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“ 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 doze. 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.
“O my dear Jacky,” cried George, “ who'd have thought it was you! Well, you are a godsend! Good afternoon. O Jacky!- how d’ye do ?”
Jacky not Jacky now, cos um a good deal angry, and paint war. Kalingalùnga 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
" 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 operahouse, and chanted a song of triumph the words of which were
Ri tol de riddy iddy dol,” 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.“ Jacky, I am so hungry! I have been twenty- . four hours without food."
KALINGALÙNGA “ 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.”
KALINGALÙNGA. “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 not come down. “Possum in tree."
The white man 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 Kalingalùnga 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, patrolling 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 have n'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 was n'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-barrelled gun to blow out your brains, captain.”
“The devil,” cried Robinson, starting to his feet.
“That is what I am going to tell you. That Mary M’Dogherty 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.'”
6 Ah!” cried Robinson. “Go on, Jem, – there is a clew, any way.”
“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 could n'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. u O the black-hearted villains. Tell me who they were, that is all ; tell me but who they were !”
“ The boy did n't know."
“ 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 !”
“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 blood-thirsty mercenairy aass-aassinating neck, say that I said it.”
GEORGE. “ Jacky, show us the way out of this wood."
Kalingalùnga bowed assent, but he expressed a wish to take with him some of the ashes of the wambiloa. George elped him.
Robinson drew Jem aside. “ You should n't have mentioned that before George; you have disgusted him properly."
“0, hang him! he need n'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 doubled-barrelled gun is an awful 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 does n'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 Kalingalùnga, 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 deemed possible.
GOLD. (From "It is Never Too Late to Mend.") 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 bad 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 towards 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, any way 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 :
Kalingalùnga paint war, and now Kalingalùnga wash um face and not kill anybody first. Kalingalùnga Jacky again, and show your white place in um hill a good deal soon.”