Andy and Micah ran excitedly to the boats to report a few moments later that there were no indications of Jamie’s return.
“David, you and I shall have to go and look for him,” said Doctor Joe quietly. “Andy, you and the other lads build a fire outside as a guide. Get your supper, and don’t worry until we return.”
“What do you think’s been happenin’ to Jamie?” asked Andy anxiously.
“We took a short cut and did not follow the brook where it makes a wide bend,” suggested Doctor Joe. “He may be waiting for us along the brook at that point.”
“Oh, I hopes you’ll find he there!” said Andy fervently.
“Get your rifle and plenty of cartridges, David,” directed Doctor Joe. “I’ll carry mine also. When we get up the trail we’ll shoot to let Jamie know we’re looking for him.”
Each with a rifle on his shoulder, Doctor Joe in the lead and David following close behind, the two turned away into the now thickly falling snow and darkness.
BOUND AND HELPLESS
“See here,” said the man in front, stopping and turning about after what had seemed hours to the exhausted and bruised Jamie, “I for one ain’t goin’ to try to cross the Bay to-night in this here snow. It’s thicker’n mud, and there’s a sea runnin’ I won’t take chances with, not while I’m sober. We may’s well bunk.”
“Guess you’re right, pardner, we better bunk. But pull farther away to the west’ard before we put on a fire,” agreed Jamie’s captor with evident relief. “That bunch’ll be out huntin’ this here kid, and they may run on to us if we camp too close to ’em.”
“We’re a good two mile from ’em now. They’ll never run on to us,” argued the other.
“Go on a piece farther,” insisted the man called Bill, who was gripping Jamie’s arm so hard that it ached.
“Let the kid go! What’s the use of draggin’ him along? He’ll just be in our way, and we’ve got troubles enough of our own,” suggested the other.
“He ain’t goin’ back and have a chance to give us away to that bunch, not if I knows it. I’ve about made up my mind to croak him. He knows too much. Go on and find a place to bunk. I’m follerin’.”
“You won’t croak anybody while I’m hangin’ around! I’m tellin’ you I’ve got troubles enough on my hands already without chasin’ a noose. I’m goin’ to save my neck anyhow, and I ain’t goin’ to be mixed up in any croakin’,” muttered the one called Hank, as he turned and plunged forward again through the darkness.
What “croaking” meant Jamie did not in the least know, but he suspected that it referred to something not in the least pleasant for himself. He was too tired, however, to think or care a great deal as he was dragged on, stumbling in the darkness over fallen logs, and bumping into trees.
It seemed an interminable time to Jamie before the man ahead again stopped, and said decisively: