Jean Rabe, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, is a full-time writer who concentrates on fantasy and science-fiction, and who occasionally dabbles in military fiction and mysteries. She has two-dozen novels and four-dozen short stories to her credit. A professionally-produced audiobook version of Frame Shop will be created and made available to participants as an add-on at a special price. If Stretch Goals are met quickly, additional stretch goals may be added, so please pledge early and tell your friends. In his rough and tumble job there are no tailored Italian suits, no bimbos eager to please, and no massive underground fortresses built by evil overlords seeking world domination—just an endless series of sinister threats to the safety and security of the billions of mundane citizens of the planet.
Sure, Dick's tough and he knows a few tricks to help him get out of a tight spot, even if his boss accuses him of over-reliance on an abundance of explosives. But he's also got a mortgage, a wife upset by his frequent absences on "business" trips, and an increasingly alienated teen-age son who spends way too much time playing in gaming worlds on the computer. When a mission to bust up an arms exchange in New Zealand goes spectacularly bad, Dick is forced to partner with an espionage neophyte to battle evil on multiple fronts, leading to a final confrontation that incorporates real-world conspiracy theories and cutting-edge technology.
In the end, Dick can save his partner, save his marriage, save his son, or save the world, but he can't do it all. Bingle tackles the philosophical issues surrounding uploaded consciousness in a fresh, exciting way. This is the debut of a major novelist -- don't miss it. Mankind has largely retreated to the realms of virtual reality, where resources are unlimited and the problems of the real world--violence, conflict, sickness, and pain--can all be avoided.
Unfortunately, those who stay behind in the real world pose the only risk to the immortality of those who have converted to virtual existence. Derek, a soldier in the Conversion Forces ConFoes , seeks to enforce the Mandatory Conversion Act on the remaining mals malcontent Luddites, gangbangers, and religious fanatics. He just wants to put in his time and join his family on one of the virtual worlds.
But until then, he is forced to deal with his psychotic squad-mates, the increasingly brutal tactics of the ConFoes, and a mal ambush. And that's just the beginning of his journey. While most speculative and science fiction deals with worlds transformed by technological advance, Forced Conversion highlights the troubling and chaotic process of that transformation, itself.
It combines the adrenaline-soaked action of military fiction with the extrapolation of current scientific trends of the best speculative fiction, while dealing with the moral and religious implications of both war and technology. If large scale transcendence could occur, this novel explains how it would come about and what the real world would be like in the aftermath. A 'good read' of the old school, coupled with all-too-plausible reasons for everything.
A grim warning and a fast action adventure tale, all in one! Zeke, Milo, and Brandon are struggling to keep their environmental protest group, GreensWord, alive. It impresses chicks and sure beats getting jobs as corporate serfs in the real world. But their chief benefactor, movie star Matthew Barrington, threatens to cut off funding unless they stop global warming before his Malibu beach house slides into the storm-tossed ocean. In their desperate effort to save the beach house and their organization, the GreensWord trio is willing to try almost anything.
No plan is so illegal, so risky, or so stupid that they won't lend it an ear. But nothing is fast enough to stop global warming in time And although they may be crazed fanatics, they've watched enough T. And if their drastic solution to global warming means they also take out the reigning internet tycoon and his monopolistic software company, that's just organic frosting on the vegan cake.
Grim, Fair e-Tales includes four dark or downbeat stories, two of which are set are fairs or carnivals:. Each of the stories in the chain begins with a scene set in The Wanderers' Club in London, where patrons take turns telling stories of their adventures and derring-do. Though the plots and characters of the various tales differ and each adventure is self-contained and independent, every story-teller starts out by referencing the story before his in some fashion before telling his own tale Mike Stackpole's character, Rogers, is used with permission.
This parody is best enjoyed by those who have already read Jim Theis' original tale in all of its un-copyedited glory, yet lived to read again. While all digital copies of material by author Donald J. Bingle will be DRM free, certain other items in the reward levels and stretch goals may or may not have DRM protection, depending on the policy of the individual author or publisher.
For those of you disappointed by the lack of international shipping for physical books digital is no problem, as long as you have a valid email address , please note that I plan to be at both Origins Game Fair and at GenCon in and you may choose to pick up your physical books from me there. Of course, you can always have paper copies shipped to a friend in the United States and arrange for shipping directly to you with them.
