Once they were well into the thick bush the horses had to be abandoned. Papehara was left in charge of them, while Joan and Sheldon and the remaining Tahitians pushed ahead on foot. The way led down through a swampy hollow, which was overflowed by the Berande River on occasion, and where the red trail of the murderers was crossed by a crocodile’s trail. They had apparently caught the creature asleep in the sun and desisted long enough from their flight to hack him to pieces. Here the wounded man had sat down and waited until they were ready to go on.
An hour later, following along a wild-pig trail, Sheldon suddenly halted. The bloody tracks had ceased. The Tahitians cast out in the bush on either side, and a cry from Utami apprised them of a find. Joan waited till Sheldon came back.
“It’s Mauko,” he said. “Kwaque did for him, and he crawled in there and died. That’s two accounted for. There are ten more. Don’t you think you’ve got enough of it?”
“It isn’t nice,” she said. “I’ll go back and wait for you with the horses.”
“But you can’t go alone. Take two of the men.”
“Then I’ll go on,” she said. “It would be foolish to weaken the pursuit, and I am certainly not tired.”
The trail bent to the right as though the runaways had changed their mind and headed for the Balesuna. But the trail still continued to bend to the right till it promised to make a loop, and the point of intersection seemed to be the edge of the plantation where the horses had been left. Crossing one of the quiet jungle spaces, where naught moved but a velvety, twelve-inch butterfly, they heard the sound of shots.
“Eight,” Joan counted. “It was only one gun. It must be Papehara.”
They hurried on, but when they reached the spot they were in doubt. The two horses stood quietly tethered, and Papehara, squatted on his hams, was having a peaceful smoke. Advancing toward him, Sheldon tripped on a body that lay in the grass, and as he saved himself from falling his eyes lighted on a second. Joan recognized this one. It was Cosse, one of Gogoomy’s tribesmen, the one who had promised to catch at sunset the pig that was to have baited the hook for Satan.
“No luck, Missie,” was Papehara’s greeting, accompanied by a disconsolate shake of the head. “Catch only two boy. I have good shot at Gogoomy, only I miss.”
“But you killed them,” Joan chided. “You must catch them alive.”
The Tahitian smiled.
“How?” he queried. “I am have a smoke. I think about Tahiti, and breadfruit, and jolly good time at Bora Bora. Quick, just like that, ten boy he run out of bush for me. Each boy have long knife. Gogoomy have long knife one hand, and Kwaque’s head in other hand. I no stop to catch ’m alive. I shoot like hell. How you catch ’m alive, ten boy, ten long knife, and Kwaque’s head?”