“Not like this.”
“Let’s go down and get the berries anyway,” Littless said. “There isn’t anything we can do now to help is there?”
“No,” Nick said. “We’ll pick the berries and get back to camp.”
But Nick was trying to accept it now and think his way all the way through it. He must not get in a panic about it. Nothing had changed. Things were just as they were when he had decided to come here and let things blow over. The Evans boy could have followed him here before. But it was very unlikely. He could have followed him one time when he had gone in from the road through the Hodges’ place, but it was doubtful. Nobody had been fishing the stream. He could be sure of that. But the Evans boy did not care about fishing.
“All that bastard cares about is trailing me,” he said.
“I know it, Nickie.”
“This is three times he’s made us trouble.”
“I know it, Nickie. But don’t you kill him.”
That’s why she came along, Nick thought. That’s why she’s here. I can’t do it while she’s along.
“I know I mustn’t kill him,” he said. “There’s nothing we can do now. Let’s not talk about it.”
“As long as you don’t kill him,” his sister said. “There’s nothing we can’t get out of and nothing that won’t blow over.”
“Let’s get back to camp,” Nick said.
“Without the berries?”
“We’ll get the berries another day.”
“Are you nervous, Nickie?”
“Yes. I’m sorry.”
“But what good will we be back at camp?”
“We’ll know quicker.”
“Can’t we just go along the way we were going?”
“Not now. I’m not scared, Littless. And don’t you be scared. But something’s made me nervous.”
Nick had cut up away from the stream into the edge of the timber and they were walking in the shade of the trees. They would come onto the camp now from above.
From the timber they approached the camp carefully. Nick went ahead with the rifle. The camp had not been visited.
“You stay here,” Nick told his sister. “I’m going to have a look beyond.” He left the sack with the birds and the berry pails with Littless and went well up stream. As soon as he was out of sight of his sister he changed the .22 shorts in the rifle for the long rifles. I won’t kill him, he thought, but anyway it’s the right thing to do. He made a careful search of the country. He saw no sign of anyone and he went down to the stream and then downstream and back up to the camp.
“I’m sorry I was nervous, Littless,” he said. “We might as well have a good lunch and then we won’t have to worry about a fire showing at night.”
“I’m worried now, too,” she said.
“Don’t you be worried, it’s just like it was before.”
“But he drove us back from getting the berries without him even being here.”
“I know. But he’s not been here. Maybe he’s never even been to this creek ever. Maybe we’ll never see him again.”
“He makes me scared, Nickie, worse when he’s not here than when he’s here.”
“I know. But there isn’t any use being scared.”
“What are we going to do?”
“Well, we better wait to cook until night.”
“Why did you change?”
“He won’t be around here at night. He can’t come through the swamp in the dark. We don’t have to worry about him early in the mornings and late in the evening nor in the dark. We’ll have to be like the deer and only be out then. We’ll lay up in the daytime.”
“Maybe he’ll never come.”
“But I can stay though, can’t I?”
“I ought to get you home.”
“No. Please, Nickie. Who’s going to keep you from killing him then?”
“Listen, Littless, don’t ever talk about killing and remember I never talked about killing. There isn’t any killing nor ever going to be any.”
“I’m so glad.”
“Don’t even be that. Nobody ever talked about it.”
“All right. I never thought about it nor spoke about it.”