Part 3 out of 4
there watched over by the three policemen, two gamekeepers with loaded
guns, the butler, an ostler, and a carman, until the dawn allowed of
their removal to Hazelhurst police-station. Mr Watkins was made much
of in the saloon. They devoted a sofa to him, and would not hear of
a return to the village that night. Lady Aveling was sure he was
brilliantly original, and said her idea of Turner was just such
another rough, half-inebriated, deep-eyed, brave, and clever man. Some
one brought up a remarkable little folding-ladder that had been picked
up in the shrubbery, and showed him how it was put together. They also
described how wires had been found in the shrubbery, evidently placed
there to trip-up unwary pursuers. It was lucky he had escaped these
snares. And they showed him the jewels.
Mr Watkins had the sense not to talk too much, and in any
conversational difficulty fell back on his internal pains. At last he
was seized with stiffness in the back, and yawning. Everyone suddenly
awoke to the fact that it was a shame to keep him talking after his
affray, so he retired early to his room, the little red room next to
Lord Aveling's suite.
The dawn found a deserted easel bearing a canvas with a green
inscription, in the Hammerpond Park, and it found Hammerpond House
in commotion. But if the dawn found Mr Teddy Watkins and the Aveling
diamonds, it did not communicate the information to the police.
A MOTH--GENUS NOVO
Probably you have heard of Hapley--not W.T. Hapley, the son, but the
celebrated Hapley, the Hapley of _Periplaneta Hapliia_, Hapley the
entomologist. If so you know at least of the great feud between Hapley
and Professor Pawkins. Though certain of its consequences may be
new to you. For those who have not, a word or two of explanation is
necessary, which the idle reader may go over with a glancing eye, if
his indolence so incline him.
It is amazing how very widely diffused is the ignorance of such really
important matters as this Hapley-Pawkins feud. Those epoch-making
controversies, again, that have convulsed the Geological Society, are,
I verily believe, almost entirely unknown outside the fellowship of
that body. I have heard men of fair general education even refer to
the great scenes at these meetings as vestry-meeting squabbles. Yet
the great Hate of the English and Scotch geologists has lasted now
half a century, and has "left deep and abundant marks upon the body of
the science." And this Hapley-Pawkins business, though perhaps a more
personal affair, stirred passions as profound, if not profounder. Your
common man has no conception of the zeal that animates a scientific
investigator, the fury of contradiction you can arouse in him. It is
the _odium theologicum_ in a new form. There are men, for instance,
who would gladly burn Professor Ray Lankester at Smithfield for
his treatment of the Mollusca in the Encyclopaedia. That fantastic
extension of the Cephalopods to cover the Pteropods ... But I wander
from Hapley and Pawkins.
It began years and years ago, with a revision of the Microlepidoptera
(whatever these may be) by Pawkins, in which he extinguished a new
species created by Hapley. Hapley, who was always quarrelsome, replied
by a stinging impeachment of the entire classification of Pawkins[A].
Pawkins, in his "Rejoinder[B]," suggested that Hapley's microscope
was as defective as his powers of observation, and called him an
"irresponsible meddler"--Hapley was not a professor at that time.
Hapley, in his retort[C], spoke of "blundering collectors," and
described, as if inadvertently, Pawkins' revision as a "miracle of
ineptitude." It was war to the knife. However, it would scarcely
interest the reader to detail how these two great men quarrelled, and
how the split between them widened until from the Microlepidoptera
they were at war upon every open question in entomology. There were
memorable occasions. At times the Royal Entomological Society meetings
resembled nothing so much as the Chamber of Deputies. On the whole, I
fancy Pawkins was nearer the truth than Hapley. But Hapley was skilful
with his rhetoric, had a turn for ridicule rare in a scientific man,
was endowed with vast energy, and had a fine sense of injury in the
matter of the extinguished species; while Pawkins was a man of dull
presence, prosy of speech, in shape not unlike a water-barrel,
over-conscientious with testimonials, and suspected of jobbing museum
appointments. So the young men gathered round Hapley and applauded
him. It was a long struggle, vicious from the beginning, and growing
at last to pitiless antagonism. The successive turns of fortune, now
an advantage to one side and now to another--now Hapley tormented by
some success of Pawkins, and now Pawkins outshone by Hapley, belong
rather to the history of entomology than to this story.
[Footnote A: "Remarks on a Recent Revision of Microlepidoptera."
_Quart, Journ. Entomological Soc_. 1863.]
