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Stories by English Authors: Africa (Selected by Scribners) ebook

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Stories by English Authors: Africa (Selected by Scribners). Contributions by Percy Addleshaw, Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry Rider Haggard, J. Landers and William Charles Scully libreka classics – These are classics of literary history, reissued and made available to a wide audience. Immerse yourself in well-known and popular titles!

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Titel: Stories by English Authors: Africa (Selected by Scribners)

von William Shakespeare, H. G. Wells, Henry Van Dyke, Thomas Carlyle, Oscar Wilde, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, Anthony Hope, Henry Fielding, Giraldus Cambrensis, Daniel Defoe, Grammaticus Saxo, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Hugh Lofting, Agatha Christie, Sinclair Lewis, Eugène Brieux, Upton Sinclair, Booth Tarkington, Sax Rohmer, Jack London, Anna Katharine Green, Sara Jeannette Duncan, Xenophon, Alexandre Dumas père, John William Draper, Alice Christiana Thompson Meynell, Bram Stoker, Honoré de Balzac, William Congreve, Louis de Rougemont, Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol, Rolf Boldrewood, François Rabelais, Lysander Spooner, B. M. Bower, Henry Rider Haggard, William Hickling Prescott, Lafcadio Hearn, Robert Herrick, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Charles Babbage, Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, Frank L. Packard, George Meredith, John Merle Coulter, Irvin S. Cobb, Edwin Mims, John Tyndall, Various, Charles Darwin, Sidney Lanier, Henry Lawson, Niccolò Machiavelli, George W. Crile, Théophile Gautier, Noah Brooks, James Thomson, Zane Grey, J. M. Synge, Virginia Woolf, Conrad Aiken, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Helen Cody Wetmore, Ayn Rand, Sir Thomas Malory, Gustave Flaubert, Edmond Rostand, Charlotte Brontë, Edith Wharton, Giles Lytton Strachey, Myrtle Reed, Ernest Bramah, Jules Verne, H. L. Mencken, H. Stanley Redgrove, Victor Lefebure, Edna Lyall, John Masefield, Charles Kingsley, Robert Burns, Edgar Lee Masters, Victor [pseud.] Appleton, Ellis Parker Butler, Mary Lamb, Charles Lamb, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Kenneth Grahame, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, John Galt, James J. Davis, Owen Wister, William Blades, Sir Hall Caine, Sir Max Beerbohm, Baron Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett Dunsany, Bret Harte, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Thomas Henry Huxley, A. B. Paterson, John N. Reynolds, Walter Dill Scott, Hans Gustav Adolf Gross, T. S. Eliot, Walt Whitman, Arthur Ransome, Jane Addams, Elizabeth, David Lindsay, Helen Bannerman, Charles A. Oliver, J. M. Barrie, Robert F. Murray, Andrew Lang, Jerome K. Jerome, Francis Thompson, Sydney Waterlow, Andrew Dickson White, Benjamin N. Cardozo, Karl Marx, Edouard Louis Emmanuel Julien Le Roy, Margaret Hill McCarter, Sir Donald Mackenzie Wallace, Howard Trueman, L. M. Montgomery, Frank T. Bullen, Baron Alfred Tennyson Tennyson, Jonathan Nield, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Reade, Ouida, Washington Irving, Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville, Sir Walter Scott, Stewart Edward White, Arthur Hugh Clough, Baron Edward Bulwer Lytton Lytton, C.