It Is Never Too Late to Mend by Charles Reade
"I know it, Tom. When I was sailing to this country we came to a part where the north star went down and down to the water's edge, and this was all we got in exchange for it."
"George," said Tom, rather sternly, "how do you know they don't hear us, and here we are surrounded by enemies, and would you run down our only friend? That silver star will save our lives if they are to be saved at all. Come on; and, George, if you were to take your revolver and blow out my brains, it is no more than I deserve for sleeping away the precious hours of night, when I ought to have been steering out of this cursed timber-net by that blessed star."
With these words Robinson dived into the wood, steering due east by the Southern Cross. It was like going through a frozen river. The scrub was loaded with snow, which it discharged in masses on the travelers at every step.
"Keep your revolver dry in your hat and your lucifers, too," cried Robinson. "We shall have to use them both, ten to one. As to our skins, that is hopeless."
Then the men found how hard it is to take a line and keep it in the Australian bush. When the Southern Cross was lost in a cloud, though but for a minute, they were sure to go all wrong, as they found upon its reappearance; and sometimes the scrub was impenetrable and they were forced to go round it and walk four hundred yards, advancing eastward but twenty or thirty.
Thus they battled on till the sun rose.
"Now we shall be all in the dark again," said poor Robinson, "here comes a fog."
"Stop, Tom," said George; "oughtn't we to make this good before we go on?"
"What do you mean?"
"We have come right by the star so far, have we not?"
"Then let us bark fifty of these trees for a mark. I have seen that varmint Jacky do that."
"A capital idea, George; out with our knives--here goes."
"No breakfast to-day, Tom."
"No, George, nor dinner, either, till we are out of the wood."
These two poor fellows walked and ran and crept and struggled all day, sometimes hoping, sometimes desponding. At last, at five o'clock in the afternoon, their bellies gnawed with hunger, their clothes torn to rags, their skin bleeding, they came out upon some trees with the bark stripped. They gave one another a look that words can hardly paint. They were the trees they had barked twelve hours ago!
The men stood silent--neither cared to tell the other all he felt--for now there crept over these two stout bosoms a terrible chill, the sense of a danger new to them in experience, but not new in report. They had heard of settlers and others who had been lost in the fatal labyrinth of the Australian bush, and now they saw how easily it might be true.
"We may as well sit down here and rest; we shall do no good till night. What, are you in pain, George?"
"Yes, Tom, a little."
"Something gnaws my stomach like an adder."
"Oh, that is the soldier's gripes," said Tom, with a ghastly attempt at a jest. "Poor George!" said he, kindly, "I dare say you never knew what it was to go twenty-four hours without food before."
"Never in my life, Tom."
"Well, I have, and I'll tell you the only thing to do--when you can't fill the breadbasket, shut it. Go to sleep till the Southern Cross comes out again."
"What, sleep in our dripping clothes?"
"No, we will make a roaring fire with these strips of bark; they are dry as tinder by now."
A pyre four feet high was raised, the strips being laid from north to south and east to west alternately, and they dried their blankets and warmed their smoking bodies.
"George, I have got two cigars; they must last us two days."
"Oh, I'm no great smoker--keep them for your own comfort."
Robinson wore a sad smile.
"We can't afford to smoke them; this is to chew; it is not food, George, but it keeps the stomach from eating itself. We must do the best for our lives we can for Susan's sake."
"Give it me, Tom; I'll chew it, and thank you kindly. You are a wise companion in adversity, Tom; it is a great grief to me that I have brought you into this trouble, looking for what I know you think is a mare's nest, as the saying is."
"Don't talk so, George. True pals like you and me never reproach one another. They stand and fall together like men. The fire is warm, George--that is one comfort."
"The fire is well enough, but there's nothing down at it. I'd give a hundred pounds for a mutton chop."
The friends sat like sacrifices by the fire, and chewed their cigars in silence, with foreboding hearts. After a while, as the heat laid hold of him, George began to dose. Robinson felt inclined to do the same, but the sense that perhaps a human enemy might be near caused him to fight against sleep in this exposed locality; so, whenever his head bobbed down, he lifted it sharply and forced his eyes open. It was on one of these occasions that, looking up, he saw, set as it were in a frame of leaves, a hideous countenance glaring at him; it was painted in circular lines, red, blue and white.
"Get up, George," roared Robinson; "they are upon us!"