[Footnote B: "Rejoinder to certain Remarks," &c. _Ibid_. 1864.]
[Footnote C: "Further Remarks," &c. _Ibid_.]
But in 1891 Pawkins, whose health had been bad for some time,
published some work upon the "mesoblast" of the Death's Head Moth.
What the mesoblast of the Death's Head Moth may be, does not matter a
rap in this story. But the work was far below his usual standard, and
gave Hapley an opening he had coveted for years. He must have worked
night and day to make the most of his advantage.
In an elaborate critique he rent Pawkins to tatters--one can fancy the
man's disordered black hair, and his queer dark eyes flashing as
he went for his antagonist--and Pawkins made a reply, halting,
ineffectual, with painful gaps of silence, and yet malignant. There
was no mistaking his will to wound Hapley, nor his incapacity to
do it. But few of those who heard him--I was absent from that
meeting--realised how ill the man was.
Hapley had got his opponent down, and meant to finish him. He followed
with a simply brutal attack upon Pawkins, in the form of a paper upon
the development of moths in general, a paper showing evidence of a
most extraordinary amount of mental labour, and yet couched in a
violently controversial tone. Violent as it was, an editorial note
witnesses that it was modified. It must have covered Pawkins with
shame and confusion of face. It left no loophole; it was murderous in
argument, and utterly contemptuous in tone; an awful thing for the
declining years of a man's career.
The world of entomologists waited breathlessly for the rejoinder from
Pawkins. He would try one, for Pawkins had always been game. But when
it came it surprised them. For the rejoinder of Pawkins was to catch
the influenza, to proceed to pneumonia, and to die.
It was perhaps as effectual a reply as he could make under the
circumstances, and largely turned the current of feeling against
Hapley. The very people who had most gleefully cheered on those
gladiators became serious at the consequence. There could be no
reasonable doubt the fret of the defeat had contributed to the death
of Pawkins. There was a limit even to scientific controversy, said
serious people. Another crushing attack was already in the press and
appeared on the day before the funeral. I don't think Hapley exerted
himself to stop it. People remembered how Hapley had hounded down his
rival, and forgot that rival's defects. Scathing satire reads ill over
fresh mould. The thing provoked comment in the daily papers. This it
was that made me think that you had probably heard of Hapley and this
controversy. But, as I have already remarked, scientific workers live
very much in a world of their own; half the people, I dare say, who go
along Piccadilly to the Academy every year, could not tell you where
the learned societies abide. Many even think that Research is a kind
of happy-family cage in which all kinds of men lie down together in
In his private thoughts Hapley could not forgive Pawkins for dying.
In the first place, it was a mean dodge to escape the absolute
pulverisation Hapley had in hand for him, and in the second, it left
Hapley's mind with a queer gap in it. For twenty years he had worked
hard, sometimes far into the night, and seven days a week, with
microscope, scalpel, collecting-net, and pen, and almost entirely with
reference to Pawkins. The European reputation he had won had come as
an incident in that great antipathy. He had gradually worked up to a
climax in this last controversy. It had killed Pawkins, but it had
also thrown Hapley out of gear, so to speak, and his doctor advised
him to give up work for a time, and rest. So Hapley went down into a
quiet village in Kent, and thought day and night of Pawkins, and good
things it was now impossible to say about him.
At last Hapley began to realise in what direction the pre-occupation
tended. He determined to make a fight for it, and started by trying to
read novels. But he could not get his mind off Pawkins, white in the
face, and making his last speech--every sentence a beautiful opening
for Hapley. He turned to fiction--and found it had no grip on him.
He read the "Island Nights' Entertainments" until his "sense of
causation" was shocked beyond endurance by the Bottle Imp. Then
he went to Kipling, and found he "proved nothing," besides being
irreverent and vulgar. These scientific people have their limitations.
Then unhappily, he tried Besant's "Inner House," and the opening
chapter set his mind upon learned societies and Pawkins at once.
So Hapley turned to chess, and found it a little more soothing. He
soon mastered the moves and the chief gambits and commoner closing
positions, and began to beat the Vicar. But then the cylindrical
contours of the opposite king began to resemble Pawkins standing up
and gasping ineffectually against Check-mate, and Hapley decided to
give up chess.
