Page:Colymbia (1873).djvu/32

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26
COLYMBIA.

able to conduct myself with propriety in the very best society this country had to offer. But I thought it best to swallow my indignation in silence, as I felt convinced that this was some vulgar Jack-in-office whom it was not my interest to offend.

My repast finished, the boy, who answered to the name of Billy, led me by a winding path through the forest to the abode of the Instructor.

On emerging from the comparatively cool cavern, I was struck by the oppressive heat of the outside air, and as our way lay right through the tangled depths of the thick wood, I had leisure to admire the beautiful foliage of the trees and shrubs, the gorgeous colours of the flowers, the luscious profusion of the fruit, the gay plumage of the countless birds, and to feel the annoyance of the myriads of insects that buzzed and swarmed around us as we walked along, and whose attacks I could not entirely ward off, though I used a flapper like my companion.

On my remarking to Billy that I wondered to see how fresh and rosy he and all whom I had yet seen were, in spite of the terrible heat and the constant attacks of these venomous and irrepressible insects, he replied in what appeared to me at the time an enigmatical manner:—

"Bless your soul, no one stays here longer than he can help. I shall be off as soon as I have brought you to Mr Hamlet's."

"Off!" I said, "I suppose you mean you will go back to the cave."

"Oh, dear, no! not if I know it," replied Billy; "my business there is over for the day."

"Where on earth then will you go to avoid this stifling atmosphere?" I inquired.