Potts meanwhile was shaking the Big Chimney boss by the hand and saying, “Awfully sorry we can’t take you on with us;” adding lower: “We had a mighty mean time after you lit out.”
Then Mac thrust his hand in between the two, and gave the Colonel a monkey-wrench grip that made the Kentuckian’s eyes water.
“Kaviak? Well, I’ll tell you.”
He shouldered Potts out of his way, and while the talk and movement went on all round Maudie’s throne, Mac, ignoring her, set forth grimly how, after an awful row with Potts, he had adventured with Kaviak to Holy Cross. “An awful row, indeed,” thought the Colonel, “to bring Mac to that;” but the circumstances had little interest for him, beside the fact that his pardner would be off to Dawson in a few minutes, leaving him behind and caring “not a sou markee.”
Mac was still at Holy Cross. He had seen a woman there—“calls herself a nun—evidently swallows those priests whole. Kind of mad, believes it all. Except for that, good sort of girl. The kind to keep her word”—and she had promised to look after Kaviak, and never let him away from her till Mac came back to fetch him.
“Fetch him where?”
“When will that be?”
“Just as soon as I’ve put through the job up yonder.” He jerked his head up the river, indicating the common goal.
And now O’Flynn, roaring as usual, had broken away from those who had obstructed his progress, and had flung himself upon the Colonel. When the excitement had calmed down a little, “Well,” said the Colonel to the three ranged in front of him, Maudie looking on from above, “what you been doin’ all these three months?”
“Oh, we done a lot.”
They looked at one another out of the corners of their eyes and then they looked away. “Since the birds came,” began Mac in the tone of one who wishes to let bygones be bygones.
“Och, yes; them burruds was foine!”
Potts pulled something out of his trousers pocket——a strange collapsed object. He took another of the same description out of another pocket. Mac’s hands and O’Flynn’s performed the same action. Each man seemed to have his pockets full of these——
“What are they?”
“Money-bags, me bhoy! Made out o’ the fut o’ the ’Lasky swan, God bless ’em! Mac cahls ’em some haythen name, but everybuddy else cahls ’em illegant money-bags!”
* * * * *
In less than twenty minutes the steamer whistle shrieked. Nig bounded out of the A. C., frantic at the repetition of the insult; other dogs took the quarrel up, and the Ramparts rang.
The Boy followed the Captain out of the A. C. store. All the motley crew that had swarmed off to inspect Minook, swarmed back upon the Oklahoma. The Boy left the Captain this time, and came briskly over to his friends, who were taking leave of the Colonel.