Special thanks to Randy Martin for his assistance on the audio portion of the Kickstarter video for Frame Shop and to the many friends and fellow writers who commented on the format and contents of this page. Since Frame Shop is already written, there are few risks except for the technical aspects of password protected transfer of e-book files and the timeliness of performance, which is dependent on third parties like cover artists, printers, and the US Postal Service. Accordingly, I have attempted to make the scheduled dates of delivery conservative, but hope to beat such deadlines, especially on electronic content.
In the event that Frame Shop gets picked up by a publisher prior to any applicable delivery dates, dates might be extended to allow that publisher's edition to be delivered in lieu of the version being created and published through my company, ' Orphyte, Inc. Any such revised version would likely have a different cover design. Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ. Along with your digital copy of Frame Shop, get a digital copy of Donald J. Bingle's full-length novel, Net Impact, a new kind of spy thriller for a new kind of world.
Bingle's full-length novel, Forced Conversion, a near future military sci-fi thriller. Bingle E-book Thriller Novel Extravaganza: Along with your digital copy of Frame Shop, get digital copies of all three of Donald J. A trade paperback copy, signed by the author, plus a digital copy of the complete novella. Bingle E-book Story Extravaganza: Along with your digital copy of Frame Shop, get digital copies of all seven of Donald J. Somerset Maugham's semi-autobiographical narrators use to propel their stories. The reader is taken off guard with the narrator's humility, told the story will not live up to expectations, cannot match the stories already told in the series.
And yes, the story pulls slowly out of the station, but the rich, sensous, exotic details lead up to something more than the sum of their parts. Bingle expertly pulls the reader into the tale, leading him on a journey that becomes bleaker and more frightening the farther he goes into his own Heart of Darkness, the final few pages excruciating--and then some. So sit back, pour yourself a Courvoisier, light a cigar or pipe, if that's your delicious poison , and let the story unfold Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers.
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Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations. View or edit your browsing history. Get to Know Us. English Choose a language for shopping. Not Enabled Word Wise: A pebble dropped by the four men above would have dashed into their Midst. One of the half-filled charges had exploded with a sullen, mischievous puff, and the rocks at the head of the ledge were lifted and loosened.
One immense block barred the tumbling mass from the men below. There was no way out but by the rising channel of the ledge. And down that channel would thunder in a quarter of a minute the murderous rocks that were pushing the saving stone before them. Three of the men above escaped in time.
But it did not come. They waited ten seconds, then looked around. He had a massive crowbar in his hands, and was strongly working to get a purchase on the great stone that blocked the way, but which actually swayed on the verge of the steep decline. They saw it, and, with chilled hearts at the terrible danger, they fled up the ledge and darted past the man who had risked his own life to save theirs. Another instant and the roar went down the ledge, as if the hungry rocks knew they had been baffled.
When the crash came, the bar was driven across an angle in the ledge, and held there, and he was within the angle. This was one of several instances that proved his character, and made him trusted and loved of his fellow-convicts. Whatever was his offence against the law, he had received its bitter lesson. The worst of the convicts grew better when associated with him. Common sense, truth, and kindness were Joe's principles. He was a strong man, and he pitied and helped those weaker than himself.
He was a bold man, and he understood the timid. He was a brave man, and he grieved for a coward or a liar. He never preached; but his healthy, straightforward life did more good to his fellows than all the hired bible-readers in the colony. No wonder the natives to whom he fled soon began to look upon him with a strange feeling. Far into the mountains of the Vasse he had journeyed before he fell in with them. They were distrustful of all white men, but they soon trusted him.
There was something in the simple savage mind not far removed from that of the men in prison, who had grown to respect, even to reverence, his character. The natives saw him stronger and braver than anyone they had ever known.
He was more silent than their oldest chief; and so wise, he settled disputes so that both sides were satisfied. They looked on him with distrust at first; then with wonder; then with respect and confidence; and before two years were over, with something like awe and veneration, as for a superior being. His fame and name spread through the native tribes all over p.
