It Is Never Too Late to Mend
Part 11 out of 17
"No! to whist; but now comes the fun. We had been playing about four
hours, and the room was hot, and Yates was gone for a fresh pack, and
old Hazeltine was gone into the drawing-room to cool himself.
Presently he comes back and he says in a whisper, "Come here, old
fellows." We went with him to the drawing-room, and at first sight we
saw nothing, but presently flash came a light right in our eyes; it
seemed to come from something glittering in the field. And these
flashes kept coming and going. At last we got the governor, and he
puzzled over it a little while. 'I know what it is,' cried he, 'it is
my cucumber glass.'"
Jenny looked up. "Glass might glitter," said she, "but I don't see how
it could flash."
"No more did we, and we laughed in the governor's face; for all that
we were wrong. 'There is somebody under that wall with a dark
lantern,' said Tom Yates, 'and every now and then the glass catches
the glare and reflects it this way.' 'Solomon!' cried the rest of us.
The fact is, Jenny, when Tom Yates gets half drunk he develops
sagacity more than human. (Robinson gave a little groan.) Aha," cried
Miles, "the beggar has burned his finger. I'm glad of it. Why should I
be the only sufferer by his thundering irons? 'Here is a lark,' said
I, 'we'll nab this dark lantern--won't we, Hazy?' 'Rather,' said Hazy.
'Wait till I get my pistols, and I'll give you a cutlass, George,'
says Tom Yates. I forget who George was; but he said he was of noble
blood, and I think myself he was some relation to the King-of-trumps,
the whole family came about him so--mind my hair now. 'Oh, bother your
artillery,' said I. 'Thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just.'
When I'm a little cut you may know it by my quoting Shakespeare. When
I'm sober I don't remember a word of him--and don't want to."
"No, the _Sporting Magazine_, that is your Bible, sir," suggested
"Yes, and let me read it without your commentary--mind my hair now.
Where was I? Oh. Hazeltine and I opened the door softly and whipped
out, but the beggar was too sharp for us. No doubt he heard the door.
Anyway, before we could get through the shrubbery he was off, and we
heard him clattering down the road ever so far off. However we
followed quietly on the grass by the road-side at a fair traveling
pace, and by and by what do you think? Our man had pulled up in the
middle of the road and stood stock still. 'That is a green trick,'
thought I. However, before we could get up to him he saw us or heard
us, and off down the road no end of a pace. 'Tally ho!' cried I. Out
came Hazy from the other hedge, and away we went--'Pug' ahead,
'Growler' and 'Gay-lad' scarce twenty yards from his brush, and the
devil take the hindmost. Well, of course, we made sure of catching him
in about a hundred yards--two such runners as Hazy and me--"
"And did not you?"
"I'll tell you. At first we certainly gained on him a few yards, but
after that I could not near him. But Hazy put on a tremendous spurt,
and left me behind for all I could do. 'Here is a go,' thought I, 'and
I have backed myself for a hundred pounds in a half-mile race against
this beggar.' Well, I was behind, but Hazy and the fox seemed to me to
be joined together running, when all of a sudden--pouff! Hazy's wind
and his pluck blew out together. He tailed off. Wasn't I pleased!
'Good-by, Hazy,' says I, as I shot by him and took up the running.
Well, I tried all I knew; but this confounded fellow ran me within
half a mile of Sydney (N. B., within two miles of it). My throat and
all my inside was like an oven, and I was thinking of tailing off,
too, when I heard the beggar puff and blow, so then I knew I must come
up with him before long."
"And did you, sir?" asked Jenny in great excitement.
"Yes," said the other, "I passed him even."
"But did you catch him?"
"Well! why--yes--I caught him--as the Chinese caught the Tartar. This
was one of your downy coves that are up to every move. When he found
he hadn't legs to run from me he slips back to meet me. Down he goes
under my leg--I go blundering over him twenty miles an hour. He lifts
me clear over his head and I come flying down from the clouds heel
over tip. I'd give twenty pounds to know how it was done, and fifty to
see it done--to a friend, All I know is that I should have knocked my
own brains out if it had not been for my hat and my hand--they bore
the brunt between them, as you see."
"And what became of the poor man?" asked Jane.
"Well, when the poor man had flung me over his head he ran on faster
than ever, and by the time I had shaken my knowledge-box and found out
north from south, I heard the poor man's nailed shoes clattering down
the road. To start again a hundred yards behind a poor man who could
run like that would have been making a toil of a trouble, so I trotted
back to meet Hazy.
"Well, I am glad he got off clear--ain't you, Tom?"
"Yes--no. A scoundrel that hashed the master like this--why, Jane, you
must be mad!"
"Spare your virtuous indignation," said the other coolly. "Remember I
had been hunting him like a wild beast till his heart was nearly
broke, and, when I was down, he could easily have revenged himself by
giving me a kick with his heavy shoes on the head or the loins that
would have spoiled my running for a month of Sundays. What do you say
Robinson colored. "I say you are very good to make excuses for an
unfortunate man--for a rascal--that is to say, a burglar; a--"
"And how do you know he was all that?" asked Jenny very sharply.
"Why did he run if he was not guilty?" inquired Robinson cunningly.
"Guilty--what of?" asked Jenny.
"That is more than I can tell you," replied Robinson.
"I dare say," said Jenny, "it was some peaceable man that took fright
at seeing two wild young gentlemen come out like mad bulls after him."
"When I have told you my story you will be better able to judge."
"What, isn't the story ended?"
"Ended? The cream of it is coming."
"Oh, sir," cried Jenny, "please don't go on till I come back. I am
going for the cold lotion now; I have fomented it enough."
"Well, look sharp, then--here is the other all in a twitter with
"Me, sir? No--yes. I am naturally interested."
"Well, you haven't been long. I don't think I want any lotion, the hot
water has done it a good deal of good."
"This will do it more."
"But do you know it is rather a bore to have only one hand to cut
bread and butter with?"
"I'll cut it, sir," said Robinson, laying down his irons for a moment.
"How long shall you be, Jenny?" asked Mr. Miles.
"I shall have done by when your story is done," replied she coolly.
Mr. Miles laughed. "Well, Jenny," said he, "I hadn't walked far before
I met Hazeltine. 'Have you got him?' says he. 'Do I look like it?'
said I rather crustily. Fancy a fool asking me whether I had got him!
So I told him all about it, and we walked back together. By-and-by we
met the other two just outside the gate. Well, just as we were going
in Tom Yates said, 'I say, suppose we look round the premises before
we go to bed.' We went softly round the house and what did we find but
a window with the glass taken out; we poked about and we found a pair
of shoes. 'Why, there's some one in the house,' says Tom Yates, 'as
I'm a sinner.' So we held a council of war. Tom was to go into the
kitchen, lock the door leading out, and ambush in the larder with his
pistols; and we three were to go in by the front door and search the
house. Well, Hazeltine and I had got within a yard or two of it and
the knave of trumps in the rear with a sword or something, when, by
George! sir, the door began to open, and out slips a fellow quietly.
Long Hazy and I went at him, Hazy first. Crack he caught Hazy on the
head with a bludgeon, down went daddy-long-legs, and I got entangled
in him, and the robber cut like the wind for the kitchen. 'Come on,'
shouted I to the honorable thingunibob, bother his name--there--the
knave of trumps, and I pulled up Hazy but couldn't wait for him, and
after the beggar like mad. Well, as I came near the kitchen-door I
heard a small scrimmage, and back comes my man flying bludgeon in one
hand and knife in the other, both whirling over his head like a
windmill. I kept cool, doubled my right, and put in a heavy one from
the armpit; you know, Tom; caught him just under the chin, you might
have heard his jaw crack a mile off; down goes my man on his back flat
on the bricks, and his bludgeon rattled one way and his knife the
other--such a lark. Oh! oh! oh! what are you doing, Robinson, you hurt
me most confoundedly--I won't tell you any more. So now he was down,
in popped the knave of swords and fell on him, and Hazy came
staggering in after and insulted him a bit and we bagged him."
"And the other, sir," asked Tom, affecting an indifferent tone, "he
didn't get off, I hope?"
"What other?" inquired Jenny.
"The other unfor--the other rascal--the burglar."
"Why he never said there were two."
"Y--yes!--he said they found their shoes."
"No, he said he found a pair of shoes."
"For all that you are wrong, Jenny, and he is right--there were two;
and, what is more, Tom Yates had got the other, threatening to blow
out his brains if he moved, so down he sat on the dresser and took it
quite easy and whistled a tune while we trussed the other beggar with
his own bludgeon and our chokers. Tom Yates says the cool one tumbled
down from upstairs just as we drove our one in. Tom let them try the
door before he bounced out; then my one flung a chair at Tom's head
and cut back, Tom nailed the other and I floored mine. Hurrah!"
Through this whole narrative Robinson had coolly and delicately to
curl live hair with a beating heart, and to curl the very man who was
relating all the time how he had hunted him and caught his comrades.
Meantime a shrewd woman there listening with all her ears, a woman,
too, who had certain vague suspicions about him, and had taken him up
rather sharper than natural, he thought, when, being off his guard for
a moment he anticipated the narrator, and assumed there were two
burglars in the house.
Tom, therefore, though curious and anxious, shut his face and got on
his guard, and it was with an admirable imitation of mere sociable
curiosity that he inquired, "And what did the rascals say for
"What could they say?" said Jenny, "they were caught in the fact."
"To do them justice they did not speak of themselves, but they said
three or four words too--very much to the point."
"How interesting it is!" cried Jenny--"what about?"
"Well! it was about your friend."
"The peaceable gentleman the two young ruffians had chased down the
"Oh! he was one of them," said Jane, "that is plain enough now in
course. What did they say about him?"
