Dear loyalty, that suffered a sharp pang as the guest went away disappointed later in the day that could have served and followed him and loved him as a dog loves!
In her final paragraph, Sarah Orne Jewett intimates how taken Sylvia has been with the ornithologist. But, in this same paragraph, Jewett also asks, "Were the birds better friends than their hunter might have been...?" So, this is the conflict that has been presented to the reader: Nature vs. Man.
Taken as such, the reader, then, must feel that Sylvia will make the choice in favor of the white heron, a creature of the nature to which she has become so endeared for years. For, Sylvia "could not understand why he killed the very birds he seemed to like so much"; and knowing that the heron would be killed if she were to divulge its home, Sylvia, this "little woods girl," whom her grandmother says is "Afraid of folks," cannot betray in her "dear loyalty," the heron and be true to herself.