WITH LEE IN VIRGINIA
A Story Of The American Civil War.
by G.A. Henty
Chapter 12. The Bush-Whackers.
"By the way, Dan," Vincent said when the negro had finished his meal, "we have not talked over that matter of my clothes. I can't imagine how that letter saying that one of us was disguised as a minister and would have a negro servant came to be written. Did you ever tell the people you lodged with anything about the disguise?"
"No, sah, neber said one word to dem about it; dey know nothing whatsoeber. De way me do wid your letter was dis. Me go outside town and wait for long time. At last saw black follow coming along. Me say to him, 'Can you read?' and he said as he could. I said 'I got a letter, I want to read him, I gib you a quarter to read him to me;' so he said yes, and he read de letter. He a long time of making it out, because he read print but not read writing well. He spell it out word by word, but I don't tink he understand dat it come from prison, only dat it come from some one who wanted some rope and a turn-screw. Me do just de same way wid de second letter. As for de clothes, me buy dem dat day, make dem up in bundle, and not go back to lodging at all. Me not know how any one could know dat I buy dat minister clothes for you, sah. Me told de storekeeper dat dey was for cousin of mine, who preach to de colored folk, and dat I send him suit as present. Onless dat man follow me and watch me all de time till we go off together, sah, me no see how de debbil he guess about it."
"That's quite impossible, Dan; it never could have been that way. It is very strange, for it would really seem that no one but you and I and the other two officers could possibly know about it."
"Perhaps one of dem want to do you bad turn, massa, and write so as to get you caught and shut up again."
Vincent started at the suggestion. Was it possible that Jackson could have done him this bad turn after his having aided him to make his escape It would be a villainous trick; but then he had always thought him capable of villainous tricks, and it was only the fact that they were thrown together in prison that had induced him to make up his quarrel with him; but though Jackson had accepted his advances, it was probable enough that he had retained his bad feeling against him, and had determined, if possible, to have his revenge on the first opportunity.
"The scoundrel," he said to himself, "after my getting him free, to inform against me! Of course I have no proof of it, but I have not the least doubt that it was him. If we ever meet again, Mr. Jackson, I will have it out with you."
"You got two pistols, sah," Dan said presently. "How you get dem?"
"The lady of that house gave them to me, Dan; they are one for you and one for me."
"Dis chile no want him, sah; not know what to do wid him. Go off and shoot myself, for sure."
"Well, I don't suppose you would do much good with it, Dan. As I am a good shot, perhaps I had better keep them both. You might load them for me as I fire them."
"Berry well, sah; you show me how to load, me load."
Vincent showed Dan how to extricate the discharged cartridge- cases and to put in fresh ones, and after a quarter of an hour's practice Dan was able to do this with some speed.
"When we going on, sah?" he said as, having learned the lesson, he handed the pistol back to Vincent.
"We are not going on until the evening, Dan. When it gets dark the lady is going to take us to a place where there is a boat hidden, and we shall then be able to cross the river."
"Den I will hab a sleep, sah. Noting like sleeping when there is a chance."
"I believe you could sleep three-quarters of your time, Dan. However, you may as well sleep now if you can, for there will be nothing to do till night."
Vincent went back to the edge of the wood, and sat down where he could command a view of the cottage. The country was for the most part covered with wood, for it was but thinly inhabited except in the neighborhood of the main roads. Few of the farmers had cleared more than half their ground; many only a few acres. The patch, in which the house with its little clump of trees stood nearly in the center, was of some forty or fifty acres in extent, and though now rank with weeds, had evidently been carefully cultivated, for all the stumps had been removed, and the fence round it was of a stronger and neater character than that which most of the cultivators deemed sufficient.
Presently he heard the sound of horses' feet in the forest behind him, and he made his way back to a road which ran along a hundred yards from the edge of the wood. He reached it before the horsemen came up, and lay down in the underwood a few yards back. In a short time two horsemen came along at a walking pace.
"I call this a fool's errand altogether," one of them said in a grumbling tone. "We don't know that they have headed this way; and if they have, we might search these woods for a month without finding them."
"That's so," the other said; "but Mullens has set his heart on it, and we must try for another day or two. My idea is that when the fellow heard what sort of a chap Mullens was, he took the hack train that night and went up north again."