Perhaps the study of some new branch of science would after all be
better diversion. The best rest is change of occupation. Hapley
determined to plunge at diatoms, and had one of his smaller
microscopes and Halibut's monograph sent down from London. He thought
that perhaps if he could get up a vigorous quarrel with Halibut, he
might be able to begin life afresh and forget Pawkins. And very soon
he was hard at work, in his habitual strenuous fashion, at these
microscopic denizens of the way-side pool.
It was on the third day of the diatoms that Hapley became aware of
a novel addition to the local fauna. He was working late at the
microscope, and the only light in the room was the brilliant little
lamp with the special form of green shade. Like all experienced
microscopists, he kept both eyes open. It is the only way to avoid
excessive fatigue. One eye was over the instrument, and bright and
distinct before that was the circular field of the microscope, across
which a brown diatom was slowly moving. With the other eye Hapley saw,
as it were, without seeing[A]. He was only dimly conscious of the
brass side of the instrument, the illuminated part of the table-cloth,
a sheet of note-paper, the foot of the lamp, and the darkened room
[Footnote A: The reader unaccustomed to microscopes may easily
understand this by rolling a newspaper in the form of a tube and
looking through it at a book, keeping the other eye open.]
Suddenly his attention drifted from one eye to the other. The
table-cloth was of the material called tapestry by shopmen, and rather
brightly coloured. The pattern was in gold, with a small amount of
crimson and pale blue upon a greyish ground. At one point the pattern
seemed displaced, and there was a vibrating movement of the colours at
Hapley suddenly moved his head back and looked with both eyes. His
mouth fell open with astonishment.
It was a large moth or butterfly; its wings spread in butterfly
It was strange it should be in the room at all, for the windows were
closed. Strange that it should not have attracted his attention when
fluttering to its present position. Strange that it should match the
table-cloth. Stranger far that to him, Hapley, the great entomologist,
it was altogether unknown. There was no delusion. It was crawling
slowly towards the foot of the lamp.
"_Genus novo_, by heavens! And in England!" said Hapley, staring.
Then he suddenly thought of Pawkins. Nothing would have maddened
Pawkins more.... And Pawkins was dead!
Something about the head and body of the insect became singularly
suggestive of Pawkins, just as the chess king had been.
"Confound Pawkins!" said Hapley. "But I must catch this." And, looking
round him for some means of capturing the moth, he rose slowly out
of his chair. Suddenly the insect rose, struck the edge of the
lampshade--Hapley heard the "ping"--and vanished into the shadow.
In a moment Hapley had whipped off the shade, so that the whole room
was illuminated. The thing had disappeared, but soon his practised eye
detected it upon the wall paper near the door. He went towards it,
poising the lamp-shade for capture. Before he was within striking
distance, however, it had risen and was fluttering round the room.
After the fashion of its kind, it flew with sudden starts and turns,
seeming to vanish here and reappear there. Once Hapley struck, and
missed; then again.
The third time he hit his microscope. The instrument swayed, struck
and overturned the lamp, and fell noisily upon the floor. The lamp
turned over on the table and, very luckily, went out. Hapley was left
in the dark. With a start he felt the strange moth blunder into his
It was maddening. He had no lights. If he opened the door of the
room the thing would get away. In the darkness he saw Pawkins quite
distinctly laughing at him. Pawkins had ever an oily laugh. He swore
furiously and stamped his foot on the floor.
There was a timid rapping at the door.
Then it opened, perhaps a foot, and very slowly. The alarmed face of
the landlady appeared behind a pink candle flame; she wore a night-cap
over her grey hair and had some purple garment over her shoulders.
"What _was_ that fearful smash?" she said. "Has anything--" The
strange moth appeared fluttering about the chink of the door. "Shut
that door!" said Hapley, and suddenly rushed at her.
The door slammed hastily. Hapley was left alone in the dark. Then in
the pause he heard his landlady scuttle upstairs, lock her door and
drag something heavy across the room and put against it.
It became evident to Hapley that his conduct and appearance had been
strange and alarming. Confound the moth! and Pawkins! However, it was
a pity to lose the moth now. He felt his way into the hall and found
the matches, after sending his hat down upon the floor with a noise
like a drum. With the lighted candle he returned to the sitting-room.
No moth was to be seen. Yet once for a moment it seemed that the thing
was fluttering round his head. Hapley very suddenly decided to give up
the moth and go to bed. But he was excited. All night long his sleep
was broken by dreams of the moth, Pawkins, and his landlady. Twice in
the night he turned out and soused his head in cold water.
