unshaken hills. Tom Bent eyed him kindly.

"The young un has it wicked, sir," he said. "Maybe, like as not, a swig
o' rum ud sweeten his bilge, sir."

Kingswell acted on the old tar's advice. The rank liquor completed the
boy's breakdown. In so doing it served the purpose which Bent had
intended. The sufferer was soon sleeping soundly, already half a sailor.

When Ouenwa next took interest in his surroundings, the _Pelican_ had
the surf of a sheer coast close aboard on her port side. She was heading
due north. The sun was half-way down his western slope. Behind the
_Pelican's_ bubbling wake, hills and headlands and high, naked barrens
lay brown and purple and smoky blue. In front, and on the right hand,
loomed surf-rimmed islands and flashed the innumerable, ever-altering
yet unchanged hills and valleys of the deep. Tom Bent was now at the
tiller, and Kingswell was in the bows, gazing intently at the austere
coast. Ouenwa crawled over the thwarts and cargo of provisions, under
the straining sail, and crouched beside him. His head felt light and
his stomach painfully empty, but again life seemed worth living and the
adventure worth while.

About an hour before sunset the _Pelican_ ran into a little cove, and
her two grappling anchors were heaved overboard. She lay within five
yards of the land-wash, swinging on an easy tide. Ouenwa sprang into the
water and waded ashore. It was a dismal anchorage, with only a strip of
shingle, and grim cliffs rising in front and on either hand. But at the
base of the cliffs, in fissures of the rock, grew stunted spruce-trees
and birches. Ouenwa soon found a little stream dribbling a zigzag course
from the levels above. It gathered, clear and cold, in a shallow basin
at the foot of the rock, and from there spilled over into the
obliterating sand.

By this time the others were ashore. Clotworthy hacked down a couple of
armfuls of the spruce and birch shrubs with his cutlass, and started a
fire. Then he filled a pot from the little well and commenced
preparations for a meal. The other seamen erected a shelter, composed of
a sail and three oars, against the cliff. Kingswell and Ouenwa sat on a
convenient boulder, and the commander filled a long pipe with tobacco
and lit it at a brand from the fire. He seemed in high spirits, and in a
mood to further his young companion's education. Pointing to the roll
of Virginian leaf, from which he had cut the charge for his pipe, he
said, "Tobacco." Ouenwa repeated it many times, and nodded his
comprehension. Then Kingswell pointed to old Tom Bent, who was watching
Clotworthy drop lumps of dried venison into the pot of water.

"Boatswain," he said.

Ouenwa mastered the word, as well as the term "able seamen," applied to
Clotworthy and Peter Harding. By that time the stew was ready for them.
They were all sound asleep, under their frail shelter, before the last
glimmer of twilight was gone from the sky.

It was very early when Ouenwa awoke. A pale flood of dawn illumined the
tent and the recumbent forms of Master Kingswell and Clotworthy. Tom
Bent and Harding were not in their places. The boy wondered at that, but
was about to close his eyes again, when he was startled to his feet by a
shrill cry that went ringing overhead and echoing along the cliffs. He
darted from the tent, with Kingswell and Clotworthy hot on his heels.
Bent and Harding were on the extreme edge of the beach, with their backs
to the sea, staring upward. Ouenwa and the others turned their faces in
the same direction. They were amazed to see about a dozen native
warriors on the cliff above them, fully armed, and evidently deeply
interested in what was going on in the little cove. One of them was
pointing to the _Pelican_, and talking vehemently to the brave beside
him. In two of them Ouenwa recognized young Wolf Slayer, and his father,
the chief of the village on the River of Three Fires. He called up to
them, and asked what brought them so far from their village.

"We are at the salt water to take the fish," replied Wolf Slayer, "and
we saw the smoke of your fire before the last darkness. But what do you
with the great strangers, little Dreamer?"

"They are my friends," replied Ouenwa, "and I am voyaging with them to
learn wisdom."

"What are you talking about?" asked Kingswell.

The lad tried to explain. He pointed to the tent and provisions and then
to the boat. "Put in," he said.

At a word from Kingswell the three sailors quickly dismantled their
night's shelter and carried the sail, the oars, and such food and
blankets as they had brought ashore, out to the _Pelican_. At that the
shrill cry rang out again, and echoed along the cliffs.

"What does that mean?" inquired Kingswell.

"Bad," replied Ouenwa, shortly.

"What is in your fine canoe, little Dreamer?" called Wolf Slayer.

"Our food and our clothing, little Fox Stabber," Ouenwa cried back, with
indignation in his voice.

"Your dreams must have unsettled your wits, my friend," replied Wolf
Slayer, "or you would not talk so loud before a chief of the tribe."

Just then, in answer to the cry that had sounded so dismally across the
dawn a few moments before, five more warriors, armed with bows, appeared
on the top of the cliff--for the cry was the hunting-call of the tribe.

"Do you fish with war-bows?" shouted Ouenwa. "And why do you summon to
trade with the cry of the hunt?"

"You ask too many questions, even for a seeker of wisdom," replied the
other youth, mockingly.

"Does Soft Hand, the great bear, slumber, that the foxes bark with such
assurance?" retorted Ouenwa.

By this time the _Pelican_ was ready to put out of the cove. Both
anchors were up, and Harding and Clotworthy held her off with the oars.
Old Tom Bent was also in the boat, busy with something beside the mast.
Suddenly a bow-string twanged, and an arrow buried its flint head in the
sand at Kingswell's feet. Another struck a stone and, glancing out,
rattled against Harding's oar. Kingswell and Ouenwa backed hastily into
the water. Above them, silhouetted against the lightening sky, they saw
bending bows and downward thrust arms. Then, with a clap and a roar, and
a gust of smoke, old Tom Bent replied to the warriors on the cliff. The
echoes of the discharge bellowed around and around the rock-girt
harbour. Ouenwa and Kingswell sprang through the smoke and climbed
aboard, and the seamen pushed into deep water and then bent to their
oars. But the _Pelican_ proved a heavy boat to row, with her blunt bows
and comfortable beam. She surged slowly beyond the cloud of bitter smoke
that the musket had hung in the windless air. Clear of that, the
voyagers looked for their treacherous assailants--and, behold, the great
warriors were not to be seen. Kingswell and the three seamen laughed, as
if the incident were a fine joke; but Ouenwa was hot with shame and
anger. He stood erect and shouted abuse to the deserted cliff-top. He
called upon Wolf Slayer and Panounia to show their cowardly faces. He
threatened them with the displeasure of Soft Hand and with the anger of
the English. A figure appeared on the sky-line.

"You speak of Soft Hand," it cried. "Know you, then, that Soft Hand set
out on the Long Trail four suns ago, when he marched into my village to
dispute my power. I, Panounia, am now the great chief of the people. So
carry yourself accordingly, O whelp without teeth and without a den to
crawl into. Whose hand has overthrown the lodge of the totem of the
Black Bear? Mine! Panounia's! Soft Hand has fallen under it as his son,
your father, succumbed to it when you were a squalling babe." He paused
for a moment, and held out a gleaming knife, with its point toward the
_Pelican_. "The totem of the Wolf now hangs from the great lodge," he
cried.

Quick and noiseless as a breath, the edge of the cliff was lined with
warriors. Like a sudden flight of birds their arrows flashed outward and
downward.

"Lie down!" cried Kingswell. With a strong hand he snatched Ouenwa to
the bottom of the boat. Harding and Clotworthy sprawled forward between
the thwarts. Only Tom Bent, crouched beside the naked mast, did not
move. The arrows thumped against plank and gunwale. They pierced the
cargo. They glanced from tiller and sweep and mast. One, turning from
the rail, struck Bent on the shoulder. He cursed angrily, but did not
look for the wound. His match was burning with a thread of blue smoke
and a spark of red fire. His clumsy gun was geared to the rail by an
impromptu swivel of cords. He lay flat and elevated the muzzle.

"Steady her," he said, softly. "She's driftin' in."

Kingswell sprang forward to one of the oars, thrust it to the bottom,
and held the boat as steady as might be. Arrows whispered around him. He
shouted a challenge to the befeathered warriors above him. Tom touched
the slow-match to the quick fuse. Something hissed and sizzled. A plume
of smoke darted up. Then, with a rebound that shook the boat from stem
to stern, the gun hurled forth its lead, and fire, and black breath of
hate.

"Double charge, sir," gasped Tom Bent, from where he sagged against the
mast. The kick of his musket had hurt him more than the blow from the
arrow.

Again the _Pelican_ fought her way toward the open waters, with Harding
and Clotworthy pulling lustily at the sweeps. Kingswell, flushed and
joyful, sat at the tiller and headed her for the channel, through which
the tide was running landward at a fair pace. Bent was busy reloading
his firearm. Ouenwa stood in the stern-sheets, with his bow in his left
hand and an arrow on the string. A breath of wind brushed the smoke
aside and cleared the view. Ouenwa pointed to the beach, and gave vent
to a shrill whoop of triumph. The others looked, and saw a huddled shape
of bronzed limbs and painted leather at the foot of the rock.

"One more red devil for hell," muttered the boatswain. "I learned mun to
shoot his pesky sticks at a Bristol gentleman."

As if in answer, an arrow bit a splinter from the mast, not six inches
from the old man's head. Ouenwa's bow bent, and sprang straight. The
shaft flew with all the skill that Montaw had taught the boy, and with
all the hate that was in his heart for the big murderer on the cliff.
Every man of the little company narrowed his eyes to follow the flight
of it. They saw it curve. They saw a warrior drop his bow from his
menacing hand and sink to his knees.

"The wolf falls," cried Ouenwa, in his own tongue. "The wolf bites the
moss. Who, now, is the wolf slayer?"

The Englishmen cheered again and again, and the good boat _Pelican_,
urged forward by triumphant sinews, won through the channel and swam
into the outer waters.



CHAPTER VII.

THE SILENT VILLAGE


As soon as the _Pelican_ was out of arrow-shot of the cliff, the
Beothics disappeared. Ouenwa laid aside his bow with a sigh of regret.
Then he tried to repeat to Kingswell what he had heard from Panounia.
After a deal of questioning, sign-making, and mental exertion, the
Englishman gathered the information that treachery and murder had taken
place up the river, and that his young friend hated the new leader of
the tribe with a bitter hatred. He did not wonder at the bitterness. He
looked at the young savage's flushed face and glowing eyes with sympathy
and admiration. His liking for the boy had grown in every hour of their
companionship, and, by this time, had developed into a decided fondness.

"Sit down, lad, and let your guns cool," he said, with a light hand on
the other's knee. "Your enemies are my enemies," he continued, "and
we'll fight the dogs every time we see 'em."

Ouenwa sat quiet and tried to look calm. He was soothed by the evident
kindliness of Kingswell's tone and manner, though he had failed to
translate his speech. The men on the thwarts had caught the words,
however. They nodded heavily to one another.

"Ye say the very word what was in my mind, sir," spoke up Tom Bent,
"an', if I may make so bold as to say further, your enemies be your
servants' enemies, sir. Therefore the young un's enemies must be our
enemies, holus bolus." The other sailors nodded decidedly. "Therefore,"
continued Tom Bent, "all they cowardly heathen aft on the cliff has to
reckon, hereafter, with Thomas Bent an' the crew o' this craft."

"Well spoken, Tom," replied Kingswell, with the smile that always won
him the heart and hand of every man he favoured with it,--and of every
maid, too, more than likely. "But we can't enthuse on empty stomachs.
Pass out the bread and the cold meat," he added.

For fully two hours the _Pelican_ rocked about within half a mile of her
night's anchorage. Kingswell was not in a desperate hurry, and so his
men pulled at the oars just enough to hold the boat clear of the rocks.
A sharp lookout was kept along the coast, but not a sight nor a sound
of the Beothics rewarded their vigilance.

"They be up to some devilment, ye may lay to that," said Tom Bent.

At last a wind fluttered to them out of the nor'east, and the square
sail was hoisted and sheeted home. Again the _Pelican_ dipped her bows
and wet her rail on the voyage of exploration.

After two hours of sailing, and just when they were off the mouth of a
little river and a fair valley, a fog overtook them. Kingswell was for
running in, but Ouenwa objected.

"Panounia follow," he said. "He great angry. Drop irons," he added,
pointing to the little anchors.

"Panounia is wounded. You winged him yourself," replied Kingswell. "He
could not follow us around that coast, lad, at the clip we were coming."

Ouenwa considered the words with puckered brows. They were beyond him.
The commander pointed shoreward.

"All safe," he said. "All safe."

"No, no," cried the lad. "All kill. No safe."

During this controversy the sail had been partly lowered, and the
_Pelican_ had been slowly running landward with the fog.

Kingswell looked from the young Beothic to the seamen with a smile of
whimsical uncertainty.

"Out o' the mouths o' babes an' sucklin's," remarked Tom Bent, with his
deep-set eyes fixed on nothing in particular. Kingswell's glance rested,
for a moment, on the ancient mariner.

"Lower away," he said. The sail flapped down, and was quickly stowed.
"Let go the anchors," he commanded. The grapplings splashed into the
gray waves. The fog crawled over the boat and shut her off from land and
sky. With a last dreary whistle, the wind died out entirely.

"Rip me!" exclaimed Master Kingswell, "but here is caution that smells
remarkably like cowardice." Fretfully sighing, he produced his pipe,
tobacco, and tinder-box. Soon the fragrant smoke was mingling with the
fog. The young commander leaned back, taking his comfort where he could,
like the courageous gentleman that he was. The habit of burning
Virginian tobacco was an expensive one, confined to the wealthy and the
adventurous. The seamen, who, of course, had not yet acquired it,
watched their captain with open interest. When a puff was blown through
the nostrils, or sent aloft in a series of rings, they nudged one
another, like children at a show. By this time the walls of fog had made
of the _Pelican_ a tiny, lost world by itself. Suddenly Ouenwa raised
his hand. "Sh!" he whispered. Kingswell removed the pipe-stem from his
mouth, and inclined his head toward the hidden river and valley. All
strained their ears, to wrest some sound from the surrounding gray other
than the lapping of the tide along the unseen land-wash. But they could
hear nothing.

"Village," whispered Ouenwa, pointing landward.

"But we saw no signs of a village," protested Kingswell, gently.

"Village," repeated the lad. "Ouenwa hear. Ouenwa smell."

Immediately the four Englishmen began to sniff the fog, like hounds
taking a scent on the wind. But their nostrils were not the nostrils of
either hounds or Beothics. They sniffed to no purpose. They shook their
heads. Kingswell wagged a chiding finger at their keen-nosed companion.
The boy read the inference of the gesture, and flushed indignantly.

"Village," he whispered, shrilly. "Village, village, village."

Kingswell looked distressed. The sailors grinned leniently at the
determined boy. They had great faith in their own noses, had those
mariners of Bristol and thereabouts. Ouenwa, frowning a little, sank
into a moody contemplation of the fog.

"This is dull," exclaimed Kingswell, after a half-hour of silence.
"Tom, pipe us a stave, like a good lad."

The boatswain scratched his head reflectively. Presently he cleared his
throat with energy.

"Me voice be a bit husky, sir, to what it once were," he murmured, "but
I'll do me best--an' no sailorman can say fairer nor that."

Straightway he struck into a heroic ballad of a sea-fight, in a high,
tottering tenor. The song dealt with Spanish swagger and English daring,
with bloody decks, falling spars, and flying splinters. Harding joined
in the chorus with a booming bass. Clotworthy and the commander soon
followed. Kingswell's voice was clear and strong and wonderfully
melodious. Ouenwa's eyes glowed and his muscles trembled. Though the
words held no meaning for him, the rollicking, dashing swing of the tune
fired his excitable blood. He forgot all about Panounia, and the
suspected village on the river so near at hand ceased to trouble him. He
beat time to the singing with his moccasined feet, and clapped his hands
together in rhythmic appreciation of his comrades' efforts. In time the
ballad was finished. The last member of the craven crew of the _Teressa
Maria_ had tasted English steel and been tossed to the sharks. Then
Master Kingswell sprang to his feet and sang a sentimental ditty. It
was of roses and fountains, of latticed windows and undying affection.
The air was captivating. The singer's voice rang tender and clear. Old
Tom Bent remembered lost years. Harding thought of a Devon orchard, and
of a Devon lass at work harvesting the ruddy fruit. Clotworthy saw a
cottage beside a little wood, and a woman and a little child gazing
seaward and westward from the door.

For several seconds after the last note had died away, the little
company remained silent and motionless, fully occupied with its various
thoughts. Ouenwa was the first to break the spell of the song. He laid
his hand on Kingswell's arm with a quick gesture, and leaned toward him.

"Canoe," he whispered.

The sound that had caught Ouenwa's attention was repeated--a short rap,
like the inadvertent striking of a paddle against a gunwale. They all
heard it, and, with as little noise as possible, set to work at getting
out cutlasses and loading muskets. Kingswell crawled forward and
whispered with old Tom Bent. The boatswain nodded and turned to Harding.
That sturdy young seaman crawled to the bows and placed his hands on the
hawser of the forward anchor. He looked aft. Kingswell, who had returned
to his seat at the tiller, leaned over the stern and cut the manilla
rope that tethered the boat at that end. Harding immediately pulled on
his rope until he was directly over the light bow anchor. Then, strongly
and slowly, and without noise, he brought the four-fingered iron up and
into the bows. They were free of the bottom, anyway, and with the loss
of only one anchor. Kingswell breathed a sigh of relief.

The _Pelican_ drifted, and the crew stared into the fog, with wide eyes
and alert ears. Then, to seaward and surely not ten yards away, sounded
a plover-call. Kingswell signalled to Bent to man the seaward side and
Clotworthy and Harding the other. They rested the barrels of their great
matchlocks on the gunwales. Suddenly the prow of a canoe pierced the
curtain of fog not four yards from Tom Bent. He touched the match to the
short fuse. There was a terrific report, and a chorus of wild yells. In
the excitement that followed, the others discharged their pieces.
Kingswell grabbed an oar, slipped it into a notch beside the tiller and
began to "scull" the boat seaward. The men reloaded their muskets and
peered into the fog. They heard splashings and cries on all sides, but
could see nothing. Ouenwa, standing erect, discharged arrow after arrow
at the hidden enemy.

The splashings grew fainter, and the cries ceased entirely. Kingswell
passed the oar which he had been using to Harding, and told the men to
lay aside their muskets and row. Ouenwa let fly his last arrow, in the
names of his murdered father and grandfather.

For a long and weary time the _Pelican_ lay off the hidden land,
shrouded in fog and silence. A few hours before sunset a wind from the
west found her out, drove away the fog, and disclosed the sea and the
coast and the open sky.

"Pull her head 'round," commanded Kingswell, "and hoist the sail. We are
going back to have a look at that village."

The men obeyed eagerly. They were itching for a chance to repay the
savages for the fright in the dark.



CHAPTER VIII.

A LETTER FOR OUENWA


Two headlands were rounded before the valley of the river opened again
to the eyes of the adventurers. The brown water of the stream stole down
and merged into the dancing, wind-bitten sea. The gradual hillsides,
green-swarded, basked in the golden light. The lower levels of the
valley were already in shadow. No sign of man, or of his habitation, was
disclosed to the voyagers.

"A fair spot," remarked Kingswell. "I feel a desire stirring within me
to stretch my legs on that grassy bank. What do you say to the idea,
Tom?"

The old fellow grinned. "'Twould be pleasant, sir, an' no mistake," he
replied--"a little walk along the brook, with our hands not very far
from our hangers. Ay, sir, Tom Bent's for a spell o' nater worship."

The boat ran in, and was beached on the sand well within the mouth of
the river. Harding and Clotworthy, with loaded muskets, were left on
guard, and the other three, fully armed, started along the bank of the
stream. They advanced cautiously, with a sharp lookout on every clump of
bushes and every spur of rock. A kingfisher dropped from its perch above
the water and flew up-stream with shrill clamour. They turned a bend of
the little river and halted short in their track with muttered
exclamations. Before them, on a level meadow between the brown waters of
the stream and the dark green wall of the forest, stood half a dozen
wigwams. The place seemed deserted. They scanned the dark edge of the
wood and the brown hills behind. They peered everywhere, expecting to
catch the glint of hostile eyes at every turn. But neither grove nor
hill, nor silent lodge, disclosed any sign of life.

"Where the devil are they?" exclaimed Kingswell, thoroughly perplexed.

Ouenwa smiled, and swept his hand in a half-circle.

"Watch us," he remarked, nodding his head. "Yes, watch us."

"He means they are lying around looking at us," said Kingswell to the
boatswain. "Rip me, but I don't relish the chance of one of those
stone-tipped arrows in my vitals."

Tom Bent glanced about him in visible trepidation. Ouenwa noticed it,
and pointed to the seaman's musket. "No 'fraid," he said. "Shoot."

"What at?" inquired Bent.

"Make shoot," cried the boy, indicating the silent wood, dusky in the
gathering shadows.

"He wants you to fire into the wood, and frighten them out," said
Kingswell.

"If they be there, I'm for lettin' 'em stay there," replied Tom.

However, he fixed his murderous weapon in its support, aimed at the edge
of the forest beyond the wigwams, and fired. The flame cut across the
twilight like a red sword; a dismal howl arose and quivered in the air.
It was answered from the hilltops on both sides of the stream.

Before the echoes had died away, Ouenwa was inside the nearest lodge.
Kingswell followed, and found him dismantling the couches and walls of
their valuable furs. He instantly took a hand in the looting. Soon each
had all he could handle. They carried their burdens from the lodge, and,
with Tom as a rear-guard, marched back toward the _Pelican_. They had
rounded the bend of the river, and the two seamen were hurrying to meet
them, when old Tom Bent suddenly uttered an indignant whoop and leaped
into the air. His musket flew from his shoulder and clattered against a
stone. Kingswell and Ouenwa threw down their bundles and sprang to where
he lay, kicking and spluttering. The feathered shaft of an arrow clung
to the middle of his left thigh. He was swearing wildly, and vowing
vengeance on the "heathen varment" who had pinked him.

Harding and Clotworthy fired into the shadows of the wooded hillside,
and Kingswell hoisted the struggling boatswain to his shoulders and
continued his advance on the boat. The old sailor begged and implored
his commander to put him down, assuring him that he was more surprised
than hurt. But Kingswell turned a deaf ear to his entreaties, and did
not release him until they were safe beside the _Pelican's_ bows. Just
then Ouenwa and the sailors came running up with the looted pelts. All
were puzzled. Why had the hidden enemy fired only one arrow, when they
might have annihilated the little party with a volley?

That night the _Pelican_ lay at anchor in the mouth of the river. Twice,
during the long, eerie hours between dark and dawn, the man on duty woke
his companions; but on both occasions the alarms proved to be false--the
splashing of a marauding otter near the shore or the flop of a feeding
trout. Under the pale lights of the morning the valley and the stream
lay as peaceful and deserted as on the preceding evening. The voyagers
ate their breakfast aboard. Then, as soon as the sun had cleared the
light mist from the water, they got up their anchor and rowed up-stream.
Harding and Clotworthy pulled on the oars. Bent and the commander
crouched in the bows, with ready muskets, and Ouenwa sat at the tiller.
The current was strong, and the boat crawled slowly against the twirling
sinews of water. Little patches of spindrift, from some fall or rapid
farther up the river, floated past them. The pebbly bottom flashed
beneath the amber tide. Leaping fish gleamed and splashed on either
hand, and sent silver circles rippling to the toiling boat. A moist,
sweet fragrance of foliage and mould and dew filled the air.

Soon the deserted lodges came into view, standing smokeless and pathetic
between the murmuring river and the brooding trees. Kingswell motioned
to Ouenwa to head for the low bank in front of the wigwams. They landed
without incident, and all walked toward the village, with their firearms
ready and their matches lighted. They explored every lodge and even beat
the underbrush. The dwellings had been cleared of pelts and weapons and
cooking utensils evidently during the night. A village of this size must
have possessed at least six canoes; but not a canoe, nor so much as a
paddle, could they find.

"All run in canoe," remarked Ouenwa, pointing up-stream.

"What be this?" asked Tom Bent, limping toward Kingswell with an arrow
and a small square of birch bark in his hand. He had found the bark,
pinned by the arrow, to the side of one of the wigwams. Kingswell
examined it intently, and shook his head.

"Pictures," he said. "I suppose it is a letter of some kind, in which
their wise man tells us what he thinks of us."

Ouenwa took the bark and surveyed the roughly sketched figures, with
which it was covered, with a scornful twist of his face.

"Wolf," he said, indicating the central figure. "See! Very big!
Bear"--he touched another point of the missive and then tapped his own
breast--"see bear! Him no big! Wolf eat bear." He laughed shrilly, and
shook his head. "No, no," he said. "No, no."

"What be mun jabberin' about?" muttered Tom Bent.

Kingswell explained that the bear stood for Ouenwa's family, and that
the wolf was the symbol of the people who had killed his grandfather.

The _Pelican_ continued her voyage before noon, and all day skirted an
austere and broken coast. She crossed the mouths of many wide bays,
steering for the purple headlands beyond. She rounded many islands and
braved intricate channels. Toward evening she rounded a bluffer, grimmer
cape than any of the day's experience, and Kingswell, who had just
relieved Harding at the tiller, forsook the straight course and headed
up the bay. Two hours of brisk sailing brought them to a sheltered
roadstead behind an island and just off a wooded cove. They lowered the
sail and rowed in close to the beach. They built no fire, and spent the
night close to the tide, with their muskets and cutlasses beside them,
and the watch changed every two hours.

Three days later the voyagers happened upon a ship. They ran close in to
where she lay at anchor, believing her to be English, and did not
discover their mistake until the little tub of a brig opened fire from a
brass cannonade. The first shot went wide, and the _Pelican_ lay off
with a straining sail. The second shot fell short, and that ended the
encounter, for the Frenchmen were too busy fishing to get up anchor and
give chase.

Old Tom Bent was quite cast down over the incident. "It be the first
time," he said, "that I ever seen a Frencher admiral o' a bay in
Newfoundland. One year I were fishin' in the _Maid o' Bristol_, in Dog's
Harbour, Conception, an', though we was last to drop anchor, an' the
only English ship agin six Frenchers and two Spanishers, by Gad, our
skipper said he were admiral--an', by Gad, so he were."

But the valorous old mariner did not suggest that they put about and
dispute the admiralty of the little harbour which they had just passed.



CHAPTER IX.

AN UNCHARTERED PLANTATION


In a cave in White Bay the voyagers traded with a party of friendly
natives. Farther north they found indications of copper, and collected a
bagful of the mother rock. In late August a sickness prostrated Master
Kingswell and Clotworthy, and camp was made on the mainland. For three
weeks the sufferers were unable to lift their heads. They lost flesh
until they were little more than skin and bone. Ouenwa undertook the
dual position of physician and nurse. He had some knowledge of the
science of medicine, as practised by the Beothics, and treated the
malady with teas of roots and herbs. He also managed to kill a young
caribou, and fed his patients with broth made from the meat. But it was
close upon the end of September when the _Pelican_ again took up her
northward journey.

Kingswell's real reason for this adventurous cruise was the quest of
gold. Other explorers had seen gold ore in the possession of the
natives, and he had heard stories of a French sailor having been
wounded by a gold-barbed arrow. But the precious metal eluded him. Upon
gaining the farthest cape of the great island, he wanted to cross the
straits and continue his search along the Labrador coast; but the men
shook their heads. The boat was too small for the voyage. Their
provisions were running low. The northern summer was already far spent.
So Kingswell headed the _Pelican_ southward. After a week of fair winds,
they were caught in a squall, and the starboard bow of their stout
little craft was shattered while they were in the act of winning to a
sheltered anchorage. Everything was salvaged; but it took them three
days to patch the boat back to a seaworthiness. Even after this
unlooked-for delay, the young commander persisted in exploring every
likely looking cave and river mouth that had been neglected on the
northward trip. The men grumbled sometimes, but it was not in the heart
of any sailor to deny the wishes of so charming and brave a gentleman as
Master Kingswell. Ouenwa's long conversations in his partially acquired
English helped to keep the company in good spirits.

It was November, and nipping weather in that northern bay, when the
_Pelican_ threaded the islands of Exploits and opened Wigwam Harbour to
the eager gaze of her company. The harbour was empty! They had not
sighted a vessel in any of the outer reaches of the bay. The
drying-stages and fish stores stood deserted above the green tide.

Kingswell turned a bloodless face toward his men. "They have sailed for
home without us," he said, and swallowed hard. Old Tom Bent gazed
reflectively about him, and scratched a hoary whisker with a mahogany
finger. He had grumbled at the chance of this very disaster, but now
that he was face to face with it the thought of grumbling did not occur
to him.

"Ay, sir," said he, "the damned rascals has sailed without us--an' we
are lucky not to be in such dirty company!"

He spat contemptuously over the gunwale. The colour returned to
Kingswell's cheeks, and a flash of the old humour to his eyes. He smiled
approvingly on the boatswain. But young Peter Harding, being neither as
old nor as wise as Bent, nor as cool-headed as Clotworthy, had something
to say on the subject. He ripped out an oath. Then--"By God," he cried,
"here's one man who'd rather sail in a ship with what ye calls dirty
company, Tom Bent, than starve in a damn skiff with--with you all," he
finished, lamely.

Kingswell and Ouenwa looked at the young seaman with mute indignation
in their eyes. But Tom Bent laughed softly.

"Ay, Peter, boy," he said, "ye be one o' these fine, lion-hearted
English mariners what's the pride o' the king an' the terror o' the
seas. The likes o' ye don't sail shipmates with men, but with the duff
an' the soup an' the prize-money." His voice shrilled a little. "Ay, if
it wasn't that I know ye for a better man than ye sound just now, I'd ax
cap'n's leave to twist the snivellin' nose off the fat face o' ye."

"Tom be right," remarked Clotworthy, with a knowing and well-considered
wag of his heavy head.

Harding, who had delivered his speech from a commanding position on a
thwart, sat down very softly, as if anxious not to attract any further
attention.

"We'll have a look at the old arrow-maker, lads," said Kingswell,
cheerfully, "and stock up with enough dried venison to carry us south to
Trinity, or even to Conception. Ships often lie in those bays till the
snow flies. At the worst we can sail the old _Pelican_ right 'round to
St. John's, and winter there. I'll wager the governor would be glad
enough of a few extra fighting men to scare off the French and the
privateers."

Despite Master Kingswell's brave words, there was no store of dried
venison to be obtained from the arrow-maker, for both the old
philosopher's lodge and Black Feather's were gone--gone utterly, and
only the round, level circles on the sward to show where they had stood.
What had become of Montaw and his friends could only be surmised.
Ouenwa's opinion that the enemies of Soft Hand were responsible for
their disappearance was shared by the Englishman. All agreed that
immediate flight was safer than a further investigation of the mystery.
So the storm-beaten, wave-weary _Pelican_ turned seaward again.

Two days later, toward nightfall, and after having sailed far up an arm
of the sea and into the mouth of a great river, in fruitless search of
some belated fishing-ship, the adventurers were startled and cheered by
the sound of a musket-shot. It came from inland, from up the shadowy
river. It was muffled by distance. It clapped dully on their eager ears
like the slamming of a wooden door. But every lonely heart of them knew
it for the voice of the black powder. They drifted back a little and lay
at anchor all night, just off the mouth of the river. With the dark came
the cruel frost. But they crawled beneath their freight of furs and
slept. They were astir with the first gray lights, and before sunrise
were pulling cautiously up the middle of the channel. White frost
sparkled on thwart and gunwale. Dark, mist-wrapped forests of spruce and
fir and red pine came down to the water on both sides. Here and there a
fang of black rock, noisy with roosting gulls, jutted above the dark
current. A jay screamed in the woods. A belated snipe skimmed across
their bows. An eagle eyed them from the crown of an ancient pine, and
swooped down and away.

They must have ascended the stream a matter of two miles--and hard
pulling it was--when Ouenwa's sharp eyes detected the haze of wood smoke
beyond a wooded bend.

"Cooking-fire there!" he exclaimed. "Maybe get something to eat? Maybe
get killed?"

He spoke cheerfully, as if neither prospect was devoid of charm.

"We'll risk it," remarked Kingswell, quietly. "Put your weight into the
stroke, lads--and, Tom, keep your match handy."

At last the bend was rounded, and the rowers turned on the thwarts and
peered over their shoulders, and Kingswell uttered a low cry of delight.
Close ahead of them the right-hand bank lay level and open, and along
its edge were beached three skiffs. About twenty yards back stood a
little settlement of log cabins enclosed by palisades. From the
chimneys of the cabins plumes of comfortable smoke rose to the clearer
azure above. In front of this civilized spot, in mid-stream, a small
high-pooped vessel lay moored. Her masts and spars were gone. She swung
like a dead body in the brown current.

Tom Bent swore softly and with grave deliberation. "Damn my eyes," he
murmured. "Ay, sir, dash my old figger-head, if there don't lay a
reggler, complete plantation! Blast my eyes!"

"A tidy, Christian appearin' place," remarked Clotworthy, joyously. "An'
real chimleys, too! Well, that do look homely, for certain."

At that moment three men, armed with muskets, ran from the gateway of
the enclosure and stood uncertain half-way between the palisade and the
river. Kingswell hailed them, standing in the bluff bows of the little
_Pelican_. He stated the nationality, the names, and degrees of himself
and the other of the little company, and the manner of their misfortune,
even while the boat was covering the short distance to the shore.

The settlers laid aside their weapons, and received Master Kingswell and
his men with every show of cordiality and good faith. They were
strapping fellows, with weather-tanned faces, broad foreheads, steady
eyes, and herculean shoulders. They doffed their skin caps to the
gentleman adventurer.

"Ye be our first visitors, sir, since we come ashore here two year and
two months ago come to-morrow," said one of the three. "Yes, it be just
two year and two months ago, come to-morrow, that we dropped anchor off
the mouth of this river," he added, turning to his companions. They
agreed silently. Their eyes and attention were fully absorbed by Master
Kingswell's imposing, though sadly stained, yellow boots and gold-laced
coat. Another settler joined the group, and welcomed the voyagers with
sheepish grins. A fifth, arrayed in finery and a sword, approached and
halted near by.

