Mawuli was the one to discover their bodies. We had passed the night without them in a place chosen by him. We unanimously decided not to leave the area until we could learn their whereabouts.
Judging by their final position and it’s great distance off our current path, Mawuli surmises that they encountered a patrol and led them away from us. Ultimately sacrificing themselves.
With care, Mr. Kagi and I buried their mortal remains.
Mawuli then assumed the chore of directing our way back to the hiding place.
Thoughts crowded in upon me – remembrances of all our times together- both at sea and on land. Through it all they were the most steadfast and faithful helpers for Elijah and me.
What we had long expected came to pass today. An army unit, perhaps a relief column, appeared on the road leading up to the redoubt.
Elijah decided it was time to leave. And time for us to part company.
Sy and Reuben with their men set out for the heights. From there they will trace their way back to the hiding place. On Elijah’s order Mawuli was placed in their hands. And they had to bodily restrain him.
Elijah and I took to the road that goes over the stone bridge, accompanied by Tomas and the Captain.
I have a strong feeling that we shall continue on to Babylon. Poor Mr. Kagi has been much in my thoughts of late.
I cannot write down all that I am feeling. I am so shaken. All I can think about is Mawuli and his plight. Over and over I say to myself – we have to do something.
I have to do something.
My thoughts fill up with scenario after scenario. All formed around a desire to see Mawuli whisked out of danger. An end that I know could easily result in disaster for all involved.
Tomas, too, came by and bounced some of his plans off of me. He wants to enlist Reuben and Sy and Magwich, and with their aid, lead a raid with them wherever the boy is being held.
It took Elijah’s wise intervention to settle us all down.
Stop and go all day, in effect slowing our progress greatly. Many units of reinforcements have crossed our line of march, forcing a halt. Sometimes for as long as an hour. The longer halts were occasioned by caravans of wounded returning from the front.
We then knew for certain that we were behind the lines of the army of the North. In one instance we were close enough to see the insignia on their vehicles.
The image of Moglen again haunted my thoughts in between times. When Elijah noticed my absence from the present, he called me back from my revery. I do believe that had I not responded immediately each time he would have rapped me with his staff.
Far to the west skirmishing between the two armies was ongoing throughout the day as we pushed into the plain.
We proceeded with caution. Our guess that we were behind the lines of the army of the North went unconfirmed, for thankfully we saw no one. Or more importantly – no one saw us.
The sounds of conflict dissipated the further we ventured into the expanse. Our confidence rising we picked up the pace.
Strangely after that my thoughts wandered and I found myself thinking about Moglen and Stan. I recoiled as though burned by just thinking the thought.
I told this to Elijah. He confessed to something similar. But added, “I am certain that they are thinking evil towards us.”
As we stopped last night on the first leg of our trek, my thoughts circled our final destination. And I wondered if our friends had made it safely by their different routes to the hiding place.
Setting out this morning they again held my thoughts. Elijah must have been musing on the same theme, for he spontaneously began to intercede for our friends, by name. I joined in as we walked along.
Thereby, the time passed quickly, and it seemed, the miles put behind us mounted even faster.
We slowed as we came across signs of activity close to the well we had uncovered on our outbound journey.
We realized they were only tanker truck tracks upon gaining the well.
My thoughts turned to Quasimo today. No doubt prompted by our new surroundings.
Tomas and Mr Kagi have ensconced us in a palatial villa very much like the one in which Quasimo had us pause for a meal on our way out of Babylon, not long after Stan thought he had eliminated Elijah and myself.
To get to it they led us by immense holding pens in which many loyal citizens of the world government had been incarcerated. The stench from within was horrific.
Apathy and neglect can be as deadly as overt hostility.
Tomas no sooner had left when he returned with another guest in tow. Quasimo’s cousin.
She had been sent from the hiding place to retrieve us.
A hush hung over us all morning. Not a breeze was stirring anywhere atop the table plateau. All our conversations had the same quality, carried on in undertones. In fact even my thoughts seemed muffled to me.
The anticipated return of the water couriers was no doubt responsible.
I discussed my suspicions with Elijah about who among us may be the tares. Surprisingly of the half dozen I have identified (and the Purser concurs) only one is in uniform.
We thought it wise to have Tomas descend to the camel pen to keep a lookout- for them, and for the return of the water couriers.
The day was far gone when the couriers came over the rim followed by Jezer.
My slumber was disturbed by sounds of movement without our camp. My thoughts landed on the pesky villager as the likely culprit. But when I arose to check, I encountered a wild dog instead. I chased it away and Elijah continued sleeping.
It was all a preview for the day ahead. If it were not curious critters, it was the occasional passing drone that kept us alert.
At one point along the way, Elijah deviated off the path to climb to the top of a round mountain.
At the top he stood silently. His eyes behind the mist of memory flit here and there around the scene.
And as suddenly as he had stopped he asked pardon and we left.