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"More you did, Sootie; but you shall have something better. Come along."
"Car-ee come 'long too."
"No," said Carey; "I'll stop here."
"Car-ee come. Doc-tor farss 'sleep. Big Dan brok.u.m. Sit alonga long time. Baal fetch um too much drinking grog. Old man no good."
"Go along with Bob."
"Go alonga Cookie now?"
"Yes, and he'll give you plenty."
"Plenty eat. Jack.u.m come back soon."
Bostock reached down his hand, but the help was not needed, the black springing up and rapidly making his way on deck, where he stood for a few moments gazing across the lagoon, stained blood-red now by the big fire; and he laughed softly.
"Black fellow eat plenty snak.u.m. Jack.u.m eat plenty now. Sit alonga self."
A few minutes later he was happily sitting on the deck by the galley "alonga self," eating half the overdone bird which Bostock had given him, while the old sailor had roughly prepared the most tempting part for his young companion and taken it to the saloon skylight.
"Here you are, Master Carey," he said. "Brought your coals. How's the king?"
"I have heard him groan several times."
"That's because he's low-sperrited, sir, because he didn't quite mumkull me and the doctor. But I say, sir, he's a long time blowing up the ship. Got it, sir? That's right! You'd better eat it in the dark, for fear he might crawl up a few steps if he saw a light, and want to pa.s.s the time practising his shooting. Now, no gammon, sir."
"What do you mean, Bob?"
"You'll eat that bit?"
"I don't feel as if I can."
"But you must, dear lad. It's to make you strong to help the doctor, and mebbe to shoot straight again' Old King Cole."
"I will eat it, Bob."
"Right, sir! That's British pluck, that is. How's your chesty now?"
"Very bad, Bob."
"Then sorry I am. Next time the doctor begins to talk you ups and asks him what he's got in his medsome chest as is good for it. I say, though, I s'pose it's no use to try and coax the doctor with a mossick of anything, is it?"
"Oh no, no."
"Not a cup o' tea and a bit o' toast?"
"Not now, Bob; he's sleeping calmly, and that must be the best thing for him."
"Right, sir. It's Natur's finest fizzick, as well I know. There, I'll go and have a snap myself, for it's the middle o' the night, and I haven't had a bite since breakfast."
There was silence then, and Carey thought the man had stolen softly away; so he was trying to keep his promise, though the first effort he made to partake of the food gave him intense pain. Then he started, for Bostock said softly:
"He's pretty quiet now, sir; I hope he aren't hatching any noo tricks again' us. Tell you what it is; I'm going down to him to-morrow with a mattress to see if I can't smother him down till I've got his shooting irons away. We shan't feel safe till that's done. My word! I should like to chain him up in the cable tier till we could hand him over to the 'Stralian police."
"Yes," said Carey, gravely. "Bob, that's the most sensible thing I've heard you say."
"Is it, sir? Then I'll go and give myself a bit o' supper after that.
Are you eating?"
"I'm trying to, Bob."
"Trying's half the battle, sir. There, now I am off."
CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.
The dreary hours crawled along, and it seemed to Carey that he was suffering from a long-drawn weary nightmare, made up of his own pain, a sigh or two at times from the doctor and restless movements, groans, and threats and cursings from the beachcomber.
It was a horrible night, for the boy, in addition to his other troubles, felt as if he were somehow to blame for the sufferings of the wretched man below.
Lying there in agony with broken legs! It was horrible, and the boy could not have suffered more if he had himself been the victim of the accident.
But there were breaks in the misery of that long dark night. Bostock was soon back, announcing that his head was two sizes larger than usual, but that he was all the better for his supper, and ready for anything now.
He told the watcher, too, that the black fellows ash.o.r.e were still keeping up their fire, stopping probably to eat sometimes, but at others re-making the fire till it blazed again, and playing in the bright light at "Here we go round the mulberry bush."
But the little incident that gave Carey the most satisfaction was that soon after Bostock's return to his post at the skylight there was a soft rustling, a light thud on the floor, and directly after the black squatted down close by where the lad was seated, and, though he could not make out his figure, he felt sure that the Australian was watching him with the dumb patience of a dog.
"That you, Jack.u.m?" he said, softly, and he stretched out his hand, to find it touched the black's rough head, which seemed to press itself into his palm.
"Iss. Jack.u.m eat big lot. 'Top here now. Car-ee go sleep."
The boy sighed, and then there was silence till he spoke again.
"Will the black fellows come back soon?" he said, as he thought of the idea he had had about keeping them off.
"No come back. Go sleep roun' fire. 'Top all snak.u.m eatum."
Twice over it seemed to Carey that he lost consciousness, though he never went fairly off to sleep, but sat there suffering terrible mental pain and the burning sensation in his chest as if he were being seared with a hot iron.
The night seemed as if it would never come to an end. Mallam had begun muttering hoa.r.s.e threats again, and at last startled all into preparation for action by firing three times, each shot striking some place on the upper part of the staircase, and once shivering some gla.s.s.
Then he became quiet again, and it seemed directly after that Bostock said:
"The blacks' fire's out, sir, and the stars are beginning to get whitish. Be sunrise in less than an hour. I'll go and light our fire now, and as soon as the kettle boils I'll make you a cup of tea."
"Thank you, Bob," said Carey, huskily. "I shall be glad of that."