― 65 ―

Chapter VII

A Woman's Counsel.

It is when our budding hopes are nipped beyond recovery by some rough wind, that we are the most disposed to picture to ourselves what flowers they might have borne if they had flourished.’—Charles Dickens.

‘WELL, sergeant?’

‘Well, sir, that's all.’

‘You've got the man, of course?’

‘No, sir. We scoured the country, but he's vanished.’

‘Are you vanished? You tell me you saw him last night five minutes before you found the body, and you come to me this morning with a cock-and-bull story that you can't find him. You must find him. Why didn't you take him there and then?’

‘I didn't know murder 'd been done, sir. As soon as I'd got the body down to the Lucky Digger, I went after him down to his place, but he was gone. Will you make out the warrant, sir?’

‘Warrant be hanged! There isn't much need of a warrant in a case like this. You've made a pretty mess of it among you. The man's slipped through your fingers, I'll be bound. Confound your stupidity!’ and Commissioner Jocelyn Ruthven brought his clenched hand down on the table in front of him with all his force.

The tents of the police officers were certainly much more comfortable places of abode than the tents and huts of the diggers. The office tent was neatly floored with hard wood, and lined with green baize, and well

  ― 66 ―
furnished with chairs and a writing-table, at which was seated the Commissioner himself, a good-looking little blue-eyed man, who at the present moment had a heavy frown on his usually good-humoured countenance. He was very lame still, for it was hardly a month since he had been attacked and well-nigh killed by men who considered they owed him a grudge on account of the high hand with which he had put down the riot at the Packhorse over six months ago. And now here was another outrage. Free fights and broken heads were all in the day's work, but this was quite another thing, and it was no wonder he looked grave, and was inclined, for once, to lose his temper with his careful sergeant. Sergeant Sells stood before him, his eyes on the ground, and his hands restlessly twisting a whip round and round.

‘When you were at the Packhorse last night, sir——’ began the sergeant respectfully.

‘But I was not at the Packhorse last night,’ said the Commissioner angrily. ‘I was over at Karouda, as you know very well, Mr. Anderson,’ he said, turning to the clerk; ‘and as this murder took place before sundown, I really fail to see why I shouldn't have been told of it last night. Karouda is only three miles as the crow flies.’

Mr. Anderson, a tall, fair, somewhat callow young man, shuffled his hands about among the papers on the table, looked across at the diggers' camp, and finally muttered something incoherent about not liking to disturb him. There was a dawning grin as of knowledge on his face, for it was not unknown to him that his superior officer had just become engaged to Miss Winifred Langdon, of Karouda, and he was minded to say something on the subject. Another

  ― 67 ―
glance, however, warned him that the moment was not propitious, so he hazarded another remark to the effect that probably some of the diggers could say where the man was.

‘Your astuteness really does you credit, Mr. Anderson,’ said the Commissioner sarcastically, ‘Probably they could, but the diggers, perhaps you may not be aware, are not sufficiently imbued with respect and admiration for this highly efficient force which I have the honour to command, to volunteer information of any kind.’

‘If you please, sir,’ said the sergeant, ‘some of them think a lot of Black Anderson, as they call him, and I don't think they believe he did it. If they did, in this case I think they'd speak up fast enough. Most folks had a friendly feeling towards the old German.’

‘And you—what do you think, sergeant?’

‘I—I'd stake my life he did it,’ said the sergeant with unwonted earnestness; ‘what's he cleared out for else?’

‘That's certainly a strong argument against him,’ said the Commissioner thoughtfully; ‘but it's also a poser for us, for, guilty or not guilty, if he only keeps up among the hills to the north-east, we'll have no chance of getting at him. You ought to have taken him last night.’

‘I heard,’ said young Anderson, ‘that he was at the Lucky Digger last night.’

‘What the——’

Mr. Ruthven turned angrily on his sergeant, who said hastily:

‘No, sir; I was there, sir, and I had a man on the look-out all the evening. It didn't seem likely he'd go there, but I thought it best to be on the safe side;

  ― 68 ―
but, of course, that would be the last place he'd go to, sir. Why, the men 'd lynch him if they thought he did it.’

‘But, you see, according to you, they don't believe he did do it.’

‘No, sir, they don't.’