One thing was very clear to him. His landlady could not possibly
understand about the strange moth, especially as he had failed to
catch it. No one but an entomologist would understand quite how he
felt. She was probably frightened at his behaviour, and yet he failed
to see how he could explain it. He decided to say nothing further
about the events of last night. After breakfast he saw her in her
garden, and decided to go out to talk to her to reassure her. He
talked to her about beans and potatoes, bees, caterpillars, and the
price of fruit. She replied in her usual manner, but she looked at him
a little suspiciously, and kept walking as he walked, so that there
was always a bed of flowers, or a row of beans, or something of
the sort, between them. After a while he began to feel singularly
irritated at this, and to conceal his vexation went indoors and
presently went out for a walk.
The moth, or butterfly, trailing an odd flavour of Pawkins with it,
kept coming into that walk, though he did his best to keep his mind
off it. Once he saw it quite distinctly, with its wings flattened out,
upon the old stone wall that runs along the west edge of the park,
but going up to it he found it was only two lumps of grey and yellow
lichen. "This," said Hapley, "is the reverse of mimicry. Instead of
a butterfly looking like a stone, here is a stone looking like a
butterfly!" Once something hovered and fluttered round his head, but
by an effort of will he drove that impression out of his mind again.
In the afternoon Hapley called upon the Vicar, and argued with him
upon theological questions. They sat in the little arbour covered with
briar, and smoked as they wrangled. "Look at that moth!" said Hapley,
suddenly, pointing to the edge of the wooden table.
"Where?" said the Vicar.
"You don't see a moth on the edge of the table there?" said Hapley.
"Certainly not," said the Vicar.
Hapley was thunderstruck. He gasped. The Vicar was staring at him.
Clearly the man saw nothing. "The eye of faith is no better than the
eye of science," said Hapley, awkwardly.
"I don't see your point," said the Vicar, thinking it was part of the
That night Hapley found the moth crawling over his counterpane. He sat
on the edge of the bed in his shirt-sleeves and reasoned with himself.
Was it pure hallucination? He knew he was slipping, and he battled
for his sanity with the same silent energy he had formerly displayed
against Pawkins. So persistent is mental habit, that he felt as if it
were still a struggle with Pawkins. He was well versed in psychology.
He knew that such visual illusions do come as a result of mental
strain. But the point was, he did not only _see_ the moth, he had
heard it when it touched the edge of the lampshade, and afterwards
when it hit against the wall, and he had felt it strike his face in
He looked at it. It was not at all dreamlike, but perfectly clear and
solid-looking in the candle-light. He saw the hairy body, and the
short feathery antennae, the jointed legs, even a place where the down
was rubbed from the wing. He suddenly felt angry with himself for
being afraid of a little insect.
His landlady had got the servant to sleep with her that night, because
she was afraid to be alone. In addition she had locked the door, and
put the chest of drawers against it. They listened and talked in
whispers after they had gone to bed, but nothing occurred to alarm
them. About eleven they had ventured to put the candle out, and had
both dozed off to sleep. They woke up with a start, and sat up in bed,
listening in the darkness.
Then they heard slippered feet going to and fro in Hapley's room. A
chair was overturned, and there was a violent dab at the wall. Then a
china mantel ornament smashed upon the fender. Suddenly the door of
the room opened, and they heard him upon the landing. They clung to
one another, listening. He seemed to be dancing upon the staircase.
Now he would go down three or four steps quickly, then up again, then
hurry down into the hall. They heard the umbrella stand go over, and
the fanlight break. Then the bolt shot and the chain rattled. He was
opening the door.
They hurried to the window. It was a dim grey night; an almost
unbroken sheet of watery cloud was sweeping across the moon, and the
hedge and trees in front of the house were black against the pale
roadway. They saw Hapley, looking like a ghost in his shirt and white
trousers, running to and fro in the road, and beating the air. Now he
would stop, now he would dart very rapidly at something invisible, now
he would move upon it with stealthy strides. At last he went out of
sight up the road towards the down. Then, while they argued who should
go down and lock the door, he returned. He was walking very fast, and
he came straight into the house, closed the door carefully, and went
quietly up to his bedroom. Then everything was silent.
"Mrs Colville," said Hapley, calling down the staircase next morning.
"I hope I did not alarm you last night."
"You may well ask that!" said Mrs Colville.
"The fact is, I am a sleep-walker, and the last two nights I have been
without my sleeping mixture. There is nothing to be alarmed about,
really. I am sorry I made such an ass of myself. I will go over the
down to Shoreham, and get some stuff to make me sleep soundly. I ought
to have done that yesterday."