"These," said the spokesman, "be Donnellys--father and son." With a
casual tip of the thumb, he indicated two rugged members of the company.
He turned to a handsome young giant beside him and smote him
affectionately on the shoulder. "This here be my boy John--John
Trigget," he said, "an' that gentleman be Captain Pierre d'Antons." He
bowed, with ungracious deference, to the dark, lean, fashionably dressed
individual who stood a few paces away. "An' my name be William Trigget,
master mariner," he concluded.

Kingswell bowed low for the second time, and again shook hands with the
elder Trigget. Then he stepped over to D'Antons and murmured a few
courteous words in so low a voice that his men caught nothing of them.
Each gentleman laid his left hand lightly on the hilt of his sword. Each
bowed, laced hat in hand, until his long hair fell forward about his
face. D'Antons' locks were raven-black, and straight as a horse's mane.
Young Kingswell's were bright as pale gold, and soft as a woman's. Both
were of goodly proportions and gallant bearing, though the Frenchman was
the taller and thinner of the two.

D'Antons slipped his arm within Kingswell's, and, motioning to the
others to follow, started toward the stockade. William Trigget
immediately strode forward and walked on Master Kingswell's other hand,
as if determined to assert his rights as a leader of the mixed company.
Ouenwa and the seamen of the _Pelican_, and the Donnellys and young
Trigget, followed close on the heels of their superiors.

"And who may ye be, lad?" inquired John Trigget of Ouenwa, as they
crossed the level of frost-seared grass.

"I am Ouenwa," replied the boy, frankly, "and Master Kingswell is my
strong friend and protector. My grandsire was Soft Hand, the head chief
of this country. His enemies--barking foxes who name themselves
wolves--pulled him down in the night-time."

The big settler nodded, and the others uttered ejaculations of pity and
interest. The story was not news to them, however.

"Ay," said John Trigget, "Soft Hand were pulled down in the night, sure
enough. The Injuns run fair crazy, what with murderin' each other an'
burnin' each other's camps. I was huntin', two days to the north, when
the trouble began. I come home without stoppin' to make any objections,
an' the skipper kep' our gates shut for a whole week. They rebels was
for wipin' out everybody; an' they captured two French ships, an' did
for the crews. They be moved away inlan' now, thank God. We be safe till
spring, I'm thinkin'."

"There be worse folks nor they tormentin' Injuns around these here
soundin's, an' ye can take my word for that," growled the elder
Donnelly, in guarded tones.

"Belay that," whispered John Trigget. "The devil can cook his stew
plenty quick enough. Us won't bear a hand till the pot boils over."

Captain d'Antons glanced back at the talkers. His black eyes gleamed
suspiciously.



CHAPTER X.

GENTRY AT FORT BEATRIX


Inside the stockade, posted unevenly around three sides of a foot-worn
square, were five buildings of rough logs. From a platform in the
southeast corner two small cannon presented their muzzles to the river.
At the back of this platform, on the southern side of the square, stood
the Donnelly cabin. It was stoutly built, and measured fifteen paces
across the front. Against the western palisade the Trigget cabin and
Captain d'Antons' habitation faced the square. On the north side stood a
fourth dwelling and a small storehouse. In the centre of the yard
bubbled a spring of clear water under a rustic shed. A tiny brook
sparkled away from it, under the stockade and down to the river. The
well was flanked on both sides by a couple of slim birches, now leafless
under the white November sun.

The visitors were led to the Triggets' cabin, and Skipper Trigget's wife
and daughter--both big, comely women--fed them with the best in the
little plantation. After breakfast, Kingswell and Ouenwa were taken to
D'Antons' quarters. The Frenchman was the spirit of hospitality, and
took blankets and sheets from his own bed to dress their couches. Also
he produced a flask of priceless brandy, from which he and Kingswell
pledged a couple of glasses to the Goddess of Chance. The toast was
D'Antons' suggestion.

Presently D'Antons excused himself, saying that he had a matter of
business to attend to, and left his guests to their own devices. The
house was divided into two apartments by curtains of caribou hides,
which were hung from one of the low crossbeams of the ceiling. At the
end of each room a fire burned on a roughly built hearth. Two small
windows of clouded glass partially lit the sombre interior. Books in
English, French, and Spanish, a packet of papers, ink and quills, and a
neatly executed drawing of a pinnace under sail lay on a table near one
of the windows. Antlers of stags, decorated quivers and bows, painted
hides, and glossy skins adorned the rough walls. Above the hearth in the
room in which Kingswell and his young companion sat, hung a musket with
a silver inlaid stock, a carved powder-horn, and several knives and
daggers in beaded sheaths. On the floor lay two great, pink-lipped West
Indian shells. A steel head-piece, a breastplate of the same sure metal,
and a heavy sword with a basket hilt hung above D'Antons' bed.

Kingswell looked over the books on the table. He found that one of them
was a manual of arms, written in the Spanish language; another a work of
navigation, by a Frenchman; a third a weighty thesis on the science and
practice of surgery; and the fourth was a volume as well-loved as
familiar,--Master William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet." He took up
this last, and, seating himself with his shoulder to the window, was
soon far away from the failures and daily perils of the wilderness. The
greedy, hard-bitted materialist Present, with its quests of "fish," and
fur, and gold, was replaced by the magic All-Time of the playwright
poet.

Ouenwa wandered about the room, prying into every nook and corner, and
examining the shells, the arms, and the decorations. He even knelt on
the hearthstone, and, at the risk of setting fire to his hair, tried to
solve the mystery of the chimney--for a fire indoor unaccompanied by a
lodgeful of smoke was a new thing in his experience. He looked
frequently at Kingswell, in the hope of finding him open to questions,
but was always disappointed. At last the thought occurred to him that
it would be a fine thing to get hold of the great sword above the bed,
and make cut, lunge, and parry with it as Kingswell had shown him how to
do on several occasions. So he climbed on to the bed, and, in trying to
clear the sword from its peg, knocked the steel cap ringing to the
floor. Kingswell sprang from his stool, with his arm across his body and
his hand on his sword-hilt, and Master Shakespeare's immortal drama
sprawled at his feet. "Oh, that's all, is it?" he exclaimed, in tones of
relief. "But you must not handle other people's goods, lad," he added,
kindly, "especially a gentleman's arms and armour."

Ouenwa flushed and apologized, and was about to step from D'Antons'
couch to recover the head-piece, when D'Antons himself entered the
cabin. Kingswell turned to him and explained the accident.

"My young friend is very sorry," he said, "and would beg your pardon if
he felt less embarrassed. However, captain, I beg it for him. I was so
intent on the affairs of Romeo that I was not watching him. He is
naturally of an investigating turn of mind."

The Frenchman waved a slim hand and flashed his white teeth. "It is
nothing, nothing," he cried. "I beg you not to mention it again, or
give it another thought. The old pot has sustained many a shrewder whack
than a tumble on the floor. Ah, it has turned blades of Damascus before
now! But enough of this triviality! I have returned to request you to
come with me to our governor. Neither Trigget nor I have mentioned him
to you, as he is not desirous of meeting strangers. But he will make his
own apologies, Master Kingswell."

He stood aside, for Kingswell and Ouenwa to pass out before him.
Kingswell went first. As Ouenwa crossed the threshold, D'Antons nipped
him sharply by the arm, and hissed, "Dog! Cur!" in a voice so low, so
sinister, that the boy gasped. But in a breath the Frenchman was his
affable self again, and the Beothic, with the invectives still burning
his ears, almost believed that he had been the victim of some evil
magic. Kingswell caught nothing of the incident.

Ouenwa was requested to wait outside. Master Kingswell was ushered into
the governor's cabin, and D'Antons closed the door behind him. The young
Englishman found himself in a dimly lit apartment very similar to that
which he had just left. He hesitated, a step inside the threshold, and
narrowed his lids in an effort to see more clearly. The Frenchman paused
at his elbow. Two figures advanced from the farther side of the room.
He ventured another step, and bowed with all the grace at his command,
for one of the figures was that of a young woman in flashing raiment.
The other was of a slim, foppishly dressed man of a little past middle
age, with a worn face that somehow retained its air of youthfulness
despite its haggard lines and faded skin.

"Welcome to our humble retreat, Master Kingswell," said the gentleman,
extending his hand and laughing softly. "This is indeed an unlooked-for
pleasure. We last met, I believe, at Randon Hall--or was it at Beverly?"

"Sir Ralph Westleigh!" exclaimed Kingswell, in a voice of ill-concealed
consternation and surprise. For a moment he stood in an attitude of
half-recoil. For a moment he hesitated, staring at the other with wide
eyes. Then he caught the waiting hand in a firm grip.

"Thank you, Sir Ralph. Yes, it was at Beverly that we last met," he
said, evenly. He turned to the girl, who stood beside her father with
downcast eyes and flaming cheeks and throat. The baronet hastened to
make her known to the visitor.

"My daughter Beatrix," he said. "A good girl, who willingly and
cheerfully shares her worthless father's exile."

Mistress Westleigh extended a firm and shapely hand, and Kingswell,
bending low above it, intoxicated by the sudden presence of beauty and a
flood of homesick memories, pressed his lips to the slim fingers with a
warmth that startled the lady and brought a flash of anger to D'Antons'
eyes. He recovered himself in an instant. "To see you in this
wilderness--amid these bleak surroundings!" he exclaimed, scarcely above
a whisper. "I cannot realize it, Mistress Beatrix! And once we played at
racquets together in the court at Beverly."

The girl smiled at him, with a gleam of understanding in her dark,
parti-coloured eyes.

"I remember," she said. "You have not changed greatly, save in size."
And at that she laughed, with a note of embarrassment.

"But you have," replied Kingswell. "You were not very beautiful as a
little girl. To me you looked much the same as my own sisters."

For a second, or less, the maiden's eyes met his with merriment and
questioning in their depths. Then they were lowered. Sir Ralph moved
uneasily.

"Come, come," he said, "we must not stand here all day, like geese on a
village green. There are seats by the fire." He led the way. "Captain,
if you are not busy I hope you'll stay and hear some of Master
Kingswell's adventures," he added, turning to D'Antons.

"With pleasure," answered the captain.

"One moment, sir," said Kingswell to Sir Ralph Westleigh. "I have a
young friend--a sort of ward--whom I left outside. I'll tell him to run
over to the men and amuse himself with them."

As he opened the door and spoke a few kind words to Ouenwa, there was a
sneer on D'Antons' lips that did not escape Mistress Beatrix Westleigh.
It irritated her beyond measure, and she had all she could do to
restrain herself from slapping him--for hot blood and a fighting spirit
dwelt in that fair body. She wondered how she had once considered him
attractive. She blushed crimson at the thought.

Kingswell returned and seated himself on a stool between the governor of
the little colony and the maiden. First of all, he told them who Ouenwa
was, and of the time the lad saved him from injury by flooring old
Trowley with his canoe paddle. Then he briefly sketched the voyage of
the _Pelican_, and told something of his interests in the fishing fleet
and in the new land.

"And you found no indications of gold?" queried D'Antons.

"None," replied the voyager, "but some splendid copper ore in great
quantities, and one mine of 'fool's gold.'"

The baronet nodded, with one of his wan smiles. "There are other kinds
of fool's gold than these iron pyrites, I believe," he said, "and one
finds it nearer home than in this God-forsaken--ah--in this wild
country."

The others understood the reference, and even the polished Frenchman
looked into the fire and had nothing to say. Kingswell studied the
water-bleached toes of his boots, and Beatrix glanced piteously at her
father. For Sir Ralph Westleigh's life had known much of fool's gold,
and much of many another folly, and something of that to which his
acquaintances in Somerset--and, for that matter, in all England--gave a
stronger and less lenient name. The baronet had lived hard; but his
story comes later.

"I knew nothing of this plantation of yours," said Kingswell, presently.
"I did not know, even, that you were interested in colonization--and yet
you have been here a matter of two years, so Trigget tells me."

"Yes, and likely to die here--unless I am unearthed," replied Sir Ralph,
bitterly, and with a meaning glance at Kingswell. "I put entire faith in
my friends," he added. "And they are all in this little fort on Gray
Goose River. My undoing lies in their hands."

"Sir Ralph," replied Kingswell, uneasily but stoutly, "I hope your trust
has been extended to me,--yes, and to my men. Your wishes in any matter
of--of silence or the like--are our orders. My fellows are true as
steel. My friends are theirs. The young Beothic would risk his life for
you at a word from me."

The baronet was visibly affected by this speech. He laid a hand on the
young man's knee and peered into his face.

"Then you are a friend--out and out?" he inquired.

"To the death," said the other, huskily.

"And you have heard? Of course you have heard!"

"Yes."

"It is not for me to say 'God bless you' to any man," said Sir Ralph,
"but it's good of you. I feel your kindness more deeply than I can say.
I have forgotten my old trick of making pretty speeches."

Kingswell blushed uncomfortably and wished that D'Antons, with his
polite, superior, inscrutable smile, was a thousand miles out of sight
of his embarrassment. The girl leaned toward him. But she did not look
at him. "God bless you--my fellow countryman," she whispered, in a voice
so low that he alone caught the words. He had no answer to make to that
unexpected reward. For a little they maintained a painful silence. It
was broken by the Frenchman.

"You understand, Master Kingswell, that, for certain reasons, it is
advisable that the place of Sir Ralph Westleigh's retreat be kept from
the knowledge of every one save ourselves," he said, slowly and easily.

"I understand," replied Kingswell, shortly. Captain d'Antons jarred on
him, despite all his faultless and affable manners.



CHAPTER XI.

THE SETTING-IN OF WINTER


About mid-afternoon of the day of Kingswell's advent into the settlement
on Gray Goose River--Fort Beatrix it was called--the sky clouded, the
voice of the river thinned and saddened, and snow began to fall. By
Trigget's advice--and Trigget seemed to be the working head of the
plantation--the pelts and gear of the _Pelican_ were removed to the
storehouse.

"Ye must winter in Newfoundland, sir, however the idea affects your
plans, for no more ships will be sailing home this season; and ye
couldn't make it in your bully," said the hospitable skipper.

"We might work 'round to St. John's," replied Kingswell.

Trigget shook his head. "This be the safer place o' the two," he
answered, "and your Honour's company here will help keep Sir Ralph out
o' his black moods. He wants ye to stay, I know. There'll be work and to
spare for your men, what with cuttin' fuel, and huntin' game, and
boat-buildin'."

So Kingswell decided that, if this should prove the real setting-in of
winter, and if no objections were raised by any of the pioneers, he
would share the colony's fortunes until the following spring. D'Antons
expressed himself as charmed with the decision; but, for all that,
Kingswell saw, by deeper and finer signs than most people would credit
him with the ability to read, that his presence was really far from
agreeable to the French adventurer.

When night closed about the little settlement, the snow was still
falling, and ground and roofs shone with bleak radiance through the veil
of darkness. The flakes of the storm were small and dry, and unstirred
by any wind. They wove a curtain of silence over the unprotesting
wilderness.

Kingswell and Ouenwa supped with the Westleighs. But before the meal,
and before Mistress Beatrix appeared from her little chamber, the two
gentlemen had an hour of private conversation.

"This Captain d'Antons--what of him?" inquired Kingswell.

"He is none of our choosing," replied the baronet. "Several years ago,
before I had quite given up the old life and the old show, I met him in
London. He was reported rich. He had sailed many voyages to the West
Indies, and talked of lands granted to him in New France. I had sold
Beverly, and Beatrix was with me in town. She was little more than a
child, but her looks attracted a deal of attention. She had nothing
else, as all the town knew, with her father a ruined gamester, and her
dead mother's property gone, with Randon Hall and Beverly! Dear God, but
here was a dower for a beautiful lass! Well, the poets made a song or
two, and three old men were for paying titles and places for her little
hand--and then the end came. We won back to Somerset, spur and whip,
lashed along by fear. We hid about, in this cottage and that, while my
trusted friend Trigget provisioned his little craft and got together all
the folk whom you see here, save D'Antons. After a rough and tiring
voyage of three weeks' duration, and just when we were looking out for
land, we were met by a French frigate, and forced to haul our wind. A
boat-load of armed men left the pirate--yes, that's what she was, a damn
pirate--and there was Captain d'Antons seated in the stern-sheets of
her, beside the mate. He had not been as long at sea as we had, and he
knew all about my trouble, curse him! He left the frigate, which he said
was bound on a peaceful voyage of discovery to the West Indies, and
joined our expedition. I could not forbid it. I was at his mercy, with
his cutthroats alongside and the gallows at the back of it. He has hung
to us ever since; and he has acted civil enough, damn him. If he'd show
his hoof now and again, I'd like it better--for then we would all be on
our guard."

"But why does he stay? Why does he live in this place when he might be
reaping the harvests common to such husbandmen?" inquired Kingswell.
"Has he a stake in the colony?"

The baronet gazed reflectively at the young man. "The fellow has kept my
secret, and shared our rough lot and dreary exile, and even expended
some money on provisions," he replied, deliberately, "for no other
reason than that he is in love with my daughter."

"He! A buccaneer!" exclaimed Kingswell, warmly.

"Even so," answered the baronet. "There, on the high seas, when he had
us all in his clutch, when he might have seized by force that for which
he now sues, he accepted my word of honour--mark you, he accepted what I
had scarce the face to offer--that I would not withstand his suit, nor
allow my men to do him any treasonable hurt so long as he kept my
hiding-place secret and behaved like a gentleman."

"And Mistress Beatrix?" asked the young man, softly.

"Ah, who can say?" responded the broken baronet. "At one time I feared
that he was appearing as a hero to her. But I do not know. He played his
game cleverly at first, but now he is losing patience. I would to God
that he would lose it altogether. Then the compact would be broken. But
no, he is cautious. He knows that, at a word from the girl, my sword
would be out. Then things would go hard with him, even though he should
kill me, for my men hate him."

"Why not pick a quarrel with him?" asked the headstrong Kingswell.

"You do not understand--you cannot understand--how delicate a thing to
keep is the word of honour of a man who is branded as being without
honour," replied the other, sadly.

"And should Mistress Beatrix flout him," said Kingswell, "he would find
his revenge in reporting your whereabouts to the garrison at St.
John's."

"He is well watched," said Sir Ralph, "and this is not an easy place to
escape from, even in summer. We are hidden, up here, and not so much as
a fishing-ship has sighted us in the two years."

"I'll wager that he'd find a way past your vigilance if he set his mind
to it," retorted Kingswell. "Gad, but it maddens me to think of being
billeted under the roof of such an aspiring rogue! Rip me, but it's a
monstrous sin that a lady should be plagued, and a whole body of
Englishmen menaced, by a buccaneering adventurer."

"My boy," replied Sir Ralph, wearily, "you must curb your indignation,
even as the rest of us do. Discretion is the card to play just now. I
have been holding the game with it for over two years. Who knows but
that Time may shuffle the pack before long?"

Just then Mistress Beatrix joined them. She wore one of the gay
gowns--in truth somewhat enlarged and remodelled--by which her girlish
beauty had been abetted and set off in England. There seemed a
brightness and shimmer all about her. The coils of her dark hair were
bright. The changing eyes were bright. The lips, the round neck and
dainty throat, the buckled shoes, and even the material of bodice and
skirt were radiant in the gloom and firelight of that rough chamber. To
all appearances, her mood was as bright as her beauty. Sir Ralph watched
her with adoring eyes, realizing her bravery. Kingswell joined in her
gay chatter, and found it easy to be merry. Ouenwa, silent on the corner
of the bench by the hearth, gazed at this vision of loveliness with
wide eyes. He could realize, without effort, that Sir Ralph and D'Antons
and even his glorious Kingswell were men, even as Tom Bent, and the
Triggets, and Black Feather were, but that Mistress Beatrix was a
woman--a woman, as were William Trigget's wife and daughter, and Black
Feather's squaw--no, he could not believe it! He was even surprised to
note a resemblance to other females in the number of her hands and feet.
She had, most assuredly, two hands and two feet. Also she had one head.
But how different in quality, though similar in number, were the members
of this flashing young divinity.

"I left Montaw's lodge to behold the wonders of the world," mused the
dazzled child of the wilderness, "and already, without crossing the
great salt water, I have found the surpassing wonder. Can it be that any
more such beings exist? Has even Master Kingswell ever before looked
upon such beauty and such raiment?"

His spellbound gaze was met by the eyes of the enchantress. To his
amazement, the lady moved from her father's side and seated herself on
the bench.

"You are so quiet," she said, "that I did not notice you before. So you
are Master Kingswell's ward?"

Her voice was very kind and cheerful, and her silks brushed the lad's
hand. He looked at the finery uneasily, but did not answer her question.

"You told us he knew English," she said to Kingswell.

"He does," replied the young man. Then, to the boy: "Ouenwa, Mistress
Westleigh wants to know if you are my friend."

"Yes," said the lad. "Good friend."

"And my friend, too?" asked the girl.

"Yes," replied Ouenwa. "You look so--so--like he called the sky one
morning." He pointed at Master Kingswell.

"What was that?" she queried.

"What morning?" asked Kingswell, leaning forward and smiling.

"Five mornings ago, chief," replied Ouenwa.

Kingswell laughed. "You are right, lad," he said.

"But tell me what you called the sky, sir. Really, this is very
provoking. No doubt the boy thinks I look a fright," said Miss
Westleigh.

"Beatrix," interrupted Sir Ralph, "surely I see Kate with the candles."

The girl could not deny it, for the table was spread in the same
room,--a rough, square table with a damask cloth, and laid out with a
fair show of silver, decanters, and a great venison pasty, which had
been cooked in the Triggets' kitchen across the yard.

The meal was a delightful one to Kingswell. He had not eaten off china
dishes for many months. The food, though plain, was well cooked and well
served. The wines were as nectar to his eager palate. And over it all
was the magic of Mistress Westleigh's presence--potent magic enough to a
young gentleman who had almost forgotten the looks and ways of the women
of his own kind. Ouenwa sat as one in a dream, fairly stupefied by the
gleam of silver and linen under the soft light of the candles. He ate
painfully and slowly, imitating Kingswell. He looked often at the
vivacious hostess. Suddenly he exclaimed: "I remember. Yes, it was
lovely beautiful, what the chief said!" Kingswell laughed delightedly,
and the baronet joined, with reserve, in the mirth. The girl looked
puzzled for a moment,--then confused,--then, with a little,
indescribable cry of merriment, she patted Ouenwa's shoulder.

"Charming lad!" she exclaimed. "I have not received so pretty a
compliment for, oh, ever so long." She looked across the table at
Kingswell, feeling his gaze upon her. His eyes were very grave, and
darkened with thought, though his lips were still smiling.



CHAPTER XII.

MEDITATION AND ACTION


For hours after retiring Kingswell lay awake, reviewing, in his restless
brain, the incidents of that crowded day. His couch was luxurious,
compared to the resting-places he had known since leaving the _Heart of
the West_; but, for all that, sleep evaded him. From the other side of
the hearth Ouenwa's deep and regular breathing reached his alert ears.
He saw the yellow light blink to darkness above the curtain of skins,
when D'Antons extinguished his candle in the other apartment. The red
firelight rose and fell, dwindled and flooded high. The core of it
contracted and expanded, and a straight log across the middle of the
glow was like a heavy eyelid. It was like something alive--like
something stirring between sleeping and waking, desiring sleep, yet
afraid to forsake a vigil. To the restless explorer beside the hearth it
suggested a drowsy servitor nodding and starting in a deserted hall.
"What is it waiting for?" he wondered, and smiled at the conceit. "What
does it fear? Mayhap the master and mistress are late at a rout, and are
people without consideration for the feelings of their servants."

From such harmless imagery his mind slipped to the less pleasant subject
of Sir Ralph Westleigh. He recalled what he had seen and heard of the
days of the baronet's glory--of the great places near Bristol, with
their stables that were the envy of dukes, and their routs that lured
people weary and dangerous journeys--of the famous Lady Westleigh and
her jewels--of Sir Ralph's kindliness to great and small alike. His own
father, the merchant-knight of Bristol, had held the baronet in high
esteem. Bernard himself, when a child, and later when a well-grown lad,
had experienced the hospitality of Randon Hall and Beverly. At the time
of his last visit to Beverly, rumour was busy with the baronet's
affairs. During Lady Westleigh's life, all had gone well, apparently.
After her death, Sir Ralph spent less of his time at home, and more of
it in distant London, and even in Paris. Stories went abroad of his
heavy gaming and his ruinous bad luck. People said the love of the dice
and the cards had settled in the man like a disease, working on him
physically to such an extent that he looked a different person when the
heat of the play was on him. Also it played the devil with him
morally--and perhaps mentally. So things took the turn and started
down-hill. Then the run was short and mad, despite warnings of friends,
threats of relatives, and the baronet's own numerous clever checks and
parries to avoid disaster. There was a season of hope after the sale of
Randon. But the lurid clouds gathered again. Then Beverly was
impoverished to the last oak and the last horse in the stud. The baronet
took his daughter to town, and, by a turn of luck, put in a few merry
months. Then a certain Scotch viscount caught him playing as no
gentleman, no matter how dissolute, is supposed to play. The Scotchman
made a clamour, and was killed for his trouble. That was the last known
of Sir Ralph Westleigh and his daughter by any one of the outside world
until the _Pelican_ landed her voyagers before the stockade of Fort
Beatrix on Gray Goose River.

All these matters employed Kingswell's thoughts as he lay awake in
Captain d'Antons' cabin and watched the fire on the rough hearth fall
lower and lower. Pity for the young girl, who had been born and bred to
such a different heritage, pained and fretted him more keenly than a
personal loss. The discomfort of it was almost as if his conscience were
accusing him of disloyalty to a friend, though that was absurd, as
neither he nor his had helped Westleigh in his descent, nor cried out
against him when he met disaster at the bottom. But he had never, during
those two years after their disappearance, given them more than a
passing thought--and they had been friends and neighbours. He had
experienced no pity for the young and beautiful girl with whom he had
played in the racquet court at Beverly. Like the great world of which he
was so insignificant a part, he had forgotten. Two lives, more or less,
were of no consequence in such stirring times. He groaned, as if the
realization of a great sin had come to him. Then, to the anger against
himself was added anger against the world that had dragged Sir Ralph
into this oblivion of dishonour, and the innocent girl into exile. What
had she done to be driven beyond the bounds of civilization, her safety
dependent on the whims of a French buccaneer? Ah, there was the raw
spot, sure enough! In the little space of time between two risings of
the sun, Kingswell had met a man and marked him for an enemy. Nursing a
bitter, though somewhat muddled, resentment, he at last fell asleep,
guarded from storm and frost by the roof of the very man who had
inspired his anger.

For the next few days matters went smoothly at Fort Beatrix. It was
evident to even the least experienced of the settlers that the winter
had come to stay. The snow lay deep and dry over the frozen earth. The
river was already hidden under a skin of gleaming ice, made opaque by
the snow that had mingled with the water while it was freezing. The
little settlement took up the routine of the dreary months. Axes were
sharpened at the great stone in the well-house. The men donned moccasins
of deerskin. They tied ingenious racquets, or snow-shoes, to their feet
and tramped into the sombre forests. All day the thud, thud of the axes
jarred across the air, interrupted ever and anon by the rending,
splitting lament of some falling tree.

Kingswell put his men under William Trigget's orders, and he and Ouenwa
spent much of their time with the choppers. Also, they journeyed with
the trappers. Captain d'Antons, who was a skilled and tireless woodsman,
led them on many weary marches in quest of game and fur. Most of the
caribou had travelled southward, in herds of from ten to one hundred
head, at the approach of winter; but a few remained in the sheltered
valleys. Fortunately the settlers were familiar with the habits of the
deer, and had laid in a supply of dried venison during the summer.
However, whenever the hunters managed to make a kill, the fresh meat
was enthusiastically received at the fort. Hares and grouse were snared,
as were foxes and other small animals. A few wolves and one or two
wildcats were shot. The bears were all tucked safely away in their
winter quarters, and the beavers were frozen into theirs. On the whole,
the hunters had a hard time of it, and no great reward for their toil.
But it was work that kept both their brains and sinews employed, and so
was of a deal more worth than the bare value of the pelts and dinners it
supplied.

One day in early December, when Kingswell, D'Antons, the younger
Donnelly, and Ouenwa were traversing a drifted expanse of "barren,"
marching in single file and without undue noise, they came upon another
trail of racquet prints. They halted. They regarded this unexpected
evidence of the proximity of their fellow man with misgivings--for snow
had fallen in abundance, and therefore the trail was new. They glanced
uneasily about them, scanning clumps of spruce and fir and mounds of
snow-drifted rock with anxious eyes. They strained their ears for some
warning sound--or for the twanging of bowstrings. They saw nothing. They
heard nothing but the disconsolate chirping of a moose-bird in a
thicket close at hand. D'Antons lowered his gaze to the trail.

"From the westward, and heading for the river," he said. "Then they are
not from the village on Gander Lake."

"Big number," remarked Ouenwa. "Ten, twenty, thirty--don't know how
much! Whole camp, I think."

"Ay," agreed Donnelly, "they sure has packed clear down through two
falls o' snow. Ye could trot a pony along the pat' they has made."

"Are you on friendly terms with the savages?" inquired Kingswell of
Captain d'Antons. The Frenchman smiled uncheerfully and shrugged his
lean shoulders. He was not one to speak unconsidered words.

"Yes, we are on friendly terms with the people from Gander Lake," he
replied, presently. "That is, we have traded with them a number of
times, and have exchanged gifts with their chief, and through him with
old Soft Hand. But Soft Hand is dead now; and these fellows are
evidently from the West. Also, friendship means nothing where these
vermin are concerned. Treachery is as the breath of life to them."

"Panounia," whispered Ouenwa, excitedly. "Panounia no good for friend.
He is a murderer. He is a false chief. He make trade--yes, with
war-arrows from the bushes and with knives in the dark. In friendship
his hand is under his robe, and his fingers are on the hilt of his
knife. Evil warms itself at his heart like an old witch at a fire."

D'Antons smiled thinly at the lad. "There is a time for all things," he
said--"a time for oratory and another time for action. If you are
willing, Master Kingswell, let us now retrace our steps as swiftly and
quietly as may be. It would be wise to warn the fort that a band of the
sly devils is abroad."

Ouenwa glanced uncertainly at the speaker and flushed darkly. Kingswell
intimated his willingness to return immediately to Fort Beatrix by a
curt nod. It was in his heart to administer a kick to Captain Pierre
d'Antons, though just why the desire he could not say. They turned in
their tracks and started back along the twisting, seven-mile trail.
D'Antons led; and the pace he set was a stiff one. Mile after mile was
passed, with no other sound save those of padding racquet and toiling
breath. In the hollows their shoulders brushed the snow from the
crowding spruce-fronds. Going over the knolls, they crouched low, and
scanned the horizon with alert eyes as they ran.

At last, all but breathless from the prolonged exertion, the hunters
turned aside from the path and ascended the gradual, heavily wooded side
of a hill which overlooked the fort from the south. They crossed the
naked summit with painful caution, bending double, and taking every
advantage of the sheltering thickets.

"The choppers are inside," whispered D'Antons to Kingswell, as they
peered furtively out between the snow-weighted branches. "See! And the
savages are in cover along the river." It was quite evident to Kingswell
that the place had been attacked, and was now in a state of siege. The
platform in the southeast corner of the stockade was protected by
shields composed of bundles of firewood. Men whom he recognized as those
who had been working in the woods earlier in the day moved about within
the enclosure. The wide, snow-covered clearing that had been so spotless
when he had last seen it was trampled and stained here and there by dark
patches. Along the fringe of timber that shut the river from the
clearing, and extended to within a dozen paces of the southeast corner
of the stockade, a Beothic warrior would frequently show himself for a
moment, hoot derisively, and let fly a harmless shaft. Presently the
watchers on the knoll saw the head and shoulders of William Trigget
above the shield of the gun-platform. The master mariner shaded his eyes
with his hand and seemed to be scanning the woods along the river and
then the timber in which his own comrades were concealed. He lowered his
hand and ducked quickly--and not a second too soon; for a flight of
arrows rattled against his stronghold, a few stuck, quivering, into the
pickets of the stockade, and many fell within the fort.

Kingswell turned to D'Antons. "More of them than we thought," he said.
"There must have been a hundred arrows in that volley."

Captain d'Antons nodded with a preoccupied air. He did not look at his
companion, and his brow was puckered in lines of thought. If the
Englishman had been able to read the other's mind at that moment, a deal
of future trouble would have been spared him. However, as Kingswell was
but an adventurous, keen-witted young man, with no superhuman powers, he
was content with the Frenchman's nod, and returned his attentions to the
fort.

Suddenly, from the screen of faggots above which Trigget had so lately
exposed his head, burst a flash of yellow flame, a spurt of white smoke,
and a clapping bulk of sound. The stockade shook. A spruce-tree shook in
the wood by the river, and cries of fear and consternation rang across
the frosty air. A score of savages darted from their cover and as
quickly sped back again. Flight after flight of arrows broke away and
tested every inch of surface of Trigget's shelter. Then, with shrill
screams and mad yells of defiance, the whole party of Beothics emerged
into the clearing and dashed for the palisade. They drew their bows as
they ran, and some hurled clubs and spears. In front, with red feathers
in his hair and his right arm bandaged across his breast, Panounia
shouted encouragement and led the charge. They were half-way across the
open when the second cannon spat forth its message of hate. The ball
passed low over the advancing mass and plunged into the timber beyond.
For a second or two, the attackers wavered, a few turned back, then they
continued their valorous onset. They were already springing at the
palisade when the muskets crashed in their faces from half a dozen
loopholes. This volley was followed immediately by another. The savages
dropped back from their futile leapings against the fortification, hung
on their heels for a moment, clamorous and undecided, and then broke for
cover. They dragged their dead and wounded with them, and left
sanguinary trails on the snow. They were within a few yards of the
sheltering trees when one of the little cannon banged again. The ball
cut across the mass of crowded warriors like a string through cheese.

"Now is our time!" exclaimed Kingswell. "Run for the gate, lads."



CHAPTER XIII.

SIGNS OF A DIVIDED HOUSE


The returning hunters were promptly admitted to the fort. The little
garrison welcomed them joyfully. The West Country sailors were, for the
moment, cordial even toward D'Antons, whom they usually ignored. The
party had taken a hundred chances with death in the crossing of the
narrow clearing. Arrows had followed them from the fringe of wood along
the river, like bees from an overturned hive. Ouenwa's left arm had been
scratched. D'Antons' fur cap had been torn from his head, pierced
through and through. A hail of missiles had clattered against the gate
as the good timbers swung to behind them. Cries of rage and chagrin, in
which Ouenwa's name was repeated many times, rang from the retreat of
the defeated warriors. The garrison answered with cheers. Ouenwa's
shrill voice carried clear above the tumult, lifted in Beothic insults.