Sergeant Sells looked dubiously on the ground. He was at the end of his resources, and had no further suggestions to make; but young Anderson took it up again:

‘Well, I heard he'd been spoken to by a man they call Pard Derrick, who's got that claim where you see that red shirt hung out. Pard Derrick, I believe, says he spoke to him just behind the pub, and he went off and left him alone with Jenny Carter—you know, Buck Carter's pretty daughter.’

You seem to know a good deal about it,’ remarked the Commissioner severely. ‘It's a pity you did not make this communication about twelve hours earlier.’

‘Didn't know myself, sir,’ said the young man serenely. ‘But it's common talk that Jenny Carter's Black Anderson's sweetheart. It was most natural, anyhow, he should go to her to say good-bye. But you know more about these things than I do, sir,’ he added slyly.

But the Commissioner was in no mood for pleasantry.

‘I wish to Heaven——’ he began. Then the sergeant interrupted him.

‘Begging your pardon, sir,’ he said, ‘I think Mr. Anderson's quite wrong about Jenny Carter.’

‘Oh, gammon, sergeant! you don't know anything about these sort of things. Why, it's common talk that the girl is Black Anderson's sweetheart. And

  ― 69 ―
a mighty pretty girl, too!’ added Mr. Anderson thoughtfully.

The sergeant moved uneasily from one foot to another. It was torture to him to hear Jenny so lightly discussed. He would have given anything to have kept her name out of it; but as he could not do that, he strenuously denied all connection between her and the man he hated.

‘I know it's common talk, sir,’ he said respectfully, trying to keep down the anger that was boiling up in his heart; ‘but you know as well as I do what common talk's worth. Of course the girl is civil to him; how can she help it? I expect her father 'd have something to say to it if she wasn't, and he's a masterful sort of fellow, always going on about having his own way in everything; and, of course, as she's the only girl on the field, the men talk; but there's nothing in it. I'll go bail she knows no more where he's hiding than I do.’

‘Really, sergeant,’ said young Anderson, ‘you seem to have given your mind to the matter. I presume we shall be invited to the wedding soon.’

‘Mr. Anderson,’ said the Commissioner sharply, ‘this is not the time——’

‘Certainly, sir, I understand; but in spite of the sergeant, I still think that my friend Pard Derrick is right, and that pretty Jenny Carter knows a deal more about my namesake than she chooses to tell.’

‘I assure you, sir,’ said the sergeant earnestly, ‘you are quite wrong. She is a thoroughly good girl. It's not her fault her father keeps a disreputable shanty; she keeps herself as much to herself as possible.’

The Commissioner tapped his fingers impatiently on the table in front of him.

  ― 70 ―

‘We didn't come here to discuss a girl,’ he said; ‘what I want to arrive at is, where is this man?’

‘And I know,’ said Anderson confidently, ‘that that girl saw him last, and, as that was some time last night, he can't be very far off.’

‘I'm sure, sir——’ began the sergeant again earnestly. He, too, was almost convinced of the truth of Pard Derrick's story, but not for worlds would he have owned it—he was more bent than ever on keeping Jenny's name out of the business; but now the Commissioner interrupted him.

‘This is simple waste of time,’ he said angrily. ‘There's nothing to prevent the girl speaking for herself, I suppose. Go down, sergeant, or send a trooper, and fetch her here.’

The sergeant saluted and turned away. He hardly knew whether to be pleased or not at the turn affairs had taken. If Jenny denied she had seen anything of Black Anderson, well and good—even he could ask no more. But if she owned to having met him, well—he set his foot down firmly—the girl was nothing to him, nothing in the wide world—he did not care one way or the other. If with her own lips she spoke her condemnation—and if she owned to having spoken to Black Anderson, that's what she would be doing—what did it matter to him? He had given up all thought of her last night, and this would just be another reason to strengthen his resolution. Nevertheless, he did not send a trooper to fetch her, as the Commissioner had suggested, but went himself, and was surprised and angry to find that his heart was beating disagreeably fast as he neared the Lucky Digger.

Meanwhile, if he had but known it, he had reached

  ― 71 ―
a pinnacle of happiness compared to the feelings of the girl he was going to see. And only last night she had been so happy, so blissfully happy, so free from care, and now it seemed to her that she could not even look forward to death itself as a relief. There was someone else to be thought of, someone to be cared for, and she, so far as she read her duty, must sacrifice her life for him.

