For some time past McIntosh had not been satisfied with the character of the ground in which he had been working, so abandoning the shaft he was then in, he had opened up another gallery to the west, at right angles from the place where the famous nugget had been found. The wash was poor at first, but McIntosh persevered, having an instinct that he was on the right track. A few weeks’ work proved that he was right, for the wash soon became richer; and as they went farther on towards the west, following the gutter, there was no doubt that the long-lost Devil’s Lead had been struck. The regular return had formerly been five ounces to the machine, but now the washing up invariably gave twenty ounces, and small nuggets of water-worn gold were continually found in the three machines. The main drive following the lead still continued dipping westward, and McIntosh now commenced blocking and putting in side galleries, expecting when this was done he would thoroughly prove the Devil’s Lead, for he was quite satisfied he was on it. Even now the yield was three hundred and sixty ounces a week, and after deducting working expenses, this gave Madame Midas a weekly income of one thousand one hundred pounds, so she now began to see what a wealthy woman she was likely to be. Everyone unfeigningly rejoiced at her good fortune, and said that she deserved it. Many thought that now she was so rich Villiers would come back again, but he did not put in an appearance, and it was generally concluded he had left the colony.
Vandeloup congratulated Madame Midas on her luck when he was going away, and privately determined that he would not lose sight of her, as, being a wealthy woman, and having a liking for him, she would be of great use. He took his farewell gracefully, and went away, carrying the good wishes of all the miners; but McIntosh and Selina, still holding to their former opinion, were secretly pleased at his departure. Madame Midas made him a present of a hundred pounds, and, though he refused it, saying that he had money from France, she asked him as a personal favour to take it; so M. Vandeloup, always gallant to ladies, could not refuse. He went in to Ballarat, and put up at the Wattle Tree Hotel, intending to start for the metropolis next morning; but on his way, in order to prepare Kitty for his coming, sent a telegram for her, telling her the train he would arrive by, in order that she might be at the station to meet him.
After his dinner he suddenly recollected that he still had the volume which Dr Gollipeck had lent him, so, calling a cab, he drove to the residence of that eccentric individual to return it.
When the servant announced M. Vandeloup, she pushed him in and suddenly closed the door after her, as though she was afraid of some of the doctor’s ideas getting away.
‘Good evening, doctor,’ said Vandeloup, laying the book down on the table at which Gollipeck was seated; ’I’ve come to return you this and say good-bye.’