In a couple of minutes they had gained it.
“Anyone hurt?” Frank asked.
One of the boatmen had an arm broken by a bullet, and two of the sailors had received spear wounds at the hands of the villagers. They were not serious, however, and leaving George Lechmere to cover the rear, they started up the path; Dominique, as usual, leading the way, Frank following behind him with Bertha, who had hitherto not spoken a word.
“Am I dreaming?” she asked now, in a tone of bewilderment. “Is it really you, Frank?”
“You are not dreaming, dear, and it is certainly I—Frank Mallett. Now tell me how you got on.”
“As well as might be, Frank, but it was a terrible time. Please do not talk about it yet. But how is it that you are here? It seems a miracle.
“Oh, how ill you are looking! And your arm is in a sling, too.”
“That is nothing,” he said; “merely a broken collarbone. As to my looking ill, you must remember, I have had almost as anxious a time as you.”
“Then it was the Osprey, after all,” she exclaimed, suddenly, “that we saw the last day that we were out sailing. We were on deck, and I was not noticing—I did not notice much then—when Anna said to me, ’That looks like an English yacht, miss. I am sure Mr. Carthew thinks she is chasing us.’
“Then I got up and looked round. I could not see for certain, but it did look like a yacht, and I thought that it was about the size of the Osprey. Those two men were standing with their backs to us looking at it through their glasses, and Carthew happened to turn round and saw me standing up, and at once said: ’You must go below. I believe that is a pirate chasing us.’
“I said that it was nothing to me if it was. One pirate was just as good as another. Then he said that if I would not go down he should be obliged to use force, and called four men aft. So as it was of no use resisting, we went down. Presently we felt that the course had been changed. Late in the evening we heard them fire the two guns, and then some musket shots. Later on the man came down and told us that the pirates had tried to attack us in their boats, and that they had beaten them off, and that there was no further danger. But for all that I could see that he was troubled.”
“That was when I was hit, dear. We had not reckoned on the two guns, and with only the gig and dinghy, with one man killed and five of us wounded, it was too stiff a business, though we should have persevered, but that squall came down on us from the hills, and the Phantom, moreover, left us standing still. We believed that we should come up with the schooner in the morning.”
“But how did you come here, Frank? How did you know where we had been taken?”
“It is a long story, dear. We started in pursuit four days after you had been carried off. I will tell you all about it when we get safe again on board the yacht. I am afraid we shall have some trouble yet. Now if you are quite recovered from your surprise, do you feel equal to hurrying on? Every moment is of importance.”