Vincent heard no more, but it was enough to show him that a sharp hunt was being kept up for him; and although he had no fear of being caught in the woods, he was well pleased at the thought that he would soon be across the water and beyond the reach of his enemy. He went back again to the edge of the clearing and resumed his watch. It was just getting dusk, and he was about to join Dan when he saw a party of twelve men ride out from the other side of the wood and make toward the house. Filled with a vague alarm that possibly some one might have caught sight of him and his follower on the previous day, and might, on being questioned by the searchers, have given them a clew as to the direction in which they were going, Vincent hurried to the spot where he left Dan. The negro jumped up as he approached.
"Me awake long time, sah. Began to wonder where you had got to."
"Take your stick and come along, Dan, as fast as you can."
Without another word Vincent led the way along the edge of the wood to the point where the clump of trees at the back of the house hid it from his view.
"Now, Dan, stoop low and get across to those trees."
Greatly astonished at what was happening, but having implicit faith in his master, Dan followed without a question.
It was but ten minutes since Vincent had seen the horsemen, but the darkness had closed in rapidly, and he had little fear of his approach being seen. He made his way through the trees, and crept up to the house, and then kept close along it until he reached the front. There stood the horses, with the bridles thrown over their neck. The riders were all inside the house.
"Look here, Dan," he whispered, "you keep here perfectly quiet until I join you again or you hear a pistol-shot. If you do hear a shot, rush at the horses with your stick and drive them off at full gallop. Drive them right into the woods if you can and then lie quiet there till you hear me whistle for you. If you don't hear my whistle you will know that something has happened to me, and then you must make your way home as well as you can."
"Oh, Master Vincent," Dan began; but Vincent stopped him.
"It's no use talking, Dan; you must do as I order you. I hope all will be well; but it must be done anyhow."
"Let me come and load your pistol and fight with you, sah."
"You can do more good by stampeding the horses, Dan. Perhaps, after all, there will be no trouble."
So saying, leaving Dan with the tears running down his cheeks, Vincent went to the back of the house and tried the door there. It was fastened. Then he went to the other side; and here, the light streaming though the window, which was open, and the sound of loud voices, showed him the room where the party were. He crept cautiously up and looked in. Mullens was standing facing Lucy Kingston; the rest of the men were standing behind him. The girl was as pale as death, but was quiet and composed.
"Now," Mullens said, "I ask you for the last time. You have admitted that a man has been here to-day, and that you gave him food. You say he is not in the house; and as we have searched it pretty thoroughly, we know that's right enough. You say you don't know where he is, and that may be true enough in a sense; but I have asked you whether he is coming back again, and you won't answer me. I just give you three seconds;" and he held out his arm with a pistol in it. "One!" As the word "Two" left his lips, a pistol cracked, and Mullens fell back with a bullet in his forehead.
At the same time Vincent shouted at the top of his voice, "Come on, lads; wipe 'em out altogether. Don't let one of them escape." As he spoke he discharged his pistol rapidly into the midst of the men, who were for the moment too taken by surprise to move, and every shot took effect upon them. At the same moment there was a great shouting outside, and the trampling of horses' feet. One or two of the men hastily returned Vincent's fire, but the rest made a violent rush to the door. Several fell over the bodies of their comrades, and Vincent had emptied one of his revolvers and fired three shots with the second before the last of those able to escape did so. Five bodies remained on the floor. As they were still seven to one against him, Vincent ran to the corner of the house, prepared to shoot them as they came round; but the ruffians were too scared to think of anything but escape, and they could be heard running and shouting across the fields.
Vincent ran into the house. He had seen Lucy Kingston fall prostrate at the same instant as the ruffian facing her. Strung up to the highest tension, and expecting in another second to be shot, the crack of Vincent's pistol had brought her down as surely as the bullet of Mullens would have done. Even in the excitement of firing, Vincent felt thankful when he saw her fall, and knew that she was safe from the bullets flying about. When he entered the room he found the old negress lying beside her, and thought at first that she had fallen in the fray. He found that she was not only alive, but unhurt, having, the instant she saw her young mistress fall, thrown herself upon her to protect her from harm.
"Am dey all gone, sah?" she asked, as Vincent somewhat roughly pulled her off the girl's body.
"They have all gone, Chloe; but I do not know how soon they may be back again. Get your mistress round as soon as you can. I am sure that she has only fainted, for she fell the instant I fired, before another pistol had gone off."
Leaving the old woman to bring Miss Kingston round, he reloaded his pistols and went to the door. In a few minutes the sound of horses galloping was heard.
"Halt, or I fire!" he shouted.