-F. Volney, T. Troward, graf Leo Tolstoy, Christopher Morley, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Gilbert White, Percival Lowell, Frederick Marryat, Robert Graves, Thomas Holmes, Wilkie Collins, Maria Edgeworth, Katherine Mansfield, E. Nesbit, Olive Schreiner, Jeronimo Lobo, O. Henry, James Slough Zerbe, Donald Ogden Stewart, Johanna Spyri, Eleanor H. Porter, William Tatem Tilden, Sol Plaatje, Rafael Sabatini, William Makepeace Thackeray, George Gissing, Maksim Gorky, Baron Thomas Babington Macaulay Macaulay, H. G. Keene, Saki, R. B. Cunninghame Graham, Thomas Hughes, David Nunes Carvalho, Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, Carry Amelia Nation, John Fiske, Bernard Shaw, Elbridge Streeter Brooks, William Holmes McGuffey, Edward Everett Hale, Louis Ginzberg, Chester K. Steele, Christopher Marlowe, Plato, John Lord, Shakespeare, Martin Luther, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Howard Pyle, Charles Morris, Edward Carpenter, Maurice Leblanc, James Boswell, William Osler, William Ernest Henley, Theron Q. Dumont, Horatio Alger, Abraham Myerson, Joel Benton, Eden Phillpotts, Anonymous, Robert Louis Stevenson, Lloyd Osbourne, Cleland Boyd McAfee, Robert Williams Wood, H. C. Andersen, Edna Ferber, James Stephens, John Jacob Astor, Alexandre Dumas fils, Hilda Conkling, J. Storer Clouston, Julian Hawthorne, Ernest Albert Savage, Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman, Fernando de Rojas, Richard Harding Davis, Charles Whibley, Thomas Dixon, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, George MacDonald, Thomas H. Burgoyne, Belle M. Wagner, Émile Gaboriau, à Kempis Thomas, United States. Central Intelligence Agency, Herbert Darling Foster, John Chipman Farrar, Lucius Apuleius, Olive Gilbert, Sojourner Truth, Arthur Judson Brown, Burbank L. Todd, Gaston Leroux, Margaret Sanger, Jr. Martin Luther King, Mary Johnston, S. A. Reilly, G. K. Chesterton, Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, George Iles, E. W. Hornung, Edward Huntington Williams, Henry Smith Williams, Nathaniel W. Stephenson, Ellen Marriage, Homer, Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, J. F. C. Hecker, John Milton, Natalie Sumner Lincoln, Baroness Emmuska Orczy Orczy, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Mary Esther Miller MacGregor, William MacLeod Raine, Earl Derr Biggers, Helen Nicolay, Ruth Ogden, Thornton W. Burgess, Mary Murdoch Mason, Auguste Groner, John Lawson, Emma Wolf, Theodore Dreiser, Roger Ascham, John Charles McNeill, Owen Meredith, L. Adams Beck, Rudyard Kipling, Alphonse Daudet, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, Anthony Trollope, A. A. Milne, Elia Wilkinson Peattie, J. Fitzgerald Molloy, James Fenimore Cooper, Alexander Whyte, Jean-Henri Fabre, E. R. Punshon, Neltje Blanchan, Porter Lander MacClintock, William Darnall MacClintock, Ida Pfeiffer, Stanley John Weyman, Max Brand, Herman Melville, William Joseph Long, William Cotton, Dorothy Kilner, Sarah Fielding, Samuel Butler, A. C. Seward, Harold MacGrath, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William J. Kountz, Arthur B. Reeve, Susan Fenimore Cooper, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Anatole France, William Blake, Elizabeth Davis Bancroft, Carl von Clausewitz, Gildas, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Melvin Linwood Severy, E. H. Chapin, Sir Philip Sidney, John Buchan, fl. 796 Nennius, Aristotle, Jean Baptiste Racine, Ellen Robena Field, Mitzi Perdue