"'Sold!' says my one to Tom's. 'And no mistake,' says Tom's. Oh! they
spoke out, took no more notice of us four than if we had no ears. Then
says mine: 'What do you think of _your_ pal now?' and what do you
think Tom's answered, Jenny?--it was rather a curious answer--multum
in parvo as we say at school, and one that makes me fear there is a
storm brewing for our mutual friend, the peaceable gentleman,
Jenny--alias the downy runner."
"Why, what did he say?"
"He said, 'I think--he won't be alive this day week! '"
"No! you don't see--they thought he had betrayed them."
"But, of course, you undeceived them," said Robinson.
"No! I didn't. Why, you precious greenhorn, was that our game?"
"Well, sir," cried Robinson cheerfully, "any way it was a good night's
work. The only thing vexes me," added he, with an intense air of
mortification, "is that the worst scoundrel of the lot got clear off;
that is a pity--a downright pity."
"Make your mind easy," replied Mr. Miles calmly, "he won't escape; we
shall have him before the day is out."
"Will you, sir? that is right--but how?"
"The honorable thingumbob, Tom Yates's friend, put us up to it. We
sent the pair down to Sydney in the break and we put Yates's groom (he
is a ticket-of-leave) in with them, and a bottle of brandy, and he is
to condole with them and have a guinea if they let out the third man's
name, and they will--for they are bitter against him."
Robinson sighed. "What is the matter?" said his master, trying to
twist his head round.
"Nothing! only I am afraid they--they won't split; fellows of that
sort don't split on a comrade where they can get no good by it."
"Well, if they don't, still we shall have him. One of us saw his
"It was the honorable--the knave of trumps. While Yates was getting
the arms, Trumps slipped out by the garden gate and caught a glimpse
of our friend; he saw him take the lantern up and fling it down and
run. The light fell full on his face and he could swear to it out of a
thousand. So the net is round our friend and we shall have him before
the day is out."
Dring-a-dong-dring" (a ring at the bell).
"Have you done, Tom?"
"Just one more turn, sir."
"Then, Jenny, you see who that is?"
Jenny went and returned with an embossed card, "It is a young
gentleman--mustache and lavender gloves; oh, such a buck!"
"Who can it be? the 'Honorable George Lascelles?' why that is the very
man. I remember he said he would do himself the honor to call on me.
That is the knave of trumps; go down directly, Robinson, and tell him
I'm at home and bring him up."
"Yes, sir! Well, then, why don't you go!"
"Um! perhaps Jenny will go while I clear these things away;" and
without waiting for an answer Robinson hastened to encumber himself
with the tea-tray, and flung the loaf and curling-irons into it, and
bustled about and showed a sudden zeal lest this bachelor's room
should appear in disorder; and as Jenny mounted the front stairs
followed by the sprig of nobility, he plunged heavily laden down the
back stairs into the kitchen and off with his coat and cleaned knives
like a mad thing.
"Oh! if I had but a pound in my pocket," thought he, "I would not stay
another hour in Sydney. I'd get my ring and run for Bathurst and never
look behind me. How comfortable and happy I was until I fell back into
the old courses, and now see what a life mine has been ever since!
What a twelve hours! hunted like a wild beast, suspected and watched
by my fellow-servant and forced to hide my thoughts from this one and
my face from that one; but I deserve it and I wish it was ten times as
bad. Oh! you fool--you idiot--you brute--it is not the half of what
you deserve. I ask but one thing of Heaven--that his reverence may
never know; don't let me break that good man's heart; I'd much rather
die before the day is out!"
At this moment Jenny came in. Robinson cleaned the poor knives harder
still and did not speak; his cue was to find out what was passing in
the girl's mind. But she washed her cup and saucer and plates in
silence. Presently the bell rang.
"Tom!" said Jenny quietly.
"Would you mind going, Jenny?"
"Me! it is not my business."
"No, Jenny! but once in a way if you will be so kind."
"Once! why I have been twice to the door for you to-day. You to your
place and I to mine. Shan't go!"
"Look at me with my coat off and covered with brickdust."
"Put your coat on and shake the dust off."
"Oh, Jenny! that is not like you to refuse me such a trifle. I would
not disoblige you so."
"I didn't refuse," said Jenny, making for the door; "I only said 'no'
once or twice--_we_ don't call that refusing;" but as she went out
of the door she turned sharp as if to catch Robinson's face off its
guard; and her gray eye dwelt on him with one of those demure,
inexplicable looks her sex can give all _ab extra_--seeing all,
She returned with her face on fire. "That is what I get for taking
"What is the matter?"
"That impudent young villain wanted to kiss me."
"Oh! is that all?"
"No! it is not all; he said I was the prettiest girl in Sydney" (with
an appearance of rising indignation).
"Well! but, Jenny, that is no news, I could have told him that."
"Then why did you never tell me?"
"I thought by your manner--you knew it."
Having tried to propitiate the foe thus, Robinson lost no more time,
but went upstairs and asked Mr. Miles for the trifle due to him as
wages. Mr. Miles was very sorry, but he had been cleaned out at his
friend Yates's--had not a shilling left and no hopes of any for a
fortnight to come.
"Then, sir," said Robinson doggedly, "I hope you will allow me to go
into the town and try and make a little for myself, just enough to pay
my traveling expenses.
"By all means," was the reply; "tell me if you succeed--and I'll
borrow a sovereign of you."
Out went Robinson into the town of Sydney. He got into a respectable
street, and knocked at a good house with a green door. He introduced
himself to the owner as a first-rate painter and engrainer, and
offered to turn this door into a mahogany, walnut, oak or what-not
door. "The house is beautiful, all but the door," said sly Tom; "it is
"I am quite content with it as it is," was the reply in a rude,
Robinson went away discomfited; he went doggedly down the street
begging them all to have their doors beautified, and wincing at every
refusal. At last he found a shopkeeper who had no objection, but
doubted Robinson's capacity. "Show me what you can do," said he slyly,
"and then I'll talk to you."
"Send for the materials," replied the artist, "and give me a board and
I'll put half a dozen woods on the face of it."
"And pray," said the man, "why should I lay out my money in
advertising you? No! you bring me a specimen, and if it is all right
I'll give you the job."
"That is a bargain," replied Robinson, and went off. "How hard they
make honesty to a poor fellow," muttered he bitterly, "but I'll beat
them," and he clinched his teeth.
He went to a pawnbroker and pawned the hat off his head--it was a new
one; then for a halfpenny he bought a sheet of brown paper and twisted
it into a workman's cap; he bought the brushes and a little paint and
a little varnish, and then he was without a penny again. He went to a
wheelwright's and begged the loan of a small valueless worm-eaten
board he saw kicking about, telling him what it was for. The wealthy
wheelwright eyed him with scorn. "Should I ever see it again?" asked
"Keep it for your coffin," said Robinson fiercely, and passed on. "How
hard they make honesty to a poor fellow! I was a fool for asking for
it when I might have taken it. What was there to hinder me? Honesty,
my lass, you are bitter."
Presently he came to the suburbs and there was a small wooden cottage.
The owner, a common laborer, was repairing it as well as he could.
Robinson asked him very timidly if he could spare a couple of square
feet off a board he was sawing. "What for?" Robinson showed his
paintpot and brushes, and told him how he was at a stand-still for
want of a board. "It is only a loan of it I ask," said he.
The man measured the plank carefully, and after some hesitation cut
off a good piece. "I can spare that much," said he; "poor folk should
feel for one another."
"I'll bring it back, you may depend," said Robinson.
"You needn't trouble," replied the laboring man with a droll wink, as
much as to say, "Gammon!"
When Robinson returned to the skeptical shopkeeper with a board on
which oak, satin-wood, walnut, etc., were imitated to the life in
squares, that worthy gave a start and betrayed his admiration, and
Robinson asked him five shillings more than he would if the other had
been more considerate. In short, before evening the door was painted a
splendid imitation of walnut-wood, the shopkeeper was enchanted, and
Robinson had fifteen shillings handed over to him. He ran and got Mr.
Eden's ring out of pawn, and kissed it and put it on; next he
liberated his hat. He slept better this night than the last. "One more
such day and I shall have enough to pay my expenses to Bathurst."
He turned, out early and went into the town. He went into the street
where he had worked last evening, and when he came near this door
there was a knot of persons round it. Robinson joined them. Presently
one of the shop-boys cried out, "Why, here he is; this is the
Instantly three or four hands were laid on Robinson. "Come and paint
"No, come and paint mine!"
Tom had never been in such request since he was an itinerant quack.
His sly eye twinkled, and this artist put himself up to auction then
and there. He was knocked down to a tradesman in the same
street--twenty-one shillings the price of this door (mock mahogany).
While he was working commissions poured in and Robinson's price rose,
the demand for him being greater than the supply. The mahogany door
was really a chef-d'oeuvre. He came home triumphant with thirty
shillings in his pocket, he spread them out on the kitchen table and
looked at them with a pride and a thrill of joy money never gave him
before. He had often closed the shutters and furtively spread out
twice as many sovereigns, but they were only his, these shillings were
his own. And they were not only his own but his own by labor. Each
sacred shilling represented so much virtue; for industry is a virtue.
He looked at them with a father's pride.
How sweet the butter our own hands have churned!--T. T.
He blessed his reverend friend for having taught him an art in a
dunghole where idiots and savages teach crank. He blessed his
reverence's four bones, his favorite imprecation of the benevolent
kind. I conclude the four bones meant the arms and legs. If so it
would have been more to the point had he blessed the fifth--the skull.
Jenny came in and found him gloating over his virtuous shillings. She
stared. He told her what he had been about these two days past, his
difficulties, his success, the admiration his work excited throughout
the capital (he must exaggerate a little or it would not be Tom
Robinson), and the wealth he was amassing.
Jenny was glad to hear this, very glad, but she scolded him well for
pawning his hat. "Why didn't you ask me?" said she; "I would have lent
you a pound or even two, or given them you for any _honest
purpose_." And Jenny pouted and got up a little quarrel.