Sir Ralph himself was in command of the imperilled fortress. The
excitement had stirred him out of his customary gloom. His eyes were
bright, and his cheeks flew a patch of colour. His sword was at his
side, and he held a musket in his hand.

"That was their third attempt to get over the stockade," he said to
Kingswell and D'Antons. "They are filled with the very devil to-day. But
I scarcely think that they will come back for more, now that Trigget has
got his growlers into working order."

"How did it begin?" asked the Frenchman.

"Why, about three score of them marched up and said they wanted to come
in and trade," replied the baronet, "but, as they seemed to have nothing
to trade save their bows and spears, Trigget warned them off. Then they
went out on the river and began chopping up the _Red Rose_ and the
_Pelican_. At that we let off a musket, and they retired to cover, from
which they soon emerged with reinforcements and tried to carry the place
by weight of numbers."

"Hark," said the Frenchman. "What is that they are yelling?"

"My name," replied Ouenwa. "They are my enemies."

"Ah, and so it is our privilege to fight this gentleman's battles for
him," remarked D'Antons, with an exaggerated bow to the lad. "Perhaps
this is the explanation of the attack."

"I think not," answered Kingswell, crisply. "They are surprised at
discovering him here. Also they are surprised and displeased at seeing
me again. They have smelled our powder before, as you have heard, I
think."

"Yes, I have heard the heroic tale, monsieur," replied the captain,
smiling his thin, one-sided, Continental smile.

The blood mounted in Kingswell's cheek. He turned on his heel without
any further words. Ouenwa followed him to the Trigget cabin, whence he
was bound for something to eat.

Panounia and his braves retreated across the frozen river, and did not
show themselves again that day. In the fort every musket was loaded, the
improvised gun-shields were repaired and strengthened, and the guns were
again got ready for action. In place of round shot, William Trigget
charged them with scrap-iron and slugs of lead.

"When ye has a lot o' mowin' to do in a short time, cut a wide swath,"
he remarked to Tom Bent.

"Ay, sir," replied Kingswell's boatswain, turning a hawk-like eye on the
dark edges of the forest. "Ay, sir, cut a wide swath, an' let the devil
make the hay. It be mun's own crop."

At the time of the hunters' return, Mistress Beatrix was looking from
the doorway of her father's cabin. Now she knelt in her own chamber,
sobbing quietly, with her face buried in her hands. All the bitterness
and insecurity of her position had come to her with overmastering force.
The sight of Captain d'Antons' thin face and uncovered, bedraggled hair,
as he leaned on his musket and talked with her father and the young
Englishman, had melted the courage in her heart. She prayed confusedly,
half her thoughts with the petitions which she made to her God, and half
with the desperate state of her affairs and the features and attitude of
the buccaneer.

She was disturbed by some one entering the outer room. She recognized
the footsteps as those of Sir Ralph. She got up from her knees, bathed
her face and eyes, touched her hair to order with skilful fingers, and
opened the door of her chamber. The baronet looked up at the sound.

"Ah, lass," he said, "we've driven the rascals off. They have crossed
the river."

With that he fell again to his slow pacing of the room.

"I do not fear the savages," she cried. "Oh, I do think their knives and
arrows would be welcome."

"Poor child! poor little lass!" he said, pausing beside her and kissing
her tenderly. "You have been weeping," he added, concernedly. "But
courage, dear. The fellow is harmless for five long months to come. His
fangs are as good as filed, shut off here and surrounded by the snow and
the savages."

Evidently the sight of his daughter's distress had dimmed the finer
conception of his promise to D'Antons. He looked about him uneasily and
sighed.

She laid her face against his coat and held tight to his sleeves.

"I hate him," she whispered. "Oh, my father, I hate him for my own sake
as much as I fear him for yours. His every covert glance, his every open
attention, stings me like a whip. And yet, out of fear, I must smile and
simper, and play the hypocrite."

"No--by God!" exclaimed Westleigh, trembling with emotion. Then, more
quietly, "Beatrix, I cannot wear this mask any longer. The fellow is
hateful to me. I despise him. How such a creation of the devil's can
love you so unswervingly is more than I can fathom. I would rather see
you dead than married to him. There--I have broken my word again! Let me
go."

He freed himself from the girl's hands, caught up his hat and cloak,
and left the cabin. He crossed over to the well-house, where some of the
men were grinding axes and cutlasses, and joined feverishly in their
simple talk of work, and battle, and adventure. Their honest faces and
homely language drove a little of the bitterness of his shame from him.
Presently Kingswell and Ouenwa joined the group about the complaining
grindstone.

"Come," said Sir Ralph, "and look at the cannon."

He plucked Kingswell by the sleeve. Ouenwa followed them. All three
ascended the little platform on which the guns were mounted, by way of a
short ladder. The pieces, ready loaded, were snugly covered with
tarpaulins that could be snatched off in a turn of the hand.

"A worthy fellow is William Trigget," remarked the baronet. "Ay, he is
true as steel."

He laid a caressing hand on the breech of one of the little cannon. "I
would trust him, yea, and his good fellows, with anything I possess," he
said, "as readily as I trust these growlers to his care."

Just then Ouenwa pointed northward to the wooded bluff that cut into the
white valley and hid the settlement from the lower reaches of the river.
From beyond the point, moving slowly and unsteadily, appeared a
solitary human figure. Its course lay well out on the level floor of the
stream, and the forest growth along the shore did not conceal it from
the watchers. It approached uncertainly, as if without a definite goal,
and, when within a few hundred yards of the fort, staggered and fell
prone.

"What the devil does it mean?" cried Sir Ralph.

Kingswell shook his head, and questioned Ouenwa. The lad continued to
gaze out across the open. The sun was low over the western hills, and
its light was red on the snow.

"Hurt," he said, presently. "Maybe starved. He is not of Panounia's
band."

"How do you know that, lad?" asked the baronet.

"I know," replied the boy. "He is a hunter. He is not of the war-party.
He is from the salt water."

"He is usually right when he maintains that a thing is so, without being
able to give a reason for it," said Kingswell, quietly. "And, if he is,
it seems a pity to let the man die out there under our very eyes."

"God knows I do not want any one to suffer," said the baronet, "but may
it not be a trick of this Panounia's, or whatever you call him?"

"No trick," replied Ouenwa; and, without so much as "by your leave," he
vaulted over the breastwork of faggots and landed lightly on the snow
outside the stockade. Without a moment's hesitation, Kingswell followed.
Together they started toward the still figure out on the river, at a
brisk run. They had reached the bank before Sir Ralph recovered from his
astonishment. He quickly descended to the square, and, without
attracting any attention, informed William Trigget of what had happened.
Trigget and his son immediately ascended to the guns and drew off their
tarpaulins. "We'll cover the retreat, sir," said the mariner. They saw
their reckless comrades bend over the prostrate stranger. Then Kingswell
lifted the apparently lifeless body and started back at a jog trot.
Ouenwa lagged behind, with his head continually over his shoulder. The
elder Trigget swore a great oath, and smacked a knotty fist into a
leathern palm.

"Them's well-plucked uns," he added.

The baronet and John Trigget agreed silently. They were too intent on
the approach of the rescuers to speak. Also, they kept a keen outlook
along the woods on the farther shore. But the enemy made no sign; and
Kingswell, Ouenwa, and the unconscious stranger reached the stockade in
safety. The stranger proved to be none other than Black Feather, the
stalwart and kindly brave who had built his lodge beside the old
arrow-maker's, above Wigwam Harbour, in the days of peace. He was
carried into Trigget's cabin and dosed with French brandy until he
opened his eyes. He looked about him blankly for a second or two, and
then his lids fluttered down again. He had not recognized either
Kingswell or Ouenwa.

"Oh, the poor lad, the poor lad," cried Dame Trigget. "Whatever has mun
been a-doin' now, to get so distressin' scrawny? An' a fine figger, too,
though he be a heathen, without a manner o' doubt."

"Never mind his religious beliefs, dame, but get some of your good
venison broth inside of him," said Master Kingswell. "That's a treatment
that would surely convert any number of heathen."

While they were clustered about Black Feather's couch, D'Antons entered.
He peered over Dame Trigget's ample shoulders and looked considerably
surprised at finding an unconscious, emaciated Beothic the centre of
attraction.

"What's this?" he asked. "A tragedy or a comedy?"

His tone was sour, and too bantering for the occasion.

The baronet turned on him with an expression of mouth and eye that did
not pass unnoticed by the little group.

"Certainly not a comedy, monsieur," he replied, coldly; "and we hope it
will not prove a tragedy."



CHAPTER XIV.

A TRICK OF PLAY-ACTING


Meals were not served in Captain d'Antons' cabin. The little settlement
possessed but one servant among all its workers, and that one was Maggie
Stone, Mistress Westleigh's old nurse. The care of Sir Ralph's
establishment was all she could attend to. So the men who had no
women-folk of their own to cook for them were fed by Dame Trigget and
her sturdy daughter Joyce, or by the Donnelly women. Kingswell and
D'Antons took their meals at Dame Trigget's table, and were served by
themselves, with every mark of respect. Ouenwa, Tom Bent, Harding, and
Clotworthy shared the Donnellys' board.

A few hours after Black Feather's rescue, Kingswell and D'Antons sat
opposite one another at a small table near the hearth of the Triggets'
living-room. A stew of venison and a bottle of French wine stood between
them. D'Antons took up the bottle, and made as if to fill the other's
glass.

"One moment," said Kingswell, raising his hand.

The Frenchman looked at him keenly and set down the vintage. The
Englishman leaned forward.

"Captain d'Antons," he said, scarce above a whisper, "a remark that you
made to-day seemed to imply that you considered me a braggart. Your
remark was in reference to the brushes between the _Pelican_ and a party
of natives during our cruise from the North. Before I take wine with you
to-night, I want you to either withdraw or explain your implication."

While Kingswell spoke, the other's eyes flashed and calmed again. Now
his dark face wore an even look of puzzled inquiry. His fine eyes, clear
now of the expression of cynicism which so often marred them, held the
Englishman's without any sign of either embarrassment or anger. His hand
returned to the neck of the bottle and lingered there. Lord, but the
drama lost an exceptionally fine interpreter when the high seas claimed
Pierre d'Antons! The thin, clean-shaven lips trembled--or was it the
wavering of the candle-light?

"My friend," he said, softly, "how unfortunate am I in my stupidity--in
my blundering use of the English language. Whatever my words were, when
I spoke of having already heard of your fights with the savages, my
meaning was such that no one would take exception to. Did I use the word
heroic, monsieur? Then heroic, noble, was what I meant. An Englishman
would have made use of a smaller, a simpler word, perhaps; or would have
refrained from any display of admiration. Ah, I am unfortunate in my
heritage of French and Spanish blood--the blood that is outspoken both
for praise and blame."

Poor, honest Kingswell was shaken with conflicting emotions. His heart
told him the man was lying. His eyes assured him that he had been
grievously mistaken, not only in the matter of the remark concerning the
skirmishes with the Beothics, but in his whole opinion of the Frenchman.
His blood surged to his head, and whispered that he was a young fool to
be hoodwinked so easily. His brain was sadly uncertain. A twinge of pity
for the handsome adventurer--for the love-struck buccaneer--went through
him. But it faded at remembrance of Sir Ralph's story. He knew the
fellow was playing with him.

"Wine, monsieur?" inquired D'Antons, softly, with a smile of infinite
sweetness and shy persuasion.

With a mumbled apology, the young Englishman pushed forward his glass,
and the red wine swam to the brim. And all the while he was inwardly
cursing his own weakness and the other's strength. He had not the
courage to meet the Frenchman's look when they raised their glasses and
clinked them across the table. Lord, what a calf he was!

Had he no will of his own? Did he possess neither knowledge of men nor
mother wit? Ah, but he rated himself pitilessly as he bent his flushed
face over his plate of stew.

When the meal was finished, Kingswell returned to Black Feather's couch,
and D'Antons went over to his own cabin. By this time Black Feather had
recovered consciousness and swallowed some of Dame Trigget's broth;
also, he had recognized Ouenwa and murmured a few words to the lad in
his own tongue. But, beyond that, he was too weak to disclose anything
of what had happened in Wigwam Harbour after the slaying of Soft Hand.
He lay very still, apparently lifeless, except for his quick, bright
eyes, which moved restlessly in questioning scrutiny of the strange
women and bearded men who sat about the room. Ouenwa held one of the
transparent hands and smiled assuringly.

For half an hour Kingswell sat beside the man he had rescued so
courageously from death by starvation. Then, feeling the heat of the
room and the confusion of his thoughts too much to entertain calmly, he
went out into the cold and darkness and paced up and down. All
unknowing, he kicked the snow viciously every step. He was still in a
perturbed state of mind and temper when William Trigget approached him
through the gloom and touched his elbow.

"Askin' your pardon, master," he said, standing close, "but what of that
Injun in there? Be he really sick, or be he playing a game?"

"He is surely sick, and he is just as surely not playing a game,"
replied Kingswell. "But why do you ask? The fellow is a friend of
Ouenwa's, and was one of old Soft Hand's warriors."

"Ay, sir, but maybe mun has changed his coat," said Trigget, "an' has
shammed sick just to get carried inside the fort. There be something
goin' on outside, for certain."

"What?" asked the other.

Then Trigget told how he had been startled, while standing under the
gun-platform, by a sound of scrambling outside the stockade. He had
crawled noiselessly up the ladder and looked over the breastworks about
the guns. He had been able to distinguish something darker than the
surrounding darkness crouched against the palisade under him. The thing
had moved cautiously. He had detached a faggot from one of the bundles
beside him, for lack of a better weapon, and had hurled it down at the
black form. There had sounded a stifled cry, and the thing had vanished
in the night.

"It were one o' they savages, I know," concluded Trigget.

Kingswell forgot his personal grievance in the face of this menace from
the hidden enemy.

"The guards should be doubled," he said. "But come, we must let Sir
Ralph know of it."

They crossed the yard to the baronet's cabin and knocked on the door.
Maggie Stone admitted them to the outer room, where Sir Ralph and
Mistress Beatrix were seated, the girl reading aloud to her father by
the light of one poor candle. But the great fire on the hearth had the
place fairly illuminated.

William Trigget, undismayed by fog and bad weather, cool in any risk of
land or sea, was too abashed at the presence of the lady to tell his
story. So Master Kingswell told it for him.

"The guards must be doubled," said Sir Ralph.

"They be that already, sir," replied Trigget, breaking the spell of the
bright eyes that surveyed him.

"That is well," answered the baronet. "There is nothing else to be done,
at least until morning, but sleep light and keep your muskets handy."

Kingswell and the master mariner returned to the darkness without.

"I will stake my word," said Kingswell, "that the place is surrounded by
the devils even now, and that they will try again to get a man over the
wall to unbar the gates."



CHAPTER XV.

THE HIDDEN MENACE


Neither Kingswell nor Trigget found time for sleep that night. D'Antons
also kept awake, though he spent only a few hours out-of-doors. His
candle burned until daylight. Ouenwa experienced a restless night beside
Black Feather's couch. From ten o'clock until two Tom Bent, John
Trigget, and the younger Donnelly were on guard, with cutlasses on their
hips and half-pikes in their hands--for a musket would have proved but
an unsatisfactory weapon to a man engaged in a sudden scuffle in the
dark. One man was placed on the gun-platform, another at the gate, and a
third on the roof of the storehouse. Kingswell and William Trigget moved
continually from one point to another. At two o'clock the elder
Donnelly, Clotworthy, and Harding relieved their companions. But the two
officers remained at their self-imposed duty.

At last dawn outlined the eastern horizon. Kingswell, who had been
pacing the length of the riverward stockade for the past hour, sighed
with relief, yawned, and was about to retire to D'Antons' cabin, when
William Trigget approached him at a run. The master mariner's face was
ghastly above his bushy whiskers.

"Come this way, sir," he murmured, huskily.

Kingswell followed him to the storehouse and up to the roof, by way of a
rough ladder that leaned against the wall. There, on the outward slope
of the roof, where the snow was trampled and broken, sprawled the body
of Peter Clotworthy.

"What! Asleep!" exclaimed Kingswell, peering close. The light was not
strong enough to disclose the features of the recumbent sentinel.

"Ay, an' sound enough, God knows," replied Trigget, "with no chance o'
wakin' this side o' the Judgment-Seat."

"Dead?" cried the other, sinking to his knees beside the body. He
pressed his hand against the mariner's side, held it there for a moment,
and withdrew it, wet with blood. He raised it toward the growing
illumination of the east, staring at it with wide eyes. "Blood," he
murmured. "Stabbed without a squeal--without a whimper, by Heaven!" Then
he ripped out an oath, and followed it close with a prayer for his dead
comrade's soul. For all his golden curls, this Bernard Kingswell had a
hot and ready tongue--and a temper to suit, when occasion offered.

The two discoverers of the tragedy remained on the roof of the
storehouse for some time. The light strengthened and spread on their
right, and, at last, gave them a clear, gray view of the narrow clearing
and wooded hummocks to the north. On the snow below them, which was
otherwise unmarked, they saw the imprints of one pair of moccasined
feet. The marks did not lead to or from the near cover of the woods, but
to the south, around the fort. The telltale snow showed how Clotworthy's
murderer had approached close under the stockade, and, after his silent
deed of violence, had jumped a distance of about twenty feet, from the
roof of the store, and landed on all fours. A stain of blood, evidently
from the reeking knife in the slayer's hand, smirched the snow where it
was broken by his fall. From there the steps returned by the same
course, but at a distance of about ten paces from the stockade.

Kingswell looked from the tracks in the snow to the colourless,
distorted features of the dead seaman. Then his gaze met Trigget's
deep-set eyes. He was pale, and his lips were drawn in a hard line, as
if the frost had stiffened them.

"Poor Clotworthy," he murmured, and swallowed as if his throat were
dry. "Poor devil, knifed into eternity without a fighting chance. See,
he was clubbed first and then knifed--felled and bled like an ox in a
shambles! Ten nights of this hellishness will account for the whole
garrison."

With a broad, deep-sea oath, Trigget replied that there'd be no ten
nights of it.

They lifted the stiff body that had, so lately, been animated by the
fearless spirit of Richard Clotworthy, able seaman, to the ground and
carried it reverently to the Donnelly cabin. The other inmates of the
little settlement were deeply affected by the sight, and by Kingswell's
story. The younger men were for setting out immediately and driving the
Beothics from the woods on the far side of the river. But the wiser
heads prevailed against such recklessness, arguing that the only thing
to be done was to remain constantly on guard. The women wept. Ouenwa,
trembling with sorrow and rage, placed his fine belt and beaded quiver
beside the body of his dead comrade, and vowed, in English and Beothic,
that he would avenge this murder as he intended to avenge the murders of
his father and his grandfather.

The day passed without any sign of the hidden enemy. Kingswell slept
until noon. By evening Black Feather had recovered enough strength to
enable him to tell his pitiful story to Ouenwa. His lodge, and that of
Montaw, the arrow-maker, had been torn down by the followers of Panounia
shortly after the departure of the _Pelican_ from Wigwam Harbour. Montaw
had died fighting. Black Feather, grievously wounded, had been bound and
carried far up the River of Three Fires. His wife and children also had
been captured and maltreated. The ships in the bay had looked on at the
unequal struggle ashore without demonstrations of any kind. Upon
reaching the village on the river, Black Feather had been driven to the
meanest work--work unbecoming a warrior of his standing--and his wife
and children had been led farther up-stream, very likely to Wind Lake.
Black Feather had seen the body of Soft Hand lying exposed on the top of
a knoll, at the mercy of birds and beasts. He had bided his time. At
last he had gnawed the thongs with which his tormentors bound him at
night, and had safely made his escape. He could not say how long ago
that was. Days and nights had become strangely mixed in his desperate
mind. He had lived on such birds and hares as he had been able to kill
with sticks. Always he had kept up his journey, shaping his course
toward the salt water, in the hope of meeting some tribesmen who might
have remained loyal to the murdered chief. But he had met with nobody
in all that desolate journey, until, only the day before, he had
recovered consciousness in Fort Beatrix.

That night, John Trigget was attacked at his post on the gun-platform,
and in the struggle that ensued was cut shrewdly about the arm. So
sudden and noiseless was the onslaught out of the dark that he fought in
silence, only remembering to shout for help after the savage had
squirmed from his embrace and escaped. His arm was bandaged by Sir
Ralph, and Tom Bent and Ouenwa took his place. But daylight arrived
without any further demonstration on the part of the enemy.

By this time the little garrison was bitten by a restlessness that would
not be denied. Even Kingswell and William Trigget were for making some
sort of attack upon the hidden band beyond the river. D'Antons, contrary
to his habit, had nothing to say either for or against an aggressive
movement. Sir Ralph was for quietly and cautiously awaiting development;
but, seeing the spirit of the men, he agreed that five of the garrison
should sally forth in search of the enemy.

"Whom I have not a doubt you'll find," concluded the baronet, wearily,
"though what the devil you'll do with them then is more than I can
venture to predict."

Under William Trigget's supervision, one of the cannon was taken from
the platform and mounted on a heavy and solid flat of logs, and that, in
turn, was placed on a sled. On the same sled were fastened rammers and
mops and bags of powder and shot. The daring party was made up of Master
Kingswell, William Trigget, Ouenwa, Tom Bent, and the younger Donnelly.
D'Antons did not volunteer his services on the expedition. The men were
all well armed with muskets and cutlasses, and all save Ouenwa had
fastened steel breastplates under their coats. As they marched away,
Mistress Westleigh waved them "Godspeed" with a scarf of Spanish lace,
from where she stood in the open gate between her father and Captain
d'Antons.

The little party moved down the bank and across the river slowly and
with commendable caution. Trigget and Kingswell walked ahead, and kept a
sharp lookout on the dark edges of the forest. Donnelly and Tom Bent
followed about ten paces behind, dragging the gun. Ouenwa scouted along
on the left, with a musket and a lighted match, which he feared far
worse than he did any number of Beothic warriors. The river was crossed
without accident on the wide trail left by the enemy's retreat.



CHAPTER XVI.

THE CLOVEN HOOF


Sir Ralph Westleigh was in the storehouse, Maggie Stone was gossiping
with Dame Trigget, and Beatrix was alone by the fire when Captain
d'Antons rapped on the cabin door, and entered without waiting for a
summons. He was dressed in his bravest suit and finest boots. After
closing the door behind him, he bowed low to the girl at the farther end
of the room. She instantly stood up and curtseyed with a deal of grace,
but no warmth whatever.

"My father is not in, Captain d'Antons," she said.

He smiled and approached her with every show of deference.

"Ah, mademoiselle," he murmured, "I have not come to see the good
baronet. I have come to learn my fate from the dearest lips in the
world."

The girl blushed crimson, with a tumult of emotions that almost forced
the tears past her lids. Fear, hate, and a reckless joy at the thought
that she was done with pretence struggled in her heart. She tried to
speak, but her voice caught in her throat, and accomplished nothing but
a dry sob.

D'Antons' eyes shone with ardour. The hope which had been somewhat
clouded of late flashed clear again. "Beatrix," he cried, softly, "I
have wooed you long. Is it not that I have won at last beyond
peradventure? Do not deny it, my sweet." He caught her to him, and
attempted to kiss her bright lips; but, with a low cry and a quite
unexpected display of strength, she wrenched herself from his embrace.
She did not try to leave the room. She did not call for help. She faced
him, with flashing eyes and angry cheeks and clinched hands.

The fellow stood uncertain for a moment, showing his chagrin and
amazement like any country clown. But his recovery was quick. His mouth
took on a thin smile; his eyes darkened with sinister shadows. He looked
the girl coolly up and down. He laughed softly.

"This feigned anger adds to your beauty, Beatrix," he said.

"I beg you to leave me, sir," she replied, trembling. "Your presence is
distasteful to me."

"A sudden turn," said he. "Now a month ago, or even a week ago, you
seemed of a different mind. As for the days of our first meeting in
merry London--ah, then your lips were not so unattainable."

"I hate you," she murmured. "I despise you. I loath you. You taint the
air for me. Dog, to make a boast of having filched a kiss from a
light-hearted girl--who did not know you for the common fellow that you
are."

"Beatrix," cried the man, "this is no stage comedy. We are not players.
I have asked you, too many times, to be my wife. I ask you once more.
You know that your father's life is in my hands. Tell me now, will you
promise to marry me, or will you let your father go to the gallows in
the spring, and this plantation be put to the torch? Whatever your
choice, my beauty, you will accompany me to New Spain next summer. It is
for you to say whether you go as my wife or my mistress."

At that the girl's face went white as paper. But her eyes were steady.

D'Antons lowered his gaze. He was half-ashamed, nay, more than that, of
his words.

"It would be hard to say," she replied, very softly, "which would be the
most dishonourable position for an English gentlewoman to occupy. That
of your wife, I think, monsieur--for, as your wife, she would be known
by your name."

His shame leaped to anger at that soft-spoken insult. He caught her
roughly by the wrists.

"Nay," she said, "you must be more gentle. You seem to forget that you
are not sacking a defenceless town. Also, you forget that you have not a
friend or a follower in this wilderness, and that any man or woman in
the fort would shoot you down like a dog at a word from me."

For a little while they eyed each other steadily enough--her face still
beautiful despite the bantering cruelty of lips and eyes, and the
loathing in every line of it; his the face of a devil. Then, with a
muttered oath, he closed his fingers on her tender flesh, pressing with
all his strength.

"Ah, my fine lady," he cried, harshly, "you think yourself strong enough
to flout Pierre d'Antons, do you? Strong enough to spurn the protection
of a soldier and a gentleman! Cry now for your girl-faced Kingswell--for
your golden-haired fellow countryman."

By that even her lips were colourless, and her eyes were wet. "There is
no need," she said, bravely, "for I hear my father at the door."

D'Antons dropped her wrists and took a backward step. In doing so, his
heel struck the leg of a stool, and the scabbard of his sword rang
discordantly. He reeled, recovering himself just as Sir Ralph crossed
the threshold. Before either of the men had time to speak, Beatrix
darted forward and struck the Frenchman savagely across the face with
her open hand. Then, without a word of either explanation or greeting to
her father, she passed D'Antons swiftly, sped down the length of the
room, and entered her own chamber.

"What does this mean, captain?" inquired the baronet, coldly. D'Antons,
scarcely recovered from the blow, strode toward him.

"What does it mean?" he cried. "It means, my fine old cock, that your
neck will be pulled out of joint when we get away from this
God-forgotten desolation. Ah, you liar, why did I not have you strung up
to a yard-arm when you were safely in my power? Stab me, but I've been
too soft--and my reward is insults from the wench of an exiled
card-cheat and murderer."

His voice was raised almost to a scream. His face quivered with passion.
He thrust it within a few inches of the baronet's.

"Liar and cheat," he cried, furiously.

"Softly, softly," replied Sir Ralph. "I cannot abide being bawled at in
my own house, especially by such scum of a French muck heap as you. Keep
your distance, fellow, or, by God, I'll do you a hurt. What's this!
You'd presume?"

They withdrew on the instant. The two swords came clear in the same
second of time.

"_Gabier de potence_," cried D'Antons.

"_Canaille_," replied the baronet, blandly. Evidently the rasp of the
steel had mended his temper. He even smiled a little at his adoption of
his adversary's mother-tongue.

The men were excellently matched as swordsmen. But not more than half a
dozen passes had been made and parried before Beatrix ran into the room,
crying to them to put up their swords.

"Go back," said the baronet, with his eyes on D'Antons, "go back to your
room, my daughter, and make a prayer for this fellow's soul. It will
soon stand in need of a petition for God's mercy."

The girl went softly back and closed the door, in an effort to shut out
the rasping and metallic striking of the blades. She prayed, but for
strength to her father's wrist and not for the Frenchman's soul. She was
afraid--desperately afraid. The truth of her father's skill in French
sword-play had been kept from her. To her he was but a courteous,
middle-aged gentleman who needed her care, and who had been maligned and
robbed by the world into which he had been born. He was a good father.
He had been a loving and considerate husband. She knelt beside her bed
and beseeched God to succour him in this desperate strait.

In the meantime the fight went on in the outer room with more the air of
a harmless bout for practice than a duel to the death. It was altogether
a question of point and point, in the Continental manner, perfectly free
from the swinging attack and clanging defence of the English style. The
combatants were cool, to judge by appearances. Neither seemed in any
hurry. The thrusts and lunges, though in fact as quick as thought, were
delivered with a manner suggestive of elegant leisure.

"I believe you have the advantage of me by about three inches of steel,"
remarked the baronet, diverting a lightning thrust from its intended
course.

"A chance of the game," replied D'Antons, smiling grimly.

Just then the baronet's foot slipped on the edge of a book of verses
which Mistress Beatrix had left on the floor. For a second he was
swerved from his balance; and, when he recovered, it was to feel the
warm blood running down his breast from a slight incision in his left
shoulder. But his recovery was as masterly as it was swift, and the
Frenchman found himself more severely pressed than before, despite the
advantage he possessed in the superior length of his sword. The little
wound counted for nothing.

Just what the outcome of the fight would have been, if an untimely
interruption in the person of Maggie Stone had not intervened, it is
hard to say. Perhaps D'Antons' youth would have claimed the victory in
the long run, or perhaps the baronet's excellent composure. In skill
they were nicely matched, though the Englishman displayed superiority
enough to even the difference in the length of the blades. But why take
time for idle surmises? Maggie Stone, looking in, all unheeded, at the
open door, saw her beloved master engaged in a desperate combat with a
person whom she despised as well as feared. She saw the sodden stain of
blood on her master's doublet. In her hand she held a skillet which she
had just borrowed from Dame Trigget. Without waiting to announce
herself, she rushed into the room and dealt Captain d'Antons a
resounding whack on the head with the iron bowl of the utensil. The long
sword fell from the benumbed fingers and clanged on the floor. With a
low, guttural cry, the Frenchman followed it, and sprawled, unconscious,
at the feet of the surprised and indignant baronet.



CHAPTER XVII.

THE CONFIDENCE OF YOUTH


Master Kingswell and his party returned from their daring reconnoitre
early in the afternoon. They had not met with the enemy, though they had
found the camp and torn down the temporary lodges. After that they had
followed the broad trail of the retreat for several miles, and had
discharged the cannon twice into the inscrutable woods. Their daring had
been rewarded by the capture of about two hundred pounds of smoked
salmon and dried venison.

Both Kingswell and William Trigget were unable to account for the fact
that the savages had not attacked them in the cover of the woods. In
reality they owed their bloodless victory to the presence of the little
cannon. That third and last discharge of slugs, on the day of the big
fight, had killed three of the braves, wounded five more, and inspired
an hysterical terror in the hearts of the rest. But for that, the hidden
enemy would not have been content with playing a waiting game and with
the attempted killing of one man each night; and neither would they have
retired, so undemonstratively, before the advance of the five. But,
despite their fear of the cannon, they had no intention of giving up the
siege of the fort. They placed trust in the darkness of night and their
own cunning.

Kingswell and the elder Trigget were drawn aside by Sir Ralph. The
baronet looked less care-haunted than he had for years.

"D'Antons and I have broken our truce," he whispered, "and behold, the
heavens have not fallen,--nor even the poor defences of this
plantation." He smiled cheerfully. "The great captain alone has come to
grief," he added. "Maggie Stone saved him from my hand by felling him
herself with some sort of stew-pan. I was frantically angry at the time,
but am glad now that I did not have to kill the rogue."

"Such cattle are better dead, sir," remarked Trigget, coolly.

"I grant you that, my good William," replied Sir Ralph, "but he is
harmless as a new-born babe, after all--and we'll see that he remains
so."

Then he told them the story of the duel, and of what had led to it.
Kingswell flushed and paled.

"God's mercy!" he cried, "but I would I had been in your boots, sir."

"You'd have died in them, more than likely," replied the baronet, laying
a hand on the other's shoulder. "D'Antons has a rare knowledge of
swordsmanship, and eye and wrist to back it with."

"Even so," replied Kingswell, "it would have been--it would have been a
pleasure to die in such a cause." He blushed, and hurriedly added, "But
I doubt if he'd have killed me, for all his gimcrackery and
side-stepping. I've seen such gentry hopping and poking for hours, when
one good cut from the shoulder would have ended their tricks."

The baronet smiled kindly, though with a tinge of sadness. "Ah, what a
fine thing is the heart of youth," he said, "and the confidence of
youth. I even bow to the ignorance of youth. But, my dear boy, valour
and confidence are not more than half the battle, after all. The edge is
a fine thing, and has spilled a deal of blood since the hammering of the
first sword; but the point becomes no less deadly simply because one
stout young Englishman is ignorant of its potency. Lad, if it were not
that I have won the distinction--beside many a less enviable one--of
being the best swordsman in England, I could not have withstood
D'Antons' play for long enough to make sure of the colour of his eyes."

Kingswell felt like a fool, and did not know which way to turn his
abashed countenance. Both Sir Ralph and Trigget felt sorry for him.

"But I can assure you, Bernard," said the former, "that, if it came to a
matter of cutlasses, neither the Frenchman nor I would stand up for long
against either you or Trigget."

"It is kind of you to say so," replied Kingswell, staring over the
baronet's shoulder at nothing in particular, "but I haven't a doubt that
even Maggie Stone, with her stew-pan, would be more than a match for
me."

William Trigget laughed boisterously at that. "We must ease the young
gentleman's temper, sir," he said to the baronet. "I have a pair of
singlesticks."

"Get them," said the baronet. He slipped his hand under Kingswell's arm
and led him into the cabin. Beatrix welcomed him cordially, with a shy
compliment to his bravery thrown in. The youth immediately felt better
in his pride.

"Say nothing of D'Antons, or the duel," Sir Ralph whispered in his ear.
"He is safe in his own bed, being nursed conscientiously, if not
over-tenderly, by Maggie Stone."