ISBN 978-3-7429-1917-5

Alle Rechte vorbehalten.

Es ist ohne vorherige schriftliche Erlaubnis nicht gestattet, dieses Werk im Ganzen oder in Teilen zu vervielfältigen oder zu veröffentlichen.

STORIES BY ENGLISH AUTHORS

AFRICA

Contents

STORIES BY ENGLISH AUTHORS

THE MYSTERY OF SASASSA VALLEY, By A. Conan Doyle

LONG ODDS, By H. Rider Haggard

KING BEMBA'S POINT, A WEST AFRICAN STORY, By J. Landers

GHAMBA, By William Charles Scully

MARY MUSGRAVE, By Anonymous

GREGORIO, By Percy Hemingway

I—AT THE PARADISO

II—CONCERNING A DEBT

III—OF FAILURE AND A RESOLVE

IV—CONCERNING TWO WOMEN

V—XANTIPPE LOOKS OUT OF THE WINDOW

VI—BABY AND JEW

VII—XANTIPPE SPEAKS OUT

VIII—A DESOLATE HOME-COMING

IX—A DISCOVERY AND A CONSPIRACY

X—AT THE HOUSE OF AMOS

XI—HUSBAND AND WIFE

XII—IN THE DESERT AND ON THE SEA

STORIES BY ENGLISH AUTHORS

THE MYSTERY OF SASASSA VALLEY, By A. Conan Doyle

Do I know why Tom Donahue is called "Lucky Tom"? Yes, I do; and that is more than one in ten of those who call him so can say. I have knocked about a deal in my time, and seen some strange sights, but none stranger than the way in which Tom gained that sobriquet, and his fortune with it. For I was with him at the time. Tell it? Oh, certainly; but it is a longish story and a very strange one; so fill up your glass again, and light another cigar, while I try to reel it off. Yes, a very strange one; beats some fairy stories I have heard; but it's true, sir, every word of it. There are men alive at Cape Colony now who'll remember it and confirm what I say. Many a time has the tale been told round the fire in Boers' cabins from Orange state to Griqualand; yes, and out in the bush and at the diamond-fields too.

I'm roughish now, sir; but I was entered at the Middle Temple once, and studied for the bar. Tom—worse luck!—was one of my fellow-students; and a wildish time we had of it, until at last our finances ran short, and we were compelled to give up our so-called studies, and look about for some part of the world where two young fellows with strong arms and sound constitutions might make their mark. In those days the tide of emigration had scarcely begun to set in toward Africa, and so we thought our best chance would be down at Cape Colony. Well,—to make a long story short,—we set sail, and were deposited in Cape Town with less than five pounds in our pockets; and there we parted. We each tried our hands at many things, and had ups and downs; but when, at the end of three years, chance led each of us up-country and we met again, we were, I regret to say, in almost as bad a plight as when we started.

Well, this was not much of a commencement; and very disheartened we were, so disheartened that Tom spoke of going back to England and getting a clerkship. For you see we didn't know that we had played out all our small cards, and that the trumps were going to turn up. No; we thought our "hands" were bad all through. It was a very lonely part of the country that we were in, inhabited by a few scattered farms, whose houses were stockaded and fenced in to defend them against the Kaffirs. Tom Donahue and I had a little hut right out in the bush; but we were known to possess nothing, and to be handy with our revolvers, so we had little to fear. There we waited, doing odd jobs, and hoping that something would turn up. Well, after we had been there about a month something did turn up upon a certain night, something which was the making of both of us; and it's about that night, sir, that I'm going to tell you. I remember it well. The wind was howling past our cabin, and the rain threatened to burst in our rude window. We had a great wood fire crackling and sputtering on the hearth, by which I was sitting mending a whip, while Tom was lying in his bunk groaning disconsolately at the chance which had led him to such a place.

"Cheer up, Tom—cheer up," said I. "No man ever knows what may be awaiting him."

"Ill luck, ill luck, Jack," he answered. "I always was an unlucky dog. Here have I been three years in this abominable country; and I see lads fresh from England jingling the money in their pockets, while I am as poor as when I landed. Ah, Jack, if you want to keep your head above water, old friend, you must try your fortune away from me."

"Nonsense, Tom; you're down in your luck to-night. But hark! Here's some one coming outside. Dick Wharton, by the tread; he'll rouse you, if any man can."

Even as I spoke the door was flung open, and honest Dick Wharton, with the water pouring from him, stepped in, his hearty red face looming through the haze like a harvest-moon. He shook himself, and after greeting us sat down by the fire to warm himself.

"Where away, Dick, on such a night as this?" said I. "You'll find the rheumatism a worse foe than the Kaffirs, unless you keep more regular hours."

Dick was looking unusually serious, almost frightened, one would say, if one did not know the man. "Had to go," he replied—"had to go. One of Madison's cattle was seen straying down Sasassa Valley, and of course none of our blacks would go down that valley at night; and if we had waited till morning, the brute would have been in Kaffirland."

"Why wouldn't they go down Sasassa Valley at night?" asked Tom.