And both men were on their feet, revolvers pointed. The leaves parted, and out came this diabolical face which they had never seen before, but with it a figure they seemed to know, and a harsh cackle they instantly recognized, and it sounded like music to them.
"Oh, my dear Jacky," cried George, "who'd have thought it was you! Well, you are a godsend! Good afternoon. Oh, Jacky!--how d'ye do?"
"Jacky not Jacky now, cos um a good deal angry, and paint war. Kalingalunga berywelltanku" (he always took these four words for one). "Now I go fetch white fellow;" and he disappeared.
"Who is he going to fetch? is it the one that was following us?"
"No doubt. Then, Tom, it was not an enemy, after all!"
Jacky came back with Jem, who, at sight of them alive and well, burst into extravagances. He waved his hat round his head several times and then flung it into a tree; then danced a pas seul consisting of steps not one of them known at the opera house, and chanted a song of triumph the words of which were, Ri tol de riddy iddydol, and the ditty naught; finally he shook hands with both.
"Never say die!"
"Well, that is hearty! and how thoughtful of him to come after us, and above all to bring Jacky!"
"That it was," replied George. "Jem," said he, with feeling, "I don't know but what you have saved two men's lives."
"If I don't it shan't be my fault, farmer."
George. "Oh, Jacky, I am so hungry! I have been twenty-four hours without food."
Kalingalunga. "You stupid fellow to go widout food, always a good deal food in bush."
George. "Is there? then for Heaven's sake go and get us some of it."
Kalingalunga. "No need go, food here." He stepped up to the very tree against which George was standing, showed him an excrescence on the bark, made two clean cuts with his tomahawk, pulled out a huge white worm and offered it George. George turned from it in disgust; the wild chief grinned superior and ate it himself, and smacked his lips with infinite gusto.
Meantime his quick eye had caught sight of something else. "A good deal dinner in dis tree," said he, and he made the white men observe some slight scratches on the bark. "Possum claws go up tree." Then he showed them that there were no marks with the claw reversed, a clear proof the animal had not come down. "Possum in tree."
The white men looked up into the bare tree with a mixture of wonder and incredulity. Jacky cut steps with his tomahawk and went up the main stem, which was short, and then up a fork, one out of about twelve; among all these he jumped about like a monkey till he found one that was hollow at the top.
"Throw Kalingalunga a stone, den he find possum a good deal quick."
They could not find a stone for their lives, so, being hungry, Robinson threw a small nugget of gold he had in his pocket. Jacky caught it, placed it at the top of the hollow fork and let it drop. Listening keenly, his fine ear heard the nugget go down the fork, striking the wood first one side then another, and then at a certain part sound no more. Down he slips to that silent part, makes a deep cut with his tomahawk just above the spot, thrusts in his hand and pulls out a large opossum, yelling and scratching and emitting a delicious scent in an agony of fear. The tomahawk soon silenced him, and the carcass fell among the applauding whites. Now it was Robinson's turn. He carved the raw animal for greater expedition, and George helped him to wrap each limb and carcass in a thin covering of clay. Thus prepared, it was thrust into the great pile of burning ashes.
"Look yonder, do! look at that Jem! Why, Jem, what are you up to, patroling like a sentinel out there?"
"Never you heed Jem," was the dry reply; "you mind the roast, captain, and I'll mind--my business;" and Jem continued to parade up and down with his gun cocked and his eye piercing the wood.
To Robinson's repeated and uneasy inquiries what meant this pantomime, Jem persisted in returning no answer but this: "You want your dinner, captain; eat your dinner, and then I'll hoffer a hobservation; meantime, as these woods are queer places, a little hextra caution is no sin."
The pie dishes were now drawn out of the ashes and broken, and the meat baked with all its juices was greedily devoured. "It tastes like a rabbit stuffed with peppermint," said George, "and uncommon nice it is. Now I am another man."
"So am I; Jacky forever!"
"Now, Jem, I have dined. Your story, if you please. Why are you here? for you are a good fellow, but you haven't got gumption enough to say to yourself, 'These two will get lost in the bush, I'll take Jacky and pull them out.'"
"You are right, captain, that wasn't the way at all; and, since your belly is full and your courage up, you will be able to enjoy my story better than you could afore."
"Yes, so let us have it;" and Robinson leaned back luxuriously, being filled and warmed.
"First and foremost," commenced this artful narrator, "there is a chap prowling in this wood at the present time with a double-barreled gun to blow out your brains, captain."