Towards the end of the third year of his freedom, when Moondyne and a party of natives were far from the mountains, they were surprised by a Government surveying party, who made him prisoner, knowing, of course, that he must be an absconder. He was taken to the main prison at Fremantle, and sentenced to the chain-gang for life; but before he had reached the Swan River every native in the colony knew that "The Moondyne" was a prisoner. The chain-gang of Fremantle is the depth of penal degradation. The convicts wear from thirty to fifty pounds of iron, according to their offence.
It is riveted on their bodies in the prison forge, and when they have served their time the great rings have to be chiselled off their calloused limbs. The chain-gang works outside the prison walls of Fremantle, in the granite quarries. The neighbourhood, being thickly settled with pardoned men and ticket-of-leave men, had I been deserted by the aborigines; but from the day of Moondyne's sentence the bushmen began to build their myers and hold their corroborees near the quarries.
For two years the chain-gang toiled among the stones, and the black men sat on the great unhewn rocks, and never seemed to tire of the scene. The warders took no notice of their silent presence. The natives never spoke to a prisoner, but sat there in dumb interest, every day in the year, from sunrise to evening. One day they disappeared from the quarries, and an officer who passed through their village of myers , found them deserted.
It was quite a subject of interesting conversation among the warders.
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Where had they gone to? Why had they departed in the night? The day following an answer came to these queries. His irons were found, filed through, behind the rock at which he worked; and from that day the black face of a bushman was never seen in Fremantle. WE arrive now at the opening scene of this story. Eight days after his escape from Fremantle, Moondyne was seen by the convict Dave Terrell, on the shores of the Koagulup Swamp. In those eight days he had travelled two hundred miles, suffering that which is only known to the hunted convict.
When he met the prisoner in the moonlight and made the motion to silence, Dave Terrell saw the long barrel of a pistol in his belt. He meant to sell his life this time, for there was no hope if retaken. His intention was to hide in the swamp till he found an opportunity of striking into the Vasse Mountains, a spur of which was not more than sixty miles distant.
But the way of the absconder is perilous; and swift as had been Moondyne's flight, the shadow of the pursuer was close behind. On the very day that Moondyne Joe reached the great swamp, the mounted pursuit tracked the fugitive to the water's edge. A few hours later, while he lay exhausted on an island in the densely-wooded morass, the long sedge was cautiously divided a few yards from his face, and the glittering eyes of a native tracker met his for an instant.
Before he could spring to his feet the supple savage was upon him, sending out his bush cry as he sprang! A short struggle, with the black hands on the white throat; then the great white arms closed around the black body, and with a gasping sob it lost its nerve and lay still, while Moondyne half rose to listen. From every point he heard the trackers closing on him. He sank back with a moan of despair; but the next instant the blood rushed from his heart with a new vigour for every muscle.
It was the last breath of his freedom, and he would fight for it as for his life. He sprang to his feet and met his first p. A bullet through the animal's brain left him free again, with steadied nerves. Even in the excitement of the moment a thrill of gratitude that it was not a man that lay there passed through him; He flung his pistol into the swamp, and dashed towards the log on which he had gained the island.
Beside it stood two men, armed. Barehanded, the fugitive flung himself upon them, and closed in desperate struggle. It was vain, however; others came and struck him down and overpowered him. WHEN the party had travelled a dozen miles from the convict camp, the evening closed, and the sergeant called a halt. A chain was passed round a tree; and locked; and to this the manacles of the prisoner were made fast, leaving him barely the power of lying down.
With a common prisoner this would have been security enough; but the sergeant meant to leave no loophole open. He and the private trooper would keep guard all night; and according to this order, after supper, the trooper entered on the first four hours' watch. The natives and wounded men took their meal and were stretched on the soft sand beside another fire, about a hundred paces from the guard and prisoner. The tired men soon slept, all but the sentry and the captive.
The sergeant lay within arm's length of the prisoner; and even from deep sleep awoke at the least movement of the chain. Towards midnight, the chained man turned his face toward the sentry, and motioned him to draw near. The rough, but kind-hearted, fellow thought he asked for water and softly brought him a pannikin, which he held to his lips. At the slight motion, the light motion, the sergeant awoke, and harshly reprimanded p. After a time the face of the prisoner was once more raised, and with silent lip, but earnest expression, he begged the sentry to come to him.
But the man would not move. He grew angry at the persistence of the prisoner, who ceased not to look towards him, and who at last even ventured to speak in a low voice. At this the fearful trooper grew alarmed, and sternly ordered him to rest.