But half-way over the down, by the chalk pits, the moth came upon
Hapley again. He went on, trying to keep his mind upon chess problems,
but it was no good. The thing fluttered into his face, and he struck
at it with his hat in self-defence. Then rage, the old rage--the rage
he had so often felt against Pawkins--came upon him again. He went
on, leaping and striking at the eddying insect. Suddenly he trod on
nothing, and fell headlong.
There was a gap in his sensations, and Hapley found himself sitting on
the heap of flints in front of the opening of the chalkpits, with a
leg twisted back under him. The strange moth was still fluttering
round his head. He struck at it with his hand, and turning his head
saw two men approaching him. One was the village doctor. It occurred
to Hapley that this was lucky. Then it came into his mind, with
extraordinary vividness, that no one would ever be able to see the
strange moth except himself, and that it behoved him to keep silent
Late that night, however, after his broken leg was set, he was
feverish and forgot his self-restraint. He was lying flat on his bed,
and he began to run his eyes round the room to see if the moth was
still about. He tried not to do this, but it was no good. He
soon caught sight of the thing resting close to his hand, by the
night-light, on the green table-cloth. The wings quivered. With a
sudden wave of anger he smote at it with his fist, and the nurse woke
up with a shriek. He had missed it.
"That moth!" he said; and then, "It was fancy. Nothing!"
All the time he could see quite clearly the insect going round the
cornice and darting across the room, and he could also see that the
nurse saw nothing of it and looked at him strangely. He must keep
himself in hand. He knew he was a lost man if he did not keep himself
in hand. But as the night waned the fever grew upon him, and the very
dread he had of seeing the moth made him see it. About five, just as
the dawn was grey, he tried to get out of bed and catch it, though his
leg was afire with pain. The nurse had to struggle with him.
On account of this, they tied him down to the bed. At this the moth
grew bolder, and once he felt it settle in his hair. Then, because he
struck out violently with his arms, they tied these also. At this the
moth came and crawled over his face, and Hapley wept, swore, screamed,
prayed for them to take it off him, unavailingly.
The doctor was a blockhead, a half-qualified general practitioner, and
quite ignorant of mental science. He simply said there was no moth.
Had he possessed the wit, he might still, perhaps, have saved Hapley
from his fate by entering into his delusion and covering his face with
gauze, as he prayed might be done. But, as I say, the doctor was a
blockhead, and until the leg was healed Hapley was kept tied to his
bed, and with the imaginary moth crawling over him. It never left him
while he was awake and it grew to a monster in his dreams. While he
was awake he longed for sleep, and from sleep he awoke screaming.
So now Hapley is spending the remainder of his days in a padded room,
worried by a moth that no one else can see. The asylum doctor calls
it hallucination; but Hapley, when he is in his easier mood, and can
talk, says it is the ghost of Pawkins, and consequently a unique
specimen and well worth the trouble of catching.
THE TREASURE IN THE FOREST
The canoe was now approaching the land. The bay opened out, and a gap
in the white surf of the reef marked where the little river ran out to
the sea; the thicker and deeper green of the virgin forest showed its
course down the distant hill slope. The forest here came close to
the beach. Far beyond, dim and almost cloudlike in texture, rose the
mountains, like suddenly frozen waves. The sea was still save for an
almost imperceptible swell. The sky blazed.
The man with the carved paddle stopped. "It should be somewhere here,"
he said. He shipped the paddle and held his arms out straight before
The other man had been in the fore part of the canoe, closely
scrutinising the land. He had a sheet of yellow paper on his knee.
"Come and look at this, Evans," he said.
Both men spoke in low tones, and their lips were hard and dry.
The man called Evans came swaying along the canoe until he could look
over his companion's shoulder.
The paper had the appearance of a rough map. By much folding it was
creased and worn to the pitch of separation, and the second man held
the discoloured fragments together where they had parted. On it one
could dimly make out, in almost obliterated pencil, the outline of the
"Here," said Evans, "is the reef and here is the gap." He ran his
thumb-nail over the chart.
"This curved and twisting line is the river--I could do with a drink
now!--and this star is the place."
"You see this dotted line," said the man with the map; "it is a
straight line, and runs from the opening of the reef to a clump of
palm-trees. The star comes just where it cuts the river. We must mark
the place as we go into the lagoon."
