“Indeed, Jeekie, and how long do you think that Mungana will last?”
“Perhaps three months, Major, and perhaps two. Think not more than two. Strong man, but he look devilish dicky this morning. Think he begin see snakes.”
“Very well, Jeekie. Now listen to me—you’ve got to get us out of Asiki-land by this day two months. If you don’t, that lady will do anything to oblige me and no doubt there are more executioners left.”
“Oh! Major, don’t talk like silly fool. Jeekie always hate fools and suffer them badly—like holy first missionary bishop. You know very well this no place for ultra-Christian man like Jeekie, who only come here to please you. Both in same bag, Major, if I die, you die and leave Miss Barbara up gum tree. I get you out if I can. But this stuff the trouble,” and he pointed to the bags of gold. “Not want to leave all that behind after such arduous walk. No, no, I try get you out, meanwhile you play game.”
“The game! What game, Jeekie?”
“What game? Why, Asika-game of course. If she sigh, you sigh; if she look at you, you look at her; if she squeeze hand, you squeeze hand; if she kiss, you kiss.”
“I am hanged if I do, Jeekie.”
“Must, Major; must or never get out of Asiki-land. What all that matter?” he added confidentially. “Miss Barbara never know. Jeekie doesn’t split, also quite necessary in situation, and you can’t be married till that Mungana dead. All matter business, Major; make time pass pleasant as well. Asika jolly enough if you stroke her fur right way, but if you put her back up—oh Lor! No trouble, sit and smile and say, ‘Oh, ducky, how beautiful you are!’ that not hurt anybody.”
In spite of himself Alan burst out laughing.
“But how about the Mungana?” he asked.
“Mungana, he got take that with rest. Also I try make friends with that poor devil. Tell him it all my eye. Perhaps he believe me—not sure. If he me, I no believe him. Mungana,” he added oracularly, “Mungana take his chance. What matter? In two months’ time he nothing but gold figure, No. 2403; just like one mummy in museum. Now I try catch my ma. I hear she alive somewhere. They tell me she used keep lodging house for Bonsa pilgrim, but steal grub, say it cat, all that sort of thing, and get run in as thief. Afraid my ma come down very much in world, not society lady now, shut up long way off in suburb. Still p’raps she useful so best send her message by p’liceman, say how much I love her; say her dear little Jeekie turn up again just to see her sweet face. Only don’t know if she swallow that or if they let her out prison unless I pay for all she prig.”
THE FEAST OF LITTLE BONSA