“Who wants to come in? I suppose you’re not going to send a fellow on without a bit of grub after such a night’s work?”
“Give him some bread and meat, Jack, and let him go on. There’ll be somebody here after him before long. He can’t hurt us; but I don’t want people to think that we are so fond of him that we can’t do without harboring him here. Georgie, you’ll go too, if you take my advice. That young cur will send the police here as sure as my name is Brownbie, and, if they once get hold of you, they’ll have a great many things to talk to you about.”
Georgie grumbled when he heard this, but he knew that the advice given him was good, and he did not attempt to enter the house. So Nokes and he vanished, away into the bush together—as such men do vanish—wandering forth to live as the wild beasts live. It was still a dark night when they went, and the remainder of the party took themselves to their beds.
On the following afternoon they were lying about the house, sometimes sleeping, and sometimes waking up to smoke, when the two policemen, who had already been at Gangoil, appeared in the yard. These men were dressed in flat caps, with short blue jackets, hunting breeches, and long black boots—very unlike any policemen in the old country, and much more picturesque. They leisurely tied their horses up, as though they had been in the habit of making weekly visits to the place, and walked round to the veranda.
“Well, Mr. Brownbie, and how are you?” said the sergeant to the old man.
The head of the family was gracious, and declared himself to be pretty well, considering all things. He called the sergeant by his name, and asked the men whether they’d take a bit of something to eat. Joe also was courteous, and, after a little delay in getting a key from his brother, brought out the jar of spirits, which, in the bush, is regarded as the best sign known of thorough good-breeding. The sergeant said that he didn’t mind if he did; and the other man, of course, followed his officer’s example.
So far every thing was comfortable, and the constables seemed in no hurry to allude to disagreeable subjects. They condescended to eat a bit of cold meat before they proceeded to business. And at last the matter to be discussed was first introduced by one of the Brownbie family.
“I suppose you’ve heard that there was a scrimmage here last night,” said Joe. The Brownbie party present consisted of the old man, Joe and Jack Brownbie, and Boscobel, Jerry keeping himself in the background because of his disfigurement. The sergeant, as he swallowed his food, acknowledged that he had heard something about it. “And that’s what brings you here,” continued Joe.
“There ain’t nothing wrong here,” said old Brownbie.
“I hope not, Mr. Brownbie,” said the sergeant. “I hope not. We haven’t got any thing against you, at any rate.” Sergeant Forrest was a graduate of Oxford, the son of an English clergyman, who, having his way to make in the world, had thought that an early fortune would be found in the colonies. He had come out, had failed, had suffered some very hard things, and now, at the age of thirty-five, enjoyed life thoroughly as a sergeant of the colonial police.