“Oh, yes,” she said. “He will be after us.”
“He won’t,” Frank said. “George Lechmere cut him down. Whether he killed him or not I cannot say, but I don’t fancy anyhow that he will be able to take up the chase. It is that rascally Obi man I am afraid of. He has great power over the people, and may raise the whole country to attack us.”
“I am ready to run as fast as you like, Frank.”
“We may as well go at a trot for a bit.”
Then raising his voice, he said:
“We will go at double, lads, now.
“Put your arm on my shoulder, Bertha, and we can fancy that we are going to waltz.”
“I feel so happy that I want to cry, Frank,” she said as they started.
“Don’t do that until you get on board the Osprey.”
As they passed the spot where they had halted, George Lechmere told two of the blacks to pick up the stretchers and carry them along. They were merely two light poles, with a wattle work formed of giant creepers worked for some six feet in length between them.
“What are those for?” Bertha asked, as she passed them.
“Those are to carry you and Anna along when you get exhausted. It is twenty miles to the coast, you know.”
“I feel as if I could walk any distance to get on board the Osprey again.”
“I have no doubt that you have the spirit, Bertha, but I question whether you have the strength; especially after being over three months without any exercise at all. I felt it myself yesterday, although we did little more than ten miles.”
“Oh, but then you have been wounded. And you do look so ill, Frank.”
“I dare say the wound had a little to do with it,” he said; “but of course the climate is trying too; though it is cooler up on the hills than it is in that bay.”
“Now, Frank, the first question of all is—How is my mother? What did she do when I was missing? It must have been awful for her.”
“Of course, it was a terrible anxiety, Bertha, but she bore it better than would be expected, especially as she had not been well before.”
“It troubled me more, Frank, than even my own affairs. As soon as I had time to think at all, I could not imagine what she would do, and the only comfort was that she had you to look after her.”
“No doubt it was a comfort, dear, that she had someone to lean upon a little.
“Halt!” he broke off suddenly, as there was the sound of a stick breaking among the trees close by. “Stand to your arms, men, and gather closely.
“Bertha, do you and Anna take your place in the centre, and please lie down.”
“I cannot do that, Frank,” she said, positively. “Here you are all risking your lives for us, and now you want me to put myself quite safe while you are all in danger.”
“I want to be able to fight, Bertha, free of anxiety, and to be able to devote my whole attention to the work. This I can’t do if I know that you are exposed to bullets.”