Kemp merely shrugged his shoulders.
‘Well, it’s not for me to deal with you,’ said Ken. ’We’ll take him back, Roy, and he’ll stand a proper court-martial. Still, as he calls himself an officer, I suppose I must take his parole.’
‘Do you give it?’ he demanded of Kemp.
Kemp’s sallow face had gone white, but whether from fear or rage was doubtful. ‘Yes,’ he said in a low voice, ‘I give my parole.’
They turned, and with Kemp between them, set out at a sharp pace in the direction from which they had come.
From the distance rifles still snapped, and a couple of miles away to the south-west field-guns were booming. But all around was strangely quiet. Ken began to feel a trifle uneasy. He realised that they had got a long way ahead of their comrades, and that the latter had already been recalled.
‘Quite nice and peaceful up here, eh, Ken?’ said Roy with his cheerful grin.
Before Ken could reply there came a shot from somewhere quite close at hand, and with a sharp cry Ken dropped his rifle.
‘Winged, old chap?’ said Roy, turning quickly.
As he did so Kemp made a dash, and hurled himself up the slope to the left.
‘Never mind me!’ cried Ken. ‘Catch Kemp. Shoot him. Stop him anyhow.’
Roy flung up his rifle and took a snap shot.
He missed, and before he could pull the trigger a second time, the ex-steward had dived like a weasel into a clump of scrub and was gone.
Roy dashed up the bank in hot pursuit. The moment he showed himself a regular volley of rifle shots rang out, and spinning round he sprang back into the hollow.
‘There’s about twenty Turks coming hard up the next gully,’ he panted. ‘We’ve got to bunk like blazes if we want to save our skins.’
THE HUNTERS HUNTED
Ken was standing, looking half dazed. His rifle was on the ground, and he was holding his left arm with his right hand.
‘Are you hurt, Ken?’ asked Roy, and there was real concern in his voice. The two had known one another less than a week, yet each had come to respect and like the other.
’No. I’m not hit. The bullet struck the barrel of my rifle. It numbed my arm for the moment. I’m quite all right, but my rifle’s done for, so far as firing goes. Rotten luck, losing Kemp.’
‘Never mind Kemp,’ said Roy, serious for once. ’These Turkish Johnnies are between us and home. And they’re after us. It’ll take us all our time to get clear. Which way are we to go?’
As he spoke a shout came from the next gully. It was Kemp’s voice, and he was evidently calling his men up to pursue the two Britishers.
Ken glanced round quickly. He saw at once that it was out of the question to make straight back for their own lines. They would be cut off for a dead certainty. The two other alternatives were to make off to the right or to go straight back up the gully.