“Is that all?” asked Heathcote.
“And Bos is at Boolabong, and Bill Nokes was there all Sunday, and Jerry Brownbie’s been out with Bos and Georgie.”
“The old man wouldn’t say any thing of that kind, Jacko.”
“The old man! He knows nothing about it. My word! they don’t tell him about nothing.”
“Tom’s away in prison. They always cotches the best when they want to send ’em to prison. If they’d lock up Jerry and Georgie and Jack! My word! yes.”
“You think they’re arranging it all at Boolabong?”
“In course they are.”
“I don’t see why Boscobel shouldn’t be at Boolabong without intending me any harm. Of course he’d go there when he left Gangoil. That’s where they all go.”
“And Bill Nokes, Mr. Harry?”
“And Bill Nokes too. Though why he should travel so far from his work this weather I can’t say.”
“My word! no, Mr. Harry.”
“Did you see any fires about your way last night?”
Jacko shook his head.
“You go into the kitchen and get something to eat, and wait for me. I shall be out before long now.”
Though Heathcote had made light of the assemblage of evil spirits at Boolabong which had seemed so important to Jacko, he by no means did regard the news as unessential. Of Nokes’s villany he was convinced. Of Boscobel he had imprudently made a second enemy at a most inauspicious time. Georgie Brownbie had long been his bitter foe. He had prosecuted and, perhaps, persecuted Georgie for various offenses; but as Georgie was supposed to be as much at war with his own brethren as with the rest of the world at large, Heathcote had not thought much of that miscreant in the present emergency. But if the miscreant were in truth at Boolabong, and if evil things were being plotted against Gangoil, Georgie would certainly be among the conspirators.
Soon after noon Harry was on horseback and Jacko was at his heels. The heat was more intense than ever. Mrs. Heathcote had twisted round Harry’s hat a long white scarf, called a puggeree, though we are by no means sure of our spelling. Jacko had spread a very dirty fragment of an old white handkerchief on his head, and wore his hat over it. Mrs. Heathcote had begged Harry to take a large cotton parasol, and he had nearly consented, being unable at last to reconcile himself to the idea of riding with such an accoutrement even in the bush. “The heat’s a bore,” he said, “but I’m not a bit afraid of it as long as I keep moving. Yes, I’ll be back to dinner, though I won’t say when, and I won’t say for how long. It will be the same thing all day to-morrow. I wish with all my heart those people were not coming.”