Gerard was right, probably, it made no real sense to go after them. The possibility of getting any of the food or horses back weighed against the fact that it would leave us all more at risk, divided and depleted. It all made sense but that lying little toad had looked me in the eye and sworn that nothing was happening, just last night. I knew or I suspected, he was planning to do something. The way he looked at Gerard or looked around at others, just the sly glances when he was making a pronouncement or deciding what we would aim for. It was undermining and it was cowardly. We’d always allowed for challenge but it should be declared in the circle, before everyone then a decision could be made. This way no one had a chance to think about it, they just woke up to find 6 men gone, 8 horses and half of our food.

This left us with just 6 horses between 12 men, and there were the women and children too. Some rode in the wagons but there weren’t enough horses now or food to do this. We were in trouble now and two nights ago we’d found another of the lookouts with his throat cut and the guts spilled out just like all the others, dragged out really and tied round the neck in some primitive savage ritual. Whoever they were it was clear they didn’t show any mercy and had no problem killing a man. Why would they want to kill us? Same reason I guess that we would kill anyone of them if we saw them, which we never did of course: fear, defending your own and trying to survive.

I guess you could see their point of view; this was their land and he we were invading. We didn’t need much and there seemed to be so much room for the people that were here, judging by the forests and the amount of game that was available. It was easy hunting really, the food replacement wouldn’t be too much of a problem, it just took time we didn’t have, or though we didn’t have. No one knew really but we thought, based on the only information that had ever come back from this place once someone set out, based on the news from the Herrington Expedition, although no one ever saw any of them only found a journal apparently, so it wasn’t necessarily reliable. But still we gathered that we had to get west, right over to the far west of this strange land before winter and according to calculations, Gerard mostly and Esther, who fancied herself a bit of a seer, the winter was only 2 months off. So if we stopped for anything, to hunt or to fight, for long, we wouldn’t get there and then we’d die in the freeze.

Once the cold came it came hard, so they said. Heavy heavy snow and it didn’t let up for months. It all made sense then or added to Gerard’s argument that we shouldn’t go chasing after the traitors, but I couldn’t help it, I took a horse, one we could ill afford to lose, I agree, and told them to move fast and I would catch them. It would be easy as some were on foot now so they’d have to go at their pace, hence the rush, to get west. If I could get some of the horses back and in the process kill that smug faced bastard then it would help them and it would help me. I couldn’t go on, in the end without having a go.

At first I’d tried to buckle down to Gerard’s decision and move along slowly with the group heading ever west and eking out our food. But there’s nothing else to think about out here, little to see except grass and trees and animals, a load of buffalo and some strange looking deer-like creatures, always just out of range but still, it got me thinking all the time about them, and I couldn’t go on. The group let me go, which was amazing of them really. I think a lot of them felt the same way but they knew I was the best rider and I could throw a spear better than any of them, so they let me go, gave their blessing and I will NOT let them down, I will not!

Why they’d headed North anyway Job only knows, its well known that we have to head west but that was typical of him, he always thought he knew best and he would roll his eyes whenever Gerard made one of his speeches urging us to keep going, keep struggling and we’d get there and we’d be rewarded for it was a paradise and there was hardly a winter to speak of in the west and the sea was emerald green.

He reckoned it was baloney, never said it to anyone’s face but I’d heard him whispering, reckoned North was the place to go, reckoned that the Herald and his people, who’d come here more than 20 years back, reckoned they were up there and they had it all sorted. Cattle and ploughed land and some order and some army that kept away the savages. Job knows where he gets his ideas from but if I get my hands on him he won’t be having any more ideas and he won’t be rolling them eyes at no one because I’ll have plucked them from his rotten head.

Two hours ago I found a track and I’m pretty sure it was my horse, Meredith; I recognised her left back foot print. It looked pretty fresh and the manure I’d found was almost warm so I could be on the bastards in a few hours if I kept this pace up I reckoned, then we’d see who was the savage.

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