A DANGEROUS GAME
But Lance Penwith had lived there too long to be deceived by such a sight as that, and uttering a cry of amazement he began trying to break his neck by a heavy fall before he arrived safely on the broad shelf, to yell out, "Ship ahoy!"
Then, and then only, did the biggest and broadest pair of trousers begin to move, and a great shaggy head turned to show a dark mahogany face fringed with stiff white hair.
"Come back!" shouted Lance; "and you too, Billy; and you two."
"Master Lahnce, lad!" cried the old man, making a grab at the boy's hand with one of his huge paws, clapping the other upon it, and working it up and down slowly as he said, "The old 'ooman's told me all about it, and I says, humble and thankful like, God bless yer!"
"And so says all on us," chorused his companions.
"That's right, my sons; that's right," growled the old man.
"But you've come back," cried Lance, trying in vain to free his hand, for the others wanted to shake it, and Billy Poltree had to be content with the left, while the other men ornamented the boy with fleshly epaulettes in the shape of a hand apiece on the shoulders.
"Ay, my lad, we've come back," said Old Poltree solemnly, "for it's weary months and months as we four has been in desert lands up the eastern parts and up the norrard coasties; but it's allus been with a long lookout for the native land as we felt as we must see once more afore we died. We bore it all as long as we could, and then we said we'd get home and see our wives and bairns, and then they might take us and send us away across the main, for it arn't been living, has it, my sons?"There was a tremendous No! and plenty of answering of eagerly put questions before Lance could get away and