Kingswell seated himself beside Mistress Beatrix on the bench by the
fire. He noticed that she had been weeping. Her eyes seemed all the
brighter for it. He gave her a detailed account of the brief expedition
from which he had just returned. He told of the cluster of lodges, the
cooking-fires still burning, the utensils and food scattered about, and
not a human being in sight.

"And what if you had seen the savages?" she asked. "Surely, four
Englishmen and a lad could do nothing against such a host?"

"We would have fallen in the first flight of arrows," replied Kingswell.

"Then why did you risk it?"

The young man shook his head and laughed. "Some one must take risks," he
said, "else all warfare would come to a standstill."

The girl was looking down at her hands, and reflectively twisting a
jewelled ring around and around on one slim finger. "And I wish it would
with all my heart," she sighed. "Warfare and bloodshed--they are the
devil's inventions, and strike innocent and guilty alike."

"Nay," replied Kingswell, "there is more harm done to the innocent in
courts and fine assemblies, and at the sheltered card-tables, than on
all the battle-fields of the world. War is a good surgeon, and, if he
sometimes lets the good blood with the bad, why, that's just a risk we
must accept."

Beatrix raised a flushed face, and eyed him squarely. "You preach like a
Puritan," she said, "with your condemnation of courts and play. You
should give my father the benefit of some of your wisdom. His friends
have all been generous with such help."

Kingswell bit his lip, and for an awkward minute studied the toes of his
moccasins. Presently he looked up.

"I am sorry," he said.

Her glance softened.

"I am as ignorant of battle-fields as I am of courts," he added. "I am
ignorant of everything."

His voice was low and bitter. Beatrix laughed softly.

"Pray do not take it so much to heart," she said. "Nothing is so easily
mended as ignorance."

He looked at her gravely.

"I am going to ask Sir Ralph to give me lessons in French sword-play,"
he said. "Is there nothing that you would teach me?"

"Embroidery," she replied, "and how to brew a Madeira punch."

At that moment the baronet opened the door and admitted William Trigget.
The master mariner carried a pair of stout oak sticks with basket-work
guards under his arm.

"Does your education commence so soon?" inquired Beatrix of Kingswell.

"Somebody's does," he replied, with a return of his old confidence. With
the lady's permission and Sir Ralph's assistance, Trigget and Kingswell
cleared the middle of the floor of rugs and the table. They removed
their outer coats. Trigget was the taller, as well as the heavier, of
the two. Without further preliminaries, they fell on, and the dry
whacking of the sticks against one another, varied occasionally by the
muffled thud of wood against cloth, filled the cabin. It was a fine
display of the English style--slash, cut, and guard, with never a
side-step nor retreat. After ten minutes of it, Trigget cried "enough,"
and stumbled out of the danger zone. His right arm was numb. His
shoulders and sides ached, and his head swam; Kingswell was without a
touch.

Neither Beatrix nor Sir Ralph, nor yet Trigget, for that matter,
concealed their astonishment at the result of the bout. "And now, sir,"
said Kingswell, "I should like a lesson in the other style."

The baronet took down a pair of light, edgeless blades with blunted
points. After a few words as to the manner of standing, they crossed the
lithe weapons. In a second Kingswell's was jerked from his hand and
sent bounding across the room. He recovered it without a word and
returned to the combat. By this time the light was failing. After about
a dozen passes, he was again disarmed. His gray eyes danced, and he
laughed gaily as he picked up his weapon.

"I see the way of that trick," he said.

He returned to the one-sided engagement with, if possible, more energy
and eagerness than before. Already he had the attitude and stamping
manner of attack to perfection. Sir Ralph tested his defence again and
again without slipping through. Three times he tried the circular,
twisting stroke with which he had disarmed the novice before without
success. Wondering, and slightly irritated, he put out fresh efforts,
and forgot all about his defence. The blades rasped, and rang, and
whispered. The blunted point was at Kingswell's breast, at his throat,
at his eyes; but it never touched. And, just as Mistress Beatrix was
about to bid the combatants cease their exertions, because of the
gathering dusk, Kingswell's point touched the insignificant but painful
wound on the baronet's shoulder. With an exclamation, in which disgust,
pain, and amusement were queerly blended, Sir Ralph dropped his foil to
the floor.



CHAPTER XVIII.

EVENTS AND REFLECTIONS


Captain Pierre d'Antons' injury kept him indoors for ten days. During
that time he saw nobody but Maggie Stone, Bernard Kingswell, and Ouenwa.
Kingswell could not help feeling sorry for him, in spite of the enmity
and distrust in his heart. D'Antons made no mention of how he came by
his cut head to the young Englishman. He knew that the other knew--and
sometimes he wondered how much. He accepted such attentions at
Kingswell's hand as any fair-hearted man will make to any invalid, with
what seemed gratitude and humility. But under the mask his blood was
raging. If his hand trembled while receiving a glass of water from the
Englishman, it was as much from the effort of restraining an outburst of
hate as from weakness. Kingswell, clear-sighted by now, suspected the
real state of the other's feelings.

During the days of D'Antons' inactivity, the Beothics made three night
attacks on the fort. Two were repetitions of the one-man demonstrations
of cunning, in which Clotworthy had met his death and young Trigget had
received the cut on his arm. Happily both had failed. The third was an
attack in force, made in that darkest hour just before the first
stirrings of dawn. By good fortune, both William Trigget and Kingswell
were dressed and about at the time of the first alarm. They both ran to
the gun-platform, and there found Tom Bent desperately engaged with two
savages, who had scaled the stockade over the massed shoulders of their
fellows. The intruders were speedily hurled backward, they and a portion
of the breastworks falling on the devoted heads below. At the moment,
Dame Trigget puffed valiantly up the ladder and handed a torch to her
husband. In a second the coverings were pulled from the guns. The
muzzles of the little weapons were declined as far as they would go, and
the fuses were ignited. Comprehending the trend of affairs, some of the
enemy let fly their arrows at the little group in the torch's
illumination. Both William Trigget and Tom Bent were hit, and fell to
their knees. In the same instant of time the guns belched their flame
and screaming missiles into the wavering mass of savages. A yell of
terror and pain, made up of many individual cries, followed the reports
of the guns like an echo.

But along the opposite stockade, things were not going so well for the
settlers. About a dozen of the enemy had gained foothold on the roof of
the storehouse, and from there had jumped into the yard, driving Peter
Harding before them. They were immediately engaged by the Donnellys.
Torches and lanterns glowed and swung about the edges of the conflict.
Matters were looking serious for the defenders (who by that time were
joined by Sir Ralph, Ouenwa, and the redoubtable Maggie Stone) when the
discharge of artillery across the square turned the courage of the
attackers to water, and their victory to defeat. Six of them were cut
down while endeavouring to escape by way of the ladder against the wall
of the storehouse. The rest got away, but none of them unscathed. With
that the fight ended, though the defenders kept to their posts until
broad daylight.

In the morning it was discovered that one of the six warriors who
remained within the fort was still alive. Sir Ralph had him carried to
D'Antons' cabin, and his wounds attended to. They were not of a serious
nature. Black Feather, who was a convalescent by now, recognized a
bitter enemy in the disabled captive. He was for despatching him
straightway, recalling the bitter days of his slavery and the loss of
wife and children. He was dragged away by Kingswell, and Ouenwa
remonstrated with him at some length.

The little garrison had suffered in the brief engagement. William
Trigget had halted three arrows with his big body. Only one had reached
the flesh, thanks to his thick garments of wool and hide; but that one
had cut deep into the muscles of his chest, and the others had bruised
his ribs. Tom Bent was more seriously injured, with a gaping slash in
the side of his neck. Young Peter Harding was laid on his back with a
cracked rib, dealt him by a stone-headed axe, and seemed in a fair way
to remain on the sick-list for some time to come.

The dead Beothics were carried out and buried in a shallow grave near
the honest Clotworthy's desolate resting-place.

It was evident, from the smoke above the woods, that the enemy were
still maintaining the siege, and at even closer range than before. The
continual sight of that evidence of their presence, and the idleness due
to confinement within a few hundred yards of the stockade, began to tell
on the spirits of the settlers. It became a matter of difficulty to
forget the wounded men in such restricted quarters. Bandages and
salves, gruels and plasters, seemed to pervade every corner. Every one
who was not an invalid was a nurse. In addition, the lack of fresh meat
was beginning to be felt. Sir Ralph, who had seemed more cheerful just
after his affair with D'Antons, was fallen back on his black moods.
Mistress Beatrix's cheeks and eyes were losing something of their
radiance, though she carried herself bravely and cheerfully.

Master Kingswell, who had a knack with bandages and such, found his time
fully occupied. He inspected all the wounded twice a day, and he and
Ouenwa took entire charge of D'Antons and the captured Beothic. His only
recreation was a few hours of each afternoon or evening spent with the
Westleighs. He and the baronet fenced, if the visit happened to be paid
during the day; if in the evening, they sometimes played chess, or,
better still, the baronet paced the room in uneasy meditation, and the
youth and the maiden bent their young heads above the pieces of carved
ivory.

Behind the girl's laughter and hospitality, Kingswell detected an
aloofness toward him that had not been noticeable during the first days
of their acquaintance. The thing was very fine--so fine that it was
scarcely a matter of attitude or manner. One of duller perception would
have missed it altogether. It was in no wise a physical aloofness, save
in a certain reservation in the glance of the eye and the softer notes
of the voice. But it worried the young man. He felt that he had failed
in something--that she had set a standard for him, and that he had not
risen to it. With native shrewdness, he suspected that she considered
him crude and conceited. He knew that she considered him brave, and that
she admired his courage; but he was equally sure that his prowess with
the singlesticks against Trigget, and his increasing dexterity with the
rapier, did not tell in his favour in her eyes. "Women are evidently as
unreasonable as the poets depict them," he decided, and tried to acquire
a modest demeanour. But the ability to do so had not been born in him,
and no matter how low and self-abasing his speech, pride shone in his
clear eyes and self-confidence was in the carriage of head and
shoulders.

The baronet's attitude toward Master Kingswell became more affectionate
every day. He recognized the sterling qualities in the youth,--the
honesty, courage, and loyalty, as well as the physical and mental gifts
of quick eye and wrist and clear brain. He derived no little comfort
from his presence in the fort. He felt that in this golden-haired son of
the Bristol merchant-knight his daughter had a second guardian. He knew
that the Kingswell blood, though not noble by the rating of the College
of Heralds, was to be depended on as surely as any in England. In
happier times he had known and enjoyed a certain amount of familiarity
with the elder Kingswell, and had found the broad-minded merchant's
heart as sound as his self-imported wines. He remembered the wife, too,
as a person of distinction and kindliness.

For his own part, the baronet realized more surely, with the passing of
each narrow day, that life offered no further allurement to him. The
slight exhilaration that had followed the defiance and defeat of
D'Antons was of no more lasting a quality than the flavour of a vintage.
The Frenchman was harmless, poor devil, like the rest of them; and in as
fair a way as himself to leave his bones in the wilderness. Yes, he felt
a twinge of pity for him! He could understand that, to an adventurer
like D'Antons, unrequited love was the very devil,--worse, perhaps, than
the fever of the gaming-table. But of course he felt no regret for
having put an end (as he believed) to the fellow's audacious suit. His
regret--if, indeed, he entertained any concerning so recent an event in
his career--was that he had not pricked the buccaneer's bubble of false
power months before--despite the promise he had made him. But as things
had turned out,--as Time had dealt the cards, to use his own words,--the
other's behaviour had allowed him to strike without too flagrant a
breach of his word of honour. He was thankful for that.



CHAPTER XIX.

TWO OF A KIND


When Pierre d'Antons was able to move about again, he found himself
shunned, without disguise, by every one of the inmates of the fort save
Bernard Kingswell. The West Country sailors, no longer under orders to
treat him with respect and obedience, simply grunted inaudibly and
turned their backs when he addressed them. Of course, the door of Sir
Ralph's habitation was closed against him. He spent almost all his time
in his own cabin, with the captured and slowly convalescing Beothic for
companion. He read a great deal, and thought more. Now and again, in a
fit of chagrin, he would stamp about the room, cursing, crying out for a
chance of revenge, with clinched hands uplifted. During such paroxysms,
the Beothic would watch him closely, with understanding in his gaze. The
savage was no linguist; but hate burns the same signals in eyes of every
nationality.

D'Antons continued to suffer from his infatuation for Mistress
Westleigh. The blow of the skillet had changed nothing of that. Whatever
his passion lacked in the higher attributes of love, it lacked nothing
in vitality. It was a madness. It was a bitter desire. How gladly he
would risk death, fighting for her--and yet he would not have hesitated
a moment about killing her happiness, to win his own, had an opportunity
offered. Self-sacrifice, worshipful devotion, and tenderness were things
apart from what he considered his love for the beautiful English girl.

In this state of mind he built a hundred wild dreams of carrying her
away, and of ultimately imprisoning her, should she still be averse to
his love, in a Southern stronghold. Then a realization of his position
would come over him and set him stamping and raving. To Kingswell,
despite the fire in his heart, he showed a contrite and friendly
exterior. He wondered if he could not turn the young man to some use. He
gave the matter his attention.

One evening D'Antons told a plaintive story to Kingswell. All through it
the Englishman was itching to be gone; for he spent no more of his time
than was absolutely necessary under the Frenchman's roof. But the
narrator held him with a mournful eye. The tale was an alleged history
of Pierre d'Antons' youth. It dealt with a great family that had fallen
upon lean years; with a ruinous château, a proud and studious father,
and a saintly mother; with a boyhood of noble dreams and few pleasures;
with a youth of hard and honourable soldiering wherever the banners of
France led the way; and with an early manhood of high adventure and
achievement in the Western colonies.

Kingswell listened coldly, though the other's voice fairly trembled with
emotion. He believed no more of the tale than if he had already heard
the truth of the matter--which was, in plain English, that D'Antons was
the bastard of a blackleg nobleman by a Spanish dancer; that he had
spent his youth as a pot-boy on French ships, and had won, by courage
and cunning, to the position of a captain of buccaneers in early
manhood. The achievements in the Western colonies had been matters of
the wrecking and plundering of what others had built; the high
adventures--God spare me the telling of them!

After Kingswell left him, the pirate fell into one of his reddest moods.
He was sure that the pink-cheeked youth had not believed a word of his
story--had been laughing up his sleeve at the most touching passages. He
was sorry that he had not twisted the lad's neck instead of concluding
the narrative. It was a sheer waste of breath, this artistic lying to
such a pig's head! He jumped to his feet, with a violence that almost
startled the Beothic to outcry, and flung himself about the room like a
madman. He kicked the stolid logs of the walls. He knocked the few
pieces of furniture out of his erratic course, and spilled his books and
papers, quills and ink, to the floor: all this without any ringing oaths
or blistering curses. His rage worked inward, as bodily wounds sometimes
bleed. It played the devil with his limbs, his features, and his hands,
but found no ease in articulation. A trickle of blood ran down his chin,
from where he had set a tooth into his lower lip. Withal, he was such a
daunting spectacle that Red Cloud, the Beothic, crouched fearfully
against the wall, and followed his movements with wide eyes; for, though
a mighty warrior in his own estimation, Red Cloud was a craven at heart.

Presently the tumult of the madness ceased, and the victim of it sank
languidly into a chair beside the Beothic's couch. He groaned and
shivered. For awhile he sat limp, with his thin face hidden between his
hands. Looking up, his eyes met the eyes of the native. In their furtive
regard, he read that which suggested a new move. Though, owing to an
inborn caution, he had never displayed a knowledge of the Beothic
language to his fellow settlers, and had refrained from using any words
of it before Ouenwa, he had picked up a fair idea of it during his
sojourn at Fort Beatrix. Hitherto he had paid but scant attention to Red
Cloud, for he entertained the Spanish attitude of intolerance toward
uncivilized peoples; but now he leaned forward and spoke kindly to his
companion.

It was late when Kingswell and Ouenwa returned to D'Antons' cabin. Under
the new order of things, Ouenwa had volunteered his services as
assistant night-guard of the two prisoners--for the Frenchman was
virtually a prisoner. It was their custom to keep watch turn and turn
about, in two hours' vigils, one sleeping while the other sat in a
comfortable chair by the hearth. Their couch was also by the hearth.
This precaution was taken for fear of some treachery on the part of Red
Cloud.

When the two entered the outer room, the fire was burning brightly, and
by its ruddy light they saw the muffled figure of the Beothic, face to
the wall, in the far corner. They shot the bar of the door. When the
morning was well advanced, they opened windows and door, and replenished
the fire. Kingswell drew aside the curtain between the rooms, and looked
in to see how D'Antons was faring. His fire was out and he was still
abed. Kingswell moved noiselessly across the floor and peered close.
What an awkward figure the graceful buccaneer cut in his sleep! He laid
his hand on the shapeless shoulder. It encountered nothing but yielding
pelts and blankets. He dragged the things to the floor frantically. His
exclamation brought Ouenwa to his side. The Englishman pointed a finger
of dismay at the demolished dummy.

"Tricked!" he cried. "Rip me, but what a fine jailer I am!" They rushed
back to the other room and investigated the figure on the Beothic's
couch. That, too, proved to be a shape of rolled furs and bedding. Red
Cloud also had faded away.

News of the disappearance of D'Antons and the savage went through the
fort like an electric current. The settlers were more interested and
surprised over it than concerned. Even the invalids sat up and
conjectured on the captain's object in fleeing to the outer wilderness,
and the doubtful but inevitable reception by the natives. They could
hardly bring themselves to the belief that he and Red Cloud had gone as
fellow conspirators, remembering the haughty Frenchman's bearing toward
the aborigines with whom he had traded on occasions.

William Trigget shook his head when he heard the story, and rated the
men who had been on duty along the palisade with unsparing frankness.
Sir Ralph looked worried, and Mistress Beatrix looked surprised.

"It seems a very simple trick," she murmured, "to bundle up a few
blankets into lifelike effigies, and then to slip away while the jailer
is elsewhere spending a social evening."

Kingswell flushed hotly, and looked at the girl steadily; but he failed
to meet her eyes.

"Yes," he said, "they slipped away while two men were on guard along the
walls, and while the self-appointed jailer, who has not had four hours'
sleep in any night in the past three weeks, was playing chess with your
ladyship."

"I am sure it is no loss to us," interposed the baronet quickly. "We
have no use for the savage; and as to D'Antons--why, if the enemy kill
him, it will save some one else the trouble. But I cannot help wondering
at him taking so dangerous a risk. If he had been on friendly terms with
the natives at any time, one would have a clue. But he always treated
them like dogs."

Kingswell turned a casual shoulder toward the lady, and gave all his
attention to the baronet and the affair of the Frenchman. The blush of
shame had gone, leaving his face unusually pale. His eyes, also, showed
a change--a chilling from blue to gray, with a surface glitter and a
shadow behind.

"You may be sure," he replied to Sir Ralph, "that D'Antons has taken
what he considers the lesser risk. I'll wager he has won the savage to
him, hand and heart. I was a fool not to have removed Red Cloud to one
of the other huts."

"He was kept to D'Antons' cabin by my orders," said the baronet.

"I had forgotten that," replied Kingswell. "Then I am not the only
scapegrace of the community."

The baronet's face lighted whimsically, and he smiled at the young man.
But the girl did not receive the implication in the same spirit. She
stared at the speaker as if he were some surprising species of bird that
had flown in at the window.

"Such a remark rings dangerously of insubordination," she exclaimed,
"not to mention the impertinence of it."

Sir Ralph looked at her, completely puzzled, and murmured a
remonstrance. It is a wise father that knows his own daughter. Kingswell
turned an expressionless face toward the fire for a moment. Then he
bowed to Sir Ralph. "If I am guilty of impertinence, sir, I humbly crave
your pardon," he said. "As to insubordination--why, I believe there is
nothing to say on that head, as I am a free agent; but I think you
understand, sir, that I and my men are entirely at your service, as we
have been ever since the day we first accepted the hospitality of Fort
Beatrix. My men, at least, have not failed in any duty, whatever my
delinquencies."

With an exclamation of sincere concern, the baronet stepped close to his
friend and placed a hand on either of his shoulders.

"Bernard--my dear lad--why all this talk of pardon, and duty, and
delinquencies, and God knows what else? If you believe that I consider
you guilty of any carelessness, you must think me ungrateful indeed."

His voice, his look, his gesture, all convinced Kingswell that the words
were sincere, and so did something toward the mending of his injured
feelings. To the baronet, his eyes brightened and his manner unbent. He
took his departure immediately after.

Sir Ralph turned to his daughter as the door closed behind Kingswell.

"I do not understand your treatment of him," he said. "Surely you
realize that he is a friend--and friends are not so common that we can
afford to flout them at every turn." He did not speak angrily, but the
girl saw plainly enough that he was seriously displeased.

"The boy is so insufferably self-satisfied," she explained, weakly. "How
indignation would have burned within him had some one else allowed the
prisoners to escape."

The baronet gazed at her pensively for several seconds, and then took
her hand tenderly between his own.

"You do the brave lad an injustice, my sweeting," he said. "What you
take for conceit is just youth, and strength, and fearlessness, and a
clean conscience. He has nothing of the braggart in him--not a hint of
it. I am sorry you like him so little, my daughter, for he is a good lad
and well-disposed toward us."



CHAPTER XX.

BY ADVICE OF BLACK FEATHER


For a time after D'Antons' departure into the unknown, the little
garrison of Fort Beatrix turned day into night. Not a man indulged in so
much as a wink of sleep between the hours of dusk and dawn; but from
sunrise until afternoon the place was as if it lay under an enchantment
of slumber. On the sixth day after the flight of the Frenchman and Red
Cloud, Ouenwa approached Kingswell with a request to be allowed to leave
the fort, in company with Black Feather. He told how Black Feather was
of the opinion that many of the tribesmen were against the leadership of
Panounia, and that, if they could be found, it would be an easy matter
for Ouenwa to win their support. He, Ouenwa, was of the blood of the
greatest chief they had ever known. They would gather to the totem of
the Bear. Assured of the friendship of the English people, they could be
brought to the rescue of the settlement. So Black Feather had told the
tale to Ouenwa, and so Ouenwa believed.

"And you would have to go with Black Feather?" inquired Kingswell, none
too cheerfully; for he looked upon the lad as a very dear younger
brother.

"Truly, my friend-chief, for I am the grandson of Soft Hand," replied
the boy. "When they see me, their blood will rise at the memory of Soft
Hand's murder. I will talk great words of my love for the English, and
of my hatred for Panounia, and of the great trading that will be done at
the fort when the night-howlers have been driven away. Thus we shall all
be saved--thus Mistress Beatrix shall escape capture."

At that Kingswell started and eyed his companion keenly. "You think
Panounia can break into the fort?" he inquired.

Ouenwa smiled. "Hunger can do it before the snow melts," he replied,
"and hunger will fight for Panounia and the black captain."

"What do you know of the black captain?"

"He is with the night-howlers. He will keep their courage warm. He will
struggle many times to bring us to our deaths and to capture the lady.
That is all I know."

"But how do you know so much, lad?" asked Kingswell.

Ouenwa looked surprised. "How could I know less, who dwelt within
eyeshot of the black captain for so many days, and who have learned the
ways of such wolves?" he asked, in his turn. "You know it already
without my telling, friend-chief," he added.

"Let us to Sir Ralph for his advice," said the other.

Master Kingswell had not crossed the threshold of the baronet's cabin
since the time of his rebuff at the hands of Mistress Beatrix. Of course
he had seen the baronet frequently, and they had smoked some pipes of
tobacco together by the hearth of the departed Frenchman; but from the
presence of the lady he had kept off as from a lazaretto. At the voice
of duty, however, he sought the baronet in his own house with excellent
composure. Anger at the knowledge that a girl could hurt him so nerved
him to accept the risk of again seeing the displeasure in her dark eyes.

Mistress Beatrix was not in the living-room when they entered. Sir Ralph
welcomed them cordially. Upon hearing Ouenwa's and Black Feather's plan
for winning some of the tribesmen to the succour of the fort, he was
deeply moved. He took a ring from his own hand and slipped it over one
of Ouenwa's fingers. He gave the lad a fine hunting-knife for Black
Feather, and a Spanish dagger for himself. He told Kingswell to supply
them unstintingly from the store, with provisions and clothing for
themselves and gifts for the natives whom they hoped to win.

"'Tis a chance," said he to Kingswell. "A chance of our salvation, and
the only one, as far as I can see."

At that moment Mistress Beatrix entered the room. At sight of the
visitors by the chimney, she swept a grand curtsey. The visitors bowed
low in return. Her father advanced and led her, with the manner of those
days, to his own chair beside the hearth. He told her, in a few words,
of the venture upon which Ouenwa and Black Feather intended to set
forth. The thought of it stirred the girl, and she looked on Ouenwa with
shining eyes.

"'Tis a deed for the great knights of old," she said. "Lad, where have
you learned your bravery?"

Unabashed, Ouenwa stood erect before her. "Half of it is the blood of my
fathers," he replied, "and half is the teaching of Master Kingswell--and
half I gather from your eyes."

The girl flushed with suppressed merriment. The baronet concealed his
lips with his hand. Kingswell clutched his outspoken friend by the
shoulder.

"Brother, you have named one-half too many," he said, laughing, "so your
reason will carry more weight if you leave out that in which you mention
my teaching. But come, we must find Black Feather, and make arrangements
to leave as soon as dusk falls."

At that Beatrix tightened her hands on the arms of the chair and turned
a startled face toward the speaker. "Surely, sir, you do not mean to
leave us, too!" she exclaimed.

Neither the baronet nor Kingswell were looking at her; but Ouenwa saw
the expression of eyes and lips. Kingswell, however, did not miss the
note of anxiety in the clear young voice.

"I do not go with them, mistress," he said, "because my company would
only delay their movements. And perhaps even spoil their plans. I am a
poor woodsman--and already our garrison is none too heavily manned."

"I am glad you are not going," replied the girl, quietly. "I am sure
that my father looks upon you as his right hand, and that the men need
you."

Sir Ralph looked at his daughter with ill-concealed surprise.
Kingswell, murmuring polite acknowledgment of her gracious words, strove
to get a clearer view of her half-averted face. He failed. Ouenwa was
the only one of the three who knew that the words were sincere; but he
had the advantage of his superiors in having caught sight of the sudden
fear in the lady's face.

Sir Ralph and Kingswell lowered the light packs over the stockade to
Ouenwa and the big warrior. When the figures merged into the gloom,
heading northward, the two commanders descended from the storehouse and
entered the baronet's cabin. Beatrix was by the fire, radiant in fine
apparel.

"I am in no mood for chess," said Sir Ralph. "The thought of those two
brave fellows stealing through the dark and cold fidgets me beyond
belief."

He began his quarter-deck pacing of the floor--up and down, up and down,
with his head thrust forward and his hands gripped behind his back.

"The wind is rising," said the girl to Kingswell. "It will be bleak in
the forest to-night--away from the fire."

She shivered, and held her jewelled hands to the blaze.

"It is blowing for a storm," replied the young man. "The sky was clouded
over when they left. 'Tis safer for them so. The snow will cover their
trail and, very likely, will keep the enemy from prowling abroad for a
good many hours to come."

Mistress Beatrix crossed the room to a cupboard in the wall, and from it
produced a violin. Kingswell stood by the chimney, watching her. The
baronet continued his nervous pacing of the floor. The girl touched the
strings here and there with skilful fingers, resined the bow, and then
returned to the hearth and stood with her eyes on the fire. Suddenly she
looked up at Kingswell. Her eyes were as he had never seen them before.
They were full of firelight and dream. They were brighter than jewels,
and yet dark as the heart of a deep water.

"Please do not stand," she said, and her voice, though free from any
suggestion of indifference, sounded as if her whole being were far from
that simple room. Her gaze returned to the fire. Kingswell quietly
reseated himself; and at that she nestled her chin to the glowing
instrument and drew the bow lightly, lovingly, almost inquiringly,
across the strings. A whisper of melody followed the touch and sang
clearer and more human than any human voice, and melted into the
firelight.

At the first strain of the music, the baronet sat down and reclined
comfortably with his head against the back of his chair. For awhile he
watched his daughter intently; then he turned his eyes to the heart of
the fire and journeyed far in a waking dream.

The girl played on and on, weaving enchantments of peace with the magic
strings. Kingswell, leaning back with his face in the shadow, could not
look away from her. The minutes drifted by unheeded behind the singing
of the violin. The candles on the table flared at their sockets. The
logs on the hearth broke, and the flames sprang to new life. Outside the
wind raced and shouldered along the walls. And suddenly the player
stilled her hand, and, without a word to either of the men, took up one
of the guttering candles from the table and went quickly to her own
chamber. She carried the fiddle with her against her young breast, and
the bow like a wand in her hand.

Sir Ralph started and sat erect in his chair. Kingswell got to his feet
with a sigh, and lifted his heavy cloak from the bench.

"I must go the rounds," he said. "Good night, sir."

With that he went out into the swirling eddies of the storm. The baronet
sat still for another hour. The music had uncovered so many ghosts of
joy and song, of love and hate and shame. It had rung upon past glories
and called up more recent dishonours. And still another matter occupied
his mind, and was finally dismissed with a smile and a yawn. It was that
Beatrix had indulged in one of her deliriums of music in young
Kingswell's presence, and that she had never before played in any mood
but the lightest in the hearing of a stranger.

Kingswell paced beside the sentry at the drifted gate; but he kept his
thoughts to the picture of the girl, the glowing fiddle, and the music
and firelight that had seemed to pulse and spread together about the
long room. Again he saw the candle flames leap high and waver, as if
lured from their tethers by the crying of the instrument. But clearest
of all was the player's face. His heart was filled to suffocation at the
memory of it. Had other men seen her so beautiful? Had other men heard
her soul and her dear heart singing and crying from the strings of the
violin?



CHAPTER XXI.

THE SEEKING OF THE TRIBESMEN


Ouenwa and Black Feather turned their faces from the little fort and the
hostile camp beyond the white river, and set bravely forward into the
darkness. Black Feather led the way, avoiding hummocks, bending and
twisting through the coverts, crossing the open glades like a
shadow--and all without any noise except the scarcely audible padding of
his stringed shoes. Ouenwa trod close after. They had not gone far
before the snow began to fall and puff around them in blinding clouds.
The trees bent tensely under the lash of the wind. More than one
frost-embrittled spire came crashing down. Still the warrior and the lad
held on their journey, for they were both fresh and strong, and eager to
widen the spaces of wilderness between themselves and the camp of
Panounia.

Shortly before dawn they dug a trench in the snow on the leeward side of
a thicket of low spruces, broke fir-branches for a bed, built a fire
between the walls of white, and cooked and ate a frugal repast, and
then rolled themselves in their rugs of skin and fell asleep. They had
no fear that any of Panounia's people would disturb their slumbers. They
lay as motionless and unknowing as logs for several hours. Then Ouenwa
turned over and yawned, and Black Feather sat up, wide-awake in an
instant. The morning was bright and unclouded. The white sun was
half-way up the blue shell of the eastern sky. All around the new snow
lay in feathery depths. On the dark firs and spruces it clung in even
masses, which showed that the wind had died down long before the flakes
had ceased to fall. Ouenwa and his comrade ate frugally of cold meat and
bread, swallowed some brandy and water, and resumed their journey.

Not until the afternoon of the third day following their departure from
Fort Beatrix did the travellers sight the smoke of a fire. It was Black
Feather, attaining the summit of a ridge a few paces ahead of Ouenwa,
who caught the first sight of the thin, melting signal of human life. It
wavered up from a wood in a valley a few hundred of yards in front. On
their right hand lay the ice-edged gray waters of an arm of the sea. On
their left stretched dark forest and empty barren to a mountainous
horizon. In front lay hope, and behind the spur of menace.

"Is there a village yonder?" asked Ouenwa.

Black Feather replied negatively.

"The stream is Little Thunder," he said, in his own language, "and there
was no lodge there when last I saw it. We will approach under the
shelter of those spruces in the hollow. It makes the journey a few paces
longer, and perhaps the arrival twenty times safer."

Ouenwa nodded his sympathy with the caution expressed by his friend.

"But let us hurry," he said. "Remember that around the stockade the
black captain is ever stirring the courage of the night-howlers."

At last, creeping on all fours, they peered from the screen of brush
into a tiny clearing on the north bank of Little Thunder. The stream was
not ten yards across at this point. On its white surface ran several
trails of snow-shoes. The smoke which had attracted them to the place
curled up from the apex of a large, bark-roofed wigwam. As the
travellers watched, an old woman appeared in the doorway of the lodge.
Ouenwa recognized her as a wise herb-doctor who had been a friend and
adviser of Soft Hand. He whispered the information to Black Feather.

"Then we may show ourselves," said the other, "for if this woman was
the great chief's friend you may be sure that death has only
strengthened her loyalty. It is so with women--with the wise and the
foolish alike. A man will stand close to his comrade in the days of his
glory and in the press of battle; but it is the squaw who keeps the
fallen shield freshly painted and the cause of the departed ever before
the matters of the present day. A man must have the reward of his
friend's praise and the joy of his companionship; but a woman makes a
god of the departed spirit and looks for her reward beyond the red
gates."

Ouenwa had nothing to say to his friend's sage reflections, for all he
knew of women was that a radiant creature far back in Fort Beatrix had
his heart in thrall. So he led the way from cover, and down the bank, in
silence.

The old squaw in the doorway of the lodge caught sight of them
immediately. She turned into the dark interior of the wigwam, but
appeared before they were half-way across the frozen stream, with a bow
in her hand and an arrow on the string. Black Feather and the lad raised
their right hands, palms forward, above their heads, and continued to
advance. The old hag lowered her weapon, but did not relax her attitude
of vigilance. Close to the rise of the bank the travellers paused, and
the lad called out that he was Ouenwa, grandson of Soft Hand, and that
his companion was Black Feather, the adopted son of Montaw, the
arrow-maker. At that the guardian of the wigwam forsook her post and
advanced to meet them.

The herb-doctor, who had been one of Soft Hand's advisers, was not
attractive to the eye. She was bent hideously, though still of
surprising bodily strength. Her head was uncovered, save for the matted
locks of hair that clung about it and fell over her ears and neck like a
wig of gray tree-moss. Her eyes were deep and black and fierce. One
yellow fang stood like a sentinel in the cavity of her mouth. Her hands
were claws. Her skin was no lighter in hue and no finer in texture than
was the tanned leather of her high-legged moccasins. Her garments were
unusually barbaric--lynx-skins shapelessly stitched together and hung
about with belts and charms, and a great knife of flint nearly as long
as a cutlass. Her corded, scraggy arms hung naked at her sides, as
indifferent to the nip of the frost as to the regard of strange eyes.

