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A Roving Commission by G. A. Henty

Dese arms not so young as dey were


am afraid that no story would be any good, Dinah; if they came close they would see at once that I am not a negro. However, we must hope that we sha'n't meet anyone."

Nat felt his arms ache a good deal before they arrived at the road they had to cross, and he would have proposed a halt, but he was ashamed to do so while Dinah was going on so steadily and uncomplainingly, though he was sure that her share of the weight was at least as much as his. He was pleased when, as the path approached the road, she said:

"Put de barrow down now, Marse Glober. You go down on de road and see dat no one is in sight, but me not tink dere am any danger. I know dat dey rose at all dese little plantations up here yesterday; dere is suah to be rum at some ob dem, and dey will all drink like hogs, just as dey did at our place, and won't be stirring till de sun a long way up."

In a minute he returned.

"There is no one in sight, Dinah."

"Dat is all right, sah, now we hurry across; once into de wood on de ober side we safe, den we can sit down and rest for a bit."

"I sha'n't be sorry, Dinah. You were quite right, my arms have begun to ache pretty badly."

The negress laughed.

"Me begin to feel him too; dese arms not so young as

dey were. De time was I could hab carried de weight twice as far widout feeling it."

When a few hundred yards in the wood they stopped for a quarter of an hour, had a drink of wine and water, and ate a slice of melon and a piece of bread.

"Now we manage better," Dinah said as they stood up to continue the journey. "We hab plenty of blankets," and taking one she tore off a strip some six inches wide and gave it to Nat, and then a similar strip for herself. "Now, sah, you lay dat flat across your shoulders, den take de ends and twist dem tree or four times round de handle, just de right length, so dat you can hold dem comfor'ble. I'se going to do de same. Den you not feel de weight on your arm, it all on your shoulders; you find it quite easy den."

Nat found, indeed, that the weight so disposed was as nothing to what it had been when it came entirely upon his arms. They soon descended into the little valley Dinah had spoken of, and she at once emptied the rest of the water out of the jug.

"No use carry dat," she said, "can get plenty now wheneber we want it."

"How are you feeling, Myra?" Nat asked presently.

"I am beginning to feel tired, but I can hold on for a bit. Don't mind about me, please, I shall do very well."

She was, however, limping badly. After going to the end of the little dip they crossed the dividing spur, and presently struck the other depression of which Dinah had spoken.

"There is no water here, Dinah; I hope it has not dried up."

"No fear ob dat, sah. In de wet season water run here, but not now; we find him farder down."

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