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The sergeant awoke at the word, and shortly after relieved the trooper, seating himself beside the fire to watch the remainder of the night. When the prisoner saw this, with a look of utter weariness, though not of resignation, he at last closed his eyes and sank to rest. Once having yielded to the fatigue which his strong will had hitherto mastered, he was unconscious.
A deep and dreamless sleep fell on him. The sand was soft round his tired limbs, and for two or three hours the bitterness of his captivity was forgotten. He awoke suddenly, and, as if he had not slept, felt the iron on his wrists, and knew that he was chained to a tree like a wild beast. The sleep had given him new strength. He raised his head, and met the eyes of the sergeant watching him. The look between them was long and steady. Would you go away to another country, and live the rest of your life in wealth and power?
There was that in his voice and look that thrilled the sergeant to the marrow. He glanced at the sleeping trooper, and drew closer to the chained man. If you help me to be free, I will lead you to the mine. The sergeant looked at him in silence. He arose and walked stealthily towards the natives, who were soundly sleeping.
To and fro in the firelight, for nearly an hour, he paced, revolving the startling proposition. At last he approached the chained man. How can you prove to me that this is true? Moondyne met the suspicious eye steadily. I tell you the truth. If I do not lead you straight to the mine, I will go back to Fremantle as your prisoner. I will lead you to the mine. You must return and escape from the country as best you can. The sergeant had thought out his plan. He would insure his own safety, no matter how the affair turned.
The wounded men must be doctored at once. Without a word the disciplined trooper shook the drowsiness from him, saddled his horse, and mounted. In half an hour they were gone. Moondyne Joe and the sergeant listened till the last sound died away.
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The tracker was curled up again beside the fire. Sergeant Bowman then unlocked the chain, and the powerful prisoner rose to his feet. In a whisper the sergeant told him he must secure the native before he attempted to take the horse. Moondyne went softly to the side of the sleeping savage. There was a smile on his face as he knelt down and laid one strong hand on the man's throat, and another on his pistol. In a few moments it was over. The bushman never even writhed when he saw the stem face above him, and felt that his weapon was gone. Moondyne left him tied hand and foot, and returned to the sergeant, who had the horses ready.
He had played and won. The sergeant took the weapon with a trembling hand, and his evil face had an awed look as he mounted. The men struck off at a gallop, in the direction of the convicts' camp, the sergeant a little behind, with his pistol ready in the holster. They dismounted near the scene of the capture, and Moondyne pulled from some bushes near the edge of a short raft of logs bound together with withes of bark. The sergeant hesitated, and looked on suspiciously. The sergeant got on the raft, holding the bridles of the horses.
Moondyne, with a pole, pushed from the bank, and entered the gloomy arches of the wooded swamp. It was a weird scene. At noonday the flood was black as ink, and the arches were filled with gloomy shadows. Overhead the foliage of trees and creepers was matted into a dense roof, now pierced by a few thin pencils of moonlight.
Straight toward the centre Moondyne steered from several hundred yards, the horses swimming behind. Then he turned at right angles, and pushed along from tree to tree in a line with the shore they had left. After a while the horses found bottom, and waded. We must keep along till morning, and then strike toward the hills. They went ahead rapidly, thanks to Moondyne's amazing strength; and by daylight were a long distance from the point at which they entered. A wide but shallow river with a bright sand bottom emptied into the swamp before them, and into this Moondyne poled the raft and tied it securely to a fallen tree, hidden in sedge grass.
They mounted their horses, and rode up the bed of the river, which they did not leave till near noontime. Moondyne deemed the track thoroughly broken, he turned toward the higher bank, and struck into the bush, the land beginning to rise toward the mountains when they had travelled a few miles. It was late in the afternoon when they halted for the day's first meal. Moondyne climbed a mahogany tree, which he had selected from certain fresh marks on its bark, and from a hole in the trunk pulled out two silver-tailed 'possums, as large as rabbits.
The sergeant lighted a fire on the loose sand, and piled it high with dry wood. When the 'possums were ready for cooking, the sand beneath the fire was heated a foot deep, and making a hole in this, the game was buried, and the flies continued above. After a time the embers were thrown off and the meat dug out. It looked burnt and black; but when the crust was broken the flesh within was tender and juicy. This, with clear water from the iron-stone hills, made a rare meal for hungry men; after which they continued their travel. Before nightfall they had entered the first circle of hills at the foot of the mountains.
