At the trigger-pulling instant the Catawba thrust the thick of his hand between stone and steel, and the flint bit, harmless for Jennifer, into the palm of the Indian. "Wah!" he ejaculated, in his soft guttural. "No want kill Captain Jennif', hey?" Ephraim Yeates lowered his weapon and released the pinched hand held fast by the gun-flint.
Ephraim Yeates looked me up and down with a sniff for my foreign-cut coat, another for my queue, and a third for the German ritter-boots I wore. "Umph!" said he. "Now if here ain't that there dad-blame' Turkey-fighter again! What almighty cur'is things the good Lord do let loose on a stiff-necked and rebellious gineration!"
And you will throughout carefully abstain from any interference with the political affairs of the Kingdom of Sardinia or any other foreign Power. 'Her Majesty's Consul, Mr. Yeates Brown, will, of course, visit your Lordship on your arrival.
But here again there was no alternative, and we set us in order for the descent, with Yeates and the Catawba ahead, the women and Dick in the midst, and her Apostolic Majesty's late captain of hussars, masquerading as a British trooper, to bring on the rear. Once in motion beneath the blue-black shadows of the pines, I quickly lost all sense of direction.
Once free of the camp, Yeates had hurried his charges to a place of temporary safety farther up the valley, leaving the Catawba to cross the stream to lay a train of dampened powder to the makeshift magazine. When he had led the women to a place of safety, the old man left them and ran back to his masked battery of loaded muskets.
But now Ephraim Yeates, standing ear a-cock and motionless, like some grim old statue done in leather, cut him short with a sudden, "Hist, will ye!" and a twinkling instant later we had other work to do. "Onto the hosses with this here Injun-meat, ez quick ez the loving Lord'll let ye!" was the sharp command.
We marched in Indian file, Ephraim Yeates in the lead, Uncanoola at his heels, and the two of us heavier-footed ones bringing up the rear. Knowing the wooded wilderness by length and breadth, the old man held on through thick and thin, straight as an arrow to the mark; and so we had never a sight of the road again till we came out upon it suddenly at the ford of violence.
"God help her at this pass!" he said, more to himself than to me; and then he would go in a breath from blessing Margery to cursing Ephraim Yeates for this fresh delay. It was Uncanoola who broke in upon the muttered malediction. "Wah! Captain Jennif' cuss plenty heap, like missionary medicine-man. Look-see! Uncanoola no can find white squaw horse yonder. Mebbe Captain Jennif' see 'um, hey?"
There was some talk of the great struggle for independence, now, though we knew it not, drawing near to its close; and there was much of reminiscence, harking back to the exciting and tragic scenes in which we two had had our entrances and our exits. Also, there was a tribute paid to the memory of our true old friend and trusted comrade in arms, Ephraim Yeates, so lately gone to his own place.
This breathing halt was of the briefest; but before the race began again, Ephraim Yeates took time to make a careful scrutiny of the trail, measuring the stride of the horses, and looking sharply on the briars for some bit of cloth or other token of assurance. When we came up with him he was mumbling to himself. "Um-hm; jes' so.