When Jenny left her lover beside the creek, she ran as fast as she could home, and quietly slipped into the bare little room which was her bedroom. It was very bare indeed, with an earthen floor, and for all furniture a couple of boxes and a low stretcher, which she shared with a little half-brother. The moonlight streamed in through the unglazed window, and showed her the little curly head on the pillow sound asleep, and she stooped and kissed him fondly. He was very dear to her, the little chap, but to-night she was specially tender; was she not the very happiest woman in all the world? She sat on the end of the bed, and put the chamois leather bag against her cheek and kissed it for the sake of the dear hands that had held it. The gold was dear to her, not for its own sake, not for the sake of what it would bring, but for the sake of the hands that had worked for it, for the man who had thought only of her, had worked for it for her. Could there possibly be a happier woman in the world than she was? She would not change, not she, with the great Queen in her palace; she wanted nothing more than Black Dave, and he had promised to marry her so soon as he had a little more money, and as an earnest of his love had given her all his gold to keep. She would tell Sal to-morrow—would tell her and triumph over her. She looked

  ― 72 ―
across at the canvas screen that separated her room from Sal's and her father's, then very softly, for fear lest they might hear, she opened the bag and emptied the contents on to her lap.

There were about a dozen small nuggets, and quite a little heap of gold-dust. Some of the corners caught the light and glittered in the bright moonlight as she dreamily ran her fingers through them. Such bright gold, such dear, bright gold; and it was buying her happiness! Only she did not think in those words, because she had no words at her command; she only thought that that gold represented to her Dave Anderson's love, and accordingly she liked to touch it. She turned it over again. How could she go to bed and to sleep on this night, the whitest night of her life? Perhaps it was not wise to be looking at so much gold so near the window. Someone might see, and be tempted. Was it not only this very night the old German had been murdered for the sake of a little bag, the very counterpart of this which she held in her hand?

Jenny glanced out of the window—no one there—and then down in her lap again, and her happy dream, the fair promise of her life, vanished for ever.

For there, in the middle of the pile of gold-dust, lay a curiously-shaped nugget she had herself paid over to the old German only yesterday afternoon. There was not the very faintest doubt about it. She knew it only too well. Pard Derrick had paid the nugget over the counter in payment of his score, and he had remarked upon it, and said he would not have parted with it if he had not been hard up, for it ought to bring its owner good luck, seeing it was in the shape of a cross with one arm missing. Sal Carter had seen it too, and had opined it meant ill-luck, for, if it was the other way

  ― 73 ―
round, wouldn't the blessed cross be perfect and not broken at all? Then Pard Derrick had laughed, and said she need not take it, but might give him tick if she liked. But Mrs. Carter had taken the nugget, and then, when old Max came round with his vegetables and fruit, had told Jenny to pay him with the little nugget.

‘For it'll bring no luck,’ said she, ‘the blessed cross broke like that.’

Apparently it had brought no luck, for old Max was dead, and—and she shivered drearily as if it had been the depth of winter. What did it all mean? This was not old Max's bag; it was Dave Anderson's, her Dave's. And how had the fatal nugget got here? There was only one answer to that question, only one answer; in her simplicity she only thought of one. There was no possible explanation save the one, no other interpretation save that the police themselves would put upon it.

This was old Max's bag; she herself had noticed the resemblance. This was old Max's bag, and it was her lover's hand that had fired the fatal shot. She hastily shook back the gold into the bag, and then, standing on tiptoe, concealed it in the layers of bark that made the roof of her wretched little room. She could not bear to have the thing that was the price of blood close to her. Then she sat down on the end of the bed again, where she had dreamed her dreams so long ago—oh! so long ago—and tried to think it out.

Dave had done it—Dave! He had shot the poor old man who had never harmed him, had shot him for the sake of that little bag, and then—why had he given it to her to keep for him? She asked herself

  ― 74 ―
the question again and again, but the answer was there already. That was no argument for his innocence. He knew she would show no one his gold, would tell no one she had it, and he knew he could trust her. Had she not said herself she would love him just the same whether he had done it or not? Had he not made her say that over and over again? And she did—she did. She had not believed that of him; but now that it was forced upon her, she loved him just the same.