"Kaffirs, I suppose," said I.

"Ghosts," said Dick.

We both laughed.

"I suppose they didn't give such a matter-of-fact fellow as you a sight of their charms?" said Tom, from the bunk.

"Yes," said Dick, seriously, "yes; I saw what the niggers talk about; and I promise you, lads, I don't want ever to see it again."

Tom sat up in his bed. "Nonsense, Dick; you're joking, man! Come, tell us all about it; the legend first, and your own experience afterward. Pass him over the bottle, Jack."

"Well, as to the legend," began Dick. "It seems that the niggers have had it handed down to them that Sasassa Valley is haunted by a frightful fiend. Hunters and wanderers passing down the defile have seen its glowing eyes under the shadows of the cliff; and the story goes that whoever has chanced to encounter that baleful glare has had his after-life blighted by the malignant power of this creature. Whether that be true or not," continued Dick, ruefully, "I may have an opportunity of judging for myself."

"Go on, Dick—go on," cried Tom. "Let's hear about what you saw."

"Well, I was groping down the valley, looking for that cow of Madison's, and I had, I suppose, got half-way down, where a black craggy cliff juts into the ravine on the right, when I halted to have a pull at my flask. I had my eye fixed at the time upon the projecting cliff I have mentioned, and noticed nothing unusual about it. I then put up my flask and took a step or two forward, when in a moment there burst, apparently from the base of the rock, about eight feet from the ground and a hundred yards from me, a strange, lurid glare, flickering and oscillating, gradually dying away and then reappearing again. No, no; I've seen many a glow-worm and firefly—nothing of that sort. There it was, burning away, and I suppose I gazed at it, trembling in every limb, for fully ten minutes. Then I took a step forward, when instantly it vanished, vanished like a candle blown out. I stepped back again; but it was some time before I could find the exact spot and position from which it was visible. At last, there it was, the weird reddish light, flickering away as before. Then I screwed up my courage, and made for the rock; but the ground was so uneven that it was impossible to steer straight; and though I walked along the whole base of the cliff, I could see nothing. Then I made tracks for home; and I can tell you, boys, that, until you remarked it, I never knew it was raining, the whole way along. But hollo! what's the matter with Tom?"

What indeed? Tom was now sitting with his legs over the side of the bunk, and his whole face betraying excitement so intense as to be almost painful. "The fiend would have two eyes. How many lights did you see, Dick? Speak out!"

"Only one."

"Hurrah!" cried Tom, "that's better." Whereupon he kicked the blankets into the middle of the room, and began pacing up and down with long feverish strides. Suddenly he stopped opposite Dick, and laid his hand upon his shoulder. "I say, Dick, could we get to Sasassa Valley before sunrise?"

"Scarcely," said Dick.

"Well, look here; we are old friends, Dick Wharton, you and I. Now don't you tell any other man what you have told us, for a week. You'll promise that, won't you?"

I could see by the look on Dick's face as he acquiesced that he considered poor Tom to be mad; and indeed I was myself completely mystified by his conduct. I had, however, seen so many proofs of my friend's good sense and quickness of apprehension that I thought it quite possible that Wharton's story had had a meaning in his eyes which I was too obtuse to take in.

All night Tom Donahue was greatly excited, and when Wharton left he begged him to remember his promise, and also elicited from him a description of the exact spot at which he had seen the apparition, as well as the hour at which it appeared. After his departure, which must have been about four in the morning, I turned into my bunk and watched Tom sitting by the fire splicing two sticks together, until I fell asleep. I suppose I must have slept about two hours; but when I awoke Tom was still sitting working away in almost the same position. He had fixed the one stick across the top of the other so as to form a rough T, and was now busy in fitting a smaller stick into the angle between them, by manipulating which, the cross one could be either cocked up or depressed to any extent. He had cut notches, too, in the perpendicular stick, so that, by the aid of the small prop, the cross one could be kept in any position for an indefinite time.

"Look here, Jack!" he cried, when he saw that I was awake. "Come and give me your opinion. Suppose I put this cross-stick pointing straight at a thing, and arranged this small one so as to keep it so, and left it, I could find that thing again if I wanted it—don't you think I could, Jack—don't you think so?" he continued, nervously, clutching me by the arm.