"Don't shoot, sah! Don't shoot! It am me!" and Dan rode up, holding a second horse by the bridle. "I thought I might as well get two ob dem, so I jump on de back ob one and get hold ob anoder bridle while I was waiting to hear your pistol fire. Den de moment I heard dat I set de oders off, and chased dem to de corner where de gate was where dey came in at, and along de road for half a mile; dey so frightened dey not stop for a long time to come. Den I turn into de wood and went through de trees, so as not to meet dem fellows, and lifted two of de bars of the fence, and here I am. You are not hurt, massa?"
"My left arm is broken, I think, Dan; but that is of no consequence. I have shot five of these fellows--their leader among them--and I expect three of the others have got a bullet somewhere or other in them. There was such a crowd round the door that I don't think one shot missed. It was well I thought of stampeding the horses; that gave them a greater fright than my pistols. No doubt they thought that there was a party of our bushwhackers upon them. Now, Dan, you keep watch, and let me know if you see any signs of their returning. I think they are too shaken up to want any more fighting; but as there are seven of them, and they may guess there are only two or three of us, it is possible they may try again."
"Me don't tink dey try any more, sah. Anyhow, I look out sharp." So saying, Dan, fastening up one of the horses, rode the other in a circle round and round the house and little plantation, so that it would not be possible for any one to cross the clearing without being seen. Vincent returned to the house, and found Miss Kingston just recovering consciousness. She sat upon the ground in a confused way.
"What has happened, nurse?"
"Never mind at present, dearie. Juss you keep yourself quiet, and drink a little water."
The girl mechanically obeyed. The minute she put down the glass her eye fell upon Vincent, who was standing near the door.
"Oh! I remember now!" she said, starting up. "Those men were here and they were going to shoot me. One--two--and then he fired, and it seemed that I fell dead. Am I not wounded?"
"He never fired at all, Miss Kingston; he will never fire again. I shot him as he said 'two,' and no doubt the shock of the sudden shot caused you to faint dead away. You fell the same instant that he did."
"But where are the others?" the girl said with a shudder. "How imprudent of you to come here! I hoped you had seen them coming toward the house."
"I did see them, Miss Kingston, and that was the reason I came. I was afraid they might try rough measures to learn from you where I was hidden. I arrived at the window just as the scoundrel was pointing his pistol toward you, and then there was no time to give myself up, and I had nothing to do for it but to put a bullet through his head in order to save you. Then I opened fire upon the rest, and my boy drove off their horses. They were seized with a panic and bolted, thinking they were surrounded. Of course I kept up my fire, and there are four of them in the next room besides their captain. And now, if you please, I will get you, in the first place, to bind my arm tightly across my chest, for one of their bullets hit me in the left shoulder, and has, I fancy, broken it."
The girl gave an exclamation of dismay.
Do not be alarmed, Miss Kingston; a broken shoulder is not a very serious matter, only I would rather it had not happened just at the present moment; there are more important affairs in hand. The question is, What is to become of you? It is quite impossible that you should stay here after what has happened. Those scoundrels are sure to come back again."
"What am I to do, Chloe?" the girl asked in perplexity. "I am sure we cannot stay here. We must find our way through the woods to Nashville, and I must try and get something to do there."
"There is another way, Miss Kingston, if you like to try it," Vincent said. "Of course it would be toilsome and unpleasant, but I do not think it would be dangerous, for even if we got caught there would be no fear of your receiving any injury from the Federal troops. My proposal is that you and Chloe should go with us. If we get safely through the Federal lines I will escort you to Georgia and place you with your friends there."
The girl looked doubtful for a moment, and then she shook her head.
"I could not think of that, sir. It would be difficult enough for you to get through the enemy by yourselves It would add terribly to your danger to have us with you."
"I do not think so," Vincent replied. "Two men would be sure to be questioned and suspected, but a party like ours would be far less likely to excite suspicion. Every foot we get south we shall find ourselves more and more among people who are friendly to us, and although they might be afraid to give shelter to men, they would not refuse to take women in. I really think, Miss Kingston, that this plan is the best. In the first place it would be a dangerous journey for you through the woods to Nashville and if you fall into the hands of any of those ruffians who have been here you may expect no mercy. At Nashville you will have great difficulty in obtaining employment of any kind and even suppose you went further north your position as a friendless girl would be a most painful one. As to your staying here that is plainly out of the question. I think that there is no time to lose in making a decision. Those fellows may go to the camp at the bridge, give their account of the affair, declare they have been attacked by a party of Confederate sympathizers, and return here with a troop of horse."