With a springing hope in his heart, Moondyne led the way into the tortuous passes of the hills; and in a valley as silent as the grave, and as lonely, they made their camp for the night. They were in the saddle before sunrise, and travelling in a strange and wild country, which no white man, except Moondyne, had ever before entered. The scene was amazing to the sergeant, who was used to the endless sameness of the gum forests on the plains of the convict settlement.
Here, masses of dark metallic stone were heaped in savage confusion, and around these, like great pale serpents or cables, were twisted the white roots of tuad trees. So wild was the scene with rock and torrent, underbrush and forest, that the sergeant, old bushman as he was, began to feel that it would be dangerous for a man who had not studied the lay of the land, to travel here without a guide. However, he had a deep game to play, for a great stake. He said nothing, but watched Moondyne closely, and observed everything around that might assist his memory by-and-by.
In the afternoon they rode through winding passes in the hills, and towards sunset came on the border of a lake in the basin of the mountains. We are inside the guard of the hills. The sergeant's manner had strangely altered during the long ride. He was trembling on the verge of a great discovery; p. The punishment of falsehood is to suspect all truth. The mean of soul cannot conceive nobility. The vicious cannot believe in virtue. The artificial dignity imparted by the sergeant's office had disappeared, in spite of himself; and in its place returned the caitiff aspect that had marked him when he was a convict and a settler.
Standing on an equality with Moondyne, their places had changed, and the prisoner was the master. On the sandy shore of the beautiful lake they found turtles' eggs, and these, with baked bandicoot, made supper and breakfast. The way was no longer broken; they rode in the beds of grassy valleys, walled by precipitous mountains. Palms, bearing large scarlet nuts, brilliant flowers and birds, and trees and shrubs of unnamed species-all these, with delicious streams from the mountains, made a scene of wonderful beauty.
The face of Moondyne was lighted up with appreciation; and even the sergeant, coarse, cunning, and brutish, felt its purifying influence. It was a long day's ride, broken only by a brief halt at noon, when they ate a hearty meal beside a deep river that wound its mysterious way among the hills. Hour after hour passed, and the jaded horses lagged on the way; but still the valleys opened before the riders, and Moondyne advanced as confidently as if the road were familiar. Towards sunset he rode slowly, and with an air of expectancy.
The sun had gone down behind the mountains, and the narrow valley was deep in shadow. Before them, standing in the centre of the valley, rose a tall white tuad tree, within fifty paces of the underwood of the mountain on either side. When Moondyne, who led the way, had come within a horse's length of the tree, a spear whirred from the dark wood on the right, across his path, and struck deep into the tuad tree.
There was not a sound in the bush to indicate the p. Moondyne sprang from his horse, and, running to the tree, laid his hand on the shivered spear, and shouted a few words in the language of the aborigines. A cry from the bush answered, and the next moment a tall savage sprang from the cover and threw himself with joyful acclamations at the feet of Moondyne. Tall, lithe, and powerful was the young bushman. He arose and leant on his handful of slender spears, speaking rapidly to Moondyne.
Once he glanced at the sergeant, and, smiling, pointed to the still quivering spear in the tuad. Then he turned and led them up the valley, which soon narrowed to the dimensions of a ravine, like the bed of a torrent, running its perplexed way between overhanging walls of iron-stone. The sun had gone down, and the gloom of the passage became dark as midnight. The horses advanced slowly over the rugged way. A dozen determined men could hold such a pass against an army. Above their heads the travellers saw a narrow slit of sky, sprinkled with stars.
The air was damp and chill between the precipitous walls. The dismal pass was many miles in length; but at last the glare of a fire lit up the rocks ahead. The young bushman went forward alone, returning in a few minutes. Then Moondyne and the sergeant, proceeding with him to the end of the pass, found themselves in the opening of a small valley or basin, over which the sky, like a splendid domed roof, was clearly rounded by the tops of the mountains.
A few paces from the entrance stood a group of natives, who had started from their rest at the approach of the party. BESIDE the bright fire of mahogany wood, and slowly advancing to meet the strangers, was a venerable man-an aborigine, tall, white-haired, and of great dignity. It was Te-mana-roa the long-lived , the King of the Vasse. Graver than the sedateness of civilization was the dignified bearing of this powerful and famous barbarian.
