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He turned from me to Irene, the supper train again," and who was watching him admir- took himself off without ingly. “I saw you come along formal good-bye. Presently we by the cottage,” he said, “but heard his diminishing flute I didn't want to greet you afore under the window. I had the flute. I've cut it for We very nearly did miss the you proper."
supper train. By the time we He extracted the flute from had finished tea, stewed pinehis pocket and handed it to apple, a tin of mixed biscuits, her. It was an elder stalk and Mrs Staff's harvest cake, newly stripped of its bark, there was no time left to see white as baby flesh. And the birds and the marine shells. where be Master Val?
The last half-hour was spent Staff and Val shook hands. in looking for the spider and Irene spluttered gratitude. Staff the trochil, the bird that picks told them that his mother crocodiles' teeth, which Val would be expecting them over had read about in some book at the cottage when they had of travel. Its impudent daring seen Mr Bliss' curiosities. I teased his imagination. thought I detected a suspicion Both were found, Val's troof contempt in the way he said chil and Irene's poisonous, "curiosities.”
eight-legged, bird-eating spider, “There'll be more varmin which disturbed her sleep. But for you to carry away. Maybe the beauty of it was that it Mister Val would like to choose hadn't any legs left ; Irene something."
had to take them on trust. Uncle Bliss was moving his And as for eating birds, it feet impatiently.
looked as if a bird had eaten “But I dare say it'll be it. No wonder Uncle Bliss supper-time afore you've seen had been a long time finding all he "-Sancho Panza nodded it. He held the bottle up to familiarly at Don Quixote- the light, and revolved it slowly, “has got to show you."
80 that we could count the Squire and knight seemed to disjected parts of the spider be on terms of equality. There as they chased each other was no class consciousness about round the glass. Val reckoned either; as regards rivalry I that there were eighteen of was not so sure. Staff was a them. Possibly legs. The fearbit too free a distributor for someness of the insect had not Uncle Bliss' taste. And that survived dismemberment. flute of his had captivated Solomon presented the bottle Irene.
to the Queen of Sheba, or his Obviously it was not Sancho little Arachnophobe, as he called Panza's day. His rustic shrewd- her. Take it home with ness seemed to tumble to the you,” he said ; “then you fact, for he said, “It won't won't dream about spiders any do for the young lady to miss more."
Oh, thank you, Uncle Bliss." nered. The problem now was The gift was hardly in the one of even-handedness. He category of apes, ivory, and carefully detached from the peacocks. Still, as an antidote shelf a bottle which contained to nightmare, especially in the an insect even more dismantled form of arachnophobia, I have than the spider. It was a no doubt it proved “a sovran scorpion. A scorpion for Val, remedie.”
and a spider for Irene. That And now it was Val's turn. made things square. There I can imagine that his heart was nothing to choose between leapt. If there were any bal- their part in the impoverishance in the distributions of ment of the treasure-house. Providence, Uncle Bliss was “You like scorpions, eh?” going to give him the trochil. Val appeared to be delighted
“And what would Val like?” with the gift. You would
The encrimsoned Val was, think he had emptied the whole of course, inarticulate. For a cornucopia. golden second, I believe, he We had to run to catch the thought that he had been supper train. Luckily it was given the freedom of the trea- a few minutes late. Uncle sure-house. I wanted to pull Bliss saw us to the drive gate. his sleeve and whisper in his Altogether it was a day to ear, “Val, old man, don't mark with a white stone. The forget the fish ponds.
spoils, perhaps, were hardly What was Uncle Bliss going worthy of the raid, but if the to do? I felt for him in his children were disappointed they difficulty. The last time he were too loyal to show it. They exercised his avuncular bounty held their bottles tight and he had settled the problem upright so as not to let the by the simple expedient of stoppers fall out, spilling the division. Irene's shilling had seeds of scorpions and birdsplit up easily into two six- eating spiders in quiet Homerspencos. Was he going to apply field. the same principle of bisection In the train and most of the to Irene's spider ? If not, what way home from the station Solomonian shift would he con- Irene chattered about Sancho trive to make things even? Panza, who had promised to
I might have known that “larn her " the flute.
(To be continued.)
FROM THE OUTPOSTS.
THE FALKLAND ISLANDS.
BY CONOR O'BRIEN.
I. THE ISLANDS.
As we sunk Diego Ramirez no repairs ; we had not parted astern and rose the peak of a rope-yarn since we crossed Cape Horn on the weather bow, the fiftieth parallel ten days our little yacht Saoirse sailed before. Having satisfied my swiftly into a new climate, a mind as to these two points, new ocean. The air was I decided to satisfy my curiosity warmer, the breeze was gentler, as to what a Crown Colony was and the sea was smoother; like-indeed, more than my we basked in the sun as we curiosity, for I had been too drifted past the south shore of long in Australia and New Staten Island, a very pleasant Zealand, and required a correcexperience after the snow- tive, something to reassure me squalls of the Pacific.
