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The Golden Rock   By: (1855-1925)

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The Golden Rock By Ernest Glanville Illustrations by Stanley Wood Published by Chatto and Windus, London. This edition dated 1895. The Golden Rock, by Ernest Glanville.

THE GOLDEN ROCK, BY ERNEST GLANVILLE.

CHAPTER ONE.

A QUEER LEGACY.

Old Trader Hume was dead.

Not that he was really old when he died, but he had lived a life that had robbed him of his youth at one end and cut off the slow decline on the other. At fifteen he began the career of trader and hunter; before twenty he had been tossed by a buffalo, and broken his leg in a fall from his horse; at twenty five he had been twice down with the fever; at thirty he was known as Old Hume; at fifty he had gone home to die a man worn, sun dried, and scarred with many wounds. Home to the Old Country, the land of his parents, the land of rest and green fields that had figured in his waking dreams, and in his lonely watches beneath the African sky.

His mother had talked to him of the quiet village, the ivied church, the bells, the song of the lark, and the pleasant customs of the country folk; and his father had told him of the great cities, the roar of life, and the silence of old ruins testifying to a mighty past; and the untrained, toughened Colonial boy had kept before him one goal the hoary tower of Westminster, the green meadows, and the tuneful bells of old England.

Well, at last he had gone home; but it was not the home of his dreams. There were the wonderful green fields, the eloquent ruins, and a multitude beyond expectation for number; but there was something wanting, and the lack of it preyed upon him, hastening his end. These swarming men and women were not of his type. The people in the streets hurried along hard eyed and absorbed; his neighbours treated his overtures with suspicion, not understanding his familiar greeting and his manner of going about in his shirt sleeves, smoking strange tobacco. He was alone in the midst of crowds, and he waited for death with the patience of a stricken animal, while the people who understood him not made much of an explorer recently returned, not knowing that this weather worn stranger who pottered about aimlessly had braved more dangers in unexplored countries, and had, without thinking of it, opened up more routes for the advance of commerce. One friendship he had formed with the son of his father's brother, his only living relative, a boy who had been with him on his last trading trip, and whom he had sent to Oxford to pick up the ways of men, and, perhaps, some of their learning. But he only saw the lad in the long vacation, and then only for a few days, insisting that the young fellow should camp out in Wales with some of his companions.

Now, Old Trader Hume was dead and buried, and his nephew, Francis Hume, was alone in the old man's room, the room of a hunter filled with trophies of the chase.

The young man was bending forward, one hand supporting his head, while the other, dangling listlessly, held a sheet of paper. Long he remained so, his eyes absently fixed on the point of a curved rhinoceros' horn, then leant back in the chair and read the contents, setting forth the last will of his uncle.

A very short and simple document it was:

"I, Abel Hume, commonly known as Old Hume, the Trader, leave to my nephew Frank all my possessions, including 275 pounds in the Standard Bank. There is a map in my pocket book drawn by myself. That I leave him also, and it is my wish that he will follow the directions therein. I would like him to use my double Express, and to treat it tenderly. Good bye, my lad; shoot straight, and deal straight.

" Signed Abel Hume."

"Dear old chap!" muttered Frank, with a sad smile, and again he sank into a long reverie.

He had always thought that his uncle was a wealthy man, and, under that impression, he had lived rather extravagantly at Oxford... Continue reading book >>




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