“Look behind you, Professor,” he whispered.
In the far distance were a number of little black specks, growing every moment larger. Even at that moment they heard the low, long call of the Mongars.
“They are gaining on us,” Quest muttered.
The two girls, white though they were, bent over their horses.
“We’ll stick to it till the last moment,” Quest continued, “then we’ll turn and let them have it.”
They raced on for another mile or more. A bullet whistled over their heads. Quest tightened his reins.
“No good,” he sighed. “We’d better stay and fight it out, Professor. Stick close to me, Lenora.”
They drew up and hastily dismounted. The Mongars closed in around them. A cloud had drifted in front of the moon, and in the darkness it was almost impossible to see their whereabouts. They heard the Chief’s voice.
“Shoot first that dog of a Craig!”
There was a shriek. Suddenly Feerda, breaking loose from the others, raced across the little division. She flung herself from her horse.
“Tell my father that you were not faithless,” she pleaded. “They shall not kill you!”
She clung to Craig’s neck. The bullets were beginning to whistle around them now. All of a sudden she threw up her arms. Craig, in a fury, turned around and fired into the darkness. Then suddenly, as though on the bidding of some unspoken word, there was a queer silence. Every one was distinctly conscious of an alien sound—the soft thud of many horses’ feet galloping from the right; then a sharp, English voice of command.
“Hold your fire, men. Close into the left there. Steady!”
The cloud suddenly rolled away from the moon. A long line of horsemen were immediately visible. The officer in front rode forward.
“Drop your arms and surrender,” he ordered sternly.
The Mongars, who were outnumbered by twenty to one, obeyed without hesitation. Their Chief seemed unconscious, even, of what had happened. He was on his knees, bending over the body of Feerda, half supported in Craig’s arms. The officer turned to Quest.
“Are you the party who left Port Said for the Mongar Camp?” he asked.
“They took us into the jungle—just escaped. They’d caught us here, though, and I’m afraid we were about finished if you hadn’t come along. We are not English—we’re American.”
“Same thing,” the officer replied, as he held out his hand. “Stack up their arms, men,” he ordered, turning around. “Tie them in twos. Dennis, take the young ladies back to the commissariat camels.”
The Professor drew a little sigh.
“Commissariat!” he murmured. “That sounds most inviting.”
’NEATH IRON WHEELS
Side by side they leaned over the rail of the steamer and gazed shorewards at the slowly unfolding scene before them. For some time they had all preserved an almost ecstatic silence.