The next day a gentleman caught Robinson and made him paint two doors
in his fancy villa. Satin-wood this time; and he received three pounds
three shillings, a good dinner, and what Bohemians all adore--Praise.
Now as he returned in the evening a sudden misgiving came to him. "I
have not thought once of Bathurst to-day. I see--all this money-making
is a contrivance to keep me in Sydney. It is absurd my coining paint
at this rate. I see your game, my lad; either I am to fall into bad
company again, or to be split upon and nabbed for that last job.
To-morrow I will be on the road to Bathurst. I can paint there just as
well as here; besides I have got my orders from his reverence to go,
and I'll go."
He told Jane his resolution. She made no answer. While these two were
sitting cozily by the fireside--for since Robinson took to working
hard all day he began to relish the hearth at night--suddenly
cheerful, boisterous voices, and Mr. Miles and two friends burst in
and would have an extempore supper, and nothing else would serve these
libertines but mutton-chops off the gridiron. So they invaded the
kitchen. Out ran Jenny to avoid them--or put on a smarter cap; and
Robinson was to cut the chops and lay a cloth on the dresser and help
cook. While his master went off to the cellar the two rakes who
remained chattered and laughed both pretty loud. They had dined
together and the bottle had not stood still.
"I have heard that voice before," thought Robinson. "It is a very
peculiar voice. Whose voice is that?"
He looked the gentleman full in the face and could hardly suppress a
movement of surprise.
The gentleman by the instinct of the eye caught his, and his attention
was suddenly attracted to Robinson, and from that moment his eye was
never off Robinson, following him everywhere. Robinson affected not to
notice this; the chops were grilling, Jenny came in and bustled about
and pretended not to hear the side-compliments of the libertines.
Presently the young gentleman with the peculiar voice took out his
pocketbook and said, "I have a bet to propose. I'll bet you fifty
pounds I find the man you two hunted down the road on Monday night."
"No takers," replied Mr. Hazeltine with his mouth full.
"Stop a bit. I don't care if I make a time bet," said Miles. "How soon
will you bet you catch him?"
"In half an hour," was the cool reply. And the Honorable George while
making it managed at the same time in a sauntering sort of way to put
himself between Robinson and the door that led out into the garden.
Robinson eyed him in silence and never moved.
"In half a hour. That is a fair bet," said Mr. Miles. "Shall I take
"Better not; he is a knowing one. He has seen him to earth somewhere
or he would not offer you such a bet."
"Well, I'll bet you five to three," proposed the Honorable George.
Robinson put in a hasty word: "And what is to become of Thimble-rig
Jem, sir?" These words, addressed to Mr. Lascelles, produced a
singular effect. That gentleman gave an immediate shiver, as if a
bullet had passed clean through him and out again, then opened his
eyes and looked first at one door then at the other as if hesitating
which he should go by. Robinson continued, addressing him with marked
respect, "What I mean, sir, is that there is a government reward of
two hundred pounds for Thimble-rig Jem, and the police wouldn't like
to be drawn away from two hundred pounds after a poor fellow like him
you saw on Monday night, one that is only suspected and no reward
offered. Now Jem is a notorious culprit."
"Who is this Jem, my man? What is he?" asked Mr. Lascelles with a
composure that contrasted remarkably with his late emotion.
"A convict escaped from Norfolk Island, sir; an old offender. I fell
in with him once. He has forgotten me I dare say, but I never forget a
man. They say he has grown a mustache and whiskers and passes himself
off for a nob; but I could swear to him."
"How? By what?" cried Mr. Miles.
"If he should ever be fool enough to get in my way--"
"Hang Thimble-rig Jem," cried Hazeltine. "Is it a bet, Lascelles?"
"That you nab our one in half an hour?" Mr. Lascelles affected an
aristocratic drawl. "No, I was joking. I couldn't afford to leave the
fire for thirty pounds. Why should I run after the poor dayvil? Find
him yourselves. He never annoyed me. Got a cigar, Miles?"
After their chops, etc., the rakes went off to finish the night
"There, they are gone at last! Why, Jenny, how pale you look!" said
Robinson, not seeing the color of his own cheek. "What is wrong?"
Jenny answered by sitting down and bursting out crying. Tom sat
opposite her with his eyes on the ground.
"Oh, what I have gone through this day!" cried Jenny. "Oh! oh! oh!
oh!" sobbing convulsively.
What could Tom do but console her? And she found it so agreeable to be
consoled that she prolonged her distress. An impressionable Bohemian
on one side a fireplace, and a sweet, pretty girl crying on the other,
what wonder that two o'clock in the morning found this pair sitting on
the same side of the fire aforesaid--her hand in his?
The next morning at six o'clock Jenny was down to make his breakfast
for him before starting. If she had said, "Don't go," it is to be
feared the temptation would have been too strong, but she did not; she
said sorrowfully, "You are right to leave this town." She never
explained. Tom never heard from her own lips how far her suspicions
went. He was a coward, and seeing how shrewd she was, was afraid to
ask her; and she was one of your natural ladies who can leave a thing
unsaid out of delicacy.
Tom Robinson was what Jenny called "capital company." He had won her
admiration by his conversation, his stories of life, and now and then
a song, and by his good looks and good nature. She disguised her
affection admirably until he was in danger and about to leave her--and
then she betrayed herself. If she was fire he was tow. At last it came
to this: "Don't you cry so, dear girl. I have got a question to put to
you--IF I COME BACK A BETTER MAN THAN I GO, WILL YOU BE MRS.
ROBINSON started for Bathurst. Just before he got clear of the town he
passed the poor man's cottage who had lent him the board. "Bless me,
how came I to forget him?" said he. At that moment the man came out to
go to work. "Here I am," said Robinson, meeting him full, "and here is
your board;" showing it to him painted in squares. "Can't afford to
give it you back--it is my advertisement. But here is half-a-crown for
it and for your trusting me."
"Well, to be sure," cried the man. "Now who'd have thought this? Why,
if the world is not turning honest. But half-a-crown is too much;
'tain't worth the half of it."
"It was worth five pounds to me. I got employment through it. Look
here," and he showed him several pounds in silver; "all this came from
your board; so take your half-crown and my thanks on the head of it."
The half-crown lay in the man's palm; he looked in Robinson's face.
"Well," cried he with astonishment, "you are the honestest man ever I
fell in with."
"I am the honestest man! You will go to heaven for saying those words
to me," cried Robinson warmly and with agitation. "Good-by, my good,
charitable soul; you deserve ten times what you have got," and
Robinson made off.
The other, as soon as he recovered the shock, shouted after him,
"Good-by, honest man, and good luck wherever you go."
And Robinson heard him scuttle about and hastily convene small boys
and dispatch them down the road to look at an honest man. But the
young wood did not kindle at his enthusiasm. Had the rarity been a
bear with a monkey on him, well and good.
"I'm pretty well paid for a little honesty," thought Robinson. He
stepped gallantly out in high spirits, and thought of Jenny, and fell
in love with her, and saw in her affection yet another inducement to
be honest and industrious. Nothing of note happened on his way to
Bathurst, except that one day as he was tramping along very hot and
thirsty a luscious prickly pear hung over a wall, and many a
respectable man would have taken it without scruple; but Tom was so
afraid of beginning again he turned his back on it and ran on instead
of walking to make sure.
When he reached Bathurst his purse was very low, and he had a good
many more miles to go, and not feeling quite sure of his welcome he
did not care to be penniless, so he went round the town with his
advertising-board and very soon was painting doors in Bathurst. He
found the natives stingier here than in Sydney, and they had a notion
a traveler like him ought to work much cheaper than an established
man; but still he put by something every day.
He had been three days in the town when a man stepped up to him as he
finished a job and asked him to go home with him. The man took him to
a small but rather neat shop, plumber's, glazier's and painter's.
"Why, you don't want me," said Robinson; "we are in the same line of
"Step in," said the man. In a few words he let Robinson know that he
had a great bargain to offer him. "I am going to sell the shop," said
he. "It is a business I never much fancied, and I had rather sell it
to a stranger than to a Bathurst man, for the trade have offended me.
There is not a man in the colony can work like you, and you may make a
little fortune here."
Robinson's eyes sparkled a moment, then he replied, "I am too poor to
buy a business. What do you want for it?"
"Only sixty pounds for the articles in the shop and the good will and
"Well, I dare say it is moderate, but how am I to find sixty pounds?"
"I'll make it as light as a feather. Five pounds down. Five pounds in
a month; after that--ten pounds a month till we are clear. Take
possession and sell the goods and work the good-will on payment of the
"That is very liberal," said Robinson. "Well, give me till next
Thursday and I'll bring you the first five."
"Oh, I can't do that; I give you the first offer, but into the market
it goes this evening, and no later."
"I'll call this evening and see if I can do it." Robinson tried to
make up the money, but it was not to be done. Then fell a terrible
temptation upon him. Handling George Fielding's letter with his
delicate fingers, he had satisfied himself there was a bank-note in
it. Why not borrow this bank-note? The shop would soon repay it. The
idea rushed over him like a flood. At the same moment he took fright
at it. "Lord, help me!" he ejaculated.
He rushed to a shop, bought two or three sheets of brown paper and a
lot of wafers. With nimble fingers he put the letter in one parcel,
that parcel in another, that in another, and so on till there were a
dozen envelopes between him and the irregular loan. This done he
confided the grand parcel to his landlord.
"Give it me when I start."
He went no more near the little shop till he had made seven pounds;
then he went. The shop and business had been sold just twenty-four
hours. Robinson groaned. "If I had not been so very honest! Never
mind. I must take the bitter with the sweet."
For all that the town became distasteful to him. He bought a cheap
revolver--for there was a talk of bushrangers in the neighborhood--and
started to walk to George Fielding's farm. He reached it in the
"There is no George Fielding here," was the news. "He left this more
than six months ago."
