The Great Tipperary
THE GRET TIPPERARY
BY GUY BOOTHBY
THE Warramindah goldfield had been in full swing about eight months when Daniel O'Rourke, the hero of this story, first put in an appearance on it. He arrived by the weekly coach, and, of all the new chums I have known, he was certainly the newest and the greenest. His height, measuring from the soles of his enormous feet to the top of his cranium, was five feet nothing; his hair was the reddest I have ever seen on the head of mortal man, and covered it like a door-mat. He boasted a mouth like the lid of a camp-oven, blue eyes that somehow always had a twinkle in them, and a fringe of stubby beard that peeped out from beneath his chin like the ruff of a marmoset monkey. As for his brogue, I can only say that I have never heard one that could compare with his; it was as rich as cream, and so thick as to induce you to believe that you could almost cut it with a knife. When he arrived he told everybody that he was just out from Ireland, and that his father had been a small farmer near the village of Ballycaloo, eight miles from Ballycalooby, which, I am given to understand, is a town situated at the foot of the Galtee Mountains, in County Tipperary. An uncle had died, so he told everybody who spoke to him, and the old gentleman had been thoughtful enough to leave him a couple of thousand pounds. With that nice little fortune he had come to Australia hoping to double it, bringing three of his cousins with him. They were at present in Sydney, he said, but directly he got settled they were going to buy spades and come out to help him dig for gold. He was as innocent of the world as a young opposum, had the queerest notions you ever came across in a grown man about things in general, and knew as much about mining as a stamp-head knows about politics.
Before he had been on the field twenty-four hours, endless practical jokes were played upon him, and every man who had a useless mine to sell endeavoured to dispose of it to him. But in his own way he had a certain amount of shrewdness. At any rate, he had sense enough to take the first in good part, and to refuse the second point-blank. As he found occasion to put it to one individual who wasted a morning's work trying to foist a notorious swindle upon him, he "didn't come all the way from old Oireland to buy praties wid the insoides shcraped out on 'em." In spite of his caution, however, he was destined to fall an easy victim in the end.
On the outside of the township, just at the foot of the big hill that turns the Creek off its old course on to the plain, was a property that had a greater claim to notoriety than perhaps all the others on the field put together. It had been pegged out almost at the beginning of the rush, and had passed from hand to hand, without more than a few ounces of gold being taken from it, since that time.
Party after party had tried it, worked for a few weeks upon it, given it up eventually as a bad job, and then disposed of it for whatever it would fetch. Never surely was there a greater frost in the mining industry than the property known as the "Great Tipperary." After half a dozen firms, at least, had lost money in it, and had been glad to get out of it again at any cost, it had passed into the hands of a little Jew storekeeper who had advanced money to its owners, and who, seeing that there was nothing else to be got, had been glad to take the mine in lieu of payment, on the chance of being able to dispose of it again.
This enterprising gentleman, whose name was Cohen—Levi Cohen—no sooner heard of O'Rourke's advent on the field than he scented a chance of ridding himself of his property.
Accordingly, he visited a drawer under the counter where he kept the supply of nuggets and gold-dust he had that day taken from his customers, and after weighing out a few ounces placed them in a bag and then made his way, accompanied by his son and heir, along the principal street and over the Creek towards the ill-fated mine. The pegs denoting the boundary of his property were still standing, the windlass still yawned above the shaft, and the general litter, and two or three stakes, showed where the miners' tents had once been pitched.
Chuckling to himself over the success he expected to achieve, the wily little fellow glanced round to make sure his actions were unobserved, and then, having satisfied himself that the rope on the windlass was strong enough to bear his weight, lowered himself gently down into the pit, adjuring his son not to fail to pull him up when he should call. Upwards of a quarter of an hour elapsed before little Ephraim felt a jerk on the rope, and, seizing the crank of the windlass, set to work to haul his adventurous sire to the surface. Then they tramped home, and in the afternoon Levi went in search of the man he wanted. The original loss had been added to by twenty pounds' worth of genuine gold from the counter drawer, and he was anxious to reimburse himself as soon as possible. However, his search for the guileless Daniel was not successful, and he was returning home, filled with disappointment, when he met the very man he wanted within a few yards of his own store door. They entered the shop almost simultaneously.
When O'Rourke had made his purchases, the genial Levi turned the conversation into the channel most popular in the township—the work done on the different mines. He described the way gold was being taken out of the "Dawn of Day" by the shovelful; told how the "Wheel of Fortune" had just changed hands for fifteen thousand pounds, and was supposed to be a good bargain even at that price; reminded him how a nugget of enormous value had been discovered, quite accidentally, in the "Glimpse of Glory," and in this manner did his best to interest and inflame the Hibernian seeker after wealth. Daniel was prodigiously impressed, as Levi intended he should be, and repeated his wish that he could hear of a claim to his liking.
Thereupon the Jew dropped his voice and looked carefully round before he spoke, as if he were afraid someone might overhear what he was going to say, and said—
"You want a claim, do you? Well, I—but, there, we don't know who's listening, and what I've got to say must not be breathed aloud. Supposing you step into my back room, I could tell you there."
"It's mesilf's obliged to ye for your civility," said the unsuspecting Daniel, as he followed the other through the door in the back of the little shop into a smaller room, built of canvas and kerosene-tins, which was behind it.
"Don't mention it, I'm sure," answered the affable Jew, producing a bottle of whisky and a pannikin from one box and placing them on another that did duty as a table. "It's a real pleasure to me to do anything I can for a new arrival in the land. Help yourself to whisky and I'll tell you my news."
