Erewhon Revisited

第67章

"Yes, he will, and I will tell you why. If we permit you to be Higgs the Sunchild, he must either throw his own father into the Blue Pool--which he will not do--or run great risk of being thrown into it himself, for not having Blue-Pooled a foreigner. I am afraid we shall have to make you do a good deal that neither you nor we shall like."She then told him briefly of what had passed after luncheon at her house, and what it had been settled to do, leaving George to tell the details while escorting him towards the statues on the following evening. She said that every one would be so completely in every one else's power that there was no fear of any one's turning traitor. But she said nothing about George's intention of setting out for the capital on Wednesday morning to tell the whole story to the King.

"Now," she said, when she had told him as much as was necessary, "be good, and do as you said you would.""I will. I will deny myself, not once, nor twice, but as often as is necessary. I will kiss the reliquary, and when I meet Hanky and Panky at your table, I will be sworn brother to them--so long, that is, as George is out of hearing; for I cannot lie well to them when he is listening.""Oh yes, you can. He will understand all about it; he enjoys falsehood as well as we all do, and has the nicest sense of when to lie and when not to do so.""What gift can be more invaluable?"

My father, knowing that he might not have another chance of seeing Yram alone, now changed the conversation.

"I have something," he said, "for George, but he must know nothing about it till after I am gone."As he spoke, he took from his pockets the nine small bags of nuggets that remained to him.

"But this," said Yram, "being gold, is a large sum: can you indeed spare it, and do you really wish George to have it all?""I shall be very unhappy if he does not, but he must know nothing about it till I am out of Erewhon."My father then explained to her that he was now very rich, and would have brought ten times as much, if he had known of George's existence. "Then," said Yram, musing, "if you are rich, I accept and thank you heartily on his behalf. I can see a reason for his not knowing what you are giving him at present, but it is too long to tell."The reason was, that if George knew of this gold before he saw the King, he would be sure to tell him of it, and the King might claim it, for George would never explain that it was a gift from father to son; whereas if the King had once pardoned him, he would not be so squeamish as to open up the whole thing again with a postscript to his confession. But of this she said not a word.

My father then told her of the box of sovereigns that he had left in his saddle-bags. "They are coined," he said, "and George will have to melt them down, but he will find some way of doing this.

They will be worth rather more than these nine bags of nuggets.""The difficulty will be to get him to go down and fetch them, for it is against his oath to go far beyond the statues. If you could be taken faint and say you wanted help, he would see you to your camping ground without a word, but he would be angry if he found he had been tricked into breaking his oath in order that money might be given him. It would never do. Besides, there would not be time, for he must be back here on Tuesday night. No; if he breaks his oath he must do it with his eyes open--and he will do it later on--or I will go and fetch the money for him myself. He is in love with a grand-daughter of Mrs. Humdrum's, and this sum, together with what you are now leaving with me, will make him a well-to-do man. I have always been unhappy about his having any of the Mayor's money, and his salary was not quite enough for him to marry on. What can I say to thank you?""Tell me, please, about Mrs. Humdrum's grand-daughter. You like her as a wife for George?""Absolutely. She is just such another as her grandmother must have been. She and George have been sworn lovers ever since he was ten, and she eight. The only drawback is that her mother, Mrs.

Humdrum's second daughter, married for love, and there are many children, so that there will be no money with her; but what you are leaving will make everything quite easy, for he will sell the gold at once. I am so glad about it.""Can you ask Mrs. Humdrum to bring her grand-daughter with her to-morrow evening?"

"I am afraid not, for we shall want to talk freely at dinner, and she must not know that you are the Sunchild; she shall come to my house in the afternoon and you can see her then. You will be quite happy about her, but of course she must not know that you are her father-in-law that is to be.""One thing more. As George must know nothing about the sovereigns, I must tell you how I will hide them. They are in a silver box, which I will bind to the bough of some tree close to my camp; or if I can find a tree with a hole in it I will drop the box into the hole. He cannot miss my camp; he has only to follow the stream that runs down from the pass till it gets near a large river, and on a small triangular patch of flat ground, he will see the ashes of my camp fire, a few yards away from the stream on his right hand as he descends. In whatever tree I may hide the box, I will strew wood ashes for some yards in a straight line towards it. I will then light another fire underneath, and blaze the tree with a knife that I have left at my camping ground. He is sure to find it."Yram again thanked him, and then my father, to change the conversation, asked whether she thought that George really would have Blue-Pooled the Professors.

"There is no knowing," said Yram. "He is the gentlest creature living till some great provocation rouses him, and I never saw him hate and despise any one as he does the Professors. Much of what he said was merely put on, for he knew the Professors must yield.

I do not like his ever having to throw any one into that horrid place, no more does he, but the Rangership is exactly the sort of thing to suit him, and the opening was too good to lose. I must now leave you, and get ready for the Mayor's banquet. We shall meet again to-morrow evening. Try and eat what I have brought you in this basket. I hope you will like the wine." She put out her hand, which my father took, and in another moment she was gone, for she saw a look in his face as though he would fain have asked her to let him once more press his lips to hers. Had he done this, without thinking about it, it is likely enough she would not have been ill pleased. But who can say?

For the rest of the evening my father was left very much to his own not too comfortable reflections. He spent part of it in posting up the notes from which, as well as from his own mouth, my story is in great part taken. The good things that Yram had left with him, and his pipe, which she had told him he might smoke quite freely, occupied another part, and by ten o'clock he went to bed.

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