"The devil," cried Robinson, starting to his feet.
"And yours, farmer."
"How do you know?" asked George, without moving.
"That is what I am going to tell you. That Mary McDogherty came crying to my tent all through the snow. 'What is up?' says I; says she, 'Murder is up.' Then she told me her cousin, an Irish boy, was at Bevan's store and he heard some queer talk, and he looked through a chink in the wall and saw two rascals putting their heads together, and he soon made out they were driving a bargain to rob you two. One was to do it, the other was a-egging him on. 'I must have fifty pounds first,' says this one. 'Why?' says the other. 'Because he has been and locked my pal up that was to be in it with me.'"
"Ah!" cried Robinson. "Go on, Jem--there is a clew anyway."
"I have got a thicker one behind. Says the other, 'Agreed! when will you have it?' 'Why, now,' says t'other. Then this one gave him a note. Pat couldn't see that it was a fifty, but no doubt it was, but he saw the man take it and put it in a little tin box and shove it in his bosom."
"That note was the price of blood," said Robinson. "Oh, the black-hearted villains. Tell me who they were, that is all; tell me but who they were!"
"The boy didn't know."
"There! it is always so. The fools! they never know."
"Stop a bit, captain, there is a clew (your own word)."
"Ay, and what is the clew?"
"As soon as ever the note was safe in his bosom he says: 'I sold you, blind mate; I'd have given fifty sooner than not done this job. Look here!' says he, 'I have sworn to have a life for each of these;' and, captain," said Jem, suddenly lowering his voice, "with that it seems he held up his right hand."
"Well, yes! yes! eh!"
"And there were two fingers a-missing on it!"
"Now those two fingers are the ones you chopped off with your cutlass the night when the tent was attacked."
"Why, Tom, what is this? you never told me of this," cried George.
"And which are in my pocket."
"In your pocket?" said George, drawing away from him.
"Ay, farmer! wrapped up in silver paper, and they shall never leave my pocket till I have fitted them on the man, and seen him hung or shot with them two pickers and stealers tied round his bloodthirsty, mercenairy, aass-aassinating neck, say that I said it."
George. "Jacky, show us the way out of this wood."
Kalingalunga bowed assent, but he expressed a wish to take with him some of the ashes of the wambiloa. George helped him.
Robinson drew Jem aside. "You shouldn't have mentioned that before George; you have disgusted him properly."
"Oh, hang him! he needn't be so squeamish; why, I've had 'em salt--"
"There, there! drop it, Jem, do!"
"Captain! are you going to let them take us out of the wood before we have hunted it for that scoundrel?"
"Yes, I am. Look here, Jem, we are four, and he is one, but a double-barreled gun is an awkward enemy in a dark wood. No, Jem, we will outwit him to the last. We will clear the wood and get back to the camp. He doesn't know we have got a clew to him. He will come back without fear, and we will nail him with the fifty-pound note upon him. And then--Jack Ketch."
The whole party was now on the move, led by Kalingalunga, bearing the sacred ashes.
"What on earth is he going to do with them?"
The chief heard this query, and looking back said gravely, "He take them to 'Milmeridien';" and the party followed Jacky, who twisted and zigzagged about the bush till, at last, he brought them to a fairy spot, whose existence in that rugged wood none of them had dreamed possible. It was a long, open glade, meandering like a river between two deep, irregular fringes of the drooping acacia, and another lovely tree which I only know by its uncouth, unmelodious, scientiuncular name--the eucalyptus. This tree, as well as the drooping acacia, leaned over the ground with long leaves like disheveled hair.
Kalingalunga paused at the brink and said to his companions in a low, awestruck voice, "Milmeridien."
The glade was full of graves, some of them fresh, glittering with bright red earth under the cool, green acacias, others richly veiled with golden moss more or less according to their age; and in the recesses of the grove peeped smoother traces of mortality, mossy mounds a thousand years old, and others far more ancient still, now mere excrescences of green, known to be graves only by the light of that immense gradation of times and dates and epochs.