Jenny wondered if the police would be after him. Dully she remembered something Pard Derrick had said—what, she was not very certain; Black Dave's presence had made her forget all else—but she did remember Pard Derrick had said the sergeant suspected Dave, and if he did, then—then—— She remembered her lover's story of Conky Bill's missus, and took it both as an added sign of guilt and as a personal direction to herself. If the police were after Black Anderson, then she was to marry the sergeant. She never thought of disputing the fact. She would have to marry him. Dave expected it of her, and never of her own free will, since she had known him, had she crossed Dave.

It was as she had said it would be; no thought of her lover's unworthiness had entered her simple soul, only the conviction that he had done this thing, and that he must be saved at any cost, even at the sacrifice of herself. No thought of the sergeant's interest in the business entered her mind. Dave had as good as said she must marry the sergeant if the police came after him, and she fully intended to do so. She wished she were dead; but she was not dead nor likely to die. Besides, Dave must be saved at any cost.

  ― 75 ―

She sat there on the end of the bed the livelong night, trying vainly to find some comfort where no comfort was. She was so dull, so ignorant, so helpless. She could only repeat over and over again, ‘Oh, Dave, Dave! I will help you, I will!’ And the only way she saw was the way he himself had insisted on. She never railed against him, never thought bitterly of him for one moment. It is not in the nature of women like her. He was her god, no matter what he might be to the rest of the world, and she was prepared to do sacrifice.

The bright moonlight paled before the coming day; the sun rose up in all his splendour. Another long hot day had begun. But still she sat on, slowly rocking herself backwards and forwards like one in pain. The baby in the adjoining room raised a pitiful wail, low at first, then louder and louder, till its sleepy mother turned and put it to her breast. Then the little boy in her own bed wakened and sat up, rubbing his eyes and wondering to see his sister already dressed, for the Lucky Digger kept things up so late at night, it was impossible any of its inmates could be very early risers. She hastily dressed him and sent him outside to play, and lay down dressed as she was, and thought wearily of the things that had happened since she had done the same thing yesterday morning. She felt as if a whole lifetime had intervened; and she stared at the roof, at the spot where the bag was hidden, till from very weariness her eyes closed, and she slept and dreamed troubled dreams in which she, Black Anderson, old Max, and the sergeant were inextricably mingled. She awakened with a start to find her stepmother bending over her.

‘Well, upon my word, a nice lazy thing you are!

  ― 76 ―
To go to sleep again after you'd got your clothes on.’ It never occurred to her that the girl had been sitting up all night. ‘Ain't you goin' to help me with the breakfast this mornin'? There's that botherin' Pard Derrick says he's goin' to have some here, and the childer are well-nigh famished.’

Jenny sat up rubbing her eyes. At first the events of the night before were quite forgotten; only a dull feeling of some impending misery, that we are all familiar with, was present in her mind. She held out her arms mechanically for the baby, and, as she took him in them, the whole thing came back to her.

‘A nice hour you were in, madam!’ went on her stepmother. ‘I tell you, Jen, it's just foolish you are! He's only foolin' you, he is. Besides, what do you think? That Pard Derrick was along here just now, an' he was sayin' the police are after him in real earnest on account of old Max. Isn't it just what I'm tellin' you? He's a real bad lot, an' I wouldn't have no truck with him if I was you.’

It was not all the reason Mrs. Carter had given yesterday; but Jenny was in no mood to dispute with her. Indeed, the only thing she heard clearly was that the worst had happened: the police were after Black Dave, and she would have to marry the police sergeant. And even then, to do her justice, all her anxiety was not for herself, but for the man who today would be a hunted outlaw, with every man's hand against him. His life, somehow, she felt, depended on her, so she looked Mrs. Carter in the face, and moistened her dry lips in a vain effort to speak.

But Mrs. Carter was well accustomed to her silence.

‘My!’ she went on, ‘the boss was pretty mad last night! He'd have trounced you well if he'd laid

  ― 77 ―
hands on you! I had that work to get him to bed quiet! Where was you? Out with Black Dave?’

Jenny nodded. She had hardly made up her mind what it would be best to say; she was too simple, too ignorant, to invent a likely story, and it seemed to her assent could do her lover no harm.

‘Well, is he goin' to marry you?’

Jenny shook her head. She would have to marry the sergeant, she kept saying to herself—she would have to marry the sergeant.

‘Poor old girl!’ said her stepmother pityingly, ‘he ain't worth botherin' about; take my word for it, Jen, he ain't. Give him up, an' take on wi' the sergeant. My word! wouldn't the boss be pleased!’