"What do you say, Chloe?" Lucy asked.
"I'se ready to go wid you whereber you like, Miss Lucy; but I do tink dat in times like dis dat a young gal is best wid her own folk. It may be hard work getting across, but as to danger dar can't he much more danger than dar has been in stopping along here, so it seems to me best to do as dis young officer says."
"Very well, then, I will, sir. We will go under your protection, and will give you as little trouble as we can. We will be ready in five minutes. Now, Chloe, let us put a few things together. The fewer the better. Just a small bundle which we can carry in our hands."
In a few minutes they returned to the room, Chloe carrying a large basket, and looking somewhat ruffled.
"Chloe is a little upset," the girl said, smiling, "because I won't put my best things on; and the leaving her Sunday gown behind is a sore trouble to her."
"No wonder, sah," Chloe said, "why dey say dat thar am no pretty dresses in de 'Federacy, and dat blue gown wid red spots is just as good as new, and it am downright awful to tink dat dose fellows will come back and take it."
"Never mind, Chloe," Vincent said, smiling. "No doubt we are short of pretty dresses in the South, but I dare say we shall be able to find you something that will be almost as good. But we must not stand talking. You are sure you have got everything of value, Miss Kingston?"
"I have got my purse," she said, "and Chloe has got some food. I don't think there is anything else worth taking in the house."
"Very well, we will be off," Vincent said, leading the way to the door.
A minute later Dan rode past, and Vincent called him and told him they were going to start.
"Shall we take de horses, sah?"
"No, Dan. We are going to carry out our original plan of crossing the river in a boat, and I think the horses would be rather in our way than not. But you had better not leave them here. Take them to the farther side of the clearing and get them through the fence into the forest, then strike across as quickly as you can and join us where we were stopping to-day. Miss Kingston and her servant are going with us. They cannot stay here after what has taken place."
Dan at once rode off with the two horses, and the others walked across to the edge of the clearing and waited until he rejoined them.
"Now, Miss Kingston, you must be our guide at present."
"We must cross the road first," the girl said. "Nearly opposite to where we are there is a little path through the wood leading straight down to the river. The boat lies only a short distance from it."
The path was a narrow one, and it was very dark under the trees.
"Mind how you go," Vincent said as the girl stepped lightly on ahead. "You might get a heavy fall if you caught your foot on a root."
She instantly moderated her pace. "I know the path well, but it was thoughtless of me to walk so fast. I forgot you did not know it, and if you were to stumble you might hurt your arm terribly. How does it feel now?"
"It certainly hurts a bit," Vincent replied in a cheerful tone; "but now it is strapped tightly to me it cannot move much. Please do not worry about me."
"Ah!" she said, "I cannot forget how you got it--how you attacked twelve men to save me!"
"Still less can I forget, Miss Kingston, how you, a young girl, confronted death rather than say a word that would place me in their power."
"That was quite different, Mr. Wingfield. My own honor was pledged not to betray you, who had trusted me."
"Well, we will cry quits for the present, Miss Kingston; or, rather, we will be content to remain for the present in each other's debt."
A quarter of an hour's walking brought them to the river.
"Now," Lucy said, "we must make our way about ten yards through these bushes to the right."
With some difficulty they passed through the thick screen of bushes, the girl still leading the way.
"Here it is," she said; "I have my hand upon it." Vincent was soon beside her, and the negroes quickly joined them.
"There are no oars in the boat," Vincent said, feeling along the seat.
"Oh! I forgot! They are stowed away behind the bushes on the right; they were taken out, so that if the Yankees found the boat it would be of no use to them."
Dan made his way through the bushes, and soon found the oars. Then uniting their strength they pushed the boat through the high rushes that screened it from the river.
"It is afloat," Vincent said. "Now, Dan, take your place in the bow."
I will row, Mr. Wingfield. I am a very good hand at it. So please take your seat with Chloe in the stern."
"Dan can take one oar, anyhow," Vincent replied; "but I will let you row instead of me. I am afraid I should make a poor hand of it with only one arm."
The boat pushed quietly out. The river was about a hundred yards wide at this point. They had taken but a few strokes when Vincent said:
"You must row hard, Miss Kingston, or we shall have to swim for it. The water is coming through the seams fast."
The girl and Dan exerted themselves to the utmost; but, short as was the passage, the boat was full almost to the gunwale before they reached the opposite bank, the heat of the sun having caused the planks to open during the months it had been lying ashore.