"Child," she said, "I heard that you were killed--that Panounia's men
had slain you and a party of English; but that I knew to be false, for I
saw not your spirit with the spirits of your fathers. So I believed
that you had crossed the great salt water with the strangers."

Ouenwa told his story, to which the old woman listened with the keenest
interest and many nods of the head.

"It is well," she said. "They are scattered now, some in hiding, some
sullenly obedient to Panounia, and some in captivity. Your need will
bring them together and awake their sleeping courage. I know of a full
score of stout warriors who will draw no bow for Panounia, and who are
all within a day's journey of this spot, but sadly scattered,--yea,
scattered in every little hollow, like frightened hares."

"Do you live in this great lodge all by yourself?" inquired Black
Feather.

"My sons are in the forest, seeing to their snares," replied the woman,
eying the tall brave sharply, "but within are a sick woman and a small
child who escaped, ten days ago, from one of Panounia's camps."

She stood aside and motioned them to enter the lodge. Ouenwa went ahead,
with Black Feather close at his heels. Within, it took them several
seconds to adjust their eyes to the gloom of smoke and shadow. Presently
they made out a couch of fir-branches and skins beyond the fire, and on
it a woman, half-reclining, with her arm about a child. Both the woman
and the child were gazing at the visitors. The child began to whimper.

Black Feather uttered a low cry, and sprang over the fire. He had found
his squaw and one of his lost children.

The sickness of Black Feather's wife was nothing but the result of
hardship and ill-treatment. Already, under the herb-doctor's care, she
was greatly improved. The meeting with her warrior went far to complete
the cure of the old woman's broths and soft furs. The child was well;
but the woman knew nothing of the whereabouts of their elder offspring.

Ouenwa and Black Feather did not tarry long at the lodge beside Little
Thunder. With the younger of their aged hostess's sons for guide, they
set out that same day to find the hidden warriors who were against the
leadership of Panounia.



CHAPTER XXII.

BRAVE DAYS FOR YOUNG HEARTS


Back at Fort Beatrix the time passed in weary suspense. The wounded men
recovered slowly. The enemy remained inactive beyond the river and the
dark forest. Only the haze of their cooking-fires, melting against the
sky, told of their presence. The inaction ate into the courage of the
English men and women like rust. The boat-building and the iron-working
at the forge were carried on listlessly, and without the old-time spurs
of song and laughter. Even William Trigget and Tom Bent displayed sombre
faces to their little world.

Bernard Kingswell, however, found life eventful. He was not blind to the
danger of their position, and he continued to do double duty in
everything; but for all that he awoke each day with keen anticipation
for whatever might befall, and, sleeping, dreamed of other things than
the poised menace and the monotony. Why should he regret Bristol, or any
other city of the outer world, when Beatrix Westleigh was domiciled
within the rough walls of the fort on Gray Goose River? His heart would
not descend to those depths of despondency in which lurk fear and
hopeless anxiety. What power of man, in that wilderness, could break
down his guard and harm the most wonderful being in the world? The
girl's brief season of unkindness toward him was as a cloud that her
later friendliness had dispersed as the sun disperses the morning fog.
He had caught a glimpse of her heart in her music, in her eyes, in her
voice, and on several occasions something that had set his heart
thumping in the touch of her hand. At least she was neither averse nor
indifferent to his society, and the glances of her magnificent eyes were
open to translations that set him looking out upon life and that
wilderness through a golden haze. Let a dozen black-visaged D'Antons
draw their rapiers upon him--he would out-thrust, out-play, and
out-stamp them all! Let a hundred fur-clad savages howl about the
fort--he, Bernard Kingswell, with his lady's favour on his breast, would
scatter them like straw! And all this because, for the first time in his
life of twenty-one years, he was bitten with love for a woman,--and
twenty-one was a fair, manly age in those days. He had won to it
unknowingly, by the brave paths of adventure and the sea. So let not
even the oldest of us criticize his attitude toward life. A man's
emotions cannot always be herded and driven by the outward circumstances
of need and danger, like a flock of sheep at the mercy of a dog and a
dull countryman. That to which cautious Worldliness has given the name
of madness, from the earliest times, is nothing but a spark of God's own
courage and imagination in the heart of youth: the years having not yet
smothered it with the ashes of cowardice and calculation.

Bernard Kingswell had never displayed any but an assured front to the
world. Now this love that had him so irresistibly in its services only
heightened the confidence of his address toward men and events; but in
the presence of its inspiration it clothed him in unaccustomed and
unconscious meekness. You may be sure that Beatrix had been quick to
notice the change. It pleased her mightily, of course; for was it not a
greater and a more pleasant matter to have brought a high-hearted,
adventure-bred youth like this to bondage and slavery than to have a
dozen idle courtiers bowing before one, and a dozen sentimental poets
mouthing verses that could, with equal sincerity, be applied to any
charming lady? So Mistress Beatrix decided, and could not find it in her
heart to regret the beaux of London Town. But she did not know her
heart as the man knew his--and as she knew his.

One morning they walked together along the river-bank, before the open
gate of the fort. The air was clearer than any crystal. The shadows
along the snow were bluer than the dome of the sky. The girl talked
cheerily; for in the bright daytime, with the sounds of peaceful labour
rising from the fort so close at hand, and with a strong and worshipping
man, sword-girt, within arm's length, it was hard to remember the menace
concealed by the southern woods. Her eyes were very bright, and the
blood mantled under the clear skin of her cheeks at the wind's caress.
Now and then, for a bar or two, she broke into song.

Their path was one that Kingswell had beaten firm with his snow-shoes,
after the last storm, expressly as a promenade for Mistress Westleigh.
It was about a hundred yards in length, and broad enough for two persons
to walk in abreast, and firm enough to make the wearing of snow-shoes
unnecessary. It ran north and south, parallel with the stockade and the
course of the river at that point. When the turn was made at either end
of the beat, Kingswell's glance searched the horizon and every tree,
every knoll, and hollow. It was done almost unconsciously, as a
traveller instinctively loosens his sword in its sheath at the sound of
voices ahead of him on a dark road.

After a time the girl noticed her companion's vigilance. "What do you
expect to see?" she asked, touching his arm lightly and swiftly with her
gloved hand. For a moment he was confused, but recovered his wits with
an effort.

"Nothing," he replied, "or surely we would not be walking here."

She smiled at that. "Are you afraid?" she inquired.

He looked down at her, displayed the desperate condition of his heart in
his eyes, and then looked back again to the strip of woods that
approached them along the back.

"I am not afraid," he said--and then, with a gasp of dismay, he caught
her and swung her behind him. She did not resist, but cowered against
his sheltering back.

"We must return to the fort," he said. "Something is going on in that
covert."

"Come! We will run!" she whispered, pulling at his elbows to turn him
around.

"No," he replied. "I shall walk backwards, and you must keep behind me,
and guide me. It is no great matter to avoid an arrow, if one knows in
what quarter to look for it."

She made no reply. They began the retreat along the narrow branch path
that led to the gate of the fort, he stepping cautiously, heels first,
and she pulling at his belt and gazing fearfully past his shoulder at
the woods. They were within a few yards of the gate when he suddenly put
his arms behind him, caught her close, and lurched to one side. The
unexpected movement threw the girl to her knees in the deep snow beside
the path. Her cry of dismay brought her father and two others from the
fort. They found Kingswell staggering and confusedly apologizing to
Beatrix for his roughness. In the thickness of his left shoulder stuck a
war-arrow. Supporting Kingswell and fairly dragging the frightened girl,
they rushed back to safety and closed and barred the gate.

Hour after hour passed without the hidden warriors of Panounia making
any further signs of hostility, or even of their existence. The watchers
on the stockade scanned the woods in vain for any movement. A shot was
fired into the nearest cover from one of the cannon, but without
apparent effect.

Kingswell was on duty again within an hour of the receiving of his
wound. The ragged cut caused him a deal of pain; but the salve that
really took the sting and ache out of it was the thought that he had
been serving Beatrix as a shield when the arrow struck him. He went the
rounds of the stockades with a glowing heart and dauntless bearing, and
his air of calm assurance put courage into the men. He saw to the
strengthening of several points of the defence, cleared the loopholes of
drifted snow, and gave out an extra supply of powder and ball.

It was dusk of that day before Kingswell again saw Mistress Westleigh.
He was passing the baronet's cabin, and she opened the door and called
to him shyly. He turned and stepped close to her, the better to see her
face in the gathering twilight. She extended her hands to him, with a
quick gesture of invitation. He dropped his heavy gloves on the snow
before clasping them in eager fingers.

"But you must not stand here, without anything 'round your shoulders,"
he said; but, for all his solicitude, he maintained his firm hold of her
hands. She laughed, very softly, and a slight pressure of her fingers
drove his anxiety to the winds. He would have nothing of evil befall
her, God knows!--nay, not so much as a chill--but how could he keep it
in his mind that she wore no cloak when his whole being was a-thrill
with love and worship? So he stood there, speechless, gazing into her
flushed face. Presently her eyes lowered before his ardent regard.

"I called to you to thank you for saving my life," she murmured. He had
nothing to say to that. Perhaps he had saved her life--and again,
perhaps he had not. At that moment he was the last person in the world
to decide the question. His heart and mind were altogether with the
immediate present. He realized that her hands were strong and yet tender
to the touch of his. The faint fragrance of her hair was in his brain
like some divine vintage. The sweet curves of cheek and lips--how near
they were! She had called to him with more than kindness in her voice.
God had made a high heaven of this fort in the wilderness.

"You were very brave," she said, leaning nearer ever so slightly. Sweet
madness completely overthrew the lad's native caution, and he was about
to catch her to him bodily, when she slipped nimbly into the cabin, and
left him standing with arms extended in silent invitation toward the
figure of the imperturbed Sir Ralph.

"Well, my lad?" inquired the baronet, calmly.

"Good evening to you, Sir Ralph," replied Kingswell, hiding his chagrin
and confusion with exceeding skill.

"You looked just now as if you were expecting me," said the elder. "Come
in, come in. We can talk better by the fire."

Kingswell's blushes were safe in the dusk. He picked up his gloves from
the trampled snow by the threshold, and silently followed the baronet
into the fire-lit living-room. Beatrix was not there--which fact the
lover noticed with a sinking of the heart. He was alone with her father,
and evidently under marked suspicion,--a fearful matter to a young man
who aspires to the hand of an angel, and has not yet his line of action
quite laid down. He took a deep breath, trembled at thought of his
presumption, called the respectability of his parents and his income to
his aid, and was ready for the baronet when that gentleman turned and
faced him in front of the fire.

"I love your daughter," he said, with his voice not quite so cool and
manly as he had intended it to be.

Sir Ralph bowed, but said nothing. His back was to the fire, and so his
face was in heavy shadow.

"I love her very dearly," continued the other. "I believe no man could
love a woman more, for it is with my whole heart, and with every fibre
of my being. I know, sir, that my rank is not exalted, and that she is
the--"

The baronet raised his hand sharply.

The gesture silenced Kingswell in the middle of his sentence more
effectively than a clap of thunder would have done it.

"Yes," said Sir Ralph, harshly, "she is the daughter of a blackleg. She
is the daughter of a criminal exile. She is the daughter of a broken
gamester. Ay, Bernard, you do indeed look high,--you, the son of a
humble merchant of Bristol."

Kingswell was dismayed for the moment. Then, with a hardy oath, he
slapped his hand to his hip.

"Though she were the daughter of the devil himself," he began, and came
to a lame stop. The baronet's smile passed unseen. It was a kindly
smile, and yet a bitter one by the same tokens. Kingswell gave up all
attempt at politic speech. He had his own feelings to express. "Your
daughter, sir, is the best and the loveliest," he said, huskily.
"Whatever your backslidings and misfortunes have been, they can reflect
in no way on her sweetness, and wisdom, and virtue. But, sir, I do not
mean to sit in judgment on any man, and last of all on the father of the
most glorious woman in the world. I remember you in your strength,--the
greatest man in the county and my father's noble friend. The world has
taken a twirl since then, but you may be sure that, whatever betide, my
heart is with you warmer than my worthy father's ever was."



CHAPTER XXIII.

BETROTHED


That Bernard Kingswell had accepted the baronet's own estimation of his
(the baronet's) character so frankly, in the heat of sentimental
disclosure, did not trouble Sir Ralph by more than a pang or two. What
else could he expect of even this true friend? He was a broken gamester
and a criminal exile by all the signs and by the verdict of the law; but
whether or not he was a blackleg was a matter of opinion and the exact
definition of that word. He knew that Kingswell was well disposed toward
him, and that he believed nothing vile or cowardly of him; but, best of
all, he was sure that, in Kingswell's love, his daughter was fortunate
beyond his hoping of the past two years. Should they get clear of the
besieging natives and out of the wilderness, her future happiness,
safety, and position would be assured. As Mistress Bernard Kingswell,
she would live close to the colour and finer things of life again,
gracing some fair house as a former Beatrix had done in other days--to
wit, the great houses of Beverly and Randon. The mist blurred his eyes
at that memory and dimmed his vision against the rough log walls around
him.

Another thought came to the broken baronet, as he sat alone by the
falling fire, after Kingswell's departure, and awaited his supper and
the reappearance of his daughter. The thought was like a black shadow
between his face and the comforting fir sticks--between his heart and
the knowledge of a good man's love and protection for Beatrix. Knowing
the girl as he did, he felt sure that she would never leave him, her
exiled father, even at the call of a more compelling love; and, as a
return to his own country meant prison or death to him, she would hold
to the wilderness, thereby leaving the new-found happiness untouched. On
the other hand, should death come to him soon, and in the
wilderness,--by the arrows of the enemy, for choice,--his daughter's
fetters would be filed for ever. He sank his face between his hands. The
desire to live out one's time clings about a man's vitals against all
reason. Even an exiled and broken gamester, stockaded in a nameless
wilderness and hemmed in by savages, finds a certain zest in day and
night and the winds of heaven. With nothing to live for--even with the
scales decidedly the other way--Death still presents an uninviting face.
It may be the inscrutable mask of him that fills with distrust the heart
of the man who contemplates the Long Journey. In that inevitable yet
mysterious figure, showing as no more than a shadow between the bed and
the window, it is hard for the sinful mortal, no matter how repentant,
to read clear the promise of eternal peace. What dark deed might not be
perpetrated by the shrouded messenger between the death-bed and
Paradise?

Sir Ralph bowed his head between his palms, and hid the commonplace,
beautiful radiance of the hearth-fire from his eyes; and so, while he
waited for his supper of stewed venison, he reasoned and planned for his
daughter's future to the bitter end, seeing clearly that, should the
chances of battle turn in favour of the little plantation, he must
readjust his sentiments toward death. A man of lower breeding and
commoner courage would have groaned in the travail of that thought, and
cursed the alternative; but the baronet sat in silence until he heard
his daughter at the door, and then stood up and hummed softly the
opening bars of a Somerset hunting-song.

Beatrix tripped close to her father and raised her face to him. He bent
and kissed her tenderly. For a little while they stood without speaking,
hand in hand, on the great caribou skin before the hearth. Suddenly the
girl pressed her cheek against his shoulder.

"What was it," she whispered, breathlessly,--"the matter that held you
and Bernard in such serious converse?"

"And has your heart given you no hint of it?" he laughed.

"And why, dear father? What has my heart to do with your talk of guards
and ammunition and supplies,--save that it is with you in everything?"

The baronet released her hand and, instead, placed his arm about her
slender and rounded waist. "It is a story that I cannot tell you,
sweet,--I, who am your father," he said. "But I think that you shall not
have to wait long for the telling of it, for both youth and love are
impatient. And here comes the good Maggie with the candles."

During the meal the baronet was more lively and entertaining than
Beatrix had seen him for years, and Beatrix, in her turn, was unusually
untalkative and preoccupied. The girl wanted to give her undivided
attention to the quiet voice of her heart. The man was equally anxious
to avoid introspection as she to court it. But he, for all his laughter
and gay stories of gay times spent, displayed a colourless face and
haunted eyes behind the candle-light; while she, sitting in silence,
glowed like a rare flower. Her dark, massed tresses, her eyes of
unnamable colour, her throat and lips and brow, were all radiant with
the magic fire at her heart.

Sir Ralph, after bringing a disjointed tale to a vague ending, sipped
his wine, put down the glass clumsily, and suddenly turned away from the
table. The bitterness of his lot had caught him by the throat. But she
noticed nothing of his change of manner; and presently they left the
table and moved to the fire. He busied himself with heaping faggots
across the dogs. Then she filled his tobacco-pipe for him, and lit it
with a coal from the hearth, puffing daintily. He had just got it in his
hand when a knocking sounded on the door, and Maggie Stone opened to
Kingswell.

Upon Kingswell's entrance, Sir Ralph, after greeting him cordially but
quietly, donned his cloak and hat, and begged to be excused for a few
minutes. "I have a word for Trigget," he said. Then he pulled on his
gloves, pushed open the door, and stepped out to the dark.

Two candles burned on the table. Maggie Stone snuffed them, surveyed
the room and its inmates with a comprehensive glance, and at last forced
her unwilling feet kitchenward again. Her heart was as sentimental as
heroic, was Maggie Stone's, and her nature was of an inquisitive turn.
She sighed plaintively as she left the presence of the young couple.

The door leading to the kitchen had no more than closed behind the
servant than Bernard, without preliminaries, dropped on one knee before
the lady of his adoration, and lifted both her hands to his lips. She
did not move, but stood between the candles and the firelight, all
a-gleam in her beauty and her fine raiment, and gazed down at the golden
head. Her lips smiled, but her eyes were grave.

"Dear heart," murmured the lad, without lifting his face or altering his
position,--"dear heart, can it be true?"

She bent her head a little lower. Her heart seemed as if it was about to
break away from its bonds in her side. She could not speak; but, almost
unconsciously, she closed her fingers upon his.

"Tell me," he cried. And again, with a note of fear in his voice: "Tell
me if I may win you! Tell me if your heart has any promise?"

Before she could control her agitation sufficiently to answer him, the
outer door of the cabin was swung open without ceremony, and Sir Ralph
stamped in. He caught Kingswell by the wrist and wrenched it sharply.

"We are attacked," he cried. "They have piled heaps of dry brush along
the palisades--and they have set the stuff on fire! It burns like mad.
Lord, but it looks more like hell than ever!"

Even as he spoke, the fragrant, biting odour of the smoke from the
burning evergreen-needles invaded the room. Kingswell got quickly to his
feet, still holding the girl's hands. He did not look at the baronet.
For a second he paused and peered, questioning, into her wonderful eyes.

"Oh, I love you, dear heart," she cried, faintly. "I love you, Bernard."

He stooped quickly (and how eagerly every lover knows), and even while
the first brief and tremulous kiss was sweet on their lips, the muskets
clapped deafeningly, savage shouts rang high, and the baronet thrust
sword and hat into Bernard's hands.

"Come! For God's grace, lad, come and rally the men!" he shouted.

Then the lover turned from his mistress and saw the shrewd work that
awaited him. He ran to it with a leaping heart.



CHAPTER XXIV.

A FIRE-LIT BATTLE. OUENWA'S RETURN


The heaps of brush outside the palisades burned with a long-drawn
roaring, like the note of a steady wind. It was a terrifying sound. The
glare of the conflagration lit the interior of the fort, staining the
trampled snow of the yard to an awful hue, staining the faces of the
desperate settlers as if with foreshadowing of blood, and painting the
walls of the cabins as if for a carnival. The platform upon which the
guns stood was a mass of flame before any use could be made of the
pieces. The breastwork of faggots burned with leapings and roarings,
flinging orange and crimson showers to the black dome above. The savages
skirmished behind the girdle of flames, like imps along the
blood-coloured snow. The settlers discharged their muskets through the
singed loopholes, firing low, and taking the chances with heroic
fortitude. Sir Ralph and Bernard Kingswell were here and there, with
their swords in their hands and encouragement in speech and bearing.
Both knew that this engagement would be a fight to the finish; and both
felt reasonably sure that a shrewder and braver commander than Panounia
was against them.

The ammunition was carried from the storehouse to the shed over the
well, for the fire was already crackling against the log walls of the
buildings. Suddenly a sharp report and a high shower of sparks and
burning fragments broke from the gun-platform; and, for the moment, the
warriors were scattered from that side. One of the cannon had exploded.
That corner of the stockade immediately fell and settled to the snow.
Next instant the second gun was fired by the flames. It sent its whole
charge into the uncertain Beothics, scattering them to cover in yelling
disorder. At that the Englishmen cheered, and set about fighting back
the encroaching flames.

Inspiration, or a font of courage to be drawn upon at need, must have
dwelt behind the shelter of the spruces; for within a very few minutes
of the retreat, all the warriors, save the wounded, were about the fort
again. Kingswell took note of it, and suspected the inspiration to be
nothing else than Pierre d'Antons' insinuating presence and dazzling
smile. A spur, too, he suspected--the spur of the mongrel Frenchman's
evil sneer and black temper. He knew enough of the aboriginal character
to feel that it would prove but a plaything for such a personality as
the buccaneer's. He looked across the glowing, smoking breach in the
fortifications with hard eyes. He voiced his desire to have the fellow
by the throat, or at the point of his sword, in tones that rang like a
curse.

Suddenly Kingswell left his post and ran to the well-house.

He knew where the _Pelican's_ powder lay among the stores, done up in
five canvas bags of about twelve pounds each. With two of these under
his cloak, he returned to his place a few paces from the subsiding red
barrier that still held the enemy from the interior of the fort. By this
time the back of Trigget's cabin was smouldering. The roofs of the
cabins, deep with snow, were safe; but the rear walls were all in a fair
way of being ignited by the crackling brushwood, which the warriors of
Panounia diligently piled against them.

Kingswell left the protection of the rest of the square to Sir Ralph,
William Trigget, and all the men of the garrison save Tom Bent. The old
boatswain was, by this time, a very active convalescent. Kingswell
whispered a word or two in his ear. They kept a sharp lookout across the
wreckage of the fallen corner of the stockade. They saw a party of the
enemy gather ominously close to the glowing edge of the breach.
Kingswell passed one of the bags of powder to his companion. "When I
give the word," he said.

Suddenly the black knot of warriors dashed into the obstruction,
brandishing spears and clubs, and screaming like maniacs. Kingswell
uttered a low, quick cry, tossed his bag of powder into the glowing
coals under the feet of the enemy, and ran for the shelter of the
well-house at top speed. Tom Bent followed his movements on the instant.
Together they reached the narrow shelter; and, before they could turn
about, the air shook and reeled, as if a bolt of wind had broken upon
them, a blinding flash seemed to consume the whole night, and a puffing,
thumping report stunned their ears. They stumbled against the sides of
the shed, clawed desperately, and fell to the ground.

When Bernard Kingswell and the trusty boatswain regained their senses
(which had left them for only a few seconds), they crawled from the
well-house and stared about them. The square was not so bright as it had
been, and, save for a few huddled shapes on the snow, was empty. By the
shouting and mixed tumult, they knew that the fighting was now farther
away--that the settlers had sallied forth on the offensive. They could
not understand such recklessness; but they decided, without hesitation,
to take the risk. They ran to the now black gap in the palisades. Fire,
coals, wreckage, and even the snow had been hurled and blown broadcast.
They crossed the torn ground and headed for the tumult in the fitfully
illuminated spaces beyond. Native war-whoops and English shouts mixed
and clashed in the frosty air. On the very edge of the shifting
conflict, the old sailor clutched his master's arm. "Hark!" he cried.
"D'ye hear that now? It be the yell o' that young Ouenwa, sir, or ye can
call me a Dutcher!"

At the same moment, before Kingswell could reply to Bent's statement, a
club, thrown by a retreating warrior, caught the gentleman on the side
of the head and felled him like a thing of wood. He moaned, as he
toppled over. Then he lay still on the ruddy snow.


Beatrix had a dozen candles alight in the living-room of the baronet's
cabin. Word had reached her that Ouenwa and Black Feather had arrived in
time to take advantage of the rebuff dealt the enemy by the explosions
of the bags of powder. When victory had seemed to be hopelessly in the
hands of the determined savages, Ouenwa and his followers, though spent
from their journey, had made a timely and successful rear attack.

The girl was radiant. She moved up and down the room, eagerly awaiting
the return of Bernard Kingswell. She questioned herself as to that, and
laughed joyously. Yes, it was Bernard, beyond peradventure, whom heart,
hands, and lips longed to recover and reward. A month ago, a week ago,
it would have been her father--even a night ago he would have shared,
equally with the lover, in her sweet and eager concern. But now she sped
from hearth to door, and peered out into the blackness, with no thought
of any of those brave fellows save the lad of Bristol.

The burning brush had all been trampled out, and the fires in the walls
and stockade had been quenched with water. The little square was dark,
save for the subdued fingers of light from windows and doors. Beatrix
peered from the open door, regardless of the cold. She was outlined
black against the warm radiance inside the room. Her silken garments
clung about her, pressed gently by a breath of wind. She rested a hand
on either upright of the doorway, and leaned forward as if, at a whim,
she would fly out from the threshold. Presently shadowy figures took
shape in the gloom, and she heard her father's voice, and William
Trigget's, and the high pipe of Ouenwa. But she caught no sound of
Bernard Kingswell's clear tones. A sudden fear caught her, and she
stepped out upon the trampled snow and called to Sir Ralph. In a moment
he was at her side, and had an arm about her.

"Sweeting," he said, "you must stay within for a little. The night is
bitterly cold, and--"

"But where is Bernard?" she whispered, staring past him.

"He is with the others," replied the baronet,--"with Ouenwa and his
brave fellows, and the dauntless Trigget."

He spoke quickly and uneasily, and led her back to the cabin at the same
time. He closed the door, and laid a wet sword across a stool.

"What is it?" she cried, facing him, with wide eyes and bloodless
cheeks. "Tell me! Tell me!"

"The lad is hurt," admitted Sir Ralph.

"Hurt?" repeated the girl, vaguely. "Hurt? How should he be hurt?"

She shivered, and gripped her hand desperately. Could it be that the
High God had been deaf to her prayers?

Sir Ralph's face went as pale as hers; for all he knew of Kingswell's
condition was that he still breathed, and that his hat had saved his
head from being cut. Whether the skull was broken or not, he did not
know. He braced himself, and smiled.

"My dear," he said, "he is not seriously hurt, so do not stand like
that--for God's sake!"

At the last words his voice lost its note of composure, and broke
shrilly. He caught her to him. "Rip me," he cried, "but if you act so
when he is simply knocked over, what will you do if he ever gets a real
wound!"

The girl was comforted. Tears sprang to her eyes, and the blood returned
to her cheeks. She clung to the baronet and sobbed against his shoulder.
Presently she looked up.

"Take me to him," she begged, "or bring him here."

"So you love this Bernard Kingswell?" inquired her father, looking
steadily into her face.

Her gleaming eyes did not waver from his gaze. "Yes," she replied,
quietly.

The man turned away, took his blood-wet sword from the stool, eyed it
dully, and leaned it against the wall. He was trying to imagine what the
lad's death would mean to his daughter's future; but he could only see
that it would mean a few more years for himself. He started guiltily,
and returned to his daughter. His face was desperately grim.

"Wait for me," he said. "I'll see how the lad is doing now; and shall
return immediately."

Sir Ralph crossed to the cottage that had been built for D'Antons, and
which had passed on to Kingswell. He opened the door softly and stepped
within. He found the wounded gentleman lying prone on his couch,
half-undressed, and with bandaged head. Ouenwa, gaunt and blood-stained,
was beside the still figure.

"He opened his eyes," whispered the boy; "but see, he has closed them
again. His spirit waits at the spreading of the trails."

Sir Ralph bent down and examined the linen dressings on Kingswell's
head. They were exceedingly well arranged. He saw that the hair had been
cut away from the place of the wound.

"Your work, Ouenwa?" he inquired.

The boy nodded. The baronet felt his friend's pulse.

"It beats strong," he said. "The heart seems sure enough of the path to
take."

Ouenwa's face lighted quickly. "He has chosen," he said, gravely. "He
has seen the hunting-grounds shining beyond the west, but the beauty of
them has not lured him along that trail."

The baronet smiled quickly into the Beothic's eyes. "You are a brave
lad, and we are deep in debt to you," he exclaimed. "Your bravery and
wit have saved the fort and all our lives. Watch your friend a few
minutes longer; I but go to bring another nurse to help you. Then you
may sleep."



CHAPTER XXV.

FATE DEALS CARDS OF BOTH COLOURS IN THE LITTLE FORT


From that brisk fight, in which Ouenwa and his twenty braves and the
little garrison of Fort Beatrix defeated Panounia, Black Feather brought
a confirmation of Pierre d'Antons' concern in the last attacks upon the
settlement. It consisted of a sword-belt and an empty scabbard. He had
torn them from the person of a tall antagonist during a brief
hand-to-hand encounter. The owner of the gear had won free, Black
Feather regretted to say. Sir Ralph, too, felt the escape of his enemy,
and sincerely hoped that the defeat had ended his power over Panounia,
and brought down that wolfish chief's hatred instead.

On the morning after the battle, the little plantation presented a busy
though sombre appearance to those of its people who were in condition to
view it. Along the woods and rising ground to the north, the snow and
frozen soil were being hollowed to receive the bodies of those slain in
the fight. The dead of the enemy had been carried far into the woods,
and piled together with scant ceremony. The settlers had lost three of
their number,--young Donnelly, Harding, and the younger Trigget. Four of
the rescuing party were dead and wounded. Tom Bent was on his back
again, and Kingswell's head was ringing like a sea-shell. William
Trigget was cut about the face and sore all over; but he kept on his
feet.

After the graves were chipped in the iron earth, and the shrouded bodies
lowered therein and covered, the tribesmen, under Black Feather's
orders, set about building themselves lodges outside the stockade. It
had been decided that, for mutual support, the friendly Beothics should
camp near the fort, at least for the remainder of the winter. With axes
borrowed from the settlement, they soon had the forest ringing with the
noise of their labour. Though they had travelled light, in their hurry
to rescue the friends of Ouenwa and Black Feather, they had dragged
along with them a few sled-loads of deerskins and birch bark, with which
to cover their wigwams. So the shelters sprang up quickly about the torn
and scorched palisades; for it was a small matter to trim the poles and
fit the pliable roofs across the conical frames.

The dusk gathered over the wilderness, dimming the edges of white
barren and black forest and round hill. The stars shone silver above,
and the fires of the victorious men of the totem of the Bear glowed red
below. In the outer room of the cabin that had been Pierre d'Antons',
Beatrix sat alone by Kingswell's bed. Her eyes were on the leaping
flames in the chimney, and his were on the fair lines of her averted
face. The top of his head was so swathed in bandages that he looked like
a turbaned Turk. Cheeks and chin were white as paper in the unstable
light. His eyes were bright with a touch of fever brought on by his
suffering. His mind was in a fitful mood, for a minute or two steady
enough and concerned with the present and the room in which he lay, and
then wandering abroad, exploring vague trails of remembrance and
imagining. Sometimes he murmured words and sentences, but in such a
gabbling style that his nurse could have made nothing of what was
passing in his brain even if she had taken such advantage of his
condition as to try.

After a long spell of uneasy mutterings, followed by a profound silence,
he suddenly flung out one arm. The movement startled Beatrix from her
dreaming, and she turned her face back to him from the fire.

"Twenty days without water," he whispered, distinctly. "Twenty
days--and that beast Trowley is laughing to see my tongue between my
teeth like a squeezed rag."

The girl caught up a mug of water and held it to his lips. He drank
greedily, and then took hold of her hand. His head was against the
hollow of her arm; for, to give him the drink, she had knelt beside his
low bed.

"Beatrix," he said, gravely, "let us pretend that you love me."

She was strangely moved at that, and bent closer to see his eyes.

"Why pretend, dear heart?" she answered. "I do love you, as you very
well know. Sleep again, Bernard, with your head so--pressed close."

"I feel your heart," he said, simply as a child. The fever was as a fine
haze across the mirror of his brain.

"It beats only for you," she murmured, pressing her lips to his cheek.
The lad's eyes shone with a clearer light at that.

"Tell me that this is no vision of fever," he said. "Tell me, or
strength will bring nothing but sorrow. Better death than to find your
kisses a trick of dreaming."

"Is it not a pleasant dream?" she asked, softly, smiling a little.

"Ay; to dream so, a man would gladly have done with waking," he replied.
"If it were not in life that Beatrix were mine, then would I follow the
vision through eternal sleep--as God is my judge."

"Hush, dear lad," she murmured, "for the heart and the body of Beatrix
are of right Somersetshire stuff, to fade not at any whim of fever--and
the love she gives you will outlast life--as God is our judge and love
His handiwork." And she kissed him again, blushing sweetly at her
daring. And so they remained, she kneeling beside the couch, and he with
his bandaged head against her lovely shoulder, until Sir Ralph entered
the cabin, fumbling discreetly at the latch.

The days passed slowly in the heart of that frozen wilderness between
the white river and the long graves. Stockade and wall were repaired.
Fresh meat was trapped and shot in sheltered valley and rough wood. The
forge rang again with the clanging of sledges, and the tracts of timber
with the swinging axes. Hope reawoke in hearts long dismayed, and blood
ran more redly to the stir of work and freedom. Master Kingswell gained
fresh strength with the rounding of every day, and Mistress Westleigh
recovered all her glory of eyes and lips and hair. Ouenwa, honoured by
all, carried himself like a gentleman and a warrior. Black Feather, with
his wife and his surviving child in a snug lodge, felt again the zest
and peace of living. Only Sir Ralph seemed to find no ray of comfort in
the days of security. He brooded alone, avoiding even his daughter. His
face grew thinner, and his shoulders lost something of their youthful
vigour. The desolation and bitterness had, at last, dimmed his courage
and his philosophy. The very relief at Panounia's defeat and D'Antons'
supposed overthrow had, somehow, weakened his gallant endurance. He
counted it a grievance that God had not led him to his death in the last
fight, as he had prayed so earnestly. He had been eager then. Now he
must plan it over again--over and over--in cold reasoning and cold
blood, and alone by the fire. A foolish, causeless anger got hold upon
him at times; and again he would be all repentance, telling his heart
that, no matter how bitter his fate, it was fully deserved. And so, day
by day, the shadows grew behind his brain, and a little seed of madness
germinated and took root.

