Then he fell off his perch, stone dead, on the ground. They were never to hear the conclusion of that strange, quaint message from a forgotten age to our more sceptical century.
Felix looked at Muriel, and Muriel looked at Felix. They could hardly contain themselves with awe and surprise. The parrot’s words were so human, its speech was so real to them, that they felt as though the English Tu-Kila-Kila of two hundred years back had really and truly been speaking to them from that perch; it was a human creature indeed that lay dead before them. Felix raised the warm body from the ground with positive reverence. “We will bury it decently,” he said in French, turning to M. Peyron. “He was a plucky bird, indeed, and he has carried out his master’s intentions nobly.”
As they spoke, a little rustling in the jungle hard by attracted their attention. Felix turned to look. A stealthy brown figure glided away in silence through the tangled brushwood. M. Peyron started. “We are observed, monsieur,” he said. “We must look out for squalls! It is one of the Eyes of Tu-Kila-Kila!”
“Let him do his worst!” Felix answered. “We know his secret now, and can protect ourselves against him. Let us return to the shade, monsieur, and talk this all over. Methuselah has indeed given us something to-day very serious to think about.”
And yet, when all was said and done, knowledge of Tu-Kila-Kila’s secret didn’t seem to bring Felix and Muriel much nearer a solution of their own great problems than they had been from the beginning. In spite of all Methuselah had told them, they were as far off as ever from securing their escape, or even from the chance of sighting an English steamer.
This last was still the main hope and expectation of all three Europeans. M. Peyron, who was a bit of a mathematician, had accurately calculated the time, from what Felix told him, when the Australasian would pass again on her next homeward voyage; and, when that time arrived, it was their united intention to watch night and day for the faintest glimmer of her lights, or the faintest wreath of her smoke on the far eastern horizon. They had ventured to confide their design to all three of their Shadows; and the Shadows, attached by the kindness to which they were so little accustomed among their own people, had in every case agreed to assist them with the canoe, if occasion served them. So for a time the two doomed victims subsided into their accustomed calm of mingled hope and despair, waiting patiently for the expected arrival of the much-longed-for Australasian.
If she took that course once, why not a second time? And if ever she hove in sight, might they not hope, after all, to signal to her with their rudely constructed heliograph, and stop her?