You are Cimarrones, are you not?" "Si, senor, si," answered the black; "we are Cimarrones; and perhaps our chief may be able to tell you what you wish to know about Nombre. Will you come to our village? It lies yonder."
For fully two miles the adventurers pursued their devious course through the tropical forest, sometimes groping their way cautiously through the deep green twilight, and anon almost blinded by a sudden glare of dazzling sunshine, as they emerged into an open space caused either by fire or a windfall, and all the time Dyer kept up the curious cry, at frequent intervals, which was the call of the Cimarrones.
Fifty yards to the rear again followed the aforesaid main body, consisting of half the Englishmen, the mule train, and the other half of the Englishmen, while the remainder of the Cimarrones constituted the rear guard.
Their tempers are too widely different not to be an obstacle to friendship. Life in societies is again the rule with the large family of horses, which includes the wild horses and donkeys of Asia, the zebras, the mustangs, the cimarrones of the Pampas, and the half-wild horses of Mongolia and Siberia.
He was highly amused and delighted when he learned that the English had held the city of Nombre at their mercy for five days, but looked both puzzled and disgusted when he learned that they had left the place as they found it, without sacking the city, exacting a ransom, or making the Spaniards suffer in any way; for the Cimarrones hated the Spaniards with a hatred that was perfectly fiendish, and woe betide any Spaniard or body of Spaniards whose evil fortune it was to fall into their hands.
But with their departure from the village silence and strict military discipline became the order of the day, because although Lukabela was going to lead them, not by the Gold road, upon which they would be liable to encounter travellers at any moment, but by a devious and secret path, known only to the Cimarrones, they would still be passing through the enemy's country, and would be liable to detection unless the utmost caution was observed.
The young captain caused himself and the pilot to be landed upon the western extremity of the small sandy beach which, fringed with coconut palms, half encircled the creek, and bidding their small boat's crew push off a spear's cast from the shore and there hold themselves in readiness to dash in to the rescue, if necessary, upon hearing the blast of the captain's whistle, proceeded to walk slowly round the cove, carefully examining the surface of the sand, as they went, in quest of footprints to serve as a guide, while Dyer at frequent intervals raised his hands trumpet-wise to his mouth and gave utterance to a peculiar, penetrating wailing cry which the pilot asserted was a call used by the Cimarrones to summon their comrades.
Then, some fifty yards in the rear of the rearmost of these five, marched twenty Cimarrones whose duty it would be to make a stand should the enemy by any chance appear in force, while the main body retired upon the nearest defensive position.
No, it was of the Cimarrones that Dyer was apprehensive, for if by any chance the presence of the ship in the creek should be prematurely discovered by these, an attack by them upon her would be more than likely to follow.
Also it was hoped that from the creek which the adventurers proposed to enter, the party might be able to get into touch with the terrible tribe of Cimarrones or Maroons, as the English called them.