"Do you know where he is?"
Robinson had to ask everybody he met where George Fielding was gone
to. At last, by good luck, he fell in with George's friend,
McLaughlan, who told him it was twenty-five miles off.
"Twenty-five miles? that must be for to-morrow, then."
McLaughlan told him he knew George Fielding very well. "He is a fine
lad." Then he asked Robinson what was his business. Robinson took down
a very thin light board with ornamented words painted on it.
"That is my business," said he.
At the sight of a real business the worthy Scot offered to take care
of him for the night, and put him on the road to Fielding's next
morning. Next morning Robinson painted his front door as a return for
bed and breakfast. McLaughlan gave him somewhat intricate instructions
for to-morrow's route. Robinson followed them and soon lost his way.
He was set right again, but lost it again; and after a tremendous
day's walk made up his mind he should have to camp in the open air and
without his supper--when he heard a dog baying in the distance. "There
is a house of some kind anyway," thought Robinson, "but where?--I see
none--better make for the dog."
He made straight for the sound, but still he could not see any house.
At last, however, coming over a hill he found a house beneath him, and
on the other side of this house the dog was howling incessantly.
Robinson came down the hill, walked round the house, and there sat the
dog on the steps.
"Well, it is you for howling anyway," said Robinson.
"Anybody at home?" he shouted. No one answered, and the dog howled on.
"Why, the place is deserted, I think. Haven't I seen that dog before?
Why, it is Carlo! Here, Carlo, poor fellow, Carlo, what is the
The dog gave a little whimper as Robinson stooped and patted him, but
no sign of positive recognition, but he pattered into the house.
Robinson followed him, and there he found the man he had come to
see--stretched on his bed--pale and hollow-eyed and grisly--and
looking like a corpse in the fading light.
Robinson was awestruck. "Oh! what is this?" said he. "Have I come all
this way to bury him?"
He leaned over and felt his heart; it beat feebly but equably, and he
muttered something unintelligible when Robinson touched him. Then
Robinson struck a light, and right glad he was to find a cauldron full
of gelatinized beef soup. He warmed some and ate a great supper, and
Carlo sat and whimpered, and then wagged his tail and plucked up more
and more spirit, and finally recognized Tom all in a moment somehow
and announced the fact by one great disconnected bark and a saltatory
motion. This done he turned to and also ate a voracious supper.
Robinson rolled himself up in George's great-coat and slept like a top
on the floor. Next morning he was waked by a tapping, and there was
Carlo seated bolt upright with his tail beating the floor because
George was sitting up in the bed looking about him in a puzzled way.
"Jacky," said he, "is that you?"
Robinson got up, rubbed his eyes, and came toward the bed. George
stared in his face and rubbed his eyes, too, for he thought he must be
under an ocular delusion. "Who are you?"
"Well! I didn't think to see you under a roof of mine again."
"Just the welcome I expected," thought Robinson bitterly. He answered
coldly: "Well, as soon as you are well you can turn me out of your
house, but I should say you are not strong enough to do it just now."
"No, I am weak enough, but I am better--I could eat something."
"Oh, you could do that! what! even if I cooked it? Here goes, then."
Tom lit the fire and warmed some beef soup. George ate some, but very
little; however he drank a great jugful of water--then dozed and fell
into a fine perspiration. It was a favorable crisis, and from that
moment youth and a sound constitution began to pull him through;
moreover no assassin had been there with his lancet.
Behold the thief turned nurse! The next day as he pottered about
clearing the room, opening or shutting the windows, cooking and
serving, he noticed George's eye following him everywhere with a
placid wonder which at last broke into words:
"You take a deal of trouble about me."
"I do," was the dry answer.
"It is very good of you, but--"
"You would as lieve it was anybody else; but your other friends have
left you to die like a dog," said Robinson sarcastically. "Well, they
left you when you were sick--I'll leave you when you are well."
"What for? Seems to me that you have earned a right to stay as long as
you are minded. The man that stands by me in trouble I won't bid him
go when the sun shines again."
And at this precise point in his sentence, without the least warning,
Mr. Fielding ignited himself--and inquired with fury whether it came
within Robinson's individual experience that George Fielding was of an
ungrateful turn, or whether such was the general voice of fame. "Now,
don't you get in a rage and burst your boiler," said Robinson. "Well,
George--without joking, though--I have been kind to you. Not for
nursing you--what Christian would not do that for his countryman and
his old landlord sick in a desert?--but what would you think of me if
I told you I had come a hundred and sixty miles to bring you a letter?
I wouldn't show it you before, for they say exciting them is bad for
fever, but I think I may venture now; here it is." And Robinson tore
off one by one the twelve envelopes, to George's astonishment and
"I don't know the hand," said George. But opening the inclosure he
caught a glance of a hand he did know, and let everything else drop on
the bed, while he held this and gazed at it, and the color flushed
into his white cheek. "Oh!" cried he, and worshipped it in silence
again; then opened it and devoured it. First came some precious words
of affection and encouragement. He kissed the letter. "You are a good
fellow to bring me such a treasure; and I'll never forget it as long
as I live!"
Then he went back to the letter. "There is something about you, Tom!"
"She tells me you never had a father, not to say a father--"
"She says true."
"Susan says that is a great disadvantage to any man, and so it
"She says they came between your sweetheart and you--Oh! poor Tom!"
"You lost your sweetheart; no wonder you went astray after that. What
would become of me if I lost my Susan? And--ay, you were always
better than me, Susan. She says she and I have never been sore tempted
"Bless her little heart for making excuses for a poor fellow; but she
was always a charitable, kind-hearted young lady."
"Wasn't she, Tom?"
"And what sweet eyes!"
"Ain't they, Tom? brimful of heaven I call them."
"And when she used to smile on you, Master George, oh! the ivories."
"Now you take my hand this minute. How foolish I am. I can't see--now
you shall read it on to me because you brought it."
"'And you, George, that are as honest a man as ever lived, do keep him
by you a while, and keep him in the right way. He is well-disposed but
weak--do it to oblige me.'"
"Will you stay with me, Tom?" inquired George, cheerful and
business-like. "I am not a lucky man, but while I have a shilling
there's sixpence for the man that brought me this--dew in the desert I
call it. And to think you have seen her since I have; how was she
looking; had she her beautiful color; what did she say to you with her
Then Robinson had to recall every word Susan had said to him; this
done, George took the inclosure. "Stop, here is something for you:
'George Fielding is requested to give this to Robinson for the use of
Thomas Sinclair.' There you are, Tom--well!--what is the matter?"
"Nothing. It is a name I have not heard a while. I did not know any
creature but me knew it; is it glamour, or what?"
"Why, Tom! what is the matter? don't look like that. Open it, and let
us see what there is inside."
Robinson opened it, and there was the five-pound note for him, with
this line: "If you have regained the name of Sinclair, keep it."
Robinson ran out of the house, and walked to and fro in a state of
exaltation. "I'm well paid for my journey; I'm well paid for not
fingering that note! Who would not be honest if they knew the sweets?
How could he know my name? is he really more than man? Keep it? Will I
THE old attachment was revived. Robinson had always a great regard for
George, and after nursing and bringing him through a dangerous illness
this feeling doubled. And as for George, the man who had brought him a
letter from Susan one hundred and sixty miles became such a benefactor
in his eyes that he thought nothing good enough for him.
In a very few days George was about again and on his pony, and he and
Robinson and Carlo went a shepherding. One or two bullocks had gone to
Jericho while George lay ill, and the poor fellow's heart was sore
when he looked at his diminished substance and lost time. Robinson
threw himself heart and soul into the business, and was of great
service to George; but after a bit he found it a dull life.
George saw this, and said to him: "You would do better in a town. I
should he sorry to lose you, but if you take my advice you will turn
your back on unlucky George, and try the paint-brush in Bathurst."
For Robinson had told him all about it--and painted his front door.
"Can't afford to part from Honesty," was the firm reply.
George breathed again. Robinson was a great comfort to the weak,
solitary, and now desponding man. One day for a change they had a
thirty-mile walk, to see a farmer that had some beasts to sell a great
bargain; he was going to boil them down if he could not find a
customer. They found them all just sold. "Just my luck," said George.
They came home another way. Returning home, George was silent and
Robinson was silent, but appeared to be swelling with some grand idea.
Every now and then he shot ahead under its influence. When they got
home and were seated at supper, he suddenly put this question to
George, "Did you ever hear of any gold being found in these parts?"
"What, not in any part of the country?"
"Well, that is odd!"
"I am afraid it is a very bad country for that."
"Ay to make it in, but not to find it in."
"What do you mean?"
"George," said the other, lowering his voice mysteriously, "in our
walk to-day we passed places that brought my heart into my mouth; for
if this was only California those places would be pockets of gold."
"But you see it is not California, but Australia, where all the world
knows there is nothing of what your mind is running on."
"Don't say 'knows,' say 'thinks.' Has it ever been searched for gold?"
"I'll be bound it has; or, if not, with so many eyes constantly
looking on every foot of soil a speck or two would have come to
"One would think so; but it is astonishing how blind folks are, till
they are taught how to look, and where to look. 'Tis the mind that
sees things, George, not the eye."
"Ah!" said George with a sigh, "this chat puts me in mind of 'The
Grove.' Do you mind how you used to pester everybody to go out to
"Yes! and I wish we were there now."
"And all your talk used to be gold--gold--gold."
"As well say it as think it."
"That is true. Well, we shall be very busy all day to-morrow, but in
the afternoon dig for gold an hour or two--then you will be
"But it is no use digging here; it was full five-and-twenty miles from
here the likely-looking place."
"Then why didn't you stop me at the place?"
