“Who is to watch him?”
“He is in your employment.”
“He lives in the hut down beyond the gate. Am I to keep a sentry there all night, and every night?”
“I will pay for it.”
“No, Mr. Heathcote. I don’t pretend to know this country yet, but I’ll encourage no such espionage as that. At any rate, it is not English. I dare say the man misbehaved himself in your employment. You say he was drunk. I do not doubt it. But he is not a drunkard, for he never drinks here. A man is not to starve forever because he once got drunk and was impertinent. Nor is he to have a spy at his heels because a boy whom nobody knows chooses to denounce him. I am sorry that you should be in trouble, but I do not know that I can help you.”
Harry’s passion was now very high, and his resolution to be cool was almost thrown to the winds. Medlicot had said many things which were odious to him. In the first place, there had been a tone of insufferable superiority, so Harry thought, and that, too, when he himself had divested himself of all the superiority naturally attached to his position, and had frankly appealed to Medlicot as a neighbor. And then this new-fangled sugar grower had told him that he was not English, and had said grand words, and had altogether made himself objectionable. What did this man know of the Australian bush, that he should dare to talk of this or that as being wrong because it was un-English! In England there were police to guard men’s property. Here, out in the Australian forests, a man must guard his own, or lose it. But perhaps it was the indifference to the ruin of the women belonging to him that Harry Heathcote felt the strongest. The stranger cared nothing for the utter desolation which one unscrupulous ruffian might produce, felt no horror at the idea of a vast devastating fire, but could be indignant in his mock philanthropy because it was proposed to watch the doings of a scoundrel!
“Good-morning,” said Harry, turning round and leaving the office brusquely. Medlicot followed him, but Harry went so quickly that not another word was spoken. To him the idea of a neighbor in the bush refusing such assistance as he had asked was as terrible as to us is the thought of a ship at sea leaving another ship in distress. He unhitched his horse from the fence, and galloped home as fast as the animal would carry him.
Medlicot, when he was left alone, took two or three turns about the mill, as though inspecting the work, but at every turn fixed his eyes for a few moments on Noke’s face. The man was standing under a huge caldron regulating the escape of the boiling juice into the different vats by raising and lowering a trap, and giving directions to the Polynesians as he did so. He was evidently conscious that he was being regarded, and, as is usual in such a condition, manifestly failed in his struggle to appear unconscious. Medlicot acknowledged to himself that the man could