"Well," I answered, "it would depend on how far off the thing was, and how accurately it was pointed. If it were any distance, I'd cut sights on your cross-stick; then a string tied to the end of it, and held in a plumb-line forward, would lend you pretty near what you wanted. But surely, Tom, you don't intend to localise the ghost in that way?"

"You'll see to-night, old friend—you'll see to-night. I'll carry this to the Sasassa Valley. You get the loan of Madison's crowbar, and come with me; but mind you tell no man where you are going, or what you want it for."

All day Tom was walking up and down the room, or working hard at the apparatus. His eyes were glistening, his cheeks hectic, and he had all the symptoms of high fever. "Heaven grant that Dick's diagnosis be not correct!" I thought, as I returned with the crowbar; and yet, as evening drew near, I found myself imperceptibly sharing the excitement.

About six o'clock Tom sprang to his feet and seized his sticks. "I can stand it no longer, Jack," he cried; "up with your crowbar, and hey for Sasassa Valley! To-night's work, my lad, will either make us or mar us! Take your six-shooter, in case we meet the Kaffirs. I daren't take mine, Jack," he continued, putting his hands upon my shoulders—"I daren't take mine; for if my ill luck sticks to me to-night, I don't know what I might not do with it."

Well, having filled our pockets with provisions, we set out, and, as we took our wearisome way toward the Sasassa Valley, I frequently attempted to elicit from my companion some clue as to his intentions. But his only answer was: "Let us hurry on, Jack. Who knows how many have heard of Wharton's adventure by this time! Let us hurry on, or we may not be first in the field!"

Well, sir, we struggled on through the hills for a matter of ten miles; till at last, after descending a crag, we saw opening out in front of us a ravine so sombre and dark that it might have been the gate of Hades itself; cliffs many hundred feet shut in on every side the gloomy boulder-studded passage which led through the haunted defile into Kaffirland. The moon, rising above the crags, threw into strong relief the rough, irregular pinnacles of rock by which they were topped, while all below was dark as Erebus.

"The Sasassa Valley?" said I.

"Yes," said Tom.

I looked at him. He was calm now; the flush and feverishness had passed away; his actions were deliberate and slow. Yet there was a certain rigidity in his face and glitter in his eye which showed that a crisis had come.

We entered the pass, stumbling along amid the great boulders. Suddenly I heard a short, quick exclamation from Tom. "That's the crag!" he cried, pointing to a great mass looming before us in the darkness. "Now, Jack, for any favour use your eyes! We're about a hundred yards from that cliff, I take it; so you move slowly toward one side and I'll do the same toward the other. When you see anything, stop and call out. Don't take more than twelve inches in a step, and keep your eye fixed on the cliff about eight feet from the ground. Are you ready?"

"Yes." I was even more excited than Tom by this time. What his intention or object was I could not conjecture, beyond that he wanted to examine by daylight the part of the cliff from which the light came. Yet the influence of the romantic situation and my companion's suppressed excitement was so great that I could feel the blood coursing through my veins and count the pulses throbbing at my temples.

"Start!" cried Tom; and we moved off, he to the right, I to the left, each with our eyes fixed intently on the base of the crag. I had moved perhaps twenty feet, when in a moment it burst upon me. Through the growing darkness there shone a small, ruddy, glowing point, the light from which waned and increased, flickered and oscillated, each change producing a more weird effect than the last. The old Kaffir superstition came into my mind, and I felt a cold shudder pass over me. In my excitement I stepped a pace backward, when instantly the light went out, leaving utter darkness in its place; but when I advanced again, there was the ruddy glare glowing from the base of the cliff. "Tom, Tom!" I cried.

"Ay, ay!" I heard him exclaim, as he hurried over toward me.

"There it is—there, up against the cliff!"

Tom was at my elbow. "I see nothing," said he.

"Why, there, there, man, in front of you!" I stepped to the right as I spoke, when the light instantly vanished from my eyes.