‘Why?’ Jenny found voice to ask.

‘Oh, 'cos the place is gettin' a bad name, an he's took it into his head 'tis all along of you being so thick wi' Black Anderson, an' now there comes this murder. Once you take up with the sergeant, Jen, it'll be all right.’

‘But s'posin' the sergeant don't want me?’

‘S'posin' pigs could fly! Course he wants you! Get along with you! you know it as well as I do.’

‘What'll I do then?’ asked Jenny, and the other woman was so pleased at her sudden complaisance she forgot to notice the dreary hopelessness in the girl's voice, or, if she did, set it down to the fact of her having found out the utter worthlessness of Black Anderson.

‘She'll get over it,’ she thought to herself. ‘Lord! girls don't die of this sort of thing.’ Then aloud she said: ‘Do! why, just like you always do; only be a little sweeter. I'll tell him you're shy like. Come

  ― 78 ―
on, now; there's the boss callin', an' it's as much as my life is worth to cross him this morning. Oh, my fine gentleman, I'll make you pay for this by-and-by, or my name ain't Sal Carter! Fry the chops, Jen, there's a dear.’

Jenny could hardly have told how the morning passed. She was dimly aware that her father was out of temper, not only with her (that was a thing of common occurrence), but with his wife, who was apparently serenely unconscious of the fact, and was full of importance at the knowledge that Jenny was going to take up with the sergeant. It seemed to give her great pleasure, and whenever she approached the girl she nudged her, and laughed confidentially.

‘You'll like him right well, Jenny,’ she said more than once, as the girl's white face told her this was no matter of rejoicing to her. ‘Bless you, you'll be a right happy woman compared to me, and t'other ain't worth thinkin' about! I'm certain sure o' that, or I wouldn't ask you to do it.’

Then, about ten o'clock, there was the ringing of spurred heels in the bar, and Sergeant Sells had come by Commissioner Ruthven's orders to fetch Jenny up to the police camp. The girl grew whiter than ever when she heard his errand, but her stepmother patted her encouragingly on the shoulder.

‘She's a bit shy, sergeant, you see. Jenny, put on your sun-bonnet, dear, and smooth out your dress. Lord! sergeant, 'tis nothing, is it? What's the Commissioner wantin' of her, now?’

Now, Sergeant Sells was perfectly aware that in the execution of his duty strict silence was the proper course, but Jenny's tired white face went to his heart, and he was only too anxious on his own account to

  ― 79 ―
prove that she knew nothing of Black Anderson to do that duty thoroughly.

‘Only to hear what she has to say about Black Anderson. I suppose you know there's a warrant out against him for murder?’

‘Oh yes,’ said Mrs. Carter, smoothing back Jenny's hair, and preparing to put her bonnet on for her. ‘I don't go much on Black Anderson myself—I'm always sayin' that to you, ain't I, Jen?—but I misdoubt the Commissioner's wrong there. He ain't done murder.’

Jenny shivered. Only too well she knew she had the proofs in her possession.

‘Well, but was he here last night?’ asked the policeman eagerly, his eyes on the girl's face.

Jenny opened her mouth to reply, but no words would come; in very truth, she hardly knew whether to deny it or not. If she were to deny it, there was Pard Derrick to witness to her falsehood; but while she hesitated Mrs. Carter saved her the trouble.

‘Here! Of course he was here, hangin' round our Jen like the rest of them, and that mad because she don't keep her smiles for him alone. The conceit of the man!’ said Sal Carter, tossing her head. ‘But Jenny gave him as good as he gave, I'll warrant! She ain't a-goin' to have any more truck with Black Dave Anderson, she ain't, till this affair's cleared up. Honest women can't afford to have their names messed about;’ and Mrs. Carter looked to Jenny for confirmation.

The girl only hung her head. It was true enough. She had given up Dave Anderson for his own sake.

‘But,’ said the sergeant doubtfully, ‘what was Miss Jenny doing talking to him last night?’

‘Oh, get along with you, do!’ said Mrs. Carter playfully.

