“Will,” I cried. “Can you crawl any? I can’t pull you . . .”
But Will fell back senseless once more.
I was in such despair that I didn’t hear anyone approaching until I saw him standing next to me—a man in a scarlet jacket with little wings on the shoulders and a tall helmet of black fur. Even without it, he was the tallest man I’d ever seen, that British grenadier.
Without a word, we stared at each other. Then he drew one arm over his face to wipe the sweat out of his eyes. I didn’t move, though I could feel the blood dripping down my own face and the sting of the sweat running into the cuts on my cheek
His eyes flicked over me and then down to Will and the telltale cockade on his hat.
“My brother,” I said, and opened my palms to him in appeal.
Still silent, the grenadier set down his musket and swung the pack off his back to the ground with a loud thud that showed how very heavy it was. Then he gathered Will up in his arms and carefully laid him down upon the wagon bed.
I nodded my head, speechless.
“I could use a bit o’ drink. Seventeen miles I’ve marched since dawn. Seventeen miles in all this heat. ’Tis enough to kill a man, even without the efforts of this lot.” He jerked his thumb at Will.
I swarmed up the slats, filled a cup, and thrust it at him. The soldier drained it in one gulp and held the cup out for more. I hastily obliged. After downing the second cupful, he picked up his pack and musket.
“Thankee, lad,” he growled, and plunged back into the woods before I could thank him in return.
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