But from Tom's ejaculations of delight it was clear that from my former position it was visible to him also. "Jack," he cried, as he turned and wrung my hand—"Jack, you and I can never complain of our luck again. Now heap up a few stones where we are standing. That's right. Now we must fix my sign-post firmly in at the top. There! It would take a strong wind to blow that down; and we only need it to hold out till morning. O Jack, my boy, to think that only yesterday we were talking of becoming clerks, and you saying that no man knew what was awaiting him, too! By Jove, Jack, it would make a good story!"

By this time we had firmly fixed the perpendicular stick in between the two large stones; and Tom bent down and peered along the horizontal one. For fully a quarter of an hour he was alternately raising and depressing it, until at last, with a sigh of satisfaction, he fixed the prop into the angle, and stood up. "Look along, Jack," he said. "You have as straight an eye to take a sight as any man I know of."

I looked along. There beyond the farther sight was the ruddy, scintillating speck, apparently at the end of the stick itself, so accurately had it been adjusted.

"And now, my boy," said Tom, "let's have some supper and a sleep. There's nothing more to be done to-night; but we'll need all our wits and strength to-morrow. Get some sticks and kindle a fire here, and then we'll be able to keep an eye on our signal-post, and see that nothing happens to it during the night."

Well, sir, we kindled a fire, and had supper with the Sasassa demon's eye rolling and glowing in front of us the whole night through. Not always in the same place, though; for after supper, when I glanced along the sights to have another look at it, it was nowhere to be seen. The information did not, however, seem to disturb Tom in any way. He merely remarked, "It's the moon, not the thing, that has shifted;" and coiling himself up, went to sleep.

By early dawn we were both up, and gazing along our pointer at the cliff; but we could make out nothing save the one dead, monotonous, slaty surface, rougher perhaps at the part we were examining than elsewhere, but otherwise presenting nothing remarkable.

"Now for your idea, Jack!" said Tom Donahue, unwinding a long thin cord from round his waist. "You fasten it, and guide me while I take the other end." So saying, he walked off to the base of the cliff, holding one end of the cord, while I drew the other taut, and wound it round the middle of the horizontal stick, passing it through the sight at the end. By this means I could direct Tom to the right or left, until we had our string stretching from the point of attachment, through the sight, and on to the rock, which it struck about eight feet from the ground. Tom drew a chalk circle of about three feet diameter round the spot, and then called to me to come and join him. "We've managed this business together, Jack," he said, "and we'll find what we are to find, together." The circle he had drawn embraced a part of the rock smoother than the rest, save that about the centre there were a few rough protuberances or knobs. One of these Tom pointed to with a cry of delight. It was a roughish, brownish mass about the size of a man's closed fist, and looking like a bit of dirty glass let into the wall of the cliff. "That's it!" he cried—"that's it!"

"That's what?"

"Why, man, a diamond, and such a one as there isn't a monarch in Europe but would envy Tom Donahue the possession of. Up with your crowbar, and we'll soon exorcise the demon of Sasassa Valley!"

I was so astounded that for a moment I stood speechless with surprise, gazing at the treasure which had so unexpectedly fallen into our hands.

"Here, hand me the crowbar," said Tom. "Now, by using this little round knob which projects from the cliff here as a fulcrum, we may be able to lever it off. Yes; there it goes. I never thought it could have come so easily. Now, Jack, the sooner we get back to our hut and then down to Cape Town, the better."

We wrapped up our treasure, and made our way across the hills toward home. On the way, Tom told me how, while a law student in the Middle Temple, he had come upon a dusty pamphlet in the library, by one Jans van Hounym, which told of an experience very similar to ours, which had befallen that worthy Dutchman in the latter part of the seventeenth century, and which resulted in the discovery of a luminous diamond. This tale it was which had come into Tom's head as he listened to honest Dick Wharton's ghost-story, while the means which he had adopted to verify his supposition sprang from his own fertile Irish brain.

"We'll take it down to Cape Town," continued Tom, "and if we can't dispose of it with advantage there, it will be worth our while to ship for London with it. Let us go along to Madison's first, though; he knows something of these things, and can perhaps give us some idea of what we may consider a fair price for our treasure."