"It's queer," said Evans, after a pause, "what these little marks down
here are for. It looks like the plan of a house or something; but what
all these little dashes, pointing this way and that, may mean I can't
get a notion. And what's the writing?"
"Chinese," said the man with the map.
"Of course! _He_ was a Chinee," said Evans.
"They all were," said the man with the map.
They both sat for some minutes staring at the land, while the canoe
drifted slowly. Then Evans looked towards the paddle.
"Your turn with the paddle now, Hooker," said he.
And his companion quietly folded up his map, put it in his pocket,
passed Evans carefully, and began to paddle. His movements were
languid, like those of a man whose strength was nearly exhausted.
Evans sat with his eyes half closed, watching the frothy breakwater of
the coral creep nearer and nearer. The sky was like a furnace now, for
the sun was near the zenith. Though they were so near the Treasure he
did not feel the exaltation he had anticipated. The intense excitement
of the struggle for the plan, and the long night voyage from the
mainland in the unprovisioned canoe had, to use his own expression,
"taken it out of him." He tried to arouse himself by directing his
mind to the ingots the Chinamen had spoken of, but it would not rest
there; it came back headlong to the thought of sweet water rippling
in the river, and to the almost unendurable dryness of his lips and
throat. The rhythmic wash of the sea upon the reef was becoming
audible now, and it had a pleasant sound in his ears; the water washed
along the side of the canoe, and the paddle dripped between each
stroke. Presently he began to doze.
He was still dimly conscious of the island, but a queer dream texture
interwove with his sensations. Once again it was the night when he and
Hooker had hit upon the Chinamen's secret; he saw the moonlit
trees, the little fire burning, and the black figures of the three
Chinamen--silvered on one side by moonlight, and on the other
glowing from the firelight--and heard them talking together in
pigeon-English--for they came from different provinces. Hooker had
caught the drift of their talk first, and had motioned to him to
listen. Fragments of the conversation were inaudible and fragments
incomprehensible. A Spanish galleon from the Philippines hopelessly
aground, and its treasure buried against the day of return, lay in
the background of the story; a shipwrecked crew thinned by disease,
a quarrel or so, and the needs of discipline, and at last taking to
their boats never to be heard of again. Then Chang-hi, only a year
since, wandering ashore, had happened upon the ingots hidden for two
hundred years, had deserted his junk, and reburied them with infinite
toil, single-handed but very safe. He laid great stress on the
safety--it was a secret of his. Now he wanted help to return and
exhume them. Presently the little map fluttered and the voices sank.
A fine story for two stranded British wastrels to hear! Evans' dream
shifted to the moment when he had Chang-hi's pigtail in his hand. The
life of a Chinaman is scarcely sacred like a European's. The cunning
little face of Chang-hi, first keen and furious like a startled snake,
and then fearful, treacherous and pitiful, became overwhelmingly
prominent in the dream. At the end Chang-hi had grinned, a most
incomprehensible and startling grin. Abruptly things became very
unpleasant, as they will do at times in dreams. Chang-hi gibbered and
threatened him. He saw in his dream heaps and heaps, of gold, and
Chang-hi intervening and struggling to hold him back from it. He took
Chang-hi by the pigtail--how big the yellow brute was, and how he
struggled and grinned! He kept growing bigger, too. Then the bright
heaps of gold turned to a roaring furnace, and a vast devil,
surprisingly like Chang-hi, but with a huge black tail, began to feed
him with coals. They burnt his mouth horribly. Another devil was
shouting his name: "Evans, Evans, you sleepy fool!"--or was it Hooker?
He woke up. They were in the mouth of the lagoon.
"There are the three palm-trees. It must be in a line with that clump
of bushes," said his companion. "Mark that. If we go to those bushes
and then strike into the bush in a straight line from here, we shall
come to it when we come to the stream."
They could see now where the mouth of the stream opened out. At the
sight of it Evans revived. "Hurry up, man," he said, "Or by heaven I
shall have to drink sea water!" He gnawed his hand and stared at the
gleam of silver among the rocks and green tangle.
Presently he turned almost fiercely upon Hooker. "Give _me_ the
paddle," he said.
So they reached the river mouth. A little way up Hooker took some
water in the hollow of his hand, tasted it, and spat it out. A little
further he tried again. "This will do," he said, and they began
"Curse this!" said Evans, suddenly. "It's too slow." And, leaning
dangerously over the fore part of the canoe, he began to suck up the
water with his lips.
