The two slaves stood in silence.
"Look, he is not gonna go much further without being seen to," John stated firmly, "And you two look like you could do with a meal at least."
The two exchanged looks, shrugged and then nodded before help the white man onto the stretcher. He tried to sit up; Zeb put a hand on his chest to stop him.
"No. You gotta rest, and you need to be patched up." He said gruffly whilst examining the two bullet wounds. One was just above his waistline to the left and the other was in his left knee. "Now, you lot gonna tell us your names?" He asked all three.
The taller of the two slaves spoke quietly, as though he was intimidated by John, Zeb and Paul.
"Er, I'm Edlin, guy to my left is Jasper and the guy on the stretcher is Al Eckhart. You?"
"I'm John Love, this is Zeb and Paul." John replied, gesturing to Zeb and Paul in turn, "Follow us." He turned and headed back to the hide at a swift pace. Being out in the open didn't seem to be a good idea with all the Union Bummers about, he thought to himself.
After patching and feeding everyone, John turned to talk to Al. Al looked deep in thought, his face wrought with worry and sorrow.
"Where do you hail from?" John asked, snapping Al from his thoughts.
"South," Al wheezed, "About forty miles or so; damn place is in ruins."
John nodded in understanding and pressed no further.
"We head to Alkirk at dawn. If you think you can keep up you can join us, if not there's supplies here, use what you need and join us later." If he was going to do what Fidelia said, he needed all the allies he could find and these were a good place to start.
He walked towards Levander who had taken the final watch for the night, nodding silently at Zeb and Paul and glancing briefly at the others, who were sleeping somewhat peacefully.
"On to Alkirk then, John?"
"Yes, we move shortly."