His erect stature was touched by his great age, which outran, it was said, all the generations then living. His fame as a ruler was known throughout the whole Western country; and among the aborigines even of the far Eastern slope, two thousand miles away, his existence was vaguely rumoured, as in former times the European people heard reports of a mysterious oriental potentate called Prester John. Behind the aged king, in the full light of the fire, stood two young girls, dark and skin-clad like their elder, but of surpassing symmetry of body and beauty of feature.
They were Koro and Tapairu, the grandchildren of Te-mana-roa. Startled, timid, wondering, they stood together in the intense light, their soft fur-bokas thrown back, showing to rare effect their rounded limbs and exquisitely curved bodies. The old chief welcomed Moondyne with few words, but with many signs of pleasure and deep respect; but he looked with severe displeasure at his companion.
A long and earnest conversation followed; while the cunning eyes of the sergeant, and the inquiring ones of the young bushman and his sisters, followed every expression of the old chief and Moondyne. Te-mana-roa heard the story with a troubled brow, and when it had come to an end, he bowed his white head in deep thought. After some moments, he raised his face and looked long and severely at the sergeant, who grew restless under the piercing scrutiny. He has seen the hills and noted the sun and stars as he came: The young bushman arose from the fire. Without a word the young and powerful bushman took his spears and womerah, and disappeared in the mouth of the gloomy pass.
Te-mana-roa then arose slowly, and, lighting a resinous torch, motioned the sergeant to follow him toward a dark entrance in the iron-stone cliff that loomed above them. The sergeant obeyed, followed by Moondyne. The men stooped to enter the face of the cliff, but once inside, the roof rose high, and the way grew spacious.
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The walls were black as coal, and dripping with dampness. Not cut by the hands of man, but worn perhaps in ages past by a stream that worked its way, as patient as Fate, through the weaker parts of the rock. The roof soon rose so high that the torchlight was lost in the overhanging gloom. The passage grew wide and wider, until it seemed as if the whole interior of the mountain were hollow.
There were no visible walls; but at intervals there came from the darkness above a ghostly white stalactite pillar of vast dimensions, down which in utter silence streamed water that glistened in the torchlight. A terror crept through the sergeant's heart, that was only strong with evil intent. He glanced suspiciously at Moondyne.
But he could not read the faces of the two men beside him. They symbolized something unknown to such as he. It does not need culture and fine association to develop in some men this highest quality. Those who live by externals, though steeped in their parrot learning, are not men, but shells of men. When one turns within his own heart, and finds there the motive and the master, he approaches nobility. By this we judge each other, in philosophy and practice; and by this test shall be ruled the ultimate judgment. Moondyne had solemnly promised to lead to the mine a man he knew to be a villain.
The old chief examined the bond of his friend, and acknowledged its force. The word of the Moondyne must be kept to-night. Tomorrow the fate of the stranger would be decided.
They proceeded far into the interior of the mountain, until they seemed to stand in the midst of a great plain, with open sky overhead, though in truth above them rose a mountain. The light was reflected from myriad points of spar or crystal, that shone above like stars in the blackness. The air of the place was tremulous with a deep, rushing sound, like the sweep of a river; but the flood was invisible. At last the old chief who led the way, stood beside a stone trough or basin, filled with long pieces of wood standing on end. To these he applied the torch, and a flame of resinous brightness swept instantly over the pile and licked at the darkness above in long, fiery tongues.
The gloom seemed to struggle with the light, like opposing spirits, and a minute passed before the eye took in the surrounding objects. The stupendous dimensions of the vault or chamber in which they stood oppressed and terrified the sergeant. Hundreds of feet above his head spread the shadow of the tremendous roof. Hundreds of feet from where he stood loomed the awful blackness of the cyclopean walls. From these he scarce could turn his eyes. Their immensity fascinated and stupefied him.
Nor was it strange that such a scene should inspire awe. THE old chief led the way from the gold mine; and the strangely assorted group of five persons sat by the fire while meat was cooked for the travellers. The youth who had escorted the white men from the outer valley was the grandson of the chief, and brother of the beautiful girls.