  ― 80 ―
‘How'd she help talkin' to him, an' Black Dave more free wi' the coin than any chap here? I guess her father 'd have somethin' to say if she didn't do the civil! Not,’ she added, with a remembrance of the stony silence Jenny always maintained towards the sergeant himself, who certainly, according to the ideas of the times, was well worth propitiating, ‘that Jen's ever given to much words, even with me an' the childer; but she's been just bound to speak civil to Black Anderson.’

The words were balm to his ears. He had more than half a suspicion that the landlady of the Lucky Digger was fooling him to the top of his bent, but he thought it was for her own ends, and he was only too thankful to hear that Jenny cared nothing for Black Anderson to question very closely the authority whence he received the information.

‘Jenny's but poorly this mornin',’ said Mrs. Carter; ‘don't you be hard on her, now.’

‘Indeed I won't!’ he said fervently. Her white tired face gave him a distinct pain to look at. ‘And, indeed, she needn't be in the least afraid. She's only got to say “Yes” or “No” to the Commissioner's questions. He won't be hard on her.’

‘Well, Jenny told me all about it, and she don't know nothing about Black Anderson. She sat out there to cool by the creek with him last night; but, Lord! that's nothin'. Anybody who'd danced with Pard Derrick 'd a' done the same.’

There was no gainsaying that. Not that Sergeant Sells was desirous of so doing. He was as anxious as even her stepmother could have been to find an innocent reason for the hours Jenny had spent with Black Anderson, and here was one ready to his hand.

  ― 81 ―

‘Yes,’ he said thoughtfully—‘yes. That's likely enough.’

‘Likely, of course it's likely; ain't I just tellin' you? Lord sakes, what an awfu' fuss! an' all because a girl talks to a chap, or sits still an' lets him talk to her. That's more Jen's style, I bet.’

‘And what did he say?’ asked the sergeant eagerly.

Jenny raised her tired, frightened eyes to his face, but she never uttered a word, and her voluble stepmother came to her rescue again.

‘Say? Well, now, I wonder at you, sergeant, asking a question like that. What does a chap say when he sits out alone with a girl in the moonlight? You're not goin' to tell me you haven't done it yourself, a handsome man like you. You've left many an achin' heart behind you, I'll warrant.’

The flattery was coarse, but he was unaccustomed to flattery of any sort, especially from a woman; and, as far as he knew, no woman's heart had ever beaten the faster for his presence, or ached for his absence. He was thankful, too, to think that it might have been mere admiration for her beauty that brought Black Anderson to see Jenny. It made him wince to think of her listening to the coarse compliments of such a man, but from her coldness to him he argued she would not be too free with another man, and the thought gave him comfort. Now this man was out of the way he would win her for himself, he would take her away from these uncongenial surroundings, he would teach her how a woman should bear herself; she would only want a little teaching, she was so young—so young, almost a child—and he would be so tender with her. There was nothing between her and

  ― 82 ―
Black Anderson, he was convinced of that; any girlish fancy she might have had for him would be crushed out before this terrible accusation; he had a fair field, and now indeed he would win her. Happier than he had felt for many a long day did the sergeant feel at this moment; he could hardly have analyzed his own feelings, only in some indefinite manner he felt that he might hope, and every prudent consideration was swept away in a rush of uncontrolled passion. She looked so tired and weary, the poor little girl! He would have spared her if he could, and yet in his heart he was glad enough to take her before the Commissioner and let her prove out of her own lips her innocence.

‘The Commissioner will be waiting,’ he said as a reason for hurrying the women.

‘And the Commissioner don't like to be kept waiting, do he, now?’ said Sal Carter. ‘Now, don't you be rough wi' poor Jenny; she's that poorly this mornin' she can hardly hold up her head.’

‘It seems she could dance well enough last night,’ said the sergeant, his doubts for the moment getting the upper hand again.

‘Her! dance!’ cried Mrs. Carter in well-feigned astonishment. ‘Lawks, sergeant, any fool 'd tell you Jenny was ready for her bed at eight o'clock, just dyin' to go there. You might have seen for yourself if you'd only used your eyes; she was mighty short with the chaps, but, bless you! it's as much as her life's worth to ask the boss to let her off, specially on a night like last night. The boss is mighty hard on poor Jenny. There, go along with you, now, and don't you be hard on her, too.’

‘Are you ready?’ he asked.

  ― 83 ―

Jenny raised her eyes, and nodded her head, and they set off together up the hot and dusty track that led to the police camp, where the Commissioner was impatiently awaiting their arrival.