"Why?" replied Robinson, sourly, "because his reverence did so snub me
whenever I got upon that favorite topic, that I really had got out of
the habit. I was ashamed to say, 'George, let us stop on the road and
try for gold with our finger-nails.' I knew I should only get laughed
"Well," said George sarcastically, "since the gold mine is twenty-five
miles off, and our work is round about the door, suppose we pen sheep
to-morrow--and dig for gold when there is nothing better to be done."
Robinson sighed. Unbucolical to the last degree was the spirit in
which our Bohemian tended the flocks next morning.
His thoughts were deeper than the soil. And every evening up came the
old topic. Oh! how sick George got of it. At last one night he said:
"My lad, I should like to tell you a story--but I suppose I shall make
a bungle of it; shan't cut the furrow clean I am doubtful."
"Never mind; try!"
"Well, then. Once upon a time there was an old chap that had heard or
read about treasures being found in odd places, a pot full of guineas
or something; and it took root in his heart till nothing would serve
him but he must find a pot of guineas, too; he used to poke about all
the old ruins. grubbing away, and would have taken up the floor of the
church, but the churchwardens would not have it. One morning he comes
down and says to his wife, 'It is all right, old woman, I've found the
"'No! have you, though?' says she.
"'Yes!' says he; 'leastways, it is as good as found; it is only
waiting till I've had my breakfast, and then I'll go out and fetch it
"'La, John, but how did you find it?'
"'It was revealed to me in a dream,' says he, as grave as a judge.
"'And where is it?' asks the old woman.
"'Under a tree in our own orchard--no farther,' says he.
"'Oh, John! how long you are at breakfast to-day!' Up they both got
and into the orchard. 'Now, which tree is it under?'
"John, he scratches his head, 'Blest if I know.'
"'Why, you old ninny,' says the mistress, 'didn't you take the trouble
"'That I did,' said he; 'I saw plain enough which tree it was in my
dream, but now they muddle it all, there are so many of 'em.'
"'Drat your stupid old head,' says she, 'why didn't you put a nick on
the right one at the time?'"
Robinson burst out laughing. George chuckled. "Oh!" said he, "there
were a pair of them for wisdom, you may take your oath of that.
'Well,' says he, 'I must dig till I find the right one.' The wife she
loses heart at this; for there was eighty apple-trees, and a score of
cherry-trees. 'Mind you don't cut the roots,' says she, and she heaves
a sigh. John he gives them bad language, root and branch. 'What
signifies cut or no cut; the old faggots--they don't bear me a bushel
of fruit the whole lot. They used to bear two sacks apiece in father's
time. Drat 'em.'
"'Well, John,' says the old woman, smoothing him down; 'father used to
give them a deal of attention.'--' 'Tain't that! 'tain't that!' says
he quick and spiteful-like; 'they have got old like ourselves, and
good for fire-wood.' Out pickax and spade and digs three foot deep
round one, and finding nothing but mould goes at another, makes a
little mound all round him, too--no guinea-pot. Well, the village let
him dig three or four quiet enough; but after that curiosity was
awakened, and while John was digging, and that was all day, there was
mostly seven or eight watching through the fence and passing jests.
After a bit a fashion came up of flinging a stone or two at John; then
John he brought out his gun loaded with dust-shot along with his pick
and spade, and the first stone came he fired sharp in that direction
and then loaded again. So they took that hint, and John dug on in
peace--till about the fourth Sunday--and then the parson had a slap at
him in church. 'Folks were not to heap up to themselves treasures on
earth,' was all his discourse."
"Well, but," said Robinson, "this one was only heaping up mould."
"So it seemed when he had dug the five-score holes, for no pot of gold
didn't come to light. Then the neighbors called the orchard 'Jacobs'
Folly;' his name was Jacobs--John Jacobs. 'Now then, wife,' says he,
'suppose you and I look out for another village to live in, for their
gibes are more than I can bear.' Old woman begins to cry. 'Been here
so long--brought me home here, John--when we were first married,
John--and I was a comely lass, and you the smartest young man I ever
saw, to my fancy any way; couldn't sleep or eat my victuals in any
house but this.'
"'Oh! couldn't ye? Well, then, we must stay; perhaps it will blow
over.' -- 'Like everything else, John; but, dear John, do ye fill in
those holes; the young folk come far and wide on Sundays to see them.'
"'Wife, I haven't the heart,' says he. 'You see, when I was digging for
the treasure I was always a-going to find, it kept my heart up; but
take out shovel and fill them in--I'd as lieve dine off white of egg
on a Sunday.' So for six blessed months the heaps were out in the heat
and frost till the end of February, and then when the weather broke
the old man takes heart and fills them in, and the village soon forgot
'Jacobs' Folly' because it was out of sight. Comes April, and out
burst the trees. 'Wife,' says he, 'our bloom is richer than I have
known it this many a year, it is richer than our neighbors'.' Bloom
dies, and then out come about a million little green things quite
"Ay! ay!" said Robinson; "I see."
"Michaelmas-day the old trees were staggering and the branches down to
the ground with the crop; thirty shillings on every tree one with
another; and so on for the next year, and the next; sometimes more,
sometimes less, according to the year. Trees were old and wanted a
change. His letting in the air to them, and turning the subsoil up to
the frost and sun, had renewed their youth. So by that he learned that
tillage is the way to get treasure from the earth. Men are ungrateful
at times, but the soil is never ungrateful, it always makes a return
for the pains we give it."
"Well, George," said Robinson, "thank you for your story; it is a very
good one, and after it I'll never dig for gold in a garden. But now
suppose a bare rock or an old river's bed, or a mass of shingles or
pipe-clay, would you dig or manure them for crops?"
"Why, of course not."
"Well, those are the sort of places in which nature has planted a
yellower crop and a richer crop than tillage ever produced. And I
believe there are plums of gold not thirty miles from here in such
spots waiting only to be dug out."
"Well, Tom, I have wasted a parable, that is all. Good-night; I hope
to sleep and be ready for a good day's work to-morrow. You shall dream
of digging up gold here--if you like."
"I'll never speak of it again," said Robinson doggedly.
If you want to make a man a bad companion, interdict altogether the
topic that happens to interest him. Robinson ceased to vent his
chimera. So it swelled and swelled in his heart, and he became silent,
absorbed, absent and out of spirits. "Ah!" thought George, "poor
fellow, he is very dull. He won't stay beside me much longer."
This conviction was so strong that he hesitated to close with an
advantageous offer that came to him from his friend, Mr. Winchester.
That gentleman had taken a lease of a fine run some thirty miles from
George. He had written George that he was to go and look at it, and if
he liked it better than his own he was to take it. Mr. Winchester
could make no considerable use of either for some time to come.
George hesitated. He felt himself so weak-handed with only Robinson,
who might leave him, and a shepherd lad he had just hired. However his
hands were unexpectedly strengthened.
One day as the two friends were washing a sheep an armed savage
suddenly stood before them. Robinson dropped the sheep and stood on
his defense, but George cried out, "No! no! it is Jacky! Why, Jacky,
where on earth have you been?" And he came warmly toward him. Jacky
fled to a small eminence and made warlike preparations. "You stop you
a good while and I speak. Who you?"
"Who am I? stupid. Why, who should I be but George Fielding?"
"I see you one George Fielding, but I not know you dis George
Fielding. George die. I see him die. You alive. You please you call
dog Carlo! Carlo wise dog."
"Well, I never! Hie, Carlo! Carlo!"
Up came Carlo full pelt. George patted him, and Carlo wagged his tail
and pranced about in the shape of a reaping-hook. Jacky came instantly
down, showed his ivories, and admitted his friend's existence on the
word of the dog. "Jacky a good deal glad because you not dead now.
When black fellow die he never live any more. Black fellow stupid
fellow. I tink I like white fellow a good deal bigger than black
fellow. Now I stay with you a good while."
George's hands thus strengthened he wrote and told Mr. Winchester he
would go to the new ground, which, as far as he could remember, was
very good, and would inspect it, and probably make the exchange with
thanks. It was arranged that in two days' time the three friends
should go together, inspect the new ground and build a temporary hut
Meantime Robinson and Jacky make great friends. Robinson showed him
one or two sleight-of-hand tricks that stamped him at once a superior
being in Jacky's eyes, and Jacky showed Robinson a thing or two He
threw his boomerang and made it travel a couple of hundred yards, and
return and hover over his head like a bird and settle at his feet; but
he was shy of throwing his spear. "Keep spear for when um angry, not
throw him straight now.
"Don't you believe that, Tom," said George. "Fact is the little
varmint can't hit anything with 'em. Now look at that piece of bark
leaning against that tree. You don't hit it. Come, try, Jacky." Jacky
yawned and threw a spear carelessly. It went close by but did not hit
"Didn't I tell you so?" said George. "I'd stand before him and his
spears all day with nothing but a cricket-stump in my hand, and never
be hit, and never brag, neither." Jacky showed his ivories. "When I
down at Sydney white man put up a little wood and a bit of white money
for Jacky. Then Jacky throw straight a good deal."
"Now hark to that! black skin or white skin 'tis all the same; we
can't do our best till we are paid for it. Don't you encourage him,
Tom, I won't have it."
The two started early one fine morning for the new ground, distant
full thirty miles. At first starting Robinson was in high glee; his
nature delighted in change; but George was sad and silent. Three times
he had changed his ground and always for the better. But to what end.
These starts in early morning for fresh places used once to make him
buoyant, but not now. All that was over. He persisted doggedly, and
did his best like a man, but in his secret heart not one grain of hope
was left. Indeed it was but the other day he had written to Susan and
told her it was not possible he could make a thousand pounds. The
difficulties were too many, and then his losses had been too great.
And he told her he felt it was scarcely fair to keep her to her
promise. "You would waste all your youth, Susan, dear, waiting for
me." And he told her how he loved her and never should love another;
but left her free.
