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A Roving Commission by G. A. Henty

Accompanied by the girl and Nat


did not look," she said; "I ran straight down. But I am sure that if we go as straight as we can up from the water, we shall come upon the plantation, and then I shall be able to tell you exactly where the hut is."

Keeping therefore upward, they went on until they reached level ground, and saw by the faint light ahead that they were nearing the edge of the forest. They stepped even more cautiously then until they arrived at the open ground. A dozen great fires blazed in various places in front of them, and they could hear the laughing and talking of the negroes.

"It is more to the right," the girl said. "It is nearly in the corner of the field where you see that fire; that is close to the hut. They always keep a big fire there, and the leaders sleep round it. There are always two negroes on guard in front of the hut."

"I expect they have got one behind now. Of course they have found out by this time that you have escaped, and they must have known that it could only have been by that window."

Keeping well inside the line of trees, they crept along to the corner of the clearing. The two negroes had been instructed in the part they were to play, and as soon as they got well round behind the house the others halted, and knife in hand they crept through the trees, and then upon their hands and knees crawled forward. The others listened intently.

The gabble of voices continued on the other side of the hut, and when a louder yell of laughter than usual broke out they saw a figure appear at one corner and look round, as if anxious to hear what was going on. Suddenly two arms appeared from the darkness behind him. He was grasped by the throat and disappeared suddenly from sight. Two minutes later Sam came through the trees.

"Dat chile no gib de alarm, sah. Can go on now and cut him window."

The carpenter and the man told off to assist him at once ran forward, accompanied by the girl and Nat, who went straight to the little window. He had told her that she must not speak, for her mother or sister might utter a sudden exclamation which would alarm the sentries on the other side. Putting his face to the window, he said in a low voice, "I pray you be silent, the slightest sound might cost you your lives. We are here to rescue you; your daughter is safe and sound with us. Now we are going to enlarge the window." Low exclamations of delight told him that he was heard.

The carpenter at once set to work, the man with him oiling his saw very frequently; nevertheless it seemed to Nat to make even more noise than usual. Suddenly, however, one of the prisoners began to utter a prayer in a loud voice.

"That is papa," the girl whispered; "he used to say prayers every night."

"It was a very good idea to begin now," Nat said. "What with the row by the fires, and his voice inside, the guard are not likely to hear the saw."

In ten minutes the window had been enlarged to a point sufficient for a full-sized person to get through.

"Now, madam, will you come first," Nat said. "We will pull you through all right."

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