The floor of the open glade was laid out as a vast parterre--each grave a little flower-bed, round, square, oval, or rhomboid; and all round each bed flowed in fine and graceful curves little paths too narrow for a human foot. Primeval tradition had placed them there that spirits might have free passage to visit all the mighty dead. For here reposed no vulgar corpses. Here, their heads near the surface, but their feet deep in earth, sat the great hunters and warriors of every age of the race of Kalingalunga, once a great nation, though now a failing tribe. They sat there this many a day, their weapons in their hands, ready to start up whenever the great signal should come, and hunt once more, but without fatigue, in woods boundless as the sea, and with bodily frames no longer mortal, to knock and be knocked on the head, ad infinitum.
Simple and benign creed!
A cry of delight burst from the white men, and they were going to spread themselves over the garden of the dead.
The savage checked them with horror.
"Nobody walk there while him alive," said he. "Now you follow me and not speak any words at all, or Kalingalunga will leave you in the bush.--Hush!"
The savage paused, that even the echo of his remonstrance might die well away before he traversed the garden. He then bowed his head down upon his breast in a set manner, and so remained quiet a few seconds. In that same attitude he started and walked slowly by the verge of the glade, keeping carefully clear of the graves, and never raising his head. About half way he stopped and reverently scattered the ashes of the wambiloa upon three graves that lay near the edge, then forward--silent, downcast, reverential.
"Mors omnibus est communis!" The white men, even down to Jem, understood and sympathized with Kalingalunga. In this garden of the dead of all ages they felt their common humanity, and followed their black brother silent and awestruck. Melted, too, by the sweet and sacred sorrow of this calm scene; for here Death seemed to relax his frown, and the dead but to rest from trouble and toil, mourned by gentle, tender trees; and in truth it was a beautiful thought of these savage men to have given their dead for companions those rare and drooping acacias, that bowed themselves and loosed their hair so like fair women abandoned to sorrow over the beloved and dead, and night and morning swept with their dewy eyelashes the pillows of the brave. Requiescant in pace!--resurgant in pacem! For I wish them better than they wished themselves.
After Milmeridien came a thick scrub, through which Kalingalunga tracked his way; and then a loud hurrah burst from all, for they were free--the net was broken. There were the mountains before them and the gaunt wood behind them at last. The native camp was visible two miles distant, and thither the party ran and found food and fires in abundance. Black sentinels were set at such distances as to render a surprise impossible, and the travelers were invited to sleep and forget all their troubles. Robinson and Jem did sleep, and George would have been glad to, and tried, but was prevented by an unfortunate incident--les enfans terribles found out his infirmity, viz., that nothing they could do would make him hit them. So half a dozen little rascals, potter bellied than you can conceive, climbed up and down George, sticking in their twenty claws like squirrels, and feeling like cold, slippery slugs. Thus was sleep averted, until a merciful gin, hearing the man's groans, came and cracked two or three of these little black pots with a waddie or club, so then George got leave to sleep, and just as he was dozing off, ting, tong, ti tong, tong, tong, came a fearful drumming of parchment. A corroboree or native dance was beginning. No more sleep till that was over--so all hands turned out. A space was cleared in the wood, women stood on both sides with flaming boughs and threw a bright red light upon a particular portion of that space; the rest was dark as pitch. Time, midnight. When the white men came up the dancing had not begun. Kalingalunga was singing a preliminary war song.
George had picked up some of the native language, and he explained to the other that Jacky was singing about some great battle, near the Wurra-Gurra River.
"The Wurra-Gurra! why, that is where we first found gold."
"Why of course it is! and--yes! I thought so."
"It is our battle he is describing."
"Which of 'em?--we live in hot water."
"The one before Jem was our friend. What is he singing? Oh, come! that is overdoing it, Jacky! Why, Jem! he is telling them he killed you on the spot."
"I'll punch his head!"
"No! take it easy," said Robinson; "he is a poet; this is what they call poetical license."
"Lie without sense, I call it--when here is the man."
"Ting tong! ting tong tong!-- I slew him -- he fell -- by the Wurra-Gurra River. I slew him! -- ting tong! he fell --ting tong! By the Wurra-Gurra River--ting ting tong!"
This line Jacky repeated at least forty times; but he evaded monotony by the following simple contrivance:
"I slew him; he fell by the Wurra-Gurra River--ting tong! I slew him; he fell, by the Wurra-Gurra River, I slew him; he fell, by the Wurra-Gurra River,"
with similar changes, and then back again.
One of our own savages saved a great poet from monotony by similar means;* very good of him.
* The elder Sheridan, who used to teach his pupils to tresh dead Dryden out thus:
None but the brave, None but the brave, None but the brave, deserve the fair.