For a time Beatrix did not notice the change in her father's manner and
habits. The thing disclosed itself so gradually, and she was so intent
upon the nursing of her lover; and yet again, the baronet had been
variable in his moods, to a certain extent, ever since the beginning of
his troubles--years enough ago. It was Ouenwa who first saw that
something had gone radically wrong in the broken gentleman's mind, and
his knowledge had come about in this wise.

The young Beothic, though an ardent sportsman and warrior, was a still
more ardent seeker after bookish wisdom. Kingswell, before his hurt, had
taught him something of the art of reading. Later, Mistress Westleigh
had carried it further. By the time that Kingswell was safely on the
road to his old health and a mended head, Ouenwa could spell out a page
of English print very creditably. His primer was one of those volumes of
Master Will Shakespeare's plays, which the Frenchman had left behind
him. One day Beatrix entered the cabin to take her turn at tending the
invalid, and found Ouenwa with the drama in his hands, and his youthful
brow painfully furrowed with thought. She took the book from him and
fluttered the pages, pausing here and there to read a line or two.

"Run away," said she, "and on a shelf beside our chimney you will find a
book with easier words than this contains. There is matter here, I
think, that is beyond a beginner."

At that Kingswell raised himself to his elbow and nodded his sore head
eagerly.

"Ay, lad, run and find yourself an easier book," he said.

Nothing loath, for his quest of learning was sincere,--as was everything
about him,--Ouenwa left the presence of the lovers and ran across the
snow to Sir Ralph's cabin. He told his errand to the baronet. That
gentleman looked at him long and keenly, so that the boy trembled and
wished himself out of the house. Then, with a sudden start and a harsh
laugh, "Help yourself, lad," said Sir Ralph. Ouenwa found the shelf of
books, and, kneeling before it, was soon busy looking over the divers
volumes and broad-sheets with which it was piled high. He found a rhymed
and pictured chap-book greatly to his liking. He was spelling out the
first verses when a movement behind his back brought him to a sense of
his whereabouts. He turned quickly. There stood the baronet, with a
walking-cane in his hand, making lunge and thrust at a spot of resin on
the log wall. The poor gentleman stamped and straddled, pinked the
unseen swordsman, and parried the unseen blade, with a dashing air.
There was a light in his eyes and a twist of the lips that struck
Ouenwa's heart cold in his side. The light was that which, when seen in
the eyes of a man of a primitive people, divides that man from the laws
and responsibilities that are the portion of his fellows. It was the
gleam of idiocy--that sinister sheen that cuts a man from his
birthright.

The boy knelt there, motionless with fear, with his face turned over his
shoulder. He watched every movement of the fantastic exhibition with
fascinated eyes. He fairly held his breath, so terrible was the display
in that quiet, dim-lit room. Suddenly the baronet lowered the point of
the modish cane smartly to the floor, and turned upon the lad with a
smile, an embarrassed flush on his thin cheeks, and sane eyes.

"'Tis a pretty art--this of the French rapier," he said, "and I make a
point of keeping my wrist limber for it."

"Yes, sir," said Ouenwa.

Sir Ralph flung the walking-cane aside, and sat down despondently in the
nearest chair. Ouenwa saw, at a glance, that his presence was already
forgotten. With furtive movements and such haste as he could manage, he
began replacing some of the books and selecting others to carry away
with him.

"Sweeting," said the baronet, "a pipe of tobacco would rest me."

Ouenwa realized that the gentleman, in his strange mood, believed that
Mistress Beatrix was in the room; but Ouenwa had tact enough not to
point out the little mistake. He got up noiselessly and filled the bowl
of a long pipe from a great jar on the chimney-piece. He took a splinter
of wood from the basket by the hearth and lit it at the fire. Stepping
softly to the baronet's side, he placed the pipe in his hand, and held
the light to the tobacco while the baronet puffed reflectively and
unseeingly. Then the lad gathered up his books and left the cabin. Fear
of Sir Ralph's wild manner was cold in his veins.



CHAPTER XXVI.

PIERRE D'ANTONS PARRIES ANOTHER THRUST


And now to tell something of the movements of Pierre d'Antons, which, of
late, have been carried on behind the screen of the forest and beyond
the ken of the reader.

The defeat of Panounia's warriors, on that night of fire and blood,
knocked the adventurer's fortunes flatter than they had ever been. You
may believe that he cursed Ouenwa bitterly, and wished that he had
killed him long ago, when the lad threw his followers into the battle.
It was then that D'Antons himself left his post beyond the scuffle, and,
with desperate efforts, tried to turn the reverse back to victory. His
swordsmanship and energy availed him nothing. He missed capture only by
slipping the buckle of his sword-belt. Then, a fugitive from both sides,
he ran to the woods, avoiding the scattered and retreating warriors who
had so lately been struggling in his behalf as fearfully as he would
have avoided William Trigget or Sir Ralph Westleigh. One of his late
comrades, trailing wounded limbs along the snow, hurled a Beothic curse
after him. Another, better prepared, let fly a war-club, and missed him
by an inch. He slashed on, through the underbrush, the drifts, and the
dark, sure that capture by any of the defeated savages would mean death
and perhaps torture.

The black captain did not run on any vague course, despite his haste. He
knew where a possibility of help awaited him. He had given his wits to
more than plans of revenge and kidnapping during his sojourn with
Panounia. In winning the men to him, he knew that his hold upon them
would not outlast defeat; but in winning the love of the Beothic maiden
Miwandi, he had laid up store against an evil day. But he had not won
her heart simply on a chance of defeat--far from it, for he had not
dreamed of such a chance. It was a pleasant thing in itself to be the
lover of that nut-brown, lithe-limbed, warm-hearted young girl--for
Miwandi suspected nothing of his desire for, and plans concerning, the
lady in the fort. She loved the tall foreigner quickly and surely. She
was extravagantly proud of his power over the warriors of her people. He
was her brave, and as such she cherished him openly, to the envy rather
than the criticism of the other women of the encampment.

Miwandi was the daughter of a lesser chief of Panounia's faction. She
was seventeen years of age. Her skin was ruddy brown, darker than the
skins of some of her people and lighter than that of others. Her hair
was brown and of a silken texture, very unlike the straight locks of the
savages of the great continent to the westward. Her features were good,
and her eyes were full of life and warmth. D'Antons' conquest rankled in
the breasts of more than one of the young bucks of the camp.

Pierre d'Antons, fleeing from the fighting men of both parties, shaped
his course for the lodge in which Miwandi dwelt. As he ran, with fear at
his heels, he forgot to regret the girl in the fort; instead, a pang of
honest affection for the comely young woman toward whom he was flying
for help stirred in him. He stumbled into the lodge, and Miwandi caught
him in her arms. In a few quick words, he told her of the defeat, and of
the anger of Panounia's warriors toward him. She kissed him once,
passionately, and then fell to collecting a few things--a quiver of
arrows, a bow, furs, and some food. She pressed a bundle into his arms.
He accepted it without a word. She bound her snow-shoes to her feet, and
retied the wrenched thongs of his. Then they slipped from the dark
lodge to the darker woods; and his sheathless sword, damp with blood,
was still in his hand. They heard the cries of the wounded behind them,
and other cries that inspired them to flight.

They fled for hours, without pausing to ease their breathing. Of the
two, it was the man who sometimes lagged, who often stumbled, and who
cried once that he would rather be captured than strain limb and lung to
another effort. D'Antons had been actively employed throughout the day,
and again during the most desperate passages of the battle, and his
strength was well-nigh exhausted. At last he fell and lay prone. In an
instant the girl was beside him, pillowing his head and shielding his
body from the cold, and revived him with brandy from the scanty supply
in his flask. By that time the dawn was breaking gray under the stars,
and all sounds of the chase had died away. She cut an armful of
fir-branches, and with them and the skins she and D'Antons had carried,
she made a rude bed and a yet ruder shelter. So they lay until high
noon, fugitives in a desolate wilderness, with death, in half a dozen
guises, lurking on either hand.

Behind D'Antons and Miwandi, the broken band of Panounia's followers
soon gave up the hunt. Matters were not in condition to be mended by
killing a long-faced Frenchman and a pretty girl. The defeated savages
had their own wounds to see to, and already too many dead to hide under
the snow. A matter of sentiment, like the torturing and killing of their
false leader D'Antons, would have to wait. Now, of all those valorous
warriors who had menaced the little fort since the very beginning of
winter, only ten remained unhurt. Panounia was dead. He had breathed his
last in the edge of the woods, while the battle was still raging, and
had been carried farther in by one of his men. Thus his death had
remained unknown to the victors; as had also the deaths of many more of
the besiegers. Wolf Slayer, that courageous savage lad who had once
boasted of his deeds to Ouenwa, was desperately hurt. Painfully and
hopelessly, those of the wounded who could move at all, the women, and
the unhurt of the band, retreated toward farther and surer fastnesses.
The wounded who could not drag themselves along were left to perish in
the snow. Some were frozen stiff before morning. Some bled to death
within the same time. A few lived until they were discovered by Ouenwa's
men in the bright daytime,--they were reported as having been found
dead.

D'Antons and Miwandi travelled, by forced marches, until they reached a
wooded valley and a narrow, frozen river. Along this they journeyed
inland and southward. At last they found a spot that promised shelter
from the bleak winds as well as from prying eyes. There they built a
wigwam of such materials as were at hand. Game was fairly plentiful in
the protected coverts around. They soon had a comfortable retreat
fashioned in that safe and voiceless place.

"It will do until summer brings the ships," remarked D'Antons, busy with
plans whereby he might give Dame Fortune's wheel another twirl.
Sometimes he spent whole hours in telling Miwandi brave tales of far and
beautiful countries. He spoke of white towns above green harbours, of
high forests with strange, bright birds flying through their tops, and
of wide savannahs, whereon roved herds of great, sharp-horned beasts of
more weight than a stag caribou.

"Oh, but you do not mean to leave me, Heart-of-Life," she cried.

So he swore, by a dozen saints, that she, Miwandi, should be his queen
in a palace of white stone above a tropic sea.



CHAPTER XXVII.

A GRIM TURN OF MARCH MADNESS


Day by day, Sir Ralph Westleigh's mental sickness increased. It
strengthened in the dark, like a blight on corn. Very gradually, and day
by day, it grew over the bright surface of his mind and spirit. The
sureness of its advance was a fearful thing to watch.

By the time March was over the wilderness, with a hint of spring in the
morning skies, the baronet's condition was noticeable to even the
dullest inmate of the settlement. The poor gentleman spoke little--and
that little was seldom to the point. It seemed as if he had forgotten
how to smile, or even to make a pretence at mirth. He walked alone for
hours on the frozen river and through the woods. The Beothics of the
camp before the fort stood in awe of him. At times he treated Beatrix
and Bernard Kingswell as strangers; but he always knew Maggie Stone, and
chided her often on the scantiness of his dinners. All day, indoors and
out, he wore a rapier at his side. In the cabin he spent half of the
time inert by the fire, without book, or cards, or chess, and the rest
of it in sword-play with an imaginary antagonist.

It was well for Beatrix that she had found Bernard's love before the
fresh misfortune descended upon her. But even with that comfort and
inspiration, her father's derangement affected her bitterly. They had
been such friends; and now he had blank eyes and deaf ears for all her
actions and words. It was twenty times harder for her than to have seen
him struck down by knife or arrow. Death seemed an honest thing compared
to that coldness and vagueness of spirit that gathered more thickly
about him with the passing of each day. It was as if another life,
another spirit, had taken possession of the familiar body and beloved
features. After two weeks neither her kisses nor her tears had any
potency to break through the awful estrangement. Her prayers, her fond
recollections of their old companionship, brought no gleam to the dull
eye.

By the end of March the busy boat-builders and smiths of the
settlement--and every man save Sir Ralph was either one or the
other--had two new boats all but completed. They were staunch crafts,
of about the capacity and model of the _Pelican_. They were intended for
fishing on the river and the great bays and for exploration cruises.

William Trigget, who was a master shipbuilder as he was a master
mariner, entertained great ideas of fishing and trading more openly than
Sir Ralph had sanctioned in the past. He was for carving out a real home
in the wilderness, and his wife was of the same mind.

"We couldn't bear to leave the boy's grave," he said.

Kingswell promised that, should he win back to Bristol, and find his
affairs in order, he would use his influence in behalf of the settlement
on Gray Goose River. Donnelly, too, was all for holding to the new land.

"It be rough, God knows," he said, "but it be sort o' hopeful, too. If
they danged savages leaves us alone, an' trade's decent, I be for
spendin' the balance o' my days alongside o' Skipper Trigget. There be a
grave yonder the missus an' me wouldn't turn our backs on, not if we
could help it."

Kingswell himself was not building any dreams of fixing his lot in that
desolate place; and neither was old Tom Bent, though he spoke little on
the subject. Ouenwa's ambitions continued to point overseas. Beatrix,
now despondent at her father's trouble, and again happy in her love,
gave little thought to the future of the settlement, or to any plans for
the days to come, save vague dreamings of an English home.

March wore along, and in open spaces the snow shrank inch by inch. Then
rain fell; and after that a time of tingling cold held all the
wilderness in a ringing white imprisonment. A man could run over the
snow-fields and the bed of the river without snow-shoes; for the surface
was tough as wood, white as the shield of that sinless knight, Sir
Galahad, and glistening as a thousand diamonds. The mornings lifted
clear silver and pale gold along the east. The evenings faded out in
crimson and saffron, and the twilights, even when the stars were lit,
made of the dome of heaven a bubble of thinnest green. And back of it
all, despite the frost, hung a suggestion of sap-reddened twigs and
blossoming trees.

The lure of the season touched every one in the fort, and the camp
beside it. It ran in Sir Ralph's blood like some fabled wine--for what
vintage of France or Spain is the stuff of which the poets sing. It
mounted to his head with a high, unregretting recklessness, and doubled
the madness that already lurked there. Something of his old manner
returned, and for a whole evening he sat with Beatrix and Kingswell and
talked rationally and hopefully. Also, that same night, he played a game
of chess. He spoke of the future as one who sees into it clearly and
without fear. He recalled the past without any sign of embarrassment.
But Kingswell, meeting his eyes by chance, caught a light of derision in
them.

Very early in the morning, while the stars still glinted overhead, and
the promise of day was no more than a strip of pearl along the east, Sir
Ralph Westleigh unbarred the door of his cabin and slipped out. He was
warmly and carefully dressed in furs and moccasins. He carried his sword
free under his arm. Very cautiously he scaled the palisade and dropped
to the frozen crust of snow outside. The Beothic encampment lay around
the corner of the fort, so he was safe from detection from that quarter.
He looked about and behind with a cunning smile. Then he ran lightly
into the woods.

Sir Ralph followed his aimless course for miles, and his soft-shod feet
left no mark on the hard surface of the snow. Then the sun slid up and
over, and in the warmth of high noon the frozen crust of the wilderness
thawed a little, and here and there the baronet's feet broke through. At
that he began to feel fatigue and a disconcerting pang of doubt. He
flung himself down in a little thicket of spruces, and called for Maggie
Stone to bring him food and drink. He called again and again. He shouted
other names than that of the old servant. In a sudden agony of fear, he
jumped to his feet and plunged through the evergreens. At every third
step he sank to his knee, or half-way up his thigh. He screamed the name
of his daughter, "Beatrix, Beatrix"--or was it his dead wife he was
calling? He cried for guidance to many great gentlemen of England who
had been his boon companions in the old days, forgetting that death had
taken some of them away from him, and that the rest, to a man, had
turned of their own accord. Presently he ceased his foolish outcry and
plodded along, with no thought of the course, sobbing the while like a
lost child.

The sun began its downward journey, and still the baronet, with his
sheathed sword under his arm, staggered across the voiceless wilderness.
Toward mid-afternoon the thawing crust froze again, and he travelled
with less difficulty. Ever and anon his poor eyes pictured a running
figure in an edge of blue shadow before him. At times it was the figure
of the nobleman he had killed in England, in the dispute at the
gaming-table, and again it was a friend,--Kingswell or Trigget, or
another of the fort,--and yet again it was Pierre d'Antons. But no
matter how he strove to run down the lurker, he lost him every time.
Thirst plagued him, and he ate the clear ice and snow off the fronds of
the spruces. Hunger gnawed him awhile, but passed gradually. The west
took on the flame and glory of sunset. The east darkened. The stars
pricked through the high shell of the sky. Night gathered her cloudless
darkness over the wilderness; and still the demented baronet followed
his aimless quest.

Toward evening of the day following Sir Ralph Westleigh's departure from
Fort Beatrix, Pierre d'Antons and Miwandi were startled by the sudden
and noiseless appearance of a gaunt and wild-eyed person in the doorway
of their lodge. The woman cried out, and ran to the farthest corner of
the wigwam. D'Antons staggered back, and his face turned gray as the
ashes around the fire-stone. The unexpected visitor drew his blade,
flung the sheath behind him on the snow, and advanced upon the fugitive
adventurer. D'Antons sprang back and caught up his own sword from where
it lay on a couch of branches and skins. He swore, more in wonder than
anger.

"Westleigh!" he cried. "What brings you here, you fool--and how many
follow you?"

The baronet halted and glanced quickly over his shoulder. He reeled a
little, but his eyes changed in their light and colour.

"I am alone," he said. "Yes, I am alone." His voice was quiet. He seemed
sorely puzzled. D'Antons' face regained its swarthy tints, and he
laughed harshly.

"So you have hunted me down, old cock," he said, smiling. "You'll find
that the quarry has fangs--in his own den."

The red of madness returned to Sir Ralph's eyes. He advanced his rapier.
In a second the fight was on. For a few minutes the strength of insanity
supported the baronet's starving muscles and reeling brain. Then his
thrusts began to go wide, and his guard to waver. A clean lunge dropped
him in the door of the lodge without a cry. The life-blood of the last
baronet of Beverly and Randon made a vivid circle of red on the snow of
that nameless wilderness.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE RUNNING OF THE ICE


It was Beatrix who first discovered her father's flight; but that was
four hours after its occurrence. The fort was soon astir with the news.
Men set out in all directions, in search of the missing one. Half a
dozen of the friendly Beothics joined in the hunt. They went east and
west, north and south. The sharpest eyes could detect no trail of the
madman's feet. Beatrix insisted upon accompanying Bernard and Ouenwa.
She tried to show a brave face; but something in her heart told her to
expect the worst. The three travelled southward, and shortly before
sunset returned to the fort, unsuccessful. They found that all the other
searchers had got back, save Black Feather and a young brave named
Kakatoc, who had set out together.

By the merest chance Black Feather and his companion happened upon the
place where the baronet had first broken through the melting crust. With
but little effort they found where he had rested and taken up his
journey again. Farther on, the faintness of the trail put an edge to
their determination to find the unfortunate gentleman. It was a
challenge to their woodcraft, and they accepted it eagerly. But within
two hours of finding the marks, they lost them again. They ranged wide;
and at last Black Feather discovered a footprint in a little pad of snow
beside a stunted spruce. In several places the branches of the tree
showed where the snow had been broken away, as if by a man's hand. It
was enough to keep them to the quest.

Not in the next day, but in the early morning after that, the two
Beothics happened upon a sheltered valley and a snow-cleared space, with
a fire-stone in the middle of it, where a lodge had lately stood. As for
signs of blood, there were none. Snow had been deftly spread and
trampled over it. All around the so evident site of a human habitation
the hard crust gleamed unbroken, save for a little path that ran down to
a hole in the ice of the stream. After considering the place, and
shaking their heads, the two ate the last of the food they had in their
pouches and turned their feet back to the fort. They passed within a few
paces of a dense thicket, in the heart of which the baronet's body lay
uncovered. But how were they to know it, when even the prowling foxes
had not yet found it out!

For several days the search was continued by the settlers and their
allies, but all in vain. It was not even suspected that the deserted
camping-place which Black Feather and Kakatoc had seen had so lately
been warmed by the feet of Pierre d'Antons and the blood of the lost
baronet. For a few days longer the business of the settlement lagged,
and the place wore an air of mourning, despite the ever-brightening and
mellowing season. Then the axes struck up their chant again, and the
little duties of the common day erased the forebodings of Eternity from
the minds of the pioneers. Only Mistress Beatrix could see nothing of
the reawakening of life and hope for the sorrow in her heart and the
mist across her eyes. She had loved her father deeply and faithfully,
with a love that had been strengthened by his misfortunes. She had felt
toward him the combined affections of daughter and sister and friend.
She had made allowances for the weaknesses of his later years that
equalled the ever charitable devotion of a parent for a best-loved
child. She had not been, and was not now, blind to the passion of gaming
that had forced him to exile and an unknown death; but she had forgiven
it long ago. As to the alleged murder that had made such an evil odour
in London, she believed--and rightly--that hot blood and overmuch wine
had been to blame, and that her father's sword had been drawn after the
victim's.

Bernard Kingswell did all in his power to comfort the bereaved girl. He
urged her to spend much of her time out-of-doors. He told his plans for
their future, and to cheer her he built them even more hopefully than he
felt; for he realized that many difficulties were yet to be overcome
before Bristol was safely reached. With Ouenwa, the two often went on
long tramps through the woods. Their evenings were always spent
together. Sometimes he read aloud to her, and sometimes they played at
chess. One evening she got her violin, and played as wonderfully as she
had on that other occasion; but instead of leaving him afterward without
a word, as she had done, she laid the fiddle aside and nestled into his
arms. He held her tenderly, patting the bright hair against his
shoulder, and murmuring broken assurances of his love and sympathy. She
wept quietly for a little while; but when she kissed him at the door,
her face and eyes shone with something of their old light.

By mid-April knobs of rock and moss pierced through the shrinking snow
in the open places; but in the woods the drifts continued to withstand
the wasting breath of the spring winds. Gray Goose River was no longer
a broad path of spotless white. Its surface was mottled with patches of
sodden gray; and an attentive listener on the bank might hear a myriad
of tiny voices, some sibilant and some tinkling and liquid, in and under
the enfeebled ice. Up and down the valley, between the knolls and wooded
hills, the little streams were already snarling and roaring, and here
and there flashing brown shoulders to the sunlight. Through all the
wilderness ran a tingling whisper; and twilight, midnight, and dawn were
stirred by the falling cries of wild-fowl on the wing. A faint, alluring
fragrance was in the air--the scent of millions of swelling buds and
crimson willow-stems.

About that time three warriors of the following of the dead Panounia
arrived at the fort, with prayers for peace on their lips and gifts in
their hands. They were received by Kingswell, William Trigget, and
Ouenwa from the fort, and Black Feather and two of his chiefs from the
camp. A lengthy business was gone through with, and much strong
Virginian tobacco was burned. Documents were written in English and in
the picture-writing of the natives, and read aloud, by Ouenwa, in both
languages. Then they were solemnly signed by all present, and peace was
restored to the great tribe of the North, and protection, trade, and
lands were granted for all time to the inhabitants of Fort Beatrix and
their descendants. The three visitors went back to their people with
rolls of red cloth and packets of glass beads, pot-metal knives, and
other useless trinkets on their shoulders.

Shortly after their departure from the fort, a storm of rain blew up
from the sou'east. All day the great drops thumped on the roofs of the
cabins, on the skies of the lodges, and spattered on the sodden snow.
The firs and spruces gleamed clean and black under the drenching
showers. A veil of smoke-gray mist lay above the farther woods and along
the black tangles of alders and gray fringes of willows. All night the
warm rain continued to fall and drift. When morning lifted along the
pearly east, a cry rang from the camp to the fort that the ice in the
river was moving. The settlers hastened to the flat before the stockade.
Beatrix was with them.

"See how the torn edge of ice overtops the bank," said Kingswell,
pointing eagerly. "And there is an open space. Ah, it has closed again!
How slowly it grinds along!"

"It will run faster before night," replied the girl, and Ouenwa, who was
versed in the ways of his northern rivers, nodded silently.

While they watched, admiring the swelling, swinging, ponderous advance
of the great surface, and harkening to the booming thunder of its agony
that filled the air, a breathless runner joined the group and spoke a
few quick words to Black Feather. That chief approached Ouenwa and
whispered in his ear. The boy glanced quickly at Beatrix and Kingswell,
and then questioned Black Feather anxiously. Presently he turned back to
the lovers.

"The ice is stuck down-stream," he said. "Blue Cloud has seen it. He
fears that the water will rise over the flat--and the fort."

The river continued to rise until evening. After that the waters
subsided a little, great cakes of rotten ice hung stranded along the
crest of the bank, and the main body ceased to run downward. But from up
the valley the thunder of a hidden disturbance still boomed across the
windless air.

"The jam had broken down-stream," said Ouenwa.

Kingswell, unused to the ways of running ice, was satisfied, and retired
to his couch with an easy mind. He slept soundly until, in the gray of
the dawn, Ouenwa shook him roughly, and all but dragged him to the
floor.

"Wake up, wake up," cried the boy. "Damn, but you sleep like a bear!
The fort is in danger! We must run for higher land."

"Rip me!" exclaimed Kingswell, springing to his feet, "but what is the
trouble? Are we attacked?"

"The river is all but empty of water," replied Ouenwa. "The ice sags in
the channel, like an empty garment. The water hangs above, behind the
third point where we cut the timber for the boats."

Kingswell, all the while, was busily employed pulling on his heavy
clothes. Though he did not fully understand the threatening danger, he
felt that it was real enough. While he tied the thongs of his deerhide
leggins, Ouenwa told him that warning had reached the fort but a few
minutes before.

"How?" inquired Kingswell, hurriedly bestowing a wallet of gold coins
and some other valuables about his person.

Ouenwa, already loaded down with his friend's possessions, threw open
the door and stepped out.

"Wolf Slayer brought it," he said, over his shoulder. "And I do not
understand," he added, "for Wolf Slayer hates us all."

The other, close at his heels, made no comment on that intelligence. He
scarcely heard it, so anxious was he for the safety of Mistress
Beatrix. The whole fort was astir; but Kingswell ran straight to his
sweetheart's door. It was opened by the maiden herself. She and the old
servant were all ready to leave.

An hour passed; load after load of stores and household goods was
carried to the low hills behind the fort; and still the river lay empty,
with its marred sheet of ice sagging between the banks; and still the
unseen jam held back the gathering freshet. The women wept at the
thought that their little homes were in danger of being broken and torn
and whirled away. But Beatrix was dry-eyed.

"It will be no great matter for them to build new cabins in a safer
place," she said to Kingswell.

He was looking at the natives dragging their rolled-up lodges to higher
ground. He turned, smiling gravely.

"You have no love for the wilderness?" he asked, "and yet but for this
forsaken place, you and I might never have met."

She laid her hand on his arm, and lifted a flushed face to his tender
regard.

"So it has served my turn," she said. "Now that I have you, I could well
spare these wastes of black wood and empty barren."

Kingswell had been waiting patiently and in silence for that confession
ever since their betrothal. Hitherto she had not once spoken with any
assurance of their future together. She had treated the subject vaguely,
as if her thoughts were all with the past and with the tragedy of her
father's death.

"Would you face the homeward voyage in one of the little boats?" he
asked, softly.

"Ay, with you at the tiller," she replied.

"Dear girl," he said, "I think that a stout ship called the _Heart of
the West_ will be setting sail from Bristol, for this wilderness, before
many days."

"Would the fellow dare return?" she asked; for she had heard the story
of Trowley's treachery.

"He will think himself safe enough," replied Kingswell. "No doubt he
owns the ship now--has bought it from my mother for the price of a
skiff, after telling her how recklessly he battled with the savages to
save her son's life."

He laughed softly. "The old rogue will be surprised when I step aboard,"
he added.

Before she could answer him a booming report shook the sunlit air. It
was followed, in a second, by a long-drawn tumult--a grinding and
crashing and roaring--as if the firmament had fallen and overthrown the
everlasting hills. The sagging ice below them reared, domed upward, and
split with clapping thunders. It broke its plunging masses, which were
hurled down the stream and over the flats. A thing of brown water and
sodden gray lumps tore the alders and swung across the meadow where the
Beothic encampment had stood an hour before. The eastern stockade of the
fort went down beneath its inevitable, crushing onslaught.

All day cakes and pans of sodden ice and snow raced down the river, and
the air hummed and vibrated with their clamour. But the weight of the
released waters had passed; and the fort had suffered by no more than an
exposed side.



CHAPTER XXIX.

WOLF SLAYER COMES AND GOES; AND TROWLEY RECEIVES A VISITOR


Wolf Slayer, who had brought warning of the menace of the freshet to
Fort Beatrix, soon showed his evil hand. He had arrived at the fort in a
starving condition and still weak from wounds received in the battle in
which his father had been killed. Had he been well and filled with meat,
he would undoubtedly have let the inmates of the fort and the camp lie
in ignorance of the danger. For ten days he was fed and cared for by the
settlers. By the end of that time, he felt himself again. The old
arrogance burned in his eyes; the old sneer returned to his lips. Ouenwa
read the signs and wondered how the deviltry would show itself under
such unpropitious circumstances.

Ouenwa's sleep was light and fitful on the tenth night after the
overflowing of the river. About midnight he awoke, turned over, and
could not get back to his dreams. So he lay wide-awake, thinking of the
future. He could hear Bernard Kingswell's peaceful breathing. He thought
of his friend, and his heart warmed to him with gratitude and
comrade-love. He thought of Beatrix, smiled wistfully in the darkness,
and put the bright vision away from him. What was that? He breathed more
softly and lifted his head. Was it fancy, or--or what? He shifted
noiselessly to the farther edge of the couch. A hand brushed along his
pillow of folded blanket. Next moment he gripped an unseen wrist and
closed with a silent enemy.

Minutes passed before the wrestlers stumbled against a stool, with a
clatter that startled Kingswell to his feet. The Englishman leaped to
the hearth, kicked the fallen coals to life, and threw a roll of birch
bark on top of them. Then he stepped aside until the yellow flame
lighted the room. The illumination was just in time, for Wolf Slayer had
the lighter boy on the floor and the knife raised, when Kingswell saw
his way to the rescue. He recognized the youth, and in a fit of English
indignation at such a return for hospitality caught him by neck and belt
and hurled him bodily from the prostrate Ouenwa. Wolf Slayer alighted on
his feet, snatched open the door (which he had left ajar), and fled into
the darkness.

A morning of late May brought a friendly native to Fort Beatrix, with
word that three English ships were in Wigwam Harbour. Then Ouenwa and
Tom Bent made the journey and returned, in due season, with the welcome
news that one of the vessels was the _Heart of the West_.

Both the new boats and the old _Pelican_ were made ready for the
expedition. Kingswell commanded the _Pelican_, with Ouenwa and six
natives for crew. Tom Bent was put in charge of the second boat, and
Black Feather of the third. William Trigget and Donnelly were left to
see that no harm came to Mistress Westleigh--and, as the boats stole
down-stream, in the gray of the dawn, William Trigget treasured in his
hand a duly witnessed document, in which Bernard Kingswell, gentleman,
of Bristol, bequeathed and willed all his earthly goods to Beatrix
Westleigh, spinster, of Fort Beatrix, in the Newfounde Land, and late of
Beverly and Randon, in Somersetshire, England.

The parting between Beatrix and her lover had been a fond one, but the
man had noticed (and in his heart regretted) the fortitude with which
she bade him farewell and godspeed. He worried about it in his sleep,
and again, as he looked longingly at her cabin in the bleak dawn. He
tried to comfort himself with memories of a hundred incidents that
placed the sincerity of her love beyond a shadow of doubt. But, for all
that, she might have shed a few tears. Surely she realized the chances
of danger?--the risk he was running, for her sake? Love is edged and
barbed by just such little and unreasonable questionings.

A white mist wreathed along the surface of Gray Goose River when the
three boats swung down with the current. The Beothics were armed with
English knives. There were no firearms aboard any of the little vessels.
Kingswell and Ouenwa had swords at their belts, and Spanish daggers for
their left hands. Tom Bent was armed with his oft-proved cutlass.

The sun did not get above the horizon until the little fleet was clear
of the river's mouth. There a breath of wind sighed through the cordage,
and the sails flapped up and rounded softly. Kingswell leaned forward
and looked under the square canvas of the _Pelican's_ big wing.

"An extra man," he remarked to Ouenwa, sharply. "Who has taken it upon
himself to improve on my orders?"

A blanket-swathed figure, forward of the mast, turned and crawled aft.
Then the blanket fell away, and Mistress Westleigh, rigged out in an
amazing mixture of masculine and feminine attire, laughed up at the
commander.

"Promise to shield me from the wrath of Maggie Stone, when we go back,"
she whispered, in mock concern.

For a moment Bernard stared, with wonder and embarrassment in his eyes,
the while Ouenwa hid a smile. Then he doffed his hat and caught the
queer figure to his knee; and in the flush of the morning, under the
grave regard of the Beothic warriors, he kissed her on lips and brow.

"What authority has Maggie Stone?" he cried. "If any one has a right to
control your actions, surely it is I."

She slipped to the seat beside him. "And you told me I could not
accompany you--that it would not be safe," she replied.

"Ay, but it was my duty to bid you remain behind," he said. "God knows
it hurt me to refuse your so--so flattering a wish. But you accepted it
calmly, dear heart."

"I accepted it for what it was worth," she laughed. "I could not shed
tears over a parting which I felt certain was not to take place." Her
face changed quickly from merriment to gravity. "I could not have stayed
in the fort without you," she whispered. "Dear lad, I am afraid to
death whenever you are out of my sight. I do believe this love has made
a coward of me!"

For a little while there was no sound aboard the _Pelican_ save the
tapping of the reef-points on the swelling breast of the sail, and the
slow creak of the tiller. Ouenwa, leaning far to one side, gazed ahead,
while the warriors crouched on the thwarts. Then the man stooped his
head close to the girl's.

"But on this trip," he whispered, "you must obey me--for both our sakes,
dearest. It would be mutiny else."

"I shall always obey you," she replied--"always, always--so long as you
do not again leave me alone in Fort Beatrix."

"William Trigget was there," he ventured. "And Maggie Stone."

