As they were preparing to start home Medlicot explained that it had struck him by degrees that Heathcote might be right in regard to Nokes, and that he had determined to watch the man himself whenever he should leave the mill. On that Monday he had given up work somewhat earlier than usual, saying that, as the following day was Christmas, he should not come to the mill. From that time Medlicot and his foreman had watched him.
“Yes,” said he, in answer to a question from Heathcote, “I can swear that I saw him with the lighted torch in his hand, and that he placed it among the grass. There were two others from Boolabong with him, and they must have seen him too.”
Harry Heathcote returns in triumph.
When the fight was quite over, and Heathcote’s party had returned to their horses, Medlicot for a few minutes was faint and sick, but he revived after a while, and declared himself able to sit on his horse. There was a difficulty in getting him up, but when there he made no further complaint. “This,” said he, as he settled himself in his saddle, “is my first Christmas-day in Australia. I landed early in January, and last year I was on my way home to fetch my mother.”
“It’s not much like an English Christmas,” said Harry.
“Nor yet as in Hanover,” said the German.
“It’s Cork you should go to, or Galway, bedad, if you want to see Christmas kep’ after the ould fashion,” said Mickey.
“I think we used to do it pretty well in Cumberland,” said Medlicot. “There are things which can’t be transplanted. They may have roast beef, and all that, but you should have cold weather to make you feel that it is Christmas indeed.”
“We do it as well as we can,” Harry pleaded. “I’ve seen a great pudding come into the room all afire—just to remind one of the old country—when it has been so hot that one could hardly bear a shirt on one’s shoulders. But yet there’s something in it. One likes to think of the old place, though one is so far away. How do you feel now? Does the jolting hurt you much? If your horse is rough, change with me. This fellow goes as smooth as a lady.” Medlicot declared that the pain did not trouble him much. “They’d have ridden over us, only for you,” continued Harry.
“My word! wouldn’t they?” said Jacko, who was very proud of his own part in the battle. “I say, Mr. Medlicot, did you see Bos and his horse part company? You did, Mr. Harry. Didn’t he fly like a bird, all in among the bushes! I owed Bos one; I did, my word! And now I’ve paid him.”
“I saw it,” said Harry. “He was riding at me as hard as he could come. I can’t understand Boscobel. Nokes is a sly, bad, slinking follow, whom I never liked. But I was always good to Bos; and when he cheated me, as he did, about his time, I never even threatened to stop his money.”