To add to his troubles he was scarcely well of the fever when he
caught a touch of rheumatism; and the stalwart young fellow limped
along by Robinson's side, and instead of his distancing Jacky as he
used in better days, Jacky rattled on ahead and having got on the
trail of an opossum announced his intention of hunting it down and
then following the human trail. "Me catch you before the sun go, and
bring opossum--then we eat a good deal." And off glided Jacky after
The pair plodded and limped on in gloomy silence, for at a part of the
road where they emerged from green meadows on rocks and broken ground
Robinson's tongue had suddenly ceased.
They plodded on, one sad and stiff, the other thoughtful. Any one
meeting the pair would have pitied them. Ill-success was stamped on
them. Their features were so good, their fortunes so unkind. Their
clothes were sadly worn, their beards neglected, their looks
thoughtful and sad. The convert to honesty stole more than one look at
the noble figure that limped beside him and the handsome face in which
gentle, uncomplaining sorrow seemed to be a tenant for life; and to
the credit of our nature be it said that his eyes filled and his heart
yearned. "Oh, Honesty!" said he, "you are ill-paid here. I have been
well paid for my little bit of you, but here is a life of honesty and
a life of ill-luck and bitter disappointment. Poor George! poor, dear
George! Leave you? never while I have hands to work and a brain to
They now began slowly to mount a gentle slope that ended in a long
black snakelike hill. "When we get to that hill we shall see my new
pasture," said George. "New or old, I doubt 'twill be all the same."
And he sighed and relapsed into silence. Meantime Jacky had killed his
opossum and was now following their trail at an easy trot.
Leaving the two sad ones with worn clothes and heavy hearts plodding
slowly and stiffly up the long rough slope, our story runs on before
and gains the rocky platform they are making for and looks both
ways--back toward the sad ones and forward over a grand, long,
sweeping valley. This pasture is rich in proportion as it recedes from
this huge backbone of rock that comes from the stony mountains and
pierces and divides the meadows as a cape the sea. In the foreground
the grass suffers from its stern neighbor, is cut up here and there by
the channels of defunct torrents, and dotted with fragments of rock,
some of which seem to have pierced the bosom of the soil from below,
others have been detached at different epochs from the parent rock and
rolled into the valley. But these wounds are only discovered on
inspection; at a general glance from the rocky road into the dale the
prospect is large, rich and laughing; fairer pastures are to be found
in that favored land, but this sparkles at you like an emerald roughly
set, and where the backbone of rock gives a sudden twist bursts out
all at once broad smiling in your face--a land flowing with milk and
every bush a thousand nosegays. At the angle above-mentioned, which
commanded a double view, a man was standing watching some object or
objects not visible to his three companions; they were working some
yards lower down by the side of a rivulet that brawled and bounded
down the hill. Every now and then an inquiry was shouted up to that
individual, who was evidently a sort of scout or sentinel. At last one
of the men in the ravine came up and bade the scout go down.
"I'll soon tell you whether we shall have to knock off work." And he
turned the corner and disappeared.
He shaded both his eyes with his hands, for the sun was glaring. About
a mile off he saw two men coming slowly up by a zig-zag path toward
the very point where he stood. Presently the men stopped and examined
the prospect, each in his own way. The taller one took a wide survey
of the low ground, and calling his companion to him appeared to point
out to him some beauty or peculiarity of the region. Our scout stepped
back and called down to his companions, "Shepherds!"
He then strolled back to his post with no particular anxiety. Arrived
there his uneasiness seemed to revive. The shorter of the two
strangers had lagged behind his comrade, and the watcher observed,
that he was carrying on a close and earnest inspection of the ground
He peered into the hollows and loitered in every ravine. This gave
singular offense to the keen eye that was now upon him. Presently he
was seen to stop and call his taller companion to him, and point with
great earnestness first to something at their feet, then to the
backbone of rocks; and it so happened by mere accident that his finger
took nearly the direction of the very spot where the observer of all
his movements stood. The man started back out of sight and called in a
low voice to his comrades,
They came straggling up with troubled and lowering faces. "Lie down
and watch them," said the leader. The men stooped and crawled forward
to some stunted bushes, behind which they lay down and watched in
silence the unconscious pair who were now about two furlongs distant.
The shorter of the two still loitered behind his companion, and
inspected the ground with particular interest. The leader of the band,
who went by the name of Black Will, muttered a curse upon his
inquisitiveness. The others assented all but one, a huge fellow whom
the others addressed as Jem. "Nonsense," said Jem, "dozens pass this
way and are none the wiser."
"Ay," replied Black Will, "with their noses in the air. But that is a
notice-taking fellow. Look at him with his eyes forever on the rocks,
or in the gullies, or--there if he is not picking up a stone and
"Ha! ha!" laughed Jem incredulously, "how many thousand have picked up
stones and broke them and all, and never known what we know."
"He has been in the same oven as we," retorted the other.
Here one of the others put in his word. "That is not likely, captain;
but if it is so there are no two ways. A secret is no secret if all
the world is to know it."
"You remember our oath, Jem," said the leader sternly.
"Why should I forget it more than another?" replied the other angrily.
"Have you all your knives?" asked the captain gloomily. The men nodded
"Cross them with me as we did when we took our oath first."
The men stretched out each a brawny arm, and a long sharp knife, so
that all the points came together in a focus; and this action suited
well with their fierce and animal features, their long neglected
beards, their matted hair and their gleaming eyes. It looked the
prologue to some deed of blood. This done, at another word from their
ruffianly leader they turned away from the angle in the rock and
plunged hastily down the ravine; but they had scarcely taken thirty
steps when they suddenly disappeared.
In the neighborhood of the small stream I have mentioned was a cavern
of irregular shape that served these men for a habitation and place of
concealment. Nature had not done all. The stone was soft, and the
natural cavity had been enlarged and made a comfortable retreat enough
for the hardy men whose home it was. A few feet from the mouth of the
cave on one side grew a stout bush that added to the shelter and the
concealment, and on the other the men themselves had placed two or
three huge stones, which, from the attitude the rogues had given them,
appeared, like many others, to have rolled thither years ago from the
In this retreat the whole band were now silently couched, two of them
in the mouth of the cave, Black Will and another lying flat on their
stomachs watching the angle of the road for the two men who must pass
that way, and listening for every sound. Black Will was carefully and
quietly sharpening his knife on one of the stones and casting back
every now and then a meaning glance to his companions. The pertinacity
with which he held to his idea began to tell on them, and they sat in
an attitude of sullen and terrible suspicion. But Jem wore a look of
contemptuous incredulity. However small a society may be, if it is a
human one jealousy shall creep in. Jem grudged Black Will his
captaincy. Jem was intellectually a bit of a brute. He was a stronger
man than Will, and therefore thought it hard that merely because Will
was a keener spirit, Will should be over him. Half an hour passed
thus, and the two travelers did not make their appearance.
"Not even coming this way at all," said Jem.
"Hush!" replied Will sternly, "hold your tongue. They must come this
way, and they can't be far off. Jem, you can crawl out and see where
they are, if you are clever enough to keep that great body out of
Jem resented this doubt cast upon his adroitness, and crawled out
among the bushes. He had scarcely got twenty yards when he halted and
made a signal that the men were in sight. Soon afterward he came back
with less precaution. "They are sitting eating their dinner close by,
just on the sunny side of the rock--shepherds, as I told you--got a
dog. Go yourself if you don't believe me."
The leader went to the spot, and soon after returned and said quietly,
"Pals, I dare say he is right. Lie still till they have had their
dinner; they are going farther, no doubt."
Soon after this he gave a hasty signal of silence, for George and
Robinson at that moment came round the corner of the rock and stood on
the road not fifty yards above them. Here they paused as the valley
burst on their view, and George pointed out its qualities to his
comrade. "It is not first-rate, Tom, but there is good grass in
patches, and plenty of water."
Robinson, instead of replying or giving his mind to the prospect said
to George, "Why, where is he?"
"The man that I saw standing at this corner a while ago. He came round
this way I'll be sworn."
"He is gone away, I suppose. I never saw any one, for my part."
"I did, though. Gone away? How could he go away? The road is in sight
for miles, and not a creature on it. He is vanished."
"I don't see him anyway, Tom."
"Of course you don't, he is vanished into the bowels of the earth. I
don't like gentlemen that vanish into the bowels of the earth."
"How suspicious you are! Bushrangers again, I suppose. They are always
running in your mind--them and gold."
"You know the country, George. Here, take my stick." And he handed
George a long stick with a heavy iron ferule. "If a man is safe here
he owes it to himself, not to his neighbor."
"Then why do you give me your weapon?" said George with a smile.
"I haven't," was the reply. "I carry my sting out of sight, like a
humble bee." And Mr. Robinson winked mysteriously, and the process
seemed to relieve his mind and soothe his suspicions. He then fell to
inspecting the rocks; and when George pointed out to him the broad and
distant pasture he said, in an absent way, "Yes;" and turning round
George found him with his eyes glued to the ground at his feet, and
his mind in a deep reverie. George was vexed, and said somewhat
warmly, "Why, Tom, the place is worth looking at now we are come to
Robinson made no direct reply. "George," said he thoughtfully, "how
far have you got toward your thousand pounds?"
"Oh, Tom! don't ask me, don't remind me! How can I ever make it? No
market within a thousand miles of any place in this confounded
country! Forced to boil down sheep into tallow and sell them for the
price of a wild duck! I have left my Susan, and I have lost her. Oh,
why did you remind me?"
"So much for the farming lay. Don't you be down-hearted, there's
better cards in the pack than the five of spades; and the farther I go
and the more I see of this country the surer I am. There is a good day
coming for you and me. Listen, George. When I shut my eyes for a
moment now where I stand, and then open them--I'm in California."
