“Captain,” said the boy, his eyes glistening, “there must be a fortune in that bag!”
The captain laughed. “Oh, no,” said he, “not a very large one. I have had a good deal of experience with gold in California, and I suppose each one of those little bars is worth from two hundred and fifty to three hundred dollars.” What we have represents a good deal of money. But now, Ralph, I have something very important to say to you. I am going to appoint you sole guardian and keeper of that treasure. You are very young to have such a responsibility put upon you, but I know you will feel the importance of your duty, and that you will not be forgetful or negligent about it. The main thing is to keep those two negroes, and anybody who may happen to come here, away from the mound. Do what you can to prevent any one exploring the cave, and don’t let the negroes go there for water. They now know the way over the rocks to the stream.
“If I should not come back, or a ship should come along and take you off before I return, you must all be as watchful as cats about that gold. Don’t let anybody see a piece of it. You three must carry away with you as much as you can, but don’t let any one know you are taking it. Of course, I expect to come back and attend to the whole business, but if I should not be heard from for a long time,—and if that is the case, you may be sure I am lost,—and you should get away, I will trust to your sister and you to get up an expedition to come back for it.”
Ralph drew himself up as high as circumstances would permit. “Captain,” said he, “you may count on me. I’ll keep an eye on those black fellows, and on anybody else who may come here.”
“Very good,” said the captain. “I am sure you will never forget that you are the guardian of all our fortunes.”
“A fine thing, no matter what happens”
After the noonday meal, on the day of Captain Horn’s departure, Mrs. Cliff went apart with Maka and Cheditafa, and there endeavored to find out, as best she might, the ideas and methods of the latter in regard to the matrimonial service. In spite of the combined efforts of the two, with their limited command of English, to make her understand how these things were done in the forests and wilds of the Dark Continent,