Savages they were, elder and girls, in the eyes of the sergeant; but there was a thoughtfulness in Te-mana-roa, bred by the trust of treasure and the supreme confidence of his race, that elevated him to an exalted plane of manhood; and the young people had much of the same quiet and dignified bearing.
The revelations of the day had been too powerful for the small brain of the cunning trooper. The came before his memory piecemeal. He longed for an opportunity to think them over, to get them into grasp, and to plan his course of action. The splendid secret must be his own, and he must overreach all who would to-morrow put conditions on his escape. While meditating this, the lovely form of one of the girls, observed by his evil eye as she bent over the fire, suggested a scheme, and before the meal was finished, the sergeant had worked far on the road of success.
The chief and Moondyne talked long in the native language. The sisters, wrapped in soft furs, sat and listened, their large eyes fixed on the face of the Moondyne, their keen senses enjoying a novel pleasure as they heard their familiar words strangely sounded on his lips. To their simple minds the strongly marked white face must have appeared almost superhuman, known as it had long been to them by hearsay and the unqualified affection of their people.
Their girlhood was on the verge of something fuller; they felt a new and delicious joy in listening to the deep, musical tones of the Moondyne. They had long heard how strong and brave he was; they saw that he was gentle when he spoke to them and the old chief. When he addressed them, it seemed that the same thrill of pleasure touched the hearts and lighted the faces of both sisters.
The sisters retired to a tent of skins, and, lighting a fire at the opening to drive off the evil spirit, lay down to rest. Sleep came slowly to every member of the party. The old chief pondered on the presence of the stranger, who now held the primal secret of the native race. The sergeant revolved his plans, going carefully over every detail of the next day's work, foreseeing and providing for every difficulty with devilish ingenuity. The sisters lay in dreamy wakefulness, hearing again the deep musical voice, and seeing in the darkness the strange white face of the Moondyne.
Before sleeping, Moondyne walked into the valley, and lifting his face to heaven, in simple and manful directness, thanked God for his deliverance; then, stretching himself beside the fire, he fell into a profound sleep. In the morning, Moondyne spoke to Koro and Tapairu in their own tongue, which was not guttural on their lips. They told him, with much earnest gesture and flashing of eyes, about the emu's nest in the valley beyond the lake, and other such things as made up their daily life. Their steps were light about the camp that morning. At an early hour the old man entered the gold mine, and did not return.
To look after the horses, Moondyne, with the p. The sergeant, with bloodshot eyes from a sleepless night, had hung around the camp all the morning, feeling that, though his presence seemed unheeded, he was in the deepest thought of all. Whatever his purpose, it was settled now. There was dark meaning in the look that followed Moondyne and the girls till they disappeared on the wooded mountain.
When at last they were out of sight and hearing, he arose suddenly and moved towards the mouth of the mine. At that moment, the young bushman from the outpost emerged from the pass, and walked rapidly to the fire, looking around inquiringly for Moondyne and the girls. As the sergeant explained in dumb show that they had gone up the mountain yonder, there rose a gleam of hideous satisfaction in his eyes. The danger he had dreaded most had come to his hand to be destroyed.
All through the night he had heard the whirr of a spear from an unseen hand, and he shuddered at the danger of riding through the pass to escape. But there was no other course open. Were he to cross the mountains, he knew that without a guide he never could reach the penal colony. Had the sage Te-mana-roa been present, he would at once have sent the bushman back to his duty. But the youth had drawn his spear from the tuad tree at the outpost, and he proceeded to harden again its injured point in the embers of the fire.
The sergeant, who had carelessly sauntered around the fire till he stood behind the bushman, now took a stride towards him, then suddenly stopped. Had the native looked around at the moment, he would have sent his spear through the stranger's heart as swiftly as he drove it into the tuad yesterday. There was murder in the sergeant's face as he took the silent stride, and paused, his hand on his pistol.
He stooped for a heavy club, and with a few quick and stealthy paces stood over the bushman. Another instant, and the club descended with crushing violence. Without a sound p. Rapidly he moved in his terrible work. He crept to the entrance of the mine, and far within saw the old man moving before the flame. Pistol in hand he entered the cavern, from which, before many minutes had passed, he came forth white faced. As he stepped from the cave, he turned a backward glance of fearful import. He saw that he had left the light burning behind him.