“We’ll be gettin’ in bigger trouble if we takes him along. We’ll have the hull country huntin’ us,” Hank protested.
“You heard me! I ain’t goin’ to take chances on his blabbin’! He goes along, and I’ll fix him so’s he won’t blab and nobody’ll get our trail if they do hunt us. The snow’ll hide it,” insisted Bill.
“Well, let’s get a move on then,” said Hank. “The wind’s risin’ and it’s goin’ to kick up a sea. I don’t want to be caught out on the Bay again in a sea like we had that other time. The snow’s goin’ to be thick too, and we’ll lose our bearings.”
“Go on, then. I’ll foller with the kid,” said Bill, still holding Jamie’s aching arm.
“Better let the kid go,” said Hank, swinging a rifle over his left shoulder and with an axe in his right hand striding away through the darkness and thickly falling snow.
“Come along you!” and Jamie’s captor, gripping Jamie’s arm in one hand and with a rifle in the other, followed in the trail of the man Hank, dragging Jamie almost too fast for his legs to carry him.
On and on they went through the darkness. Now and again Jamie fell over stumps or other obstructions, and each time the man, with a curse, jerked him to his feet.
Snow was falling heavily and the wind was rising. Once they crossed a frozen marsh where the snow swirled around them in clouds. Then they were again among the forest trees, forging ahead in silence save for an occasional curse by the man who held Jamie in his merciless and relentless grip.
Seth Muggs, intent upon keeping pace with Andy on his right, and not permitting him to get out of sight, quite neglected to be equally cautious as to Jamie on his left. In this Seth was in no wise neglectful. The responsibility in each case, in order to keep the line from breaking, was to keep the neighbour nearer the brook in view. In this Jamie alone had failed.
Jamie had, indeed, been out of line for a considerable time before Seth became aware of the fact. Even then he felt no concern. Doctor Joe had instructed Jamie to return to camp if he became weary, and when he was missed had no doubt he had taken advantage of the suggestion.
Nevertheless, when Doctor Joe passed the word along the line to reassemble, Seth gave several lusty shouts for Jamie. When, after a reasonable time, he received no reply, he was satisfied Jamie was snug in camp with the kettle boiling for tea, and he turned down to join the others at the brook.
“It’s a little later than I thought,” said Doctor Joe as they came together, “but we’ll have plenty of time to reach camp before dark. Now let’s count noses.”
“Where’s Jamie?” asked David. “We’re all here but Jamie.”
“I’m thinkin’ he gets tired and goes back to camp like Doctor Joe were sayin’ for he to do,” suggested Seth. “I missed he a while back.”