"This is a wet beginning," Lucy Kingston said laugh as she tried to wring the water out of the lower part of her dress. "Here, Chloe; you wring me and I will wring you."
"Now, Dan, get hold of that head-rope," Vincent said; "haul her up little by little as the water runs out over the stern."
"I should not trouble about the boat, Mr. Wingfield; it is not likely we shall ever want it again."
"I was not thinking of the boat; I was thinking of ourselves. If it should happen to be noticed at the next bridge as it drifted down, it would at once suggest to any one on the lookout for us that we had crossed the river; whereas, if we get it among the bushes here, they will believe that we are hidden in the woods or have headed back to the north, and we shall be a long way across the line, I hope, before they give up searching for us in the woods on the other side."
"Yes; I didn't think of that. We will help you with the rope."
The boat was very heavy, now that it was full of water. Inch by inch it was pulled up, until the water was all out except near the stern. Dan and Vincent then turned it bottom upward, and it was soon hauled up among the bushes.
"Now, Miss Kingston, which do you think is our best course? I know nothing whatever of the geography here."
"The next town is Mount Pleasant; that is where the
Williamsport road passes the railway. If we keep south we shall strike the railway, and that will take us to Mount Pleasant. After that the road goes on to Florence, on the Tennessee River. The only place that I know of on the road is Lawrenceburg. That is about forty miles from here, and I have heard that the Yankees are on the line from there right and left. I believe our troops are at Florence; but I am not sure about that, because both parties are constantly shifting their position, and I hear very little, as you may suppose, of what is being done. Anyhow, I think we cannot do better than go on until we strike the railway, keep along by that till we get within a short distance of Mount Pleasant, and then cross it. After that we can decide whether we will travel by the road or keep on through the woods. But we cannot find our way through the woods at night; we should lose ourselves before we had gone twenty yards."
"I am afraid we should, Miss Kingston."
"Please call me Lucy," the girl interrupted. "I am never called anything else, and I am sure this is not a time for ceremony."
"I think that it will be better; and will you please call me Vin. It is much shorter and pleasanter using our first names; and as we must pass for brother and sister if we get among the Yankees, it is better to get accustomed to it. I quite agree with you that it will be too dark to find our way through the woods unless we can discover a path.
"Dan and I will see if we can find one. If we can, I think it will be better to go on a little way at any rate, so as to get our feet warm and let our clothes dry a little."
"They will not dry to-night," Lucy said. "It is so damp in the woods that even if our clothes were dry now they would be wet before morning."
"I did not think of that. Yes, in that case I do not see that we should gain anything by going farther; we will push on for two or three hundred yards, if we can, and then we can light a fire without there being any chance of it being seen from the other side."
"That would be comfortable, Mr.--I mean Vin," the girl agreed. "That is, if you are quite sure that it would be safe. I would rather be wet all night than that we should run any risks."
"I am sure if we can get a couple of hundred yards into this thick wood the fire would not be seen through it," Vincent said; "of course I do not mean to make a great bonfire which would light up the forest."
For half an hour they forced their way through the bushes, and then Vincent said he was sure that they had come far enough. Finding a small open space, Dan, and Lucy, and the negress set to work collecting leaves and dry sticks. Vincent had still in his pocket the newspaper he had bought in the streets of Nashville, and he always carried lights. A piece of the paper was crumpled up and lighted, a few of the driest leaves they could find dropped upon it, then a few twigs, until at last a good fire was burning.
"I think that is enough for the present," Vincent said. "We will keep on adding wood as fast as it burns down, so as to get a great pile of embers, and keep two or three good big logs burning all night."
He then gave directions to Dan, who out a long stick and fastened it to two saplings, one of which grew just in front of the fire. Then he set to work and cut off branches, and laid them sloping against it, and soon had an arbor constructed of sufficient thickness to keep off the night dews.
"I think you will be snug in there," Vincent said when he had finished. "The heat of the fire will keep you dry and warm, and if you lie with your heads the other way I think your things will he dry by the morning. Dan and I will lie down by the other side of the fire. We are both accustomed to sleep in the open air, and have done so for months."
"Thank you very much," she said. "Our things are drying already, and I am as warm as a toast; but, indeed, you need not trouble about us. We brought these warm shawls with us on purpose for night-work in the forest. Now, I think we will try the contents of the basket Dan has been carrying."