And now the gins took up the tune without the words and the dance began to it. First, two figures ghastly with white paint came bounding like Jacks-in-the-box out of the gloom into the red light, and danced gracefully--then one more popped out--then another, at set intervals of time--then another, all painted differently--and swelled the dance by degrees; and still, as the dance grew in numbers, the musicians sang and drummed louder and faster by well-planned gradations, and the motion rose in intensity, till they all warmed into the terrible savage corroboree jump, legs striding wide, head turned over one shoulder, the eyes glaring with fiendish intensity in one direction, the arms both raised and grasping waddies and boomerangs--till at last they worked up to such a gallop of fierce, buck-like leaps that there was a jump for each beat of the music. Now they were in four lines, and as the figures in the front line jumped to the right, each keeping his distance to a hair, the second line jumped to the left, the third to the right, and the fourth to the left.
The twinkle and beauty and symmetry of this was admirable, and, strange as it may appear, not only were the savages now wrought up to frenzy at this climax of the dance, but the wonderful magnetic influence these children of Nature have learned to create and launch in the corroboree so stirred the white men's blood, that they went half mad too, and laughed and shouted and danced, and could hardly help flinging themselves among the mad fiends and jumping and yelling with them; and when the jump was at its fiercest and quickest, and the great frenzy boiling over, these cunning artists brought it to a dead stop sharp upon the climax--and all was still.
In another minute they were all snoring; but George and Robinson often started in their slumbers, dreaming they saw the horrid figures--the skeletons, lizards, snakes, tartan shawls, and whitened fiends, the whole lot blazing at the eyes and mouth like white budelights, come bounding one after another out of the black night into the red torchlight, and then go striding and jumping and glaring and raging and bucking and prancing, and scattering battle and song and joy and rage and inspiration and stark-staring frenzy all around.
They awoke at daylight rather cold, and found piles of snow upon their blankets, and the lizards and skeletons and imps and tartan shawls deteriorated. The snow had melted on their bodies, and the colors had all run--some of them away. Quid multa? we all know how beauties look when the sun breaks on them after a ball.
They asked for Jacky. To their great chagrin he was not to be found. They waited, getting crosser and crosser, till nine o'clock, and then out comes my lord from the wood, walking toward them with his head down on his bosom, the picture of woe--the milmeridien movement over again.
"There! don't let us scold him," said George, "I am sure he has lost a relation, or maybe a dear friend; anyway I hope it is not his sweetheart--poor Jacky. Well, Jacky! I am glad you have washed your face, now I know you again. You can't think how much better you look in your own face than painted up in that unreasonable way, like-like-like-I dono-what-all."
"Like something between a devil and a rainbow," suggested Robinson.
"But what is wrong?" asked George, kindly. "I am almost afraid to ask, though!"
Encouraged by the tone of sympathy, the afflicted chief pointed to his face, sighed, and said:
"Kalingalunga paint war, and now Kalingalunga wash um face and not kill anybody first. Kalingalunga Jacky again, and show your white place in um hill a good deal soon."
And the amiable heathen cleared up a little at the prospect of serving George, whom he loved--aboriginally.
Jem remained with the natives upon some frivolous pretense. His real hope was to catch the ruffian whom he secretly believed to be still in the wood. "He is like enough to creep out this way," thought Jem, "and then--won't I nail him!"
In half an hour they were standing under the spot whose existence Robinson had so often doubted.
"Well, George, you painted it true. It really is a river of quartz running between those two black rocks. And that you think is the home of the gold, eh?"
"Well, I do. Look here, Tom! look at this great large heap of quartz bowlders, all of different sizes; they have all rolled down here out of that river of quartz."
"Why, of course they have! who doubts that?"
"Many is the time I have sat on that green mound where Jacky is sitting now, and eaten my bread and cheese."
"I dare say! but what has that to do with it? what are we to do? Are we to go up the rock and peck into that mass of quartz?"
"Well, I think it is worth while."
"Why, it would be like biting a piece out of the world! Look here, Master George, we can put your notion about the home of the gold to the test without all that trouble."
"You own all these quartz stones rolled out of yon river; if so, they are samples of it. Ten thousand quartz stones is quite sample enough, so begin and turn them all over, examine them--break them if you like. If we find but a speck of gold in one of them I'll believe that quartz river is gold's home--if not, it is all humbug!"
George pulled a wry face; he found himself pinned to his own theory.