Presently they made an end of drinking, and, running the canoe into a
little creek, were about to land among the thick growth that overhung
"We shall have to scramble through this to the beach to find our
bushes and get the line to the place," said Evans.
"We had better paddle round," said Hooker.
So they pushed out again into the river and paddled back down it to
the sea, and along the shore to the place where the clump of bushes
grew. Here they landed, pulled the light canoe far up the beach, and
then went up towards the edge of the jungle until they could see the
opening of the reef and the bushes in a straight line. Evans had
taken a native implement out of the canoe. It was L-shaped, and the
transverse piece was armed with polished stone. Hooker carried the
paddle. "It is straight now in this direction," said he; "we must push
through this till we strike the stream. Then we must prospect."
They pushed through a close tangle of reeds, broad fronds, and young
trees, and at first it was toilsome going, but very speedily the trees
became larger and the ground beneath them opened out. The blaze of the
sunlight was replaced by insensible degrees by cool shadow. The trees
became at last vast pillars that rose up to a canopy of greenery far
overhead. Dim white flowers hung from their stems, and ropy creepers
swung from tree to tree. The shadow deepened. On the ground, blotched
fungi and a red-brown incrustation became frequent.
Evans shivered. "It seems almost cold here after the blaze outside."
"I hope we are keeping to the straight," said Hooker.
Presently they saw, far ahead, a gap in the sombre darkness where
white shafts of hot sunlight smote into the forest. There also was
brilliant green undergrowth, and coloured flowers. Then they heard the
rush of water.
"Here is the river. We should be close to it now," said Hooker.
The vegetation was thick by the river bank. Great plants, as yet
unnamed, grew among the roots of the big trees, and spread rosettes of
huge green fans towards the strip of sky. Many flowers and a creeper
with shiny foliage clung to the exposed stems. On the water of the
broad, quiet pool which the treasure seekers now overlooked there
floated big oval leaves and a waxen, pinkish-white flower not unlike
a water-lily. Further, as the river bent away from them, the water
suddenly frothed and became noisy in a rapid.
"Well?" said Evans.
"We have swerved a little from the straight," said Hooker. "That was
to be expected."
He turned and looked into the dim cool shadows of the silent forest
behind them. "If we beat a little way up and down the stream we should
come to something."
"You said--" began Evans.
"_He_ said there was a heap of stones," said Hooker.
The two men looked at each other for a moment.
"Let us try a little down-stream first," said Evans.
They advanced slowly, looking curiously about them. Suddenly Evans
stopped. "What the devil's that?" he said.
Hooker followed his finger. "Something blue," he said. It had come
into view as they topped a gentle swell of the ground. Then he began
to distinguish what it was.
He advanced suddenly with hasty steps, until the body that belonged to
the limp hand and arm had become visible. His grip tightened on the
implement he carried. The thing was the figure of a Chinaman lying on
his face. The _abandon_ of the pose was unmistakable.
The two men drew closer together, and stood staring silently at this
ominous dead body. It lay in a clear space among the trees. Near by
was a spade after the Chinese pattern, and further off lay a scattered
heap of stones, close to a freshly dug hole.
"Somebody has been here before," said Hooker, clearing his throat.
Then suddenly Evans began to swear and rave, and stamp upon the
Hooker turned white but said nothing. He advanced towards the
prostrate body. He saw the neck was puffed and purple, and the hands
and ankles swollen. "Pah!" he said, and suddenly turned away and went
towards the excavation. He gave a cry of surprise. He shouted to
Evans, who was following him slowly.
"You fool! It's all right It's here still." Then he turned again and
looked at the dead Chinaman, and then again at the hole.
Evans hurried to the hole. Already half exposed by the ill-fated
wretch beside them lay a number of dull yellow bars. He bent down in
the hole, and, clearing off the soil with his bare hands, hastily
pulled one of the heavy masses out. As he did so a little thorn
pricked his hand. He pulled the delicate spike out with his fingers
and lifted the ingot.
"Only gold or lead could weigh like this," he said exultantly.
Hooker was still looking at the dead Chinaman. He was puzzled.
"He stole a march on his friends," he said at last. "He came here
alone, and some poisonous snake has killed him ... I wonder how he
found the place."
Evans stood with the ingot in his hands. What did a dead Chinaman
signify? "We shall have to take this stuff to the mainland piecemeal,
and bury it there for a while. How shall we get it to the canoe?"