The basket, which was a good-sized one, was opened. Chloe had before starting put all the provisions in the house into it, and it contained three loaves, five or six pounds of bacon, a canister of tea and loaf-sugar, a small kettle, and two pint mugs, besides a number of odds and ends. The kettle Dan had, by Chloe's direction, filled with water before leaving the river, and this was soon placed among the glowing embers.
"But you have brought no teapot, Chloe."
"Dar was not no room for it, Miss Lucy. We can make tea berry well in de kettle."
"So we can. I forgot that. We shall do capitally."
The kettle was not long in boiling. Chloe produced some spoons and knives and forks from the basket.
"Spoons and forks are luxuries, Chloe," Vincent said laughing. "We could have managed without them."
"Yes, sah; but me not going to leave massa's silver for dose villains to find."
Lucy laughed. "At any rate, Chloe, we can turn the silver into money if we run short. Now the kettle is boiling."
It was taken off the fire, and Lucy poured some tea into it from the canister, and then proceeded to cut up the bread. A number of slices of bacon had already been cut off, and a stick thrust through them, and Dan, who was squatted at the other side of the fire holding it over the flames, now pronounced them to be ready. The bread served as plates, and the party were soon engaged upon their meal, laughing and talking over it as if it had been an ordinary picnic in the woods, though at times Vincent's face contracted from the sharp twitching of pain in his shoulder. Vincent and Lucy first drank their tea, and the mugs were then handed to Dan and Chloe.
"This is great fun," Lucy said. "If it goes on like it all through our journey we shall have no need to grumble. Shall we Chloe?"
"If you don't grumble, Miss Lucy, you may be quite sure dat Chloe will not. But we hab not begun our journey at present; and I spec dat we shall find it pretty hard work before we get to de end. But neber mind dat; anyting is better dan being all by ourselves in dat house. Terrible sponsibility dat."
"It was lonely," the girl said, "and I am glad we are away from it whatever happens. What a day this has been. Who could have dreamed when I got up in the morning that all this would take place before night. It seems almost like a dream, and I can hardly believe"--and here she stopped with a little shiver as she thought of the scene she had passed though with the band of bushwhackers.
"I would not think anything at all about it," Vincent said. "And now I should recommend your turning in, and getting to sleep as soon as you can. We will be off at daybreak, and it is just twelve o'clock now."
Five minutes later Lucy and her old nurse were snugly ensconced in their little bower, while Vincent and Dan stretched themselves at full length on the other side of the fire. In spite of the pain in his shoulder Vincent dozed off occasionally, butt he was heartily glad when he saw the first gleam of light in the sky. He woke Dan.
"Dan, do you take the kettle down to the river and fill it. We had better have some breakfast before we make our start. If you can't find your way back, whistle and I will answer you."
Dan, however, had no occasion to give the signal. It took him little more than five minutes to traverse the distance that had occupied them half an hour in the thick darkness, and Vincent was quite surprised when he reappeared again with the kettle. Not until it was boiling, and the bacon was ready, did Vincent raise his voice and call Lucy and the nurse.
"This is reversing the order of things altogether," the girl said as she came out and saw breakfast already prepared. "I shall not allow it another time, I can tell you."
"We are old campaigners, you see," Vincent said, "and accustomed to early movements. Now please let us waste no time, as the sooner we are off the better."
In a quarter of an hour breakfast was eaten and the basket packed, and they were on their way. Now the bright, glowing light in the east was sufficient guide to them as to the direction they should take, and setting their face to the south they started through the forest. In a quarter of an hour they came upon a little stream running through the wood, and here Vincent suggested that Lucy might like a wash, a suggestion which was gratefully accepted. He and Dan went a short distance down the streamlet, and Vincent bathed his face and head.
"Dan, I will get you to undo this bandage and get off my coat; then I will make a pad of my handkerchief and dip it in the water and you can lay it on my shoulder, and then help me on again with my coat. My arm is getting horribly painful."
Vincent's right arm was accordingly drawn through the sleeve and the coat turned down so as to enable Dan to lay the wet pad on the shoulder.
"It has not bled much," Vincent said, looking down at it.
"No, sah, not much blood on de shirt."
"Pull the coat down as far as the elbow, Dan, and bathe it for a bit."
Using his cap as a bailer, Dan bathed the arm for ten minutes, then the wet pad was placed in position, and with some difficulty the coat got on again. The arm was then bandaged across the chest, and they returned to the women, who were beginning to wonder at the delay.