of the possibility of good governI reasoned thus : if I can ment. pass from winter into spring in I put aside my clearance for the two hundred miles to Cape Monte Video and my Uruguayan St John, shall I not, by carry- bill of health, for that country ing on another two hundred is a republic, and the republican in the same direction, find form of government does not it summer in the Falkland suit the Spaniard any better Islands ! This was against all than it does the Anglo-Saxon, the warnings printed in books and set a course for Beauchêne of navigation and meteorology; Island, which lies some forty but I had learned in the course miles off the coast of Lafonia. of our voyage round the world to Only in place-names, and in make a very large allowance for the archives at Buenos Ayres the pessimism of the Hydro- and Downing Street, is the graphic Office, and had no chequered history of the Falkreason to suppose that it was land Islands displayed ; they less libellous in its description were successively colonised by of the Falkland Islands than in the French, occupied by the that of, say, Donegal. I also dis- Spanish, and exploited under regarded the warnings of those a concession granted by the who, in the days when ships Argentine, the British claim were ships and not 20-ton being based presumably on yachts, told stories of the ter- their almost certain discovery rible extortion they had suf- by Davis in 1592, and their fered when they put into Stan- quite certain examination by ley for repairs, for we needed Hawkins two years later.
is, I know, the fashion to dis- I suspect that the traducers credit Hawkins ; but any prac- of this excellent land never got tical navigator working out his nearer to it than the mail-boat courses on the chart cannot fail anchorage in Port William. to see the absurdity of rejecting For Stanley is certainly a bleak the obvious truth of his account and barren spot. There is no on the strength of a single soil, no warmth in the sun ; clerical error.
nothing but stones and wind. It was a fine breezy morning Some enthusiasts hopefully when we sighted the mainland. fence a few square yards of The hydrographer was, as usual, garden against the wind, but incorrect; if it is always breezy, the wise raise their crops under it is generally fine. There were glass. The glass, too, wants penguins rolling along beside protection; the sea-gulls here us like little porpoises, and fur are passionately fond of marrow seals rolling along like big ones, bones, which they break by and coming up astern, a thing dropping them on to a smooth we had not seen since we left rock. Why they have not New Zealand--a sail. She came learned by now that a greenup rapidly, for she was four house is a poor substitute, and times our size, and running a that if they break your glass motor to boot; so we asked they lose their bone, I cannot her to report us in Stanley, and tell. The prudent person looks followed in her wake.
to his wire netting, or paints She did more. She sent the his roof green to imitate a pilot out in a providential lawn. launch which towed us up to But leaving Stanley aside, our berth, and there we met the country has many virtues. the officials of the colony. The Here there is no Parliament port doctor did not ask for and no Press, no taxes, no my bill of health, but asked trade unions, no strikes, no me to dinner; the Collector unemployed—or as near as no of Customs did not ask for my matter. Also there are no coal stores list, but asked me if I fires. What a joy it was to had seen Dougherty Island. be met by the smell of turf (Heaven forbid ! This is one smoke as soon as we entered of the mythical rocks which the harbour ! On the other disfigure the chart of the South hand, it must be admitted that Pacific, and is supposed to lie there are no trees. This is in latitude 60°.) The Colonial attributed to the fact that an Secretary asked me to design otherwise temperate climate is a coat-of-arms for the colony, principally composed of wind. and the Governor asked me to Because the persistent wind go round the west coast in the makes the handling of a sailing seal protection cruiser and see boat very laborious, I was very something of the country, for glad that my means of conthey do not know the Falk- veyance to the west was not lands who only Stanley know. myown yacht, but His Majesty's colonial ship Afterglow. In polished by generations of seals, point of comfort there is not about as slippery as glass. I, much to choose between them acting on bad advice, went -if anything I should prefer booted; I thought the advice my own vessel in dirty weather, was given because the seals -but it was a real joy to lie might bite my toes off. I did in my bunk and listen to the not, till I saw them at close wind howling aloft, knowing quarters, realise that if they that some one else was keeping bit they would take my leg an anchor watch or standing off, boot and all. My mistake by in the engine-room. One was easily remedied, but not must have been a ship's captain while the principal panic was on. to appreciate being a passenger. We landed, five of us, on a
H.M.C.S. has not only to narrow sloping ledge somewhat keep an eye on possible seal overhung by a great slab, of poachers, but also to provide which the surface was invisible. almost the only means of com. Our leader, when he got a munication for some of the view of it, sang out a warning. outlying islands. So, as we I pulled myself up till I could were to return to Stanley on see over the edge, and there Christmas Eve, we anticipated were two huge sea-lions right a full and festive passenger list. above me. Now the one place But I was not sent on this in which one ought not to be voyage for my health or for is directly between a lion and the furtherance of my acquaint- the sea. He either goes over ance with the western sheep you like a steam-roller, or farmers; I was sent to see picks you up and throws you something that I was never out of his way. As he can likely to see anywhere else— throw his twenty-stone clapthat is, penguins and seals. match-that is, his wife-clear The latter were our business. over his shoulders, he would Reports were wanted on the throw a twelve-stone man far progress of the rookeries ; some enough to hurt. I was not of the seals had to be caught much relieved when the beasts and branded to trace their sub- were shot, for the rock was sequent wanderings, and sea- pretty steep, and a sea-lion lions had to be discouraged weighs half a ton, alive or from invading the sancta of dead. Fortunately the avathe fur seals.
lanche fell clear. The seals breed on a small Once on top of the rock, rock lying off Elephant Jason, barefooted, and choosing easy surely a horrible modern name ground (do not think you can for one of the historic Sebaldine beat them on steep rocks), I islands. It is not immoderately could get away from any seal. steep, but it is of quartzite, a Flight is the only recognised disagreeable surface to nego- tactic. Luckily, they never tiate in any sort of boots at pursue one far; they are conthe best of times, and, when tent to warn trespassers off