"Well," said he, "I own the sample tells us what is in the barn; so now I am vexed for bringing you here."
"Now we are here, give it a fair trial; let us set to and break every bowlder in the thundering heap."
They went to work and picked the quartz bowlders; full two hours they worked, and by this time they had made a considerable heap of broken quartz; it glittered in the sun, but it glittered white, not a speck of yellow came to light.
George was vexed. Robinson grinned; expecting nothing, he was not disappointed. Besides, he was winning an argument, and we all like to turn out prophets. Presently a little cackle from Jacky.
"I find um!"
"Find what?" asked Robinson, without looking up.
"A good deal yellow stone," replied Jacky, with at least equal composure.
"Let me see that," said George, with considerable curiosity; and they both went to Jacky.
Now the fact is that this heap of quartz stones was in reality much larger than they thought, only the greater part of it had been overgrown with moss and patches of grass a few centuries of centuries ago.
Jacky, seated on what seemed a grassy mound, was in reality perched upon a part of the antique heap; his keen eye saw a little bit of yellow protruding through the moss, and he was amusing himself clipping it with his tomahawk, cutting away the moss and chipping the stone, which made the latter glitter more and yellower.
"Hallo!" cried George, "this looks better."
Robinson went on his knees without a word.
"It is all right," said he, in a great flutter, "it is a nugget--and a good-sized one--a pound weight, I think. Now then, my lad, out you come;" and he dug his fingers under it to jerk it out.
But the next moment he gave a screech and looked up amazed.
"Why, this is the point of the nugget; it lies the other way, not flat. George! I can't move it! The pick! Oh, Lord! oh, Lord! The pick! the pick!"
"Stand clear," shouted George, and he drove the point of the pick down close by the prize, then he pressed on the handle. "Why, Tom, it is jammed somehow."
"No, it is not jammed--it is its own weight. Why, George!"
"Then, Tom! it is a hundred-weight if it is an ounce!"
"Don't be a fool," cried the other, trembling all over; "there is no such thing in nature."
The nugget now yielded slowly to the pressure and began to come up into the world again inch by inch after so many thousand years. Of course, before it could come all out, the soil must open first, and when Robinson, glaring down, saw a square foot of earth part and gape as the nugget came majestically up, he gave another cry, and with trembling hands laid hold of the prize, and pulled and tugged and rolled it on the clean moss--to lift it was not so easy. They fell down on their knees by the side of it like men in a dream. Such a thing had never been seen or heard of--a hundred-weight of quartz and gold, and beautiful as it was great. It was like honeycomb, the cells of which had been sliced by a knife; the shining metal brimmed over in the delicate quartz cells.
They lifted it. Yes, full a hundredweight; half the mass was quartz, but four-fifths of the weight they knew must be gold. Then they jumped up and each put a foot on it, and shook hands over it.
"Oh, you beauty!" cried George, and he went on his knees and kissed it; "that is not because you are gold, but because you take me to Susan. Now, Tom, let us thank Heaven for its goodness to us, and back to camp this very day."
"Ay! but stop, we must wrap it in our wipes or we shall never get back alive. The very honest ones would turn villains at sight of it. It is the wonder of the world."
"I see my Susan's eyes in it," cried George, in rapture. "Oh, Tom, good, kind, honest Tom, shake hands over it once more!"
In the midst of all this rapture a horrible thought occurred.
"Why, it's Jacky's," said George, faintly, "he found it."
"Nonsense! nonsense!" cried Tom, uneasily; he added, however, "but I am afraid one third of it is--pals share, white or black."
All their eyes now turned uneasily to the Aboriginal, who lay yawning on the grass.
"Jacky give him you, George," said this worthy savage, with superb indifference. He added with a yawn: "What for you dance corroboree when um not dark?--den you bite yellow stone," continued this original, "den you red, den you white, den you red again, all because we pull up yellow stone-all dis a good deal dam ridiculous."
"So 'tis, Jacky," replied Robinson, hastily; "don't you have anything to do with yellow stone, it would make you as great a fool as we are. Now show us the shortest cut back home through the bush."
At the native camp they fell in with Jem. The monstrous nugget was too heavy to conceal from his shrewd eye, so they showed it him. The sight of it almost knocked him down. Robinson told him where they found it, and advised Jem to go and look for another. Alas! the great nugget already made him wish one friend away. But Jem said:
"No, I will see you safe through the bush first."