Tudor, quite unconscious, was slung across his shoulder, and carried a mile down the trail. Here, hiding new trail, Binu Charley had carried him for a quarter of a mile into the heart of the deepest jungle, and hidden him in a big banyan tree. Returning to try to save the rifles and personal outfit, Binu Charley had seen a party of bushmen trotting down the trail, and had hidden in the bush. Here, and from the direction of the main camp, he had heard two rifle shots. And that was all. He had never seen the white men again, nor had he ventured near their old camp. He had gone back to Tudor, and hidden with him for a week, living on wild fruits and the few pigeons and cockatoos he had been able to shoot with bow and arrow. Then he had journeyed down to Berande to bring the news. Tudor, he said, was very sick, lying unconscious for days at a time, and, when in his right mind, too weak to help himself.
“What name you no kill ’m that big fella marster?” Joan demanded. “He have ’m good fella musket, plenty calico, plenty tobacco, plenty knife-fee, and two fella pickaninny musket shoot quick, bang-bang-bang—just like that.”
The black smiled cunningly.
“Me savvee too much. S’pose me kill ’m big fella marster, bimeby plenty white fella marster walk about Binu cross like hell. ’What name this fellow musket?’ those plenty fella white marster talk ’m along me. My word, Binu Charley finish altogether. S’pose me kill ’m him, no good along me. Plenty white fella marster cross along me. S’pose me no kill ’m him, bimeby he give me plenty tobacco, plenty calico, plenty everything too much.”
“There is only the one thing to do,” Sheldon said to Joan.
She drummed with her hand and waited, while Binu Charley gazed wearily at her with unblinking eyes.
“I’ll start the first thing in the morning,” Sheldon said.
“We’ll start,” she corrected. “I can get twice as much out of my Tahitians as you can, and, besides, one white should never be alone under such circumstances.”
He shrugged his shoulders in token, not of consent, but of surrender, knowing the uselessness of attempting to argue the question with her, and consoling himself with the reflection that heaven alone knew what adventures she was liable to engage in if left alone on Berande for a week. He clapped his hands, and for the next quarter of an hour the house-boys were kept busy carrying messages to the barracks. A man was sent to Balesuna village to command old Seelee’s immediate presence. A boat’s-crew was started in a whale-boat with word for Boucher to come down. Ammunition was issued to the Tahitians, and the storeroom overhauled for a few days’ tinned provisions. Viaburi turned yellow when told that he was to accompany the expedition, and, to everybody’s surprise, Lalaperu volunteered to take his place.