She laughed at that. "Poor Maggie!" she sighed. "Poor Maggie! She will
rate me soundly for my boldness. She has ever a thousand discourses on
the proprieties ready on the tip of her tongue."

"Ah, the proprieties," murmured Bernard, as if caught by a new and
somewhat disconcerting idea. "Rip me, but I've never given them a
thought!"

Beatrix laughed delightedly. "You must not let them trouble you now,"
she said. "When we get back to Bristol, I will guard myself with a
dozen staid companions, and--" She paused, and blushed crimson. "I
forget that I am penniless," she added.

Kingswell's left hand closed over hers where it lay in her lap. "How
long, think you, shall you stand in need of chaperons in Bristol?" he
asked.

The three boats sought shelter in a tiny, hidden bay, and Kingswell,
Mistress Westleigh, Ouenwa, and Tom Bent made an overland trip to a
wooded hill overlooking Wigwam Harbour. There lay the _Heart of the
West_, close in at her old anchorage after the day's fishing. Work was
going briskly forward on the stages at the edge of the tide. The other
vessels, which were much smaller than Trowley's command, lay nearer the
mouth of the river harbour. The declining sun stained spars and furled
sails to a rosy tint above the green water.

"Hark!" whispered Kingswell, touching the girl's arm, as she crouched
beside him in the fringe of spruces.

A bellowing voice, loud and harsh in abuse, reached their ears.

"'Tis Trowley," he said, and chuckled. "How will he sound to-night, I
wonder?"

"You will not be rash, Bernard,--for my sake," pleaded the girl.

He assured her that he would be discreet.

It was dark when they got back to the little cove in which the boats
were beached. About midnight, with no light save the vague illumination
of the scattered stars, they rowed out with muffled oars. They moved
with such caution that it took them two hours to reach Wigwam Harbour.
They passed the outer ships unchallenged. Then Beatrix was transferred
from the _Pelican_ to Black Feather's boat, and Tom Bent joined the
commander. A veil of drifting cloud shut out even such feeble light as
had disclosed the course to the voyagers. Before them the _Heart of the
West_ loomed dark, a thing of massed shadows and a few yellow lights.

The new-built boats lay about thirty yards aft and seaward of the ship.
The _Pelican_ stole in under the looming stern, with no more noise than
a fish makes when he breaches in shallow water. The crew steadied her
beside the groaning rudder with their hands. Kingswell stood on a thwart
and peered in at the cabin window, as Ouenwa had peered on a night of
the preceding season. The low, oak-ceiled room was empty. A lantern hung
from the starboard bulkhead, and two candles, in silver sticks that bore
the Kingswell crest, burned, with bending flames, on the table. On the
locker under the lantern lay a cutlass in its sheath, and a boat-cloak
in an untidy heap. The edge of the table was within two feet of the
square stern-window.

For a little while Kingswell listened with guarded breath. Then,
swiftly and lightly, he pulled himself across the ledge of the window,
scrambled through, and crouched behind the table. Very cautiously he
drew his rapier with his right hand and his dagger with his left. For a
minute or two he squatted in the narrow quarters, breathing regularly
and deeply, and harkening to the innumerable creaking voices of the
decks and bulkheads, and the muffled voices and laughter from forward.
For the occasion he had donned the hat, coat, breeches, and boots--all
now stained and faded--in which Master Trowley had last seen him.

Suddenly a heavy, uncertain step sounded on the companion ladder just
forward of the cabin door. A volley of stout Devonshire oaths boomed
above the lesser sounds. The door flew open, smote the bulkhead with a
resounding crack, and swung, trembling. The bulky figure of Trowley
entered, and the heady voice of the old sea-dog cursed the door, and
big, red hands slammed it shut again. Kingswell drew a deep breath, and
composed his dancing nerves and galloping blood as best he could. His
emotions were disconcertingly mixed.

The masterful old pirate (for such he surely was, deny the charge if you
like) seemed to fill the cabin to overflowing with his lurching, great
body. He tossed boat-cloak and cutlass on the deck, and yanked up the
top of the locker. With muttered revilings at the excessive cost of West
Indies rum, he produced a bottle of no mean capacity from its
hiding-place, and a fine glass sparkled in the candle-light like
diamonds. Kingswell recognized the glass as one from which he had often
drunk his grog--a rare piece from his house in Bristol. Those articles
the mariner placed on the table, scarcely a foot from the watcher's
head. Next he loaded himself a china pipe with black tobacco, and lit it
at one of the candles. In doing so, Master Bernard heard the puffings
and gruntings with which the deed was accomplished, like half a gale in
his ear. At last the fellow sat down with a thud, squared his elbows on
the table, gazed for a second at the square window that opened on to the
mysterious gloom of the night, and tipped the bottle. The liquor gulped
and gurgled in its passage to the glass. The reek of it permeated the
air.

"Dang it," grumbled the mariner, "d'ye call this rum! Sink me, but it be
half water!"

However, he swallowed the dose with gusto, and smacked his lips at the
end of it as he never would have after a draught of water.

Very steadily and quietly Bernard Kingswell arose to his feet and
looked down at Master Trowley with inscrutable eyes shadowed by his
wide, stained hat. The silence that followed lasted only a few seconds,
but to the staring mariner it seemed a matter of hours. He sprawled on
his low stool, open-mouthed, red-eyed, with his big hands nerveless on
the table, and the lighted pipe unheeded at his feet.

"Traitor!" said Kingswell, coldly; and leaning across the table he
tweaked the purple tip of Trowley's nose between thumb and finger. To do
so, he laid his dagger on the edge of the mahogany for a second. The
indignity called forth no more than a gurgle of terror from the master
mariner. Kingswell plucked up the thin blade and flashed it within an
inch of the whiskered face. Still the fellow sagged on his stool, unable
to stir a muscle. Kingswell whistled three low notes. Ouenwa crawled
through the port, with a coil of light rope in his hand. Tom Bent
followed. Trowley threw off the spell of the supposed ghostly visitation
and got to his feet with a bellow of rage and fear. In an instant he was
flat on his back, with a gagging hand across his mouth and another at
his throat. He was soon bound hand and foot, and securely gagged with a
strip of his own boat-cloak.

Ouenwa stuck his head through the open port, and whispered a word or
two. One by one, four of his braves entered, with their knives
unsheathed. Kingswell motioned them to follow, and softly opened the
cabin door. On the port side of the alley-way, beside the companion
ladder, Trowley's mate lay asleep in his bunk. Kingswell bent over him
and saw that he was a stranger. He nodded significantly; and in an
amazingly short time the mate of the _Heart of the West_ was as neatly
trussed up as the master.

Fifteen minutes later, Tom Bent hung over the rail, aft, and waved a
lantern in three half-circles. And not long after that, Mistress
Westleigh, Master Kingswell, and Ouenwa filled glasses with Canary wine,
in the cabin of the _Heart of the West_. In the waist of the ship the
stout English sailors and the skin-clad Beothics drained their
pannikins, and eyed each other with good-natured curiosity. Old Tom Bent
was toast-master; and also he told them an amazing story.



CHAPTER XXX.

MAGGIE STONE TAKES MUCH UPON HERSELF


Shortly before midnight, Tom Bent went quietly about the task of waking
both watches and the Beothics. The three boats from Fort Beatrix were
manned, with the muffling oars. The two small anchors by which the
_Heart of the West_ swung in the tide were fished into two of the boats
by hand. It was a tough job; but, when it was accomplished, the ship was
free without so much as a clank of cable or a turn of the noisy capstan.
Hawsers were passed from the small craft over the bows of the ship, and
at a signal from a lantern in Kingswell's hand, the men bent their backs
to the oars. Then all lights aboard the _Heart of the West_ were
covered, and in the darkness, beside the great tiller, Kingswell caught
his inspiration and his reward to his heart again.

The girl did not leave the commander's side, but kept watch on the high
poop-deck throughout the journey. Until dawn the rowers held to their
toil, and after them, drawn by lines that were sometimes taut and
sometimes under water, but always invisible in the darkness, the ship
stole like a shape of cloud and dream. It was hard work, and slow. With
the breaking of dawn, the leviathan took on signs of life. By that time
she was hidden from Wigwam Harbour by more than one bluff headland. The
pulling boats drifted to her bows, the capstan was manned, and the
anchors were lifted to their places on the forecast rail. Headsails were
set, and the square mizzen was run up. The boats dropped astern and were
made fast, and the weary men climbed aboard the ship.

All day the _Heart of the West_ threaded the green waterways of the
great Bay of Exploits. A light and favourable breeze lent itself to the
venture. After the midday meal, Beatrix, wrapped in a blanket, lay down
by the mizzen and fell asleep. She was tired. The easy motion of the
ship, and the song of the wind in ropes and canvas, sank her fathoms
deep in slumber, with the magic of a fairy lullaby. Kingswell rigged a
piece of sail-cloth from the bulwarks to the mast to shade her face from
the sun.

At last the wide estuary, which ends in Gray Goose River, was reached.
By sunset the mouth of the river was entered. Just then the wind
failed. The boats were manned again, and the ship taken in tow.

Still Mistress Westleigh slumbered peacefully, with the rough blanket
about her dainty body and her head pillowed on Kingswell's folded coat.
Kneeling beside her, Kingswell peered under the shelter of canvas, and
saw that she was smiling in her dreams. How white were her dropped
eyelids, and how clear and rose-tinted her small face. Her lips were
parted a little, as if to whisper some sweet secret. A strand of her
bright, dark hair was across her forehead, and one arm, clear of the
blanket and the deerskin on which she lay, rested on the deck. The rosy
palm was upturned. Kingswell stooped lower and kissed it softly.
Standing up, he found Tom Bent beside him. The mahogany-hued mariner
grinned sheepishly, and gave a hitch to his belt.

"Beggin' the lady's pardon," he whispered, "but, if the angels in heaven
be half so sweet to look at as herself, I'm for going to heaven, in
spite o' the devil. Sink me, but I'd play one o' they golden harps with
a light heart if--if the equals of herself were a-listenin' on the
quarter-deck."

Kingswell blushed and smiled. "You, too?" said he. "You are in love, Tom
Bent."

"Ay, sir," replied the boatswain, "for it can't be helped. I'm in love
and awash, and danged near to sinkin'. Might as well expect a man to
keep sober in the 'Powdered Admiral' on Bristol dock as within ten
knots, to win'ward or lee'ard, o' your sweetheart, sir."

"I agree with you," replied the gentleman, bowing gravely.

Tom Bent pulled his scant forelock, and rolled away about his duty. He
was mightily pleased with himself at having expressed his admiration for
his young commander's choice in such felicitous terms. He prided himself
on his eye for feminine beauty, no matter what the race or the rank of
the fair one,--and a fairer than Mistress Westleigh he swore by all the
gods of the Seven Seas he had never laid eyes on.

The long spring twilight was gathering into dusk when the toiling boats
and the tall ship rounded the point, and opened the fort to the view of
the daring cruisers. Directly in front of the stockade the anchors
plunged into the brown current. The rattle of the cables through the
hawse-holes awoke Beatrix. She had been dreaming of a great garden in
Somerset, and of walking along box-hedged paths with her father on one
side and her lover on the other. Opening her eyes upon the canvas
shelter which Kingswell had spread above her, and with the clangour of
the running cables in her ears, for a second she did not know where she
was. A vague fear oppressed her for a little. Then she recalled the
incidents of the last two days, and was about to crawl from her
resting-place, when the edge of the shelter was lifted, and Kingswell
looked down at her.

"Wake up," he said. "We are at the fort, and Trigget and Maggie Stone
are coming off in a canoe."

"Nay, then I'll stay here until you explain matters," she replied. "You
must bear the brunt of Maggie Stone's displeasure for my sake." She sat
up, laughing softly, and lifted her face in a way that only a dunce
could fail to comprehend. Under cover of the strip of sail-cloth, he
kissed the warm lips and the bright hair.

"Trust me," he laughed; and at that moment Trigget and the servant
climbed to the poop by way of the ladder from the ship's waist. He
advanced to meet them. He saw that Trigget held a folded paper in his
hand, and that the honest eyes of that bold mariner were red and moist.

"What is it?" he inquired; for he had entirely forgotten, for the time
being, the manner of Mistress Westleigh's joining with the expedition.

"Here be your will, sir," said Trigget, handing him the paper.
"It--it--well, maybe it'll not be o' any use now."

"Of course not," replied Kingswell, cheerfully, tearing it across.

Maggie Stone burst into tears. "Jus' the way Sir Ralph went," she
sobbed. "Oh, my beautiful little lady--an' her fit mate for any nobleman
of London town!"

"What the devil do you mean?" cried Kingswell. Then the truth dawned in
his preoccupied brain. "Dry your eyes," he said. "She is safe and
sound."

"Thank God for that," exclaimed William Trigget, devoutly.

"What--the mistress be safe, d'ye say?" cried Maggie Stone, with a
sudden change of face.

Kingswell nodded curtly. He did not like being bawled at on the poop of
his recaptured ship, even by an old serving maid. "Your mistress is
safe--and in my care," he said.

"Indeed, sir?" she queried. "An' may I make so bold as to ax when ye
married Sir Ralph Westleigh's daughter?"

William Trigget murmured something to the effect that his presence was
required forward, and took his departure. Kingswell bit his lip and
stared haughtily at the woman; but he was at a loss for words fully
expressive of his feelings. His indignation brought a flush to his
cheeks which even the dusk of evening could not hide.

"Ye may well redden," cried Maggie Stone. "Ay, ye may well redden, after
sailin' away with an unprotected lass, an' near terrifyin' her old nurse
into fits."

The gentleman recovered his power of speech. "My good girl," he said
(and she was a full twenty years older than his mother), "your joy at
hearing of your mistress's safety takes a wondrous queer and unseemly
way of expressing itself. You seem to forget that you, the lady's
servant, are addressing the lady's betrothed husband."

The old maid glared and drew her scanty skirts about her.

"Maybe so," she retorted. "'Twould never have happened in Somerset."

At that moment Mistress Beatrix appeared suddenly from the other side of
the mizzen.

"How dare you!" she cried. "How dare you speak so to Master Kingswell!"

Anger--quick, scathing anger--rang in her voice. Standing there in her
short skirt, high, beaded moccasins, and blue cloth jacket, she looked
like an indignant boy, save for her coiled hair and bright beauty.

"I am ashamed of you," she added; and then, turning quickly, she flung
herself into Kingswell's ever ready embrace.

Maggie Stone was flustered and somewhat awed by the sudden attack. She
had not been spoken to so for years and years. Would she resort to tears
again, or would she answer back? She was jealous of the girl's love for
Kingswell--and yet she had thanked God many times that that love had
been won by the young Englishman instead of by the swarthy D'Antons. She
sniffed, and mopped her eyes with the back of her hand. Then she changed
her mind and bridled.

"What would the countess, your aunt, say to such behaviour?" she asked.
"Her who watched over ye like a guardian angel in London town."

Beatrix turned, and, still holding her lover's hands, faced the carping
critic.

"And who turned me out of her house at the last of it," she cried,
scornfully. "Who is she, or who was she ever, to question my behaviour?
And who are you, woman, to insult your mistress and the gentleman who
saved you from the knives of the savages? Go back to the fort."

Maggie Stone saw that she had made a serious mistake,--a mistake which,
perhaps, would alienate the lady's affection for ever. She turned, a
pitiable figure, and made to descend the steep ladder which stood close
to the starboard side of the ship, and led to the waist. Her foot caught
in a loop of rope that had not been properly stopped up to its
belaying-pin. She lurched against the line that ran from the break of
the poop to the bulwarks below, made a blind effort to right herself,
and pitched over into the shadowed water below. She did not even scream.

Kingswell dropped his sweetheart's hands, ran to the side and jumped
after the foolish old woman. By that time the twilight had left the
river. The current carried him swiftly down-stream, close under the side
of the ship. The water was uncomfortably cold, and his thick clothes
dragged at his limbs. He cleared his hair from his eyes. A disturbance
appeared on the surface of the stream a few yards ahead. With a quick
stroke or two, he reached it, and caught Maggie Stone by a thin
shoulder. She struggled desperately, mad with fright. Both were pulled
over the gunwale of the _Pelican_ not a moment too soon.



CHAPTER XXXI.

WHILE THE SPARS ARE SCRAPED


It is difficult to imagine the feelings of the skippers and crews of the
good ship _Plover_ and _Mary and Joyce_, when the gray light of dawn
disclosed the fact that the _Heart of the West_ had vanished completely.
What a rubbing of eyes must have taken place! What a dropping of
whiskered jaws and ripping of sea oaths!

"Sunk," said one heavy-shouldered mariner.

"Then where be her spars?" inquired a messmate.

"Cut an' run," suggested another.

"Then the devil must have been after her! Ol' Trowley'd run from nothin'
else," replied the cook of the _Plover_.

The captain of the _Mary and Joyce_ scanned the inner harbour and what
he could see of the outer bay. Then he turned his brass telescope upon
the cliffs and hills and inland woods.

"Maybe the French has towed mun out," he said at last.

No fishing was done that day. The neighbouring bays and coves were
searched, and even the "River of Three Fires" was investigated, with a
deal of trouble, for several miles up its swift current. That night the
skippers of the two vessels decided, over several hot glasses, that
Wigwam Harbour was no safe place for honest English sailor men. Next
morning found them sailing northward in search of another haven from
which to reap the harvest of the great bay.

To Fort Beatrix journeyed all the Beothics from many miles around, for a
great trade was going on. Influenced by Maggie Stone's foolish outbreak,
Beatrix and Bernard had decided to seek a priest in the port of St.
John's on their way to England, and so cross the ocean as man and wife,
to the bitter chagrin of Bristol scandal-mongers. Though the idea had
not occurred to either of the lovers before the old woman's outcry in
the name of suffering propriety, it was none the less to their liking
now that they had accepted it.

"And it will please poor Maggie Stone," said the girl.

"I was not thinking of her," replied Kingswell, lifting the glowing
face to his by a hand beneath the rounded chin.

"Nor I, dear heart," she replied.

To the others of that wilderness the trading seemed a greater matter
than that romantic attachment of a man and a maid. Blankets, trinkets,
inferior weapons, and even the spare clothing of the settlers were
bartered for pelts of beaver, mink, marten, otter, musquash, and red,
patched, and black fox, to make up a cargo for the _Heart of the West_.
The price of an axe-head was twice its weight in beaver skins. Even
Maggie Stone, with an eye to adding to her nest-egg, traded a skillet
(the identical implement with which she had floored D'Antons) for a
beautiful foxskin. Only Trowley had no finger in the trading. Sullen and
silent, he wandered about the fort, and a few paces behind him a brawny
Beothic always stalked.

The storehouse of the fort was replenished from the well-stocked
pantries and lazaret of the ship. Kingswell smiled grimly when, during
the overhauling of the cabin lockers, he discovered choice wines,
cheeses, and pots of jam which his lady mother had given to Master
Trowley as a slight mark of her gratitude for his services to her son.
He forced an admittance of these things from the old rascal himself. It
had been as he had hinted to Beatrix. The fellow had told the tearful
and credulous lady that he had risked his life in her son's defence,
during an engagement with the savages; and she, grateful heart, had made
such an unbusiness-like agreement with him for the sailing of the ship
that, had the voyage run its anticipated course, even a full load of
fish would not have saved her from a shrewd loss. Happily for Trowley,
Master Kingswell was far too happy for such trivial matters to really
anger him.

"The old rogue staked his soul and lost on the last throw," he said to
Beatrix, "and I staked my heart, and won all that the world holds of
joy. Surely I should be a low fellow to add to his misfortunes, poor
devil. I can afford to be charitable now."

They were seated on the grassy edge of the river meadow, looking out at
the anchored ship, where sailors were repairing the rigging and scraping
the spars. The girl did not seem keenly interested in Trowley's
underhand behaviour to Dame Kingswell. As to his treachery toward
Kingswell, to tell the truth, she was very grateful to the old thief for
having sailed away and left her lover in the wilderness. Such thoughts
flitted pleasantly through her mind.

"When did you stake your heart?" she asked, as if that were the core of
the whole thing.

"I cannot tell you the date exactly," replied Kingswell, "but I was in
Pierre d'Antons' company at the time, and--and I was mightily surprised
to find Somersetshire people in this country. Lord, but your eyes were
bright."

"Do you mean that you--do you mean that it happened on the first day of
your arrival at the fort?" she queried.

"Surely," said he.

"And you loved me then?"

He nodded, smiling across toward the busy mariners in the rigging of his
ship. His memories of those perilous days were fragrant as an English
rose-garden.

"Do you know," she whispered, "that, though I felt sure I had made an
impression on you then, I began to doubt it later. You were so
self-satisfied that you shook my faith in my own powers to charm."

He laughed softly, and with a note of wonder. Then, for a little while,
they were silent.

"Tell me," she said, suddenly. "Did you really love me that first day
you came to the fort, or was it just--just surprise at seeing a--a
civilized girl in so forsaken a place?"

He considered the question gravely and at some length. "I wanted to
kill D'Antons," he answered, presently, "and I would gladly have given
ten years of my life for a kiss from your lips, a caress from your
hands. Was that love, think you?"

"I should call it a right hopeful beginning," she replied, brightly; but
tears which she could not explain shone in her eyes. Across the hurrying
water drifted the song of the men at work upon the tall masts of the
_Heart of the West_.

"In a week's time," said Kingswell, "she will fill her sails for St.
John's--and then for home."

The girl nestled closer to his side. Looking down, he saw that she was
weeping.

"God grant that we find a parson in that harbour," he added. She nodded,
and choked with a sob she could not stifle.

"Why do you weep, dearest?" he asked.

"For those whom we must leave behind," she whispered.

He had no answer to make to that. Together they looked beyond the
anchored ship and the bright river to the inscrutable wilderness that
held the fate of the mad baronet so securely.



CHAPTER XXXII.

THE FIRST STAGE OF THE HOMEWARD VOYAGE IS BRAVELY ACCOMPLISHED


At nine o'clock of the morning of the twenty-second day of June, the bow
of the _Heart of the West_ was towed around and pointed down-stream by
willing boats and canoes; a light wind filled such sails as were set,
and the voyage was begun. Trigget fired a salute from a new gun which
Kingswell had given him from the armament of the ship. It was answered
by the barking of cannon and the fluttering of sails.

Ouenwa stood with Mistress Westleigh, Kingswell, and Maggie Stone, aft
by the tiller, which was in the hands of Tom Bent. The lad was fairly
wild with excitement. Now, it seemed to him, his great dreams were
assured; and yet a pang of homesickness went through the joy like the
blade of a knife, as he watched the faces of the clustered people along
the meadow and in the boats grow dim,--the faces of William Trigget and
Black Feather, and of a dozen more who were dear to him. He shouted back
to them in English and in his native tongue, and waved his cap
frantically. The faces blurred and wavered. The ship swam around the
wooded point, and meadow and stockade and camp of wigwams vanished like
a picture withdrawn. The lad turned and glanced at Mistress Westleigh.
Then he walked forward to the break of the poop, and blinked very hard
at nothing in particular in the belly of the maintopsail.

Soon the wooded banks fell away on either side, and the water changed
its tint of amber for wind-roughened green. The gray, purple, and brown
shores of the roadstead widened and dropped lower, and azure uplands
shone beyond their frowning brows. The wind freshened, and white flakes
of foam whipped from crest to crest across the ever-shifting,
ever-vanishing valleys of green. Along the fading cliffs white sea-birds
circled and settled like flakes of snow. A few great gulls winged around
the ship, fleeing to leeward like bolts of mist, and beating up again
with quivering pinions.

Kingswell had taken the duties of sailing-master upon himself. He was as
good a deep-sea navigator as any man on the whole width of the North
Atlantic. When the outer bay was reached, yards were swung around, and
the stout bark headed due east at his orders. To see old Tom Bent push
the tiller over, and other seasoned mariners man brace and sheet, at the
command of that gold-haired youth, made the heart of Beatrix Westleigh
flutter with pride. Her dark eyes, already bright and lovely beyond
power of description, shone yet more brightly; and her cheeks, already
flushed to clear flame by the wind, deepened their glow. As the ship
answered to his will, so would he answer to her whim. It was a pleasant
reflection to the lady; and to realize it she called softly. Without a
glance at the straining sails, he turned and hastened to her side.

The voyage from Fort Beatrix to the wonderful harbour and brave little
town of St. John's was made without accident, though not without
incident. In Bonavista Bay, at a gray hour of the morning, the stump of
a great iceberg was narrowly avoided. A day later, a large vessel that
was evidently employed at fishing evinced an undesirable interest in the
business of the _Heart of the West_. She was not a quarter of a mile
distant when first sighted, for a light fog was on the water. She flew
no flag, and changed her course and altered her speed with sinister
promptness. Kingswell, and every man of the ship's company, knew that
pirates of many nationalities infested those waters during summer. The
worst of the thieves were Turks; and the fishing-ship or store-ship that
was overhauled by those gentry usually lost more than its cargo.
Frenchmen, Englishmen, and Spaniards also had a weakness for playing the
part of the bald eagle, with their heavy metalled and wide-sailed craft,
to the rôle of the fishhawk so unwillingly played by the merchantmen.
Happily for Kingswell's command, the stranger was inshore and to
leeward. Both watches were piped up by Tom Bent. The gunners went to
their quarters. Sail after sail unfurled about the already straining
masts and yards. The brave little ship answered willingly to the
pressure, and her cutwater broke the flanks of the waves into sibilant
foam.

A rumour of the chase reached Mistress Beatrix and her old maid, in the
seclusion of that snug cabin in which Master Trowley was, at one time,
wont to revel. Maggie Stone drew the curtains across the thick glass of
the after-port (as if fearing that the eagle glance of one of the
pirates might pierce the privacy of her retreat), and then devoted
herself to tearful prayer. Beatrix completed her toilet, threw a cloak
over her shoulders, and climbed the companion. She joined Kingswell by
the tiller, and, after saluting him tenderly and with a composure that
took no heed of the sailor at the helm, watched the chase with interest.

"They outsail us," she said, presently.

Kingswell nodded. "But she'll never get near us on that course," he
replied. "She is for heading us off, and getting to windward. If she
gets to windward of us--Lord, but I scarce think she will."

He said a word of preparation to the man at the tiller, and then gave a
few quick orders from the break of the poop. In half a minute the _Heart
of the West_ headed out on an easy tack. When every sail was drawing to
his liking, he returned to the girl.

"How glorious!" she cried. "A good horse, a singing pack, and an old fox
make but slow sport compared to this."

"We are the fox on this hunting morning," smiled Kingswell.

"With teeth," she hinted.

He noticed that the unwelcome stranger was shouldering the wind on the
new course. He looked at the girl.

"Ay, we have teeth, sweeting," he said, "and soon we'll be gnashing
them."

Though the _Heart of the West_ sailed well, to windward, the big craft
astern sailed even better. The ships, crowded with canvas, the dancing
blue water and cloudless sky, and the brown and azure coast to leeward,
made a fine picture under the white sun. As the stranger drew near and
nearer, excitement increased aboard the merchantman. Old Trowley bawled
to be set free, that he might not die in the sail-locker like a rat in a
hole. Tom Bent spat on his hard hands, and pulled his belt an inch
shorter. Ouenwa lugged up shot and powder, and was for opening fire at
an impossible range. Beatrix roused Maggie Stone from her devotions, and
took her forward to a place of greater safety in the men's quarters.

Along either side of the after-cabin of the _Heart of the West_ ran a
narrow passage. Each passage ended in a blind port, and behind each port
crouched a gun of unusual size for so peaceful an appearing ship. Now
Kingswell blessed the day that a youthful love of warlike gear and a
heart for adventure had led him to add these pieces to the armament of
his ship. He remembered, with a contented smile, how Master Trowley had
growled at the delay caused by getting the great guns aboard and
partitioning off the passage. Even his mother had urged him to put more
faith in the great ship which the king was so gracious as to send to
Newfounde Land each spring, as a convoy to the fishing fleet. But
Master Bernard, spoiled child, had had his way; and now he thanked the
gods of war for it.

Both ships sailed as close to the wind as their models and rigging and
the laws of nature would allow. They went about often on ever shortening
tacks. The hunter outsailed the hunted, though it is safe to say that
her seamanship was no better. Suddenly she luffed until her sails
quivered, and from her bows broke two puffs of smoke with inner cores of
flame. Both shots flew high, and fell ahead of the quarry in brief
spouts of torn water. At that, the blind ports in the stern of the
merchantman opened up, and the sinister muzzles of the guns were run out
with a gust of English cheering. Then their sudden voices boomed
defiance, and the smoke rolled along the water and clung to the leaping
waves.

Kingswell felt the deck jump under his feet. His pulses leaped with the
good planks. "Hit!" he cried--and sure enough, one of the enemy's upper
spars, with its burden of flapping canvas, tottered desperately, and
then swooped down on the clustered buccaneers beneath. Half an hour
later the _Heart of the West_ was spinning along on her old course, and
far astern the stranger lay to and nursed her wound.

Three days later, at high noon, the Narrows opened in the sheer brown
face of the cliffs, and the people of the _Heart of the West_ caught a
glimpse of the harbour and the shipping beyond. Then the rocky portals
seemed to close, and the spray flew like smoke along the unbroken
ramparts. The ship was put about, and again the magic entrance opened
and shut.

"I knows the channel, sir," said Tom Bent. "Ye needn't wait for no
duff-headed pilot."

So the stout ship went 'round again, with a brisk shouting of men at the
braces and a booming of canvas aloft. Her colours flew bravely in the
sunlight, answering the colours of the fort and the battery on Signal
Hill. She raced at the towering cliff as if she would try to overthrow
it with her cocked-up bowsprit. Even Kingswell caught his breath.
Beatrix looked away, so fearful was the sight of the unbroken rock that
seemed to swim toward them with a voice of thunder and the smoking surf
along its foot. Ouenwa wondered if Tom Bent were mad. But the boatswain
gripped the big tiller, and squinted under the yards, and cocked an eye
aloft at the flags and men on the cliff. Then, of a sudden, the narrow
passage of green water, spray-fringed, opened under their bows, and the
walls of rock slid aside and let them in.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

IN THE MERRY CITY


The _Heart of the West_ was boarded by a lieutenant of infantry, inside
the Narrows, and was quickly piloted to a berth on the north side of the
great harbour, where her anchors were merrily let go. The lieutenant
welcomed Master Kingswell in the governor's name, and vowed to Mistress
Westleigh that the old shellback (with so little respect will a
subaltern sometimes speak of his superior into safe ears) would never
have allowed his gout to keep him ashore had he guessed that the new
arrival carried such a passenger.

"But his Excellency is a sailor," he added, "so, after all, he'd blink
his old eyes at you unmoved. These sailors, ecod, are not the
worshippers of beauty that the poets would have us believe."

He bowed again, very fine in his new uniform and powdered hair. Beatrix
shot a glance at Kingswell, who seemed in no wise conscious of the
dimness of his own attire and the rents in the silk facings of his
coat. Then she smiled upon the soldier.

"Both the army and navy have my esteem," she said, "but my particular
fancy is for the Church."

The lieutenant seemed overwhelmed. "Say you so?" he cried. "And to
think, mistress, that I refused to take Holy Orders, despite the
combined persuasion of both my parents and my uncle, the Bishop of Bath.
Stab me, but why did not my heart give me a hint of your preference?"

"Perhaps you have a parson ashore," suggested Kingswell.

"Ay, we have a parson--a ranting old missionary," replied the
lieutenant.

"He'll serve my turn," said Beatrix, "so long as he can read the
marriage service."

"Ay, he'll serve our turn," said Kingswell.

The soldier sighed, and smiled whimsically from the one to the other. He
was not much older than Bernard Kingswell, and of a pleasant, boyish
countenance.

"You have a story," he said, "with which I hope you will honour us in
the governor's house. A brave tale, too, I'll stake my sword." He smiled
good-naturedly at Master Kingswell. "But d'ye know," he added, gazing at
Mistress Westleigh, "I had quite set my heart on it that you two were
brother and sister."

The governor received them in his best coat, with one foot in a boot,
and the other swathed to the bulk of a soldier's knapsack. His face was
of the tint of russet leather, and, roughened by many inclement winds
and darkened by high living. His voice was of a rancorous quality, as if
he had frayed it by too much shouting through fogs and against gales.
His hands were big, knotted, and tremulous, and his eyes not unlike
those of a new-jigged codfish. Altogether he was a figure of a man for
his place as king's representative. He led Mistress Beatrix to a chair
with such grace as he could command, and presented a ponderous snuff-box
to Master Kingswell. Then he called for refreshments. The lieutenant
made himself at home beside the lady, and waited upon her with wine and
cakes. When the servants were gone and the door closed, Kingswell stated
his name and degree.

"Let me shake your hand again, young sir," cried his Excellency,
extending an unsteady hand. "Your honoured father dined and wined me
more than once in his great house in Bristol,--ay, and treated the poor
sailor like a peer of the realm."

Kingswell leaned sideways in his chair and gave a brief account of Sir
Ralph Westleigh's and Mistress Westleigh's sojourn in the wilderness,
and of the baronet's death. He did not mention the fact that the fort
was still inhabited, nor did he give a very definite idea of its
whereabouts. It was well to be cautious in regard to unchartered
plantations in those days of greedy fishermen. He mentioned the brief
engagement with the buccaneer. He told of his betrothal to Mistress
Westleigh, and of their anxiety to be married immediately. The governor
was deeply affected by the story of Sir Ralph Westleigh's last days. He
murmured an oath. "And the day was," he said, "that not a duke in
England was more looked up to than that same baronet of Somerset. Well
do I recall the pride that inflated me when Lady Westleigh--ay, the
young lady's mother--bowed to me in Hyde Park. Only once had she met me,
and that in a crush to which I'd been invited through my commander. And
she was as beautiful as she was gracious, sir. 'Twas after her death
that Sir Ralph threw over his ballast, poor devil."

Kingswell nodded, and remembered the winter of alarms and loneliness.

"They were bitter years for the daughter," he said, softly. "Motherless,
and with a father whom she loved letting slip his old pride and honour
day by day, she shared his downfall and his exile with fortitude, sir,
I can assure you."

"Ay, as became her brave beauty," replied the governor, with a gleam in
his staring eyes.

