“Well,” said Alan, “he has gone of his own free will, so we have no responsibility in the matter, and I can’t pretend that I am sorry to see the last of him, at any rate for the present. Let that poor beggar loose, there seems to have been enough flogging in this place, and after all he isn’t much to blame.”
Jeekie obeyed, apparently with much reluctance, and just then they saw one of their own people running towards the camp.
“’Fraid he going to tell us Asiki come attack,” said Jeekie, shaking his head. “Hope they give us time breakfast first.”
“No doubt,” answered Alan nervously, for he feared the result of that attack.
Then the man arrived breathless and began to gasp out his news, which filled Alan with delight and caused a look of utter amazement to appear upon the broad face of Jeekie. It was to the effect that he had climbed a high tree as he had been bidden to do, and from the top of that tree by the light of the first rays of the rising sun, miles away on the plain beyond the forest, he had seen the Asiki army in full retreat.
“Thank God!” exclaimed Alan.
“Yes, Major, but that very rum story. Jeekie can’t swallow it all at once. Must send out see none of them left behind. P’raps they play trick, but if they really gone, ’spose it ’cause guns frightens them so much. Always think powder very great ’vention, especially when enemy hain’t got none, and quite sure of it now. Jeekie very, very seldom wrong. Soon believe,” he added with a burst of confidence, “that Jeekie never wrong at all. He look for truth so long that at last he find it always.”
Something more than a month had gone by and Major and Mrs. Vernon, the latter fully restored to health and the most sweet and beautiful of brides, stood upon the steamship Benin, and as the sun sank, looked their last upon the coast of Western Africa.
“Yes, dear,” Alan was saying to his wife, “from first to last it has been a very queer story, but I really think that our getting that Asiki gold after all was one of the queerest parts of it; also uncommonly convenient, as things have turned out.”
“Namely that you have got a little pauper for a wife instead of a great heiress, Alan. But tell me again about the gold. I have had so much to think of during the last few days,” and she blushed, “that I never quite took it all in.”
“Well, love, there isn’t much to tell. When that forwarding agent, Mr. Aston, knew that we were in the town, he came to me and said that he had about fifty cases full of something heavy, as he supposed samples of ore, addressed to me to your care in England which he was proposing to ship on by the Benin. I answered ‘Yes, that was all right,’ and did not undeceive him about their contents. Then I asked how they had arrived, and if he had not received a letter with them. He replied that one morning before the warehouse was open, some natives had brought