He took his jacket off and spread it on the ground, and flung two or
three ingots into it. Presently he found that another little thorn had
punctured his skin.
"This is as much as we can carry," said he. Then suddenly, with a
queer rush of irritation, "What are you staring at?"
Hooker turned to him. "I can't stand ... him." He nodded towards the
corpse. "It's so like--"
"Rubbish!" said Evans. "All Chinamen are alike."
Hooker looked into his face. "I'm going to bury _that_, anyhow, before
I lend a hand with this stuff."
"Don't be a fool, Hooker," said Evans. "Let that mass of corruption
Hooker hesitated, and then his eye went carefully over the brown soil
about them. "It scares me somehow," he said.
"The thing is," said Evans, "what to do with these ingots. Shall we
re-bury them over here, or take them across the strait in the canoe?"
Hooker thought. His puzzled gaze wandered among the tall tree-trunks,
and up into the remote sunlit greenery overhead. He shivered again
as his eye rested upon the blue figure of the Chinaman. He stared
searchingly among the grey depths between the trees.
"What's come to you, Hooker?" said Evans. "Have you lost your wits?"
"Let's get the gold out of this place, anyhow," said Hooker.
He took the ends of the collar of the coat in his hands, and Evans
took the opposite corners, and they lifted the mass. "Which way?" said
Evans. "To the canoe?"
"It's queer," said Evans, when they had advanced only a few steps,
"but my arms ache still with that paddling."
"Curse it!" he said. "But they ache! I must rest."
They let the coat down. Evans' face was white, and little drops of
sweat stood out upon his forehead. "It's stuffy, somehow, in this
Then with an abrupt transition to unreasonable anger: "What is the
good of waiting here all the day? Lend a hand, I say! You have done
nothing but moon since we saw the dead Chinaman."
Hooker was looking steadfastly at his companion's face. He helped
raise the coat bearing the ingots, and they went forward perhaps a
hundred yards in silence. Evans began to breathe heavily. "Can't you
speak?" he said.
"What's the matter with you?" said Hooker.
Evans stumbled, and then with a sudden curse flung the coat from
him. He stood for a moment staring at Hooker, and then with a groan
clutched at his own throat.
"Don't come near me," he said, and went and leant against a tree. Then
in a steadier voice, "I'll be better in a minute."
Presently his grip upon the trunk loosened, and he slipped slowly down
the stem of the tree until he was a crumpled heap at its foot. His
hands were clenched convulsively. His face became distorted with pain.
Hooker approached him.
"Don't touch me! Don't touch me!" said Evans in a stifled voice. "Put
the gold back on the coat."
"Can't I do anything for you?" said Hooker.
"Put the gold back on the coat."
As Hooker handled the ingots he felt a little prick on the ball of
his thumb. He looked at his hand and saw a slender thorn, perhaps two
inches in length.
Evans gave an inarticulate cry and rolled over.
Hooker's jaw dropped. He stared at the thorn for a moment with dilated
eyes. Then he looked at Evans, who was now crumpled together on the
ground, his back bending and straitening spasmodically. Then he looked
through the pillars of the trees and net-work of creeper stems, to
where in the dim grey shadow the blue-clad body of the Chinaman was
still indistinctly visible. He thought of the little dashes in the
corner of the plan, and in a moment he understood.
"God help me!" he said. For the thorns were similar to those the
Dyaks poison and use in their blowing-tubes. He understood now
what Chang-hi's assurance of the safety of his treasure meant. He
understood that grin now.
"Evans!" he cried.
But Evans was silent and motionless now, save for a horrible spasmodic
twitching of his limbs. A profound silence brooded over the forest.
Then Hooker began to suck furiously at the little pink spot on the
ball of his thumb--sucking for dear life. Presently he felt a strange
aching pain in his arms and shoulders, and his fingers seemed
difficult to bend. Then he knew that sucking was no good.
Abruptly he stopped, and sitting down by the pile of ingots, and
resting his chin upon his hands and his elbows upon his knees, stared
at the distorted but still stirring body of his companion. Chang-hi's
grin came in his mind again. The dull pain spread towards his throat
and grew slowly in intensity. Far above him a faint breeze stirred the
greenery, and the white petals of some unknown flower came floating
down through the gloom.
TURNBULL AND SPEARS, EDINBURGH
A LIST OF NEW BOOKS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS OF
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LEADERS OF RELIGION
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WILLIAM LAUD. By W.H. HUTTON, M.A.
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