We turned off from the track accordingly, before reaching our hut, and kept along the narrow path leading to Madison's farm. He was at lunch when we entered; and in a minute we were seated at each side of him, enjoying South African hospitality.

"Well," he said, after the servants were gone, "what's in the wind now? I see you have something to say to me. What is it?"

Tom produced his packet, and solemnly untied the handkerchiefs which enveloped it. "There!" he said, putting his crystal on the table; "what would you say was a fair price for that?"

Madison took it up and examined it critically. "Well," he said, laying it down again, "in its crude state about twelve shillings per ton."

"Twelve shillings!" cried Tom, starting to his feet. "Don't you see what it is?"

"Rock-salt!"

"Rock-salt be d—d! a diamond."

"Taste it!" said Madison.

Tom put it to his lips, dashed it down with a dreadful exclamation, and rushed out of the room.

I felt sad and disappointed enough myself; but presently, remembering what Tom had said about the pistol, I, too left the house, and made for the hut, leaving Madison open-mouthed with astonishment. When I got in, I found Tom lying in his bunk with his face to the wall, too dispirited apparently to answer my consolations. Anathematising Dick and Madison, the Sasassa demon, and everything else, I strolled out of the hut, and refreshed myself with a pipe after our wearisome adventure. I was about fifty yards from the hut, when I heard issuing from it the sound which of all others I least expected to hear. Had it been a groan or an oath, I should have taken it as a matter of course; but the sound which caused me to stop and take the pipe out of my mouth was a hearty roar of laughter! Next moment Tom himself emerged from the door, his whole face radiant with delight. "Game for another ten-mile walk, old fellow?"

"What! for another lump of rock-salt, at twelve shillings a ton?"

"'No more of that, Hal, an you love me,' " grinned Tom. "Now look here, Jack. What blessed fools we are to be so floored by a trifle! Just sit on this stump for five minutes, and I'll make it as clear as daylight. You've seen many a lump of rock-salt stuck in a crag, and so have I, though we did make such a mull of this one. Now, Jack, did any of the pieces you have ever seen shine in the darkness brighter than any fire-fly?"

"Well, I can't say they ever did."

"I'd venture to prophesy that if we waited until night, which we won't do, we would see that light still glimmering among the rocks. Therefore, Jack, when we took away this worthless salt, we took the wrong crystal. It is no very strange thing in these hills that a piece of rock-salt should be lying within a foot of a diamond. It caught our eyes, and we were excited, and so we made fools of ourselves, and left the real stone behind. Depend upon it, Jack, the Sasassa gem is lying within that magic circle of chalk upon the face of yonder cliff. Come, old fellow, light your pipe and stow your revolver, and we'll be off before that fellow Madison has time to put two and two together."

I don't know that I was very sanguine this time. I had begun, in fact, to look upon the diamond as a most unmitigated nuisance. However, rather than throw a damper on Tom's expectations, I announced myself eager to start. What a walk it was! Tom was always a good mountaineer, but his excitement seemed to lend him wings that day, while I scrambled along after him as best I could.

When we got within half a mile he broke into the "double," and never pulled up until he reached the round white circle upon the cliff. Poor old Tom! when I came up, his mood had changed, and he was standing with his hands in his pockets, gazing vacantly before him with a rueful countenance.

"Look!" he said, "look!" and he pointed at the cliff. Not a sign of anything in the least resembling a diamond there. The circle included nothing but a flat slate-coloured stone, with one large hole, where we had extracted the rock-salt, and one or two smaller depressions. No sign of the gem.

"I've been over every inch of it," said poor Tom. "It's not there. Some one has been here and noticed the chalk, and taken it. Come home, Jack; I feel sick and tired. Oh, had any man ever luck like mine!"

I turned to go, but took one last look at the cliff first. Tom was already ten paces off.

"Hollo!" I cried, "don't you see any change in that circle since yesterday?"

"What d' ye mean?" said Tom.

"Don't you miss a thing that was there before?"

"The rock-salt?" said Tom.

"No; but the little round knob that we used for a fulcrum. I suppose we must have wrenched it off in using the lever. Let's have a look at what it's made of."