"No, wide awake--wider than you are now. George, look at these hills;
you could not tell them from the golden range of California.. But that
is not all; when you look into them you find they are made of the same
stuff, too--granite, mica and quartz. Now don't you be cross."
"No! no! why should I? Show me," said George, trying out of
kindheartedness to take an interest in this subject, which had so
often wearied him.
"Well, here are two of them. That great dark bit out there is mica,
and all this that runs in a vein like is quartz. Quartz and mica are
the natural home of gold; and some gold is to be found at home still,
but the main of it has been washed out and scattered like seed all
over the neighboring clays. You see, George, the world is a thousand
times older than most folks think, and water has been working upon
gold thousands and thousands of years before ever a man stood upon the
earth, ay or a dog either, Carlo, for as wise as you look squatting
out there thinking of nothing and pretending to be thinking of
"Well, drop gold," said George, "and tell me what this is," and he
handed Robinson a small fossil.
Robinson eyed it with wonder and interest. "Where on earth did you
"Hard by; what is it?"
"Plenty of these in California. What is it? Why, I'll tell you; it is
a pale old Joey."
"You don't say so; looks like a shell."
"Sit down a moment, George, and let us look at it. He bids me drop
gold--and then goes and shows me a proof of gold that never deceived
us out there."
"You are mad. How can this be a sign of gold? I tell you it is a
"And I tell you that where these things are found among mica, quartz
and granite, there gold is to be found if men have the wit, the
patience and the skill to look for it. I can't tell you why; the laws
of gold puzzle deeper heads than mine, but so it is. I seem to smell
gold all round me here." And Robinson flushed all over, so powerfully
did the great idea of gold seated here on his native throne grapple
and agitate his mind.
"Tom," said the other doggedly, "if there is as much gold on the
ground of New South Wales as will make me a wedding-ring--I am a
Dutchman;" and he got up calmly and jerked the pale old Joey a
tremendous way into the valley.
This action put Robinson's blood up. "George," cried he, springing up
like fire and bringing his foot down sharp upon the rocky floor, "IF I
DON'T STAND UPON GOLD--I'M D----D!"
And a wild but true inspiration seemed to be upon the man; a stranger
could hardly have helped believing him, but George had heard a good
deal of this, though the mania had never gone quite so far. He said
quickly, "Come, let us go down into the pasture."
"Not I," replied Robinson. "Come, George, prejudice is for babies,
experience for men. Here is an unknown country with all the signs of
gold thicker than ever. I have got a calabash--stay and try for gold
in this gully; it looks to me just like the mouth of a purse."
"I will, then."
"Why not? I don't think you will find anything in it, but anyway you
will have a better chance when I am not by to spoil you. Luck is all
against me. If I want rain, comes drought; if I want sun, look for a
deluge, if there is money to be made by a thing I'm out of it; to be
lost, I'm in it; if I loved a vixen she'd drop into my arms like a
medlar; I love an angel and that is why I shall never have her, never.
From a game of marbles to the game of life I never had a grain of luck
like other people. Leave me, Tom, and try if you can find gold; you
will have a chance, my poor fellow, if unlucky George is not aside
"Leave you, George! not if I know it."
"You are to blame if you don't. Turn your back on me as I did on you
"Never! I'd rather not find gold than part with honesty. There, I'm
coming--let us go--quick--come, let us leave here." And the two men
left the road and turned their faces and their steps across the
During all this dialogue the men in the cave had strained both eyes
and ears to comprehend the speakers. The distance was too great for
them to catch all the words, but this much was clear from the first,
that one of the men wished to stay on the spot for some purpose, and
the other to go on; but presently, as the speakers warmed, a word
traveled down the breeze that made the four ruffians start and turn
red with surprise, and the next moment darken with anger and
apprehension. The word came again and again; they all heard it--its
open vowel gave it a sonorous ring; it seemed to fly farther than any
other word the speaker uttered, or perhaps when he came to it he spoke
it louder than smaller words, or the hearers' ears were watching for
The men interchanged terrible looks, and then they grasped their
knives and watched their leader's eye for some deadly signal. Again
and again the word "g-o-l-d" came like an Aeolian note into the secret
cave, and each time eye sought eye and read the unlucky speaker's
death-warrant there. But when George prevailed and the two men started
for the valley, the men in the cave cast uncertain looks on one
another, and he we have called Jem drew a long breath and said
brutally, yet with something of satisfaction, "You have saved your
bacon this time." The voices now drew near and the men crouched close,
for George and Robinson passed within fifteen yards of them. They were
talking now about matters connected with George's business, for
Robinson made a violent effort and dropped his favorite theme to
oblige his comrade. They passed near the cave, and presently their
backs were turned to it.
"Good-by, my lads," whispered Jem. "And curse you for making us lose a
good half hour," muttered another of the gang. The words were scarce
out of his mouth before a sudden rustle was heard and there was Carlo.
He had pulled up in mid career and stood transfixed with astonishment,
literally pointing the gang; it was but for a moment--he did not like
the looks of the men at all; he gave a sharp bark that made George and
Robinson turn quickly round, and then he went on hunting.
"A kangaroo!" shouted Robinson, "it must have got up near that bush;
come and look--if it is we will hunt it down."
George turned back with him, but on reflection he said, "No! Tom, we
have a long road to go, let us keep on, if you please;" and they once
more turned their backs to the cave, whistled Carlo, and stepped
briskly out toward the valley. A few yards before them was the brook I
have already noticed--it was about three yards broad at this spot.
However, Robinson, who was determined not to make George lose any more
time, took the lead and giving himself the benefit of a run, cleared
it like a buck. But as he was in the air his eye caught some object on
this side the brook, and making a little circle on the other side, he
came back with ludicrous precipitancy, and jumping short, landed with
one foot on shore and one in the stream. George burst out laughing.
"Do you see this?" cried Robinson.
"Yes; somebody has been digging a hole here," said George very coolly.
"Come higher up," cried Robinson, all in a flutter--"do you see this?"
"Yes; it is another hole."
"'It is. Do you see this wet, too?"
"I see there has been some water spilled by the brook side."
"What kind of work has been done here? have they been digging
"Don't be foolish, Tom."
"Is it any kind of work you know? Here is another trench dug."
"No! it is nothing in my way, that is the truth."
"But it is work the signs of which I know as well as you know a plowed
field from a turnpike-road."
"Why, what is it then?"
"It is gold washing."
"You don't say so, Tom."
"This is gold washing as beginners practice it in California and
Mexico and Peru, and wherever gold-dust is found. They have been
working with a pan, they haven't got such a thing as a cradle in this
country. Come lower down; this was yesterday's work, let us find
The two men now ran down the stream busy as dogs hunting an otter. A
little lower down they found both banks of the stream pitted with
holes about two feet deep and the sides drenched with water from it.
"Well, if it is so, you need not look so pale; why, dear me, how pale
you are, Tom!"
"You would be pale," gasped Tom, "if you could see what a day this is
for you and me, ay! and for all the world, old England especially.
George, in a month there will be five thousand men working round this
little spot. Ay! come," cried he, shouting wildly at the top of his
voice, "there is plenty for all. GOLD! GOLD! GOLD! I have found it. I,
Tom Robinson, I've found it, and I grudge it to no man. I, a thief
that was, make a present of it to its rightful owner, and that is all
the world. Here GOLD! GOLD! GOLD!"
Though George hardly understood his companion's words, he was carried
away by the torrent of his enthusiasm, and even as Robinson spoke his
cheeks in turn flushed and his eyes flashed, and he grasped his
friend's hands warmly, and cried, "GOLD! GOLD! blessings on it if it
takes me to Susan; GOLD! GOLD!"
The poor fellows' triumph and friendly exultation lasted but a moment;
the words were scarce out of Robinson's mouth when to his surprise
George started from him, turned very pale, but at the same time lifted
his iron-shod stick high in the air and clinched his teeth with
desperate resolution. Four men with shaggy beards and wild faces and
murderous eyes were literally upon them, each with a long glittering
knife raised in the air.
At that fearful moment George learned the value of a friend that had
seen adventure and crime; rapid and fierce and unexpected as the
attack was, Robinson was not caught off his guard. His hand went like
lightning into his bosom, and the assailants, in the very act of
striking, were met in the face by the long glistening barrels of a
rifle revolver, while the cool, wicked eye behind it showed them
nothing was to be hoped in that quarter from flurry, or haste, or
The two men nearest the revolver started back, the other two neither
recoiled nor advanced, but merely hung fire. George made a movement to
throw himself upon them; but Robinson seized him fiercely by the
arm--he said steadily but sternly, "Keep cool, young man--no running
among their knives while they are four. Strike across me and I shall
guard you till we have thinned."
"Will you?" said Black Will, "here, pals!" The four assailants came
together like a fan for a moment and took a whisper from their leader.
They then spread out like a fan and began to encircle their
antagonists, so as to attack on both sides at once.
"Back to the water, George," cried Robinson quickly, "to the broad
part here." Robinson calculated that the stream would protect his
rear, and that safe he was content to wait and profit by the slightest
error of his numerous assailants; this, however, was to a certain
degree a miscalculation, for the huge ruffian we have called Jem
sprang boldly across the stream higher up and prepared to attack the
men behind, the moment they should be engaged with his comrades. The
others no sooner saw him in position than they rushed desperately upon
George and Robinson in the form of a crescent, and as they came on Jem
came flying knife in hand to plunge it into Robinson's back. As the
front assailants neared them, true to his promise, Robinson fired
across George, and the outside man received a bullet in his
shoulder-blade, and turning round like a top fell upon his knees.
