“Go straight at them, George,” Frank shouted, running himself directly towards the nearest hut, just as Bertha, startled at the noise, came to its entrance.
She stood for an instant in astonishment, then with a scream of joy ran a step or two and fell forward into his arms.
“Thank God, I have found you at last,” he said. “Wait here a moment, darling. I will be back directly. Go into the hut until I come.”
But Bertha was too overpowered with surprise and delight to heed his words, and Frank handed her to her maid, who had run out behind her.
“Take her in,” he said, as he carried her to the entrance of the hut, “and stay there until I come again.”
Then he ran after his party. A wild hubbub had burst forth. Muskets and pistols were cracking. Carthew, as he ran out of the hut, discharged his pistol at the sailors, but in his surprise and excitement missed them; and before he had time to level another, George Lechmere bounded upon him, and with a shout of “This is for Martha Bennett,” brought his cutlass down upon his head.
He fell like a log, and at the same moment one of the sailors shot his companion. Then they dashed against the Belgian sailors, who had been joined by the blacks.
“Give them a volley, lads!” George shouted.
The four sailors fired, as a moment later did the boatmen, and then cutlass in hand rushed upon them.
Just as they reached them Frank arrived. There was but a moment’s resistance. Two of the sailors had fallen under the volley, a third was cut down, and the fourth, as well as the blacks, fled towards the village. Here the Obi drum was beating fiercely.
“Load again, lads,” Frank shouted. “Two of you come back with me.”
He ran with them back to the end hut, but Bertha had now recovered from her first shock.
“Come, darling,” he said, “there is not a moment to lose. We must get out of this as soon as we can.
“Come along, Anna.
“Thompson, do you look after her. I will see to Miss Greendale.”
Just as they reached the others, a volley was fired from the village by the blacks of Carthew’s party, who were armed with muskets. Then they, with thirty other negroes, rushed out with loud shouts.
“Don’t fire until they are close,” Frank shouted. “Now let them have it.”
The volley poured into them, at but ten paces distance, had a deadly effect. The blacks paused for a moment, and the rescuing party, led by George Lechmere and Dominique, rushed at them. The sailors’ pistols cracked out, and then they charged, cutlass in hand.
For a moment the blacks stood, but the fierce attack was too much for them, and they again fled to the village.
“Stop, Dominique!” Frank shouted, for the big pilot, who had already cut down three of his opponents, was hotly pursuing them. “We must make for the path at once.”