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xlwoo
September 2nd, 2015, 01:12 PM
Chapter 10
After a few days, they came across a large caravan and mingled with them, thinking that it would be safer traveling with so many people as the saying goes, "Strength exists in number." It was true theoretically, but not in reality sometimes.
Three days later, they entered a mountainous area with woods growing on the slopes on either side of the road. On a sudden, many people rushed out from the woods with swords, lances or axes in hands. They were outlaws, about fifty in number.
In the caravan there were only ten men who could fight with swords. Others were merchants and their servants and some women, who were the wives of the merchants. Even if aided by the two yamen bailiffs, how could twelve of them fight against fifty people? They wisely gave up resistance. The outlaws took all the horses and mules with goods and valuables on the back. Then a few outlaws came to the wagon Linda sat in. The wagon had been following the caravan all the way. Linda knew that she could not hide forever and so she got out after she told the boy to stay inside and stuffed his pockets with some jewels and money.
When the approaching outlaws saw the western beauty, they opened their eyes and mouths wide. Generally they did not take women as captives since their female chieftain forbade it, but this girl was extraordinary and they had to break the rule for once. Linda could not but follow them. The two yamen bailiffs were at a loss what to do. They could not fight a hopeless battle. They could not go back to the capital since they lost Linda. The emperor would surely behead them. They consulted each other and found a good way to solve their dilemma. They asked to join the outlaws, taking the boy along. They wanted at least to be near Linda and maybe there would be a chance to escape with Linda from the outlaws. They paid the driver of the wagon and told him to go back. They no longer needed the wagon.
They went to speak to the outlaws, “As you take the girl, we can neither go forward nor go back. The government will kill us for loss of the girl. So the only way we can survive is to join you.”
There was a roar of guffaw among the outlaws at the funny idea. Yamen bailiffs to join outlaws? Never heard of. But the situation spoke for itself. If all other ways would lead them to death, why should they not take the only way and join the outlaws to be alive? Therefore, they were accepted. They took off their uniforms and followed the outlaws to where they lived.
The outlaws disappeared into the forest on the left side of the road. They went through the woods and climbed the mountain behind the woods with Linda, the boy and the two yamen bailiffs among them. Nearing the top, a strong fence made of the felled tree trunks stood there with a wooden gate open. The group of the outlaws went through the gate and into a gigantic hall also made of wood, serving as the gathering place for meetings. The rear part of the hall, getting access only from behind, was the place to store the loots. Round the hall were dotted here and there small separate houses as living quarters.
Being informed beforehand, the outlaw chieftain, a middle-aged woman, sat in the hall waiting for them. Linda, the boy and the two yamen bailiffs followed the group leader into the hall. He reported to the chieftain all that had happened. She told the group leader to put the two yamen bailiffs into his group and to take the boy to some robber’s family that had boys, too, so that he could mix with them.
“Sit down.” She told Linda, indicating the chair on her left. Linda obeyed and took the seat.
“You look not like one of our race. Where did you come from?”
“America.”
The chieftain had no notion where America was, but at least she knew that the girl was a western beauty. She also knew that the group leader brought her back for the purpose that he would some day ask the chieftain’s permission to marry her. Since Linda was such an innocent girl, so beautiful, she sympathized with her. She would not allow any of the outlaws to touch her. None of them deserved her. She should belong to some good boy, not to an outlaw.
In the evening, she summoned all the group leaders to her presence and warned them that they should respect the girl as she was now her sworn sister. Everyone was aware that the chieftain liked the girl and wanted to protect her, or someone might really rape her.