Unluckily George wasted a blow at this man which sung idly over him,
he dropping his head and losing his knife and his powers at the very
moment. By this means Robinson, the moment he had fired his pistol,
had no less than three assailants; one of these George struck behind
the neck so furiously with a back-handed stroke of his iron-shod stick
that he fell senseless at Robinson's feet. The other, met in front by
the revolver, recoiled, but kept Robinson at bay while Jem sprang on
him from the rear. This attack was the most dangerous of all; in fact,
neither Robinson nor George had time to defend themselves against him
even if they had seen him, which they did not. Now as Jem was in the
very act of making his spring from the other side of the brook, a
spear glanced like a streak of light past the principal combatants and
pierced Jem through and through the fleshy part of the thigh, and
there stood Jacky at forty yards' distance, with the hand still raised
from which the spear had flown, and his emu-like eye glittering with
the light of battle.
Jem, instead of bounding clear over the stream, fell heavily into the
middle of it and lay writhing and floundering at George's mercy, who
turning in alarm at the sound stood over him with his long deadly
staff whirling and swinging round his head in the air, while Robinson
placed one foot firmly on the stunned man's right arm and threatened
the leader Black Will with his pistol, and at the same moment with a
wild and piercing yell Jacky came down in leaps like a kangaroo, his
tomahawk flourished over his head, his features entirely changed, and
the thirst of blood written upon every inch of him. Black Will was
preparing to run away and leave his wounded companions, but at sight
of the fleet savage he stood still and roared out for mercy. "Quarter!
quarter!" cried Black Will.
"Down on your knees!" cried Robinson in a terrible voice.
The man fell on his knees, and in that posture Jacky would certainly
have knocked out his brains but that Robinson pointed the pistol at
his head and forbade him; and Carlo, who had arrived hastily at the
sound of battle, in great excitement but not with clear ideas, seeing
Jacky, whom he always looked on as a wild animal, opposed in some way
to Robinson, seized him directly by the leg from behind and held him
howling in a vise. "Hold your cursed noise, all of you," roared
Robinson. "D'ye ask quarter?"
"Quarter!" cried Black Will.
"Quarter!" gurgled Jem.
"Quarter!" echoed more faintly the wounded man. The other was
"Then throw me your knives."
The men hesitated.
"Throw me them this instant, or--"
They threw down their knives.
"George, take them and tie them up in your wipe." George took the
knives and tied them up.
"Now pull that big brute out of the water or he'll drown himself."
George and Jacky pulled Jem out of the water with the spear sticking
in him; the water was discolored with his blood.
"Pull the spear out of him!" George pulled and Jem roared with pain,
but the spear-head would not come back through the wound; then Jacky
came up and broke the light shaft off close to the skin, and grasping
the head drew the remainder through the wound forward, and grinned
with a sense of superior wisdom.
By this time the man whom George had felled sat up on his beam ends
winking and blinking and confused, like a great owl at sunrise.
Then Robinson, who had never lost his presence of mind, and had now
recovered his sang-froid, made all four captives sit around together
on the ground in one little lot, "While I show you the error of your
ways," said he. "I could forgive a rascal but I hate a fool. You
thought to keep such a secret as this all to yourselves--you
dunces--the very birds in the air would carry it; it never was kept
secret in any land and never will. And you would spill blood sooner
than your betters should know it--ye ninny-cumpoops! What the worse
are you for our knowing it? If a thousand knew it to-day would that
lower the price of gold a penny an ounce? No! All the harm they could
do you would be this, that some of them would show you where it lies
thickest, and then you'd profit by it. You had better tie that leg of
yours up; you have lost blood enough I should say by the look of you;
haven't you got a wipe? here, take mine--you deserve it, don't you? No
man's luck hurts his neighbor at this work; how clever you were, you
have just pitched on the unlikeliest place in the whole gulley, and
you wanted to kill the man that would have taught you which are the
likelier ones. I shall find ten times as much gold before the sun sets
as you will find in a week by the side of that stream; why, it hasn't
been running above a thousand years or two, I should say, by the look
of it; you have got plenty to learn, you bloody-minded greenhorns! Now
I'll tell you what it is," continued Robinson, getting angry about it,
"since you are for keeping dark what little you know, I'll keep you
dark; and in ten minutes my pal here and the very nigger shall know
more about gold-finding than you know, so be off, for I'm going to
work. Come, march!"
"Where are we to go, mate?" said the leader sullenly.
"Do you see that ridge about three miles west? well, if we catch you
on this side of it we will hang you like wild cats. On the other side
of it do what you like, and try all you know; but this gully belongs
to us now; you wanted to take something from us that did not belong to
you--our blood--so now we take something from you that didn't belong
to us a minute or two ago. Come, mizzle, and no more words, or--" and
he pointed the tail of his discourse with his revolver.
The men rose, and with sullen, rueful, downcast looks moved off in the
direction of the boundary; but one remained behind, the man was Jem.
"Captain, I wish you would let me join in with you!"
"Well, captain, you've lent me your wipe, and I think a deal of it,
for it's what I did not deserve; but that is not all. You are the best
man, and I like to be under the best man if I must be under anybody."
Robinson hesitated a moment. "Come here," said he. The man came and
fronted him. "Look me in the face! now give me your hand--quick, no
thinking about how." The man gave him his hand readily. Robinson
looked into his eyes. "What is your name?"
"Jem, we take you on trial."
Jem's late companions, who perfectly comprehended what was passing,
turned and hooted the deserter; Jem, whose ideas of repartee were
primitive, turned and hooted them in reply.
While the men were retreating Robinson walked thoughtfully with his
hands behind him, backward and forward, like a great admiral on his
quarter deck--enemy to leeward. Every eye was upon him and watched him
in respectful, inquiring silence. "Knowledge is power;" this was the
man now, the rest children.
"What tools have you?"
"There is a spade and trowel in that bush, captain."
"Fetch them, George. Hadn't you a pan?"
"No, captain; we used a calabash. He will find it lower down."
George, after a little search, found all these objects, and brought
them back. "Now," cried Robinson, "these greenhorns have been washing
in a stream that runs now, but perhaps in the days of Noah was not a
river at all; but you look at the old bed of a stream down out there.
That was a much stronger stream than this in its day, and it ran for
more than a hundred thousand years before it dried up."
"How can you tell that?" said George, resuming some of his
"Look at those monstrous stones in it here, there and everywhere. It
has been a powerful stream to carry such masses with it as that, and
it has been running many thousand years, for see how deep it has eaten
into its rocky sides here and there. That was a river, my lads, and
washed gold down for hundreds of thousands of years before ever Adam
stood on the earth."
The men gave a hurrah, and George and Jacky prepared to run and find
the treasure. "Stop," cried Robinson, "you are not at the gold yet.
Can you tell in what parts of the channel it lies thick and where
there isn't enough to pay the labor of washing it? Well, I can--look
at that bend where the round pebbles are collected so; there was a
strong eddy there. Well, under the ridge of that eddy is ten times as
much gold lying as in the level parts. Stop a bit again. Do you know
how deep or how shallow it lies--do you think you can find it by the
eye? Do you know what clays it sinks through, as if they were a sieve,
and what stops it like an iron door? Your quickest way is to take
Captain Robinson's time--and that is now."
He snatched the spade, and giving full vent to the ardor he had so
long suppressed with difficulty, plunged down a little declivity that
led to the ancient stream, and drove his spade into its shingle, the
debris of centuries of centuries. George sprang after him, his eyes
gleaming with hope and agitation; the black followed in wonder and
excitement, and the wounded Jem limped last, and, unable through
weakness to work, seated himself with glowing eyes upon that ancient
"Away with all this gravel and shingle--these are all newcomers--the
real bed of the stream is below all this, and we must go down to
Trowel and spade and tomahawk went furiously to work, and soon cleared
away the gravel from a surface of three or four feet.
Beneath this they found a bed of gray clay.
"Let us wash that, captain," said Jem eagerly.
"No! Jem," was the reply; "that is the way novices waste their time.
This gray clay is porous, too porous to hold gold--we must go deeper."
Tomahawk, spade and trowel went furiously to work again.
"Give me the spade," said George, and he dug and shoveled out with
herculean strength and amazing ardor; his rheumatism was gone and
nerves came back from that very hour. "Here is a white clay."
"Let me see it. Pipe-clay! go no deeper, George; if you were to dig a
hundred feet you would not find an ounce of gold below that."
George rested on his spade. "What are we to do, then? try somewhere
"Not till we have tried here first."
"But you say there is nothing below this pipe-clay."
"No more there is."
"But I don't say there is nothing above it!!!"
"Well, but there is nothing much above it except the gray, without
'tis this small streak of brownish clay; but that is not an inch
"George! in that inch lies all the gold we are likely to find; if it
is not there we have only to go elsewhere. Now while I get water you
stick your spade in and cut the brown clay away from the white it lies
on. Don't leave a spot of the brown sticking to the white--the lower
part of the brown clay is the likeliest."
A shower having fallen the day before, Robinson found water in a hole
not far distant. He filled his calabash and returned; meantime George
and Jacky had got together nearly a barrowful of the brown or rather
chocolate-colored clay, mixed slightly with the upper and lower
strata, the gray and white.
"I want yon calabash and George's as well." Robinson filled George's
calabash two-thirds full of the stuff, and pouring some water upon it,
said good-naturedly to Jem, "There--you may do the first washing, if
"Thank you, captain," said Jem, who proceeded instantly to stir and
dissolve the clay and pour it carefully away as it dissolved. Jacky
was sent for more water, and this, when used as described, had left
the clay reduced to about one-sixth of its original bulk.
"Now, captain," cried Jem in great excitement.
"No, it's not now, captain, yet," said Robinson; "is that the way you
He then took the calabash from Jem, and gave him Jacky's calabash
two-thirds full of clay to treat like the other, and this being done
he emptied the dry remains of one calabash into the other, and gave
Jem a third lot to treat likewise. This done, you will observe he had
in one calabash the results of three first washings. But now he
trusted Jem no longer. He took the calabash and said, "You look faint,
you are not fit to work; besides you have not got the right twist of
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