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    "The truth is," he observed gloomily, "that I ought to have accepted Uncle John's offer. I should have been making six hundred a year by this time."

    "I won't forget it!" she cried. "If necessary, I will go to Gordon and tell him what you've done. I'll tell it to every one in Crawling Water, if you force me to. I don't want to because, just think what that would mean to you! But you shall not sacrifice Gordon. Yes, I mean it--I'll sacrifice you first!"

    “Let’s run another backup, huh? We should really back up at nightand at lunchtime—with things the way they are, we can’t afford to losean afternoon’s work, much less a week’s.”

    I know not how thou singest, my master! I ever listen in silent amazement.

    Miles knew enough not to respond.

    After walking on some distance we found a narrow path leading away southward from the ruined village, and, believing that it led direct to the Carmen, the old settlement on the Rio Negro, which is over twenty miles from the sea, we at once resolved to follow it. This path led us wide of the ocean. Before noon we lost sight of the low sand-hills on our right hand, and as we penetrated further into the interior the dark-leafed bushes I have mentioned were more abundant. The dense, stiff, dark-coloured foliage of these bushes give them a strange appearance on the pale sun-dried plains, as of black rocks of numberless fantastic forms scattered over the greyish-yellow ground. No large fowls were seen; small birds were, however, very abundant, gladdening the parched wilderness with their minstrelsy. Most noteworthy among the true songsters were the Patagonian mocking-bird and four or five finches, two of them new to me. Here I first made the acquaintance of a singular and very pretty bird — the red-breasted plant-cutter, a finch too, but only in appearance. It is a sedentary bird and sits conspicuously on the topmost twig, displaying its ruddy under plumage; occasionally emitting, by way of song, notes that resemble the faint bleatings of a kid, and, when disturbed, passing from bush to bush by a series of jerks, the wings producing a loud humming sound. Most numerous, and surpassing all others in interest, were the omnipresent dendrocolaptine birds, or wood-hewers, or tree-creepers as they are sometimes called — feeble flyers, in uniform sober brown plumage; restless in their habits and loquacious, with shrill and piercing, or clear resonant voices. One terrestrial species, with a sandy-brown plumage, ‘Upucerthia dumetoria’, raced along before us on the ground, in appearance a stout miniature ibis with very short legs and exaggerated beak. Every bush had its little colony of brown gleaners, small birds of the genus ‘Synallaxis’, moving restlessly about among the leaves, occasionally suspending themselves from the twigs head downwards, after the manner of tits. From the distance at intervals came the piercing cries of the cachalote (‘Homorus gutturalis’), a much larger bird, sounding like bursts of hysterical laughter. All these dendrocolaptine birds have an inordinate passion for building, and their nests are very much larger than small birds usually make. Where they are abundant the trees and bushes are sometimes laden with their enormous fabrics, so that the thought is forced on one that these busy little architects do assuredly occupy themselves with a vain unprofitable labour. It is not only the case that many a small bird builds a nest as big as a buzzard’s, only to contain half a dozen eggs the size of peas, which might very comfortably be hatched in a pill-box; but frequently, when the nest has been finished, the builder sets about demolishing it to get the materials for constructing a second nest. One very common species, ‘Anumbius acuticaudatus’, variously called in the vernacular the thorn-bird, the woodman, and the firewood-gatherer, sometimes makes three nests in the course of a year, each composed of a good armful of sticks. The woodman’s nest is, however, an insignificant structure compared with that of the obstreperous cachalote mentioned a moment ago. This bird, which is about as large as a missel thrush, selects a low thorny bush with stout wide-spreading branches, and in the centre of it builds a domed nest of sticks, perfectly spherical and four or five feet deep. The opening is at the side near the top, and leading to it there is a narrow arched gallery resting on a horizontal branch, and about fourteen inches long. So compactly made is this enormous nest that I have found it hard to break one up. I have also stood upright on the dome and stamped on it with my boots without injuring it at all. During my stay in Patagonia I found about a dozen of these palatial nests; and my opinion is that like our own houses, or, rather, our public buildings, and some ant-hills, and the vizcacha’s village burrows, and the beaver’s dam, it is made to last for ever.



    Though there be fury on the waves,

    “And, furthermore,” pursued Berty, “I want that tramp to stay in Riverport. He’s going to be my tramp, Tom, and yours, too, if you will be good.”



    Therefore, when Sam Lee, liar and coward though he was naturally, gave us an account of the battle with so much of detail he could not have invented, we, unfortunately, had no choice but to believe the tale.

    Though a light from the one lamp shone dimly on the bed, Hook stood in darkness himself, and at the first stealthy step forward he discovered an obstacle, the door of Slightly’s tree. It did not entirely fill the aperture, and he had been looking over it. Feeling for the catch, he found to his fury that it was low down, beyond his reach. To his disordered brain it seemed then that the irritating quality in Peter’s face and figure visibly increased, and he rattled the door and flung himself against it. Was his enemy to escape him after all?

    “I find it difficult to credit these poor old souls with any such elaborate plan to empty the house, even had they possessed the most direct means of doing so, for no better reason than this one you state. Had money been somehow involved, or had they even thought so, it would be different. They are a little touched in the head on the subject of money; which isn’t very strange considering their present straits. They even show an interest in other people’s money. They have asked me more than once if any of their former neighbors have seemed to grow more prosperous since leaving Franklin Street.”

    When the orders of the day were read that evening all cadets were commanded to be in place at bugle call in the morning, with full equipment and ready to march. It was announced that no excuses would be accepted for failure to report on time.

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