Now fate would have it at that time the only divine in the great island,
the Reverend Thomas Aldrich, M. A., was away from the little town of St.
John's, on a preaching tour among the English fishermen in Conception
Bay. He might be back in a day's time; he was more likely not to return
within the week.

"In the meantime," said the honest governor, "my house is at Mistress
Westleigh's service. Let her send for her maid and her boxes. My good
housekeeper will tidy up the best chamber. Gad, Master Kingswell, but
we'll cheer this God-forsaken, French-pestered hole in the rock with a
touch of gaiety."

His Excellency's hospitality was accepted, and for eight days the little
settlement gave itself over to merrymaking. There were dances in the
governor's house every night, at which Beatrix was the only lady. There
were great dinners, during which Beatrix sat on his Excellency's right
and Kingswell on his left. There were inspections of the fort, boating
parties on the harbour, and outings among the woods and natural gardens
that graced the valley at the head of the beautiful basin.

The beauty and graciousness of Mistress Westleigh, and the knowledge of
her loyalty to her father, and her bravery won the heart of that rude
village. From the governor to the youngest sailor lad, every man in the
harbour was her humble and devoted servant.

Before the kindly soldiers and merchants and adventurers, she was always
merry. The main street along the water-front took on a light of distant
England did she but appear in it for a minute. The three officers of the
garrison swore that they preferred it to the most fashionable promenade
on London. But, alone, or with her lover, she eased, with tears, the
grief for her father's fate, which all the junketing and gaiety but
seemed to uncover.

On the eighth day after the arrival of the _Heart of the West_ in the
harbour of St. John's, the parson returned from his preaching among the
boisterous fishing-ships in Conception Bay. He shook his head at the
state in which he found his home flock; for he was of that gloomy
persuasion known as low church, and held little with frivolity. But,
after meeting Beatrix, he thawed, and even went so far as to attempt a
pun on his willingness to marry her. The sally of wit was received by
the lady with so lovely a smile that the divine forgot his austerity so
far as to poke Kingswell in the ribs, and call him a sly dog.

The ceremony took place in the little church behind the governor's
house; and, after it was over, his Excellency, the parson, the officers
of the garrison, the merchants, the captains of the ships, and many
more, accompanied the happy couple aboard the _Heart of the West_, where
sound wines were drunk by the quality, and rum and beer by the
commonalty. All the shipping, the premises of the merchants, and the
forts flew bunting, as if for a demonstration to royalty itself. At noon
farewells were said, and a dozen willing boats towed the _Heart of the
West_ down the harbour and through the Narrows.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

PIERRE D'ANTONS SIGNALS HIS OLD COMRADES, AND AGAIN PUTS TO SEA


The wilderness, that grim thing of naked rock, brown barren, gray marsh,
and black wood, which had claimed the mad baronet so surely, was unable
to keep Pierre d'Antons in its spacious prison. With the return of
summer, the dark adventurer and the Beothic girl deserted their inland
retreat, and set out for a certain grim cape which thrusts far into the
Atlantic. The crown of that cape affords an uninterrupted view to
seaward and north and south across the waters of two great bays. A fire
at night, or a column of smoke in the day, glowing or streaming upward
from that vantage place, would be sighted from the deck of a passing
ship at a distance of many miles.

The journey proved a long and trying one, through swamps and barrens,
and over rock-tumbled knolls. Streams were forded, lakes
circumambulated, and rivers crossed on insecure rafts. Through it all,
the native girl, Miwandi, kept a brave heart and bright face. D'Antons,
however, was preoccupied in his manner, and even gloomy at times. The
hardships of that wild existence had begun to tell on his body, and the
loneliness to fret his nerves. His infatuation for Mistress Westleigh
had dimmed and faded out altogether, leaving only a mean desire for the
salve of revenge with which to soothe his injured pride. He would wound
her through Kingswell. Sometimes a fear oppressed him that his men might
have forgotten his mastery by this time, and might fail, after the two
seasons of silence, to continue their cruising of those northern waters
throughout June and July, as he had commanded. But that doubt only
troubled him in his darkest moods. The loyalty of his subordinate
buccaneers of the _Cristobal_ was not to be questioned seriously, for it
had been tested in many tight places. Comradeship often forms as trusty
ties between the hearts of pirates as between the hearts of honest
gentlemen. Once grown beyond the temptations of greed and treachery, it
is a safe thing, this loyalty of desperate men for their messmates.

It was Pierre d'Antons' dream to regain the deck of the _Cristobal_
(with Miwandi, of course), and to appear, some fine day, before the
little fort of Gray Goose River; to put the settlers to the sword, the
buildings to the torch, and to carry the English beauty away with him.
He felt that his passion for the proud lady might be easily and
pleasantly refired. But he made no mention of Mistress Westleigh to
Miwandi, the Beothic girl.

After more than a week of hard travelling, the two ascended the wooded
ridge which runs seaward to the bleak and elevated acres of the grim
cape of their desire. In a shaggy grove they set up their lodge. At the
extremity of the headland, high above the wheeling, screaming gulls and
noddies, D'Antons built a circular fireplace of the stones that lay
about. Completed, it looked like an altar reared by some benighted
priesthood to the gods of the wind and the sea. But no such thought
occurred to its architect. His case was too desperate to allow his mind
to indulge in such whimsical fancies.

While the woman went in quest of food--fish, flesh, or fowl, what did it
matter which?--the man gathered wood and piled it near the queer hearth.
He worked without intermission until Miwandi returned from her foraging
with a string of bright trout in her hand. Then he built a modest fire
within the rough walls of his furnace, and helped the girl clean and
cook the fish. By that time the glow of the afternoon was centred
behind the gloomy hills, and a clear twilight was over the sea; but as
yet the atmosphere held no suggestion of dusk. No sail broke the wide
expanse of dark blue ocean with its flake of gray; but to the nor'east a
whale breached and blew its little fountain of spray across the still
line of the horizon. D'Antons and Miwandi noted these things as they
ate, but made no comment upon them.

For several days after the arrival of the two upon the overseeing
headland, D'Antons made no other use of his furnace than for the cooking
of meals. For that purpose it served admirably, for the walls protected
the flame from the ever-flying winds that prevailed over that exposed
spot. The adventurer knew that he was early for the _Cristobal_. Several
sails were detected; but of them the only heed taken was the precaution
of blanketing the little fire in the hearth with damp soil. The
Frenchman did not desire a visit from fishermen of any nationality
whatever. He might find it difficult to explain his presence in so
unfavourable a spot for either a fishery or a settlement. No doubt they
would persist in rescuing him, and, in that case, what reason could he
give for wishing to stay in his cheerless camp? So he lay low and
watched the passing of more than one stout craft without a sign.

The time arrived when he must set his signals, despite the risk of
attracting unwelcome visitors. So he closed the front of the furnace
with a boulder, built a brisk fire within, which he heaped with damp
moss and punk, and then laid a large, flat stone over the opening in the
top of the unique structure. By removing the flat stone, he allowed a
column of dense smoke to issue into the air, stream aloft and scatter in
the wind. By replacing the stone, the smoke was cut short off. Finding
that the contrivance worked to his satisfaction, he let the smoke stream
up, uninterrupted. The signalling would only be resorted to when a
vessel, which might possibly be the _Cristobal_, should be sighted. When
darkness fell, the fire was allowed to die down. A night signal was
unnecessary, as the _Cristobal_, should she keep the tryst at all, was
sure to make an examination of the cape by daylight. D'Antons' last
orders had been strictly and particularly to that effect.

A week passed, during which a sharp lookout was kept by the fugitives on
the brow of the cape, and the signal of smoke was operated a dozen times
without the desired effect. In fact, a large vessel, attracted by the
smoke (which was due to D'Antons' tardy realization that the
approaching ship was not the _Cristobal_) altered her course, sailed
close in, and sent a boat ashore to investigate. D'Antons and Miwandi
had just enough time, with not a minute to spare, to roll up their
wigwam and hide it in the bushes, gather together their most valuable
belongings, and flee inland to a shelter of tangled spruces and firs.
The boat's crew was composed of peaceful fishermen, who were free from
suspicion and malice. They climbed to the brow of the promontory with
fine hardihood, but once there did little but examine the marks where
the lodge had so lately stood and partially overthrow the queer
fireplace. They believed that structure to be an altar, built to the
glory of some unorthodox god. Then they retraced their perilous way to
the little cove under the cliff, and rowed back to the ship. D'Antons
stole from his retreat and crawled to the edge of the cliff. He felt a
glow of satisfaction when the big vessel stood away on her northward
course.

Another week drifted along, and hope wavered in the buccaneer heart. His
gloomy moods began to wear on the young squaw's spirits. She begged him
to return to the inland rivers--to make peace with her people--to cease
his unprofitable staring at the sea.

"The sorrow of the great salt water has entered your heart," she said,
"and the moaning of it has deafened your ears to my voice."

He did not turn his eyes from the undulations of the gray horizon.
"Would you have me rot in this place for the remainder of my life?" he
asked, harshly, in her language.

The poor girl sobbed for an hour after that, and reproved her heart for
the image of a god it had set up. She tried to overthrow the idol from
its inner shrine; she tried to change it to a grim symbol of hate; she
pressed her face to the coarse herbage, and tore the sod with her
fingers.

"Miwandi! Come to me, little one," cried the man from the edge of the
cliff.

Her anger, her bitterness, vanished like thinnest smoke. She sprang up
and ran to him. He drew her to his side, and with his right hand pointed
southward across the glinting deep.

"The _Cristobal_!" he cried. "Good God, I'll stake my life on it!"

So intense was his satisfaction at the sight of those unmistakable
topsails that his selfish affection for the woman lighted again. He
pressed his lips to the tear-wet cheek; and immediately the simple
creature was in the seventh heaven of bliss.

While the gray flake of sail expanded on the horizon, Pierre d'Antons
and the woman hurriedly and roughly rebuilt the walls of the fireplace,
lit and fed a blaze, and piled it high with moss and rotten bark. The
thick pillar of smoke arose like a tree, and bent in the moderate wind.
Miwandi busied herself with breaking the wood to the required length and
carrying damp moss. For several minutes the smoke was allowed to ascend
in an unbroken shaft. Then D'Antons cut it off for a few seconds, let it
rise again, broke it again, and again let it stream aloft,
uninterrupted. He had signalled his name according to the code of the
_Cristobal_.

The welcome ship gradually enlarged to the eager eyes of the watchers on
the cape. North, east, and south there was no other sail in sight. At
last three flags ran up to the topforemast and fluttered out. The
question was read instantly by D'Antons, who returned to his fire and
interrupted the stream of smoke five times in quick succession. The
translation of that was "All's well. You may approach without danger."

A message of congratulation appeared promptly against the bellying
foresail of the _Cristobal_; and the watchers saw the rolls of white
foam gleaming like wool under the forging of the bow.

D'Antons was cordially welcomed aboard the _Cristobal_. Miwandi was
received without question. The acting commander of the ship was a
grizzled Spanish mariner by the name of Silva,--a fellow steeped in
crime and uncertain of temper, yet possessed of a marvellous devotion
for D'Antons, which was due to an act of kindness performed by the
Frenchman years before, in the town of Panama.

Silva was delighted to find his captain alive and ready for the high
seas again. He asked no questions concerning his adventures until more
than one bottle of wine had been emptied, and the captain's
travel-stained garments had been exchanged for the best the cabin
lockers contained. Miwandi, too, was reclothed; and the beauty and
softness of the silks that were presented to her fairly turned her
little head. She did not know that the fair French lady for whom they
had been made, in gay Paris, and who had worn them only three months
ago, was somewhere in the dredge of emerald tides between the Bahaman
reefs. She knew only that the texture and colours delighted her skin and
her eyes. So, in her narrow room, she attired herself in the finery,
toiling at the ties and lacing with unfamiliar fingers.

In the captain's cabin D'Antons motioned to his friend to close the
door. He had consumed a soup, and was still engaged with the wine.
Silva returned to his seat at the table, after a final reassuring push
on the bolt of the door. It is always wise to be sure that the door you
considered fastened is fastened indeed. Then, with their elbows on the
table and their heads close together, the more salient incidents of
D'Antons' sojourn in the wilderness were rehearsed and keenly listened
to. Silva displayed a prodigious indignation at the story of the
captain's failure to win the affections of Mistress Westleigh. At word
of Sir Ralph's death (and the murder became a desperate duel in the
telling), a crooked smile of satisfaction distorted his face. As to what
he heard of Kingswell--ah, but oaths in two languages were quite
inadequate for the expression of his feelings.

"We'll inspect the heart of that cockerel--and the gizzard as well,"
said he, and drank off his wine.

"Leave him to my hand," replied D'Antons, darkly.

Silva nodded, with a sinister leer.

"So it's 'bout ship and blow the little stockade into everlasting
damnation," he said.

"Ay, but the lady must come to no harm in the attack," warned the
captain.

So the _Cristobal_ headed northward, and the evil-looking rascals of
her crew were informed that the morrow would bring them some work to
limber their muscles. The information was received with cheers, in which
hearty English voices were not lacking.

However, in the early morning, Fate, in the shape of the _Heart of the
West_, turned the danger away from the little fort.

"She looks like a likely prize," said D'Antons, when he sighted the
ship. The old fever awoke in his blood. He longed for the old
excitement.

"Give chase," he ordered. "The fort can well do without the honour of
our attentions for a little while."

So the chase was carried on, as has been described in a previous
chapter, and went merrily enough for the _Cristobal_ until the
unexpected shot from the stern of the quarry brought down her
foretopmast and its weight of sail. But before that had happened,
D'Antons, unrecognizable himself in new clothes and a great hat, marked
Bernard Kingswell on the poop of the _Heart of the West_. He cursed like
a madman, or a true-bred pirate, when his ship was crippled.

"The fort may rot of old age in the midst of its desolation," he cried
to Silva, "for what I would have is aboard that cursed craft ahead."

A few days later, with their spars repaired, they picked up a small
fishing-boat, and learned from the skipper that a great ship from the
north had entered the harbour of St. John's. So, knowing the virtue of
precaution, they impressed the master and crew and scuttled the little
vessel. Then, with admirable patience, they cruised up and down, far to
seaward of the brown cliffs which guarded that hospitable port.



CHAPTER XXXV.

THE BRIDEGROOM ATTENDS TO OTHER MATTERS THAN LOVE


The dainty bride leaned on her husband's arm, and together they looked
back and waved farewell. Flags answered them from the battery above the
cliff. Then she turned to the bridegroom and gazed into his eyes with so
radiant and tender a smile that, all forgetful of the abashed salt at
the tiller, he drew her to him and kissed her on brow and lips.

"Dear wife," he murmured, and could say no more.

Both were brave in marriage finery,--she in a pearl gown of brocaded
silk, a scarlet cloak lined with white fur, and a feathered hat, and he
in buff and blue from the wardrobe of the commandant of St. John's.

They gazed astern, across the dancing azure, to the brown and purple
rocks beautified by the sunlight and crystal air. "Homeward bound," she
whispered, happily, and turned her face from the mellowing coast of the
wilderness to the wide east.

Together they walked forward to the break of the high deck. A fair wind
bellied the sails. The tarred rigging and scraped spars shone like
polished metal. The men, in their brightest sashes and cleanest shirts
(in honour of the occasion), went about their duties briskly. The mates
wore their side-arms; both watches were on deck, with the gaiety of the
days ashore still in their hearts. Not a soul was below save the cook
(who sorted provisions in the forward lazaret), Maggie Stone (who sulked
in her mistress's cabin because she had not been asked to act as
bridesmaid), and old Trowley, with wrists and legs in irons and a
dawning repentance in his sullen blood.

An hour later Ouenwa ascended the starboard ladder from the waist, and
stood beside Master and Mistress Kingswell. He wore a dashing outfit,
which had been made to his shape by the garrison tailor in the days
preceding the marriage. A sword was at his belt; lace hung at his
wrists; his dark hair, slightly curled, fell to his shoulders. His
tanned cheeks were flushed with the excitement passed and the adventures
anticipated. Only the dark alertness of his eyes and the litheness of
his actions bespoke his primitive upbringing. Though he had been named
"dreamer" by his people, he gave promise now of a life of deeds rather
than of dreams.

"Do you mourn the little stockade and the great river, lad?" queried
Kingswell, laying a hand on the boy's shoulder.

Ouenwa shook his head emphatically and glanced knowingly aloft. "Why
should I mourn them?" he asked. "Am I not bound for castles and great
houses, for books in number as the leaves of the birch-tree, and for
villages filled all day with warriors, and with ladies almost as fair as
Mistress Beatrix? Shall I not read in the books, and see horses, greater
than caribou, bearing gentlemen upon their backs? Then why would you
have me mourn? The land behind us is not a good land. My fathers were
brave and wise, and led their warriors to a hundred victories; but they
were murdered by their own people. I care not for such a country."

"True, lad," replied Kingswell, "and yet, even in glorious England, you
may find ingratitude as black as that of Panounia. Even kings and queens
have been guilty of ingratitude."

Beatrix patted the moralist's arm.

"Why think of it now?" she said, gently, "and why fill the dear lad with
doubt? Only if he climbs high need he fear disloyalty. As a plain
soldier, he shall never lack the protection of such humble friends as
ourselves."

Just then a lookout warned them of a sail on the larboard bow. Kingswell
and Ouenwa went forward to the forecastle-head. Tom Bent (now of the
rank of chief gunner) was already there, peering away under the lift of
the jibs. The second mate was with him.

"A large vessel," remarked Kingswell.

"Ay, and we's spoke mun afore now, sir," replied Bent. He was too intent
on gazing ahead to see the question in the captain's face. But the mate
saw it and answered it.

"She's run up a new spar, sir, an' mended her for'ard riggin'," said he,
"an' like enough she thinks she'll take the cost of damages out o' us."

"Ah!" exclaimed Kingswell, with a note of relish. Then he remembered
Beatrix, and a shadow darkened his eyes for a moment. "Pipe both
watches," he said, quietly. "Arm all hands. Clear decks for action.
Master Gunner, you must fight your barkers to-day for more than the
glory of England."

He returned to his wife and told her of the menace. She heard the news
with an inward sickening, but with no outward tremor. All her fear was
for him.

"Promise me that you will go to our cabin when I give the word," he
asked.

She nodded and smiled wistfully. "Your obedient, humble wife, my lord,"
she whispered, with a brave attempt at gaiety.

He caught her hands quickly to his shoulders and kissed her lips. He
felt them tremble against his.

"I must help with the preparations, dear heart," he murmured, and
hurried away. He consulted the mates and Tom Bent as to the advisability
of beating back for St. John's. The mariners shook their heads. They
held that the _Heart of the West_ could make a better fight on her
present course; and that the battle would be decided, one way or
another, before the garrison could send them any help. As if to confirm
their views, the wind freshened to such a degree, and held so fair
astern, that to beat to windward would require all hands at the sails,
and put gunnery out of the question.

"Like enough they be double our strength in men," said Tom Bent, "but we
equals 'em in guns and seamanship, sir, an' ye may lay to that."

So the _Heart of the West_ held on her course under a press of canvas.

After Kingswell and Beatrix had talked together for some time, they
went forward, hand in hand, to the break of the poop. Tom Bent called
the ship's company to attention. The brave fellows, stripped to their
breeches and shirts in readiness for the approaching encounter, looked
up, and such as wore caps doffed them respectfully.

"My brave lads," cried the lady, in a voice that rang clear above the
stir of wind and wave and tugging cordage, "but this morning you made
merry for my sake; and now, in so little a while, you will risk your
lives in defending your ship and me from that pirate whom we have
already encountered. My husband,--your captain,--like a true-bred
English sailor, is already sure of victory. A generous mariner, he has
promised me the prize; and now I promise it to you. In a few weeks'
time, my lads, we shall sell our enemy in Bristol docks. Not a penny of
her price shall go to owner or captain; but all into the pockets of this
brave company. And should any man fall in the encounter, I pledge my
word that those dependent upon him shall lack nothing that money can
give them during the remainder of their lives. Now, fight well, for God
and for England."

She looked down at them, smiling divinely.

"And for the Lady Beatrix," shouted a youthful seaman.

Cheers rang aloft; bearded lips and shaven lips bawled her name; and
great, toil-seared hands were brandished, and stark blades gleamed in
the sunlight.

"God bless you, lady," they roared.

She leaned forward and blew a kiss from her lips with both dainty hands.

"God strengthen you, brave hearts," she cried, softly; and the nearer of
the loyal mariners saw the tears shimmering beneath her lashes.

The _Heart of the West_ held on her course, breaking the waves in
fountains from her forging bow. The _Cristobal_ raced down upon her with
the wind square abeam. It was evidently her intention to cross the
merchantman's bows and rake her with a broadside.

Aboard the _Heart of the West_ every man was at his post, and the
matches were like pale stars in the hands of the gunners. The second
mate was on the forecastle-head, beside the bow-chaser. The first mate
stood in the waist. Kingswell paced the poop, fore and aft. Each
measured and calculated the brisk approach of the _Cristobal_ with
unwinking eyes, and considered the straining sails overhead and the
speed of the wind.

Still the pirate boiled down upon them, leaning over in the press of
the half-gale. It was evident to Kingswell that she would pass across
his bows within a distance of a hundred yards, unless something was done
to prevent it. He spoke quietly to the men at the tiller, and called an
order to the officer amidships. Twenty seconds later he gave the signal.
The tiller was pushed over, the yards were hauled around, and the good
ship swung to the north and took the wind on her larboard beam. Now the
vessels leaned on the same course, and were not two hundred yards apart.
Almost at the same moment they exchanged broadsides, and the challenging
shouts of men mingled with the roaring of the little cannonades. The
smoke from the merchantman's ports blew down, in a stifling cloud, upon
the enemy. The _Cristobal_ fell off before the wind in an unaccountable
manner. The _Heart of the West_ luffed, in the hope of bringing her
heavy after-battery to bear, saw that the manoeuvre could not be
accomplished, and flew about on her old course.

"Her tiller is shot away," cried Kingswell. A cheer rang along the decks
and penetrated the cabins fore and aft. Beatrix heard it, and thanked
God. Old Trowley heard it, and, beating his manacled wrists against the
bulkhead, roared to be cast loose that he might bear a hand in the
fight.

From that first exchange of round-shot, the _Heart of the West_ escaped
without hurt, owing to the fact that the enemy's guns, elevated by the
pressure of the gale upon her windward side, sent their missiles high
between the upper spars of the merchantman. The _Cristobal_, however,
was hulled by two balls, and had her tiller carried away by a third;
for, just as her guns were elevated to harmlessness by the list of the
deck, so were the merchantman's depressed to a deadly aim by the list of
hers.

Taking every advantage which a sound tiller and perfectly trimmed sails
gave her over her enemy, the _Heart of the West_ raced after the
buccaneer. Passing close astern, she raked her with her three larboard
guns. Running on, and slanting across the wind's course more and more,
she presently had her two after-guns to bear on the three-quarter target
of the _Cristobal's_ starboard side. The range was middling; but, even
so, the gunners sent up a prayer to Luck, so violent were the soarings
and sinkings of the deck. The shots were followed by a tottering of high
sails above the _Cristobal_, and with a flapping and rending, the
mizzenmast fell forward and stripped the main of three of her yards.

Now the disabled, tillerless _Cristobal_, kept before the wind by a
great sweep, fled heavily. Her decks were cluttered with snarled
wreckage. Half a dozen of her crew were injured. Her commander and
Master Silva were mad with rage at the unexpected turn of events.

Aboard the _Heart of the West_, Ouenwa had just pointed out to Kingswell
the dashing figure of Pierre d'Antons.

"I take it that this is his last play," remarked the young captain, with
a grim smile.

For another hour the merchantman sailed about the pirate at her will,
pouring broadside after broadside into hull and rigging, and sustaining
but little damage herself. Now and then musket-shots were exchanged. Two
of Kingswell's men were wounded, and were promptly carried below, where
their hurts were tenderly bandaged by Mistress Kingswell and Maggie
Stone.

In a lull of the firing, the cook came running to the poop, with word
that Trowley was in a fair way to make matchwood of his surroundings.

"What ails him now?" inquired Kingswell.

"He be shoutin' for a chance at the Frenchers," replied the cook.
Kingswell considered the matter, with a calculating eye on the enemy.
"Cast him loose," said he, "and give him a chance to prove himself an
English sailor man."

Trowley appeared on deck just as a shot from the _Cristobal_ struck the
teakwood rail of the _Heart of the West_ amidships. A flying splinter
whirred past his head. He brandished his cutlass, and bawled a threat
across the rocking water. The men at the guns welcomed him with laughter
and cheers.

"Ye be in for the kill, master," cried one.

Kingswell beckoned the ex-commander aft, and met him at the top of the
ladder. Trowley looked guiltily this way and that.

"I have let you up, my man," said the captain, "that you may bear a hand
in the fight. I am willing to forget your knaveries of the past, and
remember only your actions of to-day."

Trowley nodded, and for an instant his eyes met Kingswell's.

"You can see what we have done to the enemy," said the other. "But I am
in no mind to break her up with this everlasting cannonading. What would
you suggest?"

Trowley straightened his great shoulders and lifted his head. "Lay her
aboard, sir," said he, "an' make fast."



CHAPTER XXXVI.

OVER THE SIDE


With a fearful grinding of timbers and rattling of spars, the
merchantman's larboard bow scraped along the enemy's side.
Boarding-irons were thrown across from the forecastle-deck. With a yell,
the men of Devon sprang from rail to rail, and hurled themselves upon
the mongrels who clustered to repulse them. Cutlasses skirred in the
air; and some struck clanging metal, and some met with a softer
resistance. Screams of rage and pain, and shouts of grim exultation,
rang above the conflict.

Old Trowley hacked a place for himself in the thickest of the press, and
laid about him with such desperate fury and such fearful oaths that the
buccaneers hustled each other to get out of his way.

Kingswell, in the waist of the _Cristobal_, encountered D'Antons, and
claimed him for his own. As their blades rasped together, D'Antons began
the story of Sir Ralph Westleigh's death in the wilderness. Kingswell
heard it without comment. The tumult about them gradually subsided, as
man after man of the pirate crew was cut down or bound. Sail was
shortened on both vessels, and the victors, sound and wounded alike,
gathered about the two swordsmen. A strained silence took possession of
the watchers. The rough fellows understood that their captain had an old
score to settle with the buccaneer. They were fascinated by the
lightning play of the rapiers. They noted every movement of foot and
hand, blade and eye. When D'Antons snarled an insulting taunt at his
adversary, they cursed softly. When their captain pricked the pirate's
shoulder, a husky murmur of admiration went through them. So intent were
they on the fight that they failed to notice the approach of Miwandi,
the Beothic woman, until she was in their midst. But they became aware
of her presence when she screamed with rage and flung herself upon
Kingswell.

"Pull the wench off," they cried, and made a futile grab at the mad
figure.

Kingswell, quick as a cat for all his Saxon colouring, wrenched himself
clear of her, avoided the slash of her knife by a half-inch, and lunged
through D'Antons' guard. The buccaneer pitched forward so suddenly and
heavily that the rapier was wrenched from the Englishman's hand. The
hilt struck the deck. The slim blade darted out between D'Antons'
shoulders a full two-thirds of its length. He sprawled on his face,
gulping his last breath; and the hilt of Kingswell's weapon knocked
spasmodically on the red planking of the deck. The woman, stunned with
grief, was led away by two of the seamen.

By the time the duel was over, the long, northern twilight was drawing
to a close. The decks of the _Cristobal_ were cleared of the dead bodies
and the wreckage of guns and spars. The torn rigging was partially
repaired; a few sails were set; and the shattered tiller was replaced.
The prisoners (wounded and bound together, they did not number a dozen)
were divided between the ships. A prize-crew of seven, under the first
mate's command, went aboard the _Cristobal_. Then the boarding-irons
were cast loose, and the vessels fell away from each other to a safe
distance.

Miwandi's grief was desperate. Beatrix strove to comfort her, but failed
signally. Her position was evident enough to every one who had seen her
frantic attempt to assist D'Antons in the encounter with Kingswell.
Beatrix guessed the story. Her face burned at remembrance of her
one-time companionship with D'Antons--of the days before she fully knew
his nature, and often sat at cards and chess with him in the little
cabin in the wilderness--and of the days before that, when he was one of
her admirers in London. Even now she did not know him for her father's
murderer. Kingswell had decided to keep that to himself, until some day
in the happy future, when the wilderness should be fainter than the
memory of a dream in his wife's mind.

For three days the ships kept within sight of each other. On the fourth,
a gale of wind drove them apart; but Kingswell felt no anxiety for the
prize, for she had received no serious damage to her hull in the bitter
encounter that had befallen on his wedding-day.

Aboard the _Heart of the West_ the wounded improved daily; the prisoners
cursed their irons and their luck; the crew never pulled on a rope
without a song to lighten the task; old Trowley, promoted from
imprisonment to the position of second mate, worked like a Trojan, and
Beatrix and Bernard sped the hours in the high and golden atmosphere of
love and youth. The Beothic woman, however, felt no response in her
heart to the stir and happiness about her. Her world had fallen in a
desolation of emptiness, and her very soul was weary of the sequence of
day and night, night and day. She would not eat. She sobbed quietly,
without rest, in her darkened berth. Her ears were deaf to words of
comfort, even when they were spoken in her own language by Ouenwa. She
asked no questions. Ever since that first outbreak, at sight of her
lover's danger, she accepted the will of her pitiless gods without signs
of either anger or wonder.

One still night, when the waves rocked under the faint light of the
stars without any breaking of foam, and the wind was just sufficient to
swell the sails from the yards, the man at the tiller was startled from
his reveries by a splash close alongside. He called to the officer of
the watch, who had heard nothing, and told him of the sound. They
scanned the sea on all sides and listened intently. They saw only the
black, vanishing crests. They heard only the whispering of the ship on
her way.

"A fish," said the mate. The other agreed with him.

In the morning Miwandi's berth was discovered to be empty,--no trace of
her was found alow or aloft.

The remaining days of the passage slipped by without any especial
incident. Winds served. Seas were considerate of the good ship's
safety. No fogs endangered the young lovers' homeward voyage. Every
night there was fiddling in the forecastle and the chanting of rude
ballads. And sometimes in the cabin a violin sang and sang, as if the
very heart of happiness were under the sounding-board, and Love himself
in the strings.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE MOTHER


Dame Kingswell, the widow of that good merchant of Bristol whom Queen
Elizabeth had knighted in her latter days, sat in her chamber and looked
down upon a pleasant garden beneath the window. She was alone. Her
garments, though of rich materials, were sombre in hue. She wore no
personal ornaments save two rings on her left hand, and a chain of gold,
bearing a small cross of the same metal, at her breast. Her thick hair
was snow-white. In her youth it had been as black as her husband's had
been flaxen. Her complexion held scarcely more colour than her hair. On
her knees a book of devotional poetry, splendidly illuminated about the
margins, lay open. But her thin hands were folded over the page, and her
gaze was upon the shrubbery of the garden. The time was early evening.
The sunlight was mellow gold. The hedges, shrubs, and fountain on the
lawns threw eastward shadows.

The chamber in which the widow sat was large and scantily furnished. A
few portraits, by masters of the brush, hung along the walls. A
prayer-desk, with a red hassock before it, stood in a corner.

A light rapping sounded on the door. The lady turned her eyes from the
bright garden below her window. She saw the door open, and a beautiful
girl in cloak and hat enter the room. The stranger advanced quickly, in
a whispering of silks, and in her glowing hands took the widow's
bloodless fingers.

"My dear," said the elder woman, kindly, "I fear my memory is flitting.
I do not recall your winsome face. Can it be that you are one of Sir
Felix Brown's lasses, grown to such a fine young lady in London?"

The girl sank on her knees and kissed the pale hands lightly and
prettily.

"My name is Beatrix Kingswell," she murmured.

The good dame was sorely puzzled. She tried, in vain, to connect this
lovely creature with any branches of the late knight's family.

"Then you are a kinswoman of mine?" she queried. "Pray do not kneel
there, my dear. Come sit in the window and tell me who you are."

But the stranger did not move.

"I am your daughter," she said. "And--oh, do not swoon, my
mother--Bernard is at the door, awaiting your permission to enter."

The widow closed her eyes for a second, leaning back in her chair. She
recovered herself swiftly and clutched the skirts of the girl, who was
now standing, ready to run to the door and admit her husband.

"What story is this?" she cried, incredulous. "I have no daughter. And
Bernard, my son, has lain dead in a far land these weary months."

"Nay, dear madam," replied the girl. "Nay, he is not dead. But let me go
to the door, and you will see him with your own eyes. He waits at your
threshold, happy and well."

The older woman maintained her hold of her visitor's gown. "And who are
you, to bring me word of my son's return?" she asked, with a ring of
shrewdness and suspicion in her voice. Dimly, she feared that she was
affording sport to some heartless person; for this sudden tale of her
son's safety, brought by this gay young lady, had broken upon her
pensive reveries like an impossible scene out of a play.

"I am his wife," replied Beatrix. With an effort, she pulled her skirts
away from the clutching fingers, and sped to the door. Throwing it open,
she admitted Bernard. The youth sprang to where his mother sat, and
caught her up from her chair against his breast. With a glad,
inarticulate cry, she slipped her arms around his neck and clung
hysterically.


Five days after the arrival of the _Heart of the West_, the _Cristobal_
sailed into port. By that time the story of her capture was well known
in the town, and a crowd of citizens gathered on the docks to welcome
her. Master Kingswell put her up for sale. In the end, he bought her
himself, for something more than she was worth. Every penny of the money
Beatrix gave to the brave fellows who had fought and sailed their ship
so valorously on her eventful wedding-day. Only that rugged and wayward
master mariner, John Trowley, failed to show himself for a share of the
gold. He had not the courage to run a chance of another meeting with
Lady Kingswell.

Of the future of Bernard, Beatrix, and the lad Ouenwa, something is
written in the old records in an exceeding dry vein. Of the fate of the
little fort on Gray Goose River, little is known. Some chroniclers
maintain that the French overpowered it; others are as certain that the
settlers moved to Conception Bay, and there established themselves so
securely that, even to-day, descendants of those Triggets and those
Donnellys cultivate their little crops, cure their fish, and sail their
fore-and-afters around the coast to St. John's.

THE END.





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