"The bottle stands foreninst wid ye," answered Daniel, pushing it towards the other, after he had helped himself.
"Not in business hours," returned the Jew. Then, seeing a look of displeasure on his guest's face, he hastened to pour a few drops into his pannikin, remarking as he did so, "As, however, this is a special occasion, I'll break my rule. I drink to your good fortune, Mr.——"
"O'Rourke's me name," replied Daniel, replenishing his glass and preparing to receive the toast. "Daniel O'Rourke, from Ballycaloo, County Tipperary."
"Ah, I'm a Dublin man myself," said the Hebrew, wiping his lips. "And since we're countrymen I don't mind telling you what I've heard. Only I'll have to ask one thing from you first."
"An' phwat's that?" asked Daniel, emptying his pannikin.
"That you'll pledge me your word not to mention what I'm going to say to you to anybody. When I've done, you'll see that I can only tell you in the strictest confidence."
The mystery surrounding the matter delighted the Irishman, and he willingly gave the required promise.
"Well, it's this, and nothing more," began Cohen—"but fill your glass, Mr. O'Rourke—there's a mine about to be put on the market that I'm told is just chock full of gold."
"The divil there is! And phwy are the folks that own it not working of it, then?"
"Because the previous owners gave it up as worthless, and re-sold it just before they reached the true spot where the gold lies," said Cohen.
O'Rourke had heard others begin in exactly the same way, so he was not unduly excited.
"And phwere is this mine?" he asked, "and how can I come to hear of it?"
"Ah, you mustn't be in a hurry, my dear sir," said the Jew. "For all I know, it may be sold."
Daniel's face dropped.
"But if you would like to consider the matter, I will find out at once if the offer is still open, and then you can accompany me and inspect it for yourself. At the same time, I think it only fair to tell you that I expect a good sum will be asked for it."
"Phwat d'ye call a good sum?"
The Jew regarded him very closely for a moment and then said cautiously—
"Probably fifteen hundred pounds."
"Bad cess to 'em, then, for a set of thieves and robbers!" cried Daniel. "I'll not be able to find fifteen hundred pounds, nor anything like it."
"Well, if you will leave it in my hands I will make inquiries," returned the other, "and if it is still open we'll see what can be done."
"I take it koind of ye," said Daniel, and gripped the Jew's dirty hand with a strength that made him jump as it he had been shot. "And when may it be that I shall see ye again?"
"You might call here to-morrow morning about ten," said Levi, " In the meantime, remember, not a word to anyone. If you speak about it the price will go up and we'll not get another chance at it."
"I'll remember, never fear," replied Daniel, and presently bade the other good-bye and left by the back way.
Next morning, punctually on the stroke of ten, the Irishman put in an appearance at the store. He did not, however, approach by the front door, but passed round and gained admittance by the back.
"Phwell, and phwat have ye found out for me?" he asked, as soon as he and the Jew were alone together. "Is the mine sold?"
"Not yet," said the astute Cohen; "but I'm told there are two parties after it. However, I've got permission for you to see it."
"Come along wid ye, then!" cried Daniel. "Let's be afther seeing it at once. I'll not rest till I've set me eyes on it and looked into the bowels of it for meself."
The other laughed at his eagerness.
"You mustn't be in such a hurry," he said. "If we were to go down to it in broad daylight everyone on the field would know of it in an hour, and then we should be forestalled. No, I've arranged it all—you're to come round here at nine to-night, and we'll visit the mine and you can examine it yourself. I don't want you to say afterwards that through my advice you bought a pig in a poke. In the meantime I'll have to persuade the vendors to wait for your offer."
Daniel's face fell at the notion of more waiting, but the other was inexorable. This being so, he was compelled to exercise his patience for the second time.
Once more he kept his appointment punctually, and then with Reuben and Ephraim, the Jew's two sons, set off for the "Great Tipperary." The night was as dark as the inside of your hat, and it was with the utmost difficulty the party made their way across the field, and its hundreds of treacherous pitfalls, in the direction of the mine. At last, however, they reached it, and the two older men prepared to descend. Up to that time Daniel had never been down a mine, and he was therefore filled both with importance and also with desire. The Jew went first, and when he was safely at the bottom, the Irishman placed his foot in the bucket, clutched the rope, and was lowered to his side. Thereupon Levi lit a candle, a bundle of which he had brought with him, and began to explain the general working of the mine. Having pointed out several supposed advantages, he led the trusting Hibernian into the main drive and they examined the walls together.
"Wait here for me a moment," said the Jew; "while I go back to the shaft-bottom and see if I can find a pick. Then you can strike for specimens yourself."
He went off on his search, and when he returned he brought tho tool and also a bucket with him.
"You take these and I'll carry the candle," he said. "That's right; now come along to the end of the drive."
They groped their way to where the previous owners had ceased work, and then Levi bade his companion drive in his pick. The other did as he was commanded and brought away a lot of loose earth; he gave a second stroke with a like result.
"Bedad, it's easy working!" said the astonished Irishman, who had expected hours of labour.
"That's because the last owners picked it round, but were too lazy to finish," explained the Jew, who knew he must say something. "Try again."
Once more the Irishman let drive.
"That's the style," said the Jew. "Now wait a moment and I'll be off for an old shovel I saw in the shaft. Then we'll fill this bucket and take it home to wash."
He lit another candle and set off in search of the implement. When he returned the Irishman filled the bucket and they were then drawn up with it.
Between them they carried it back to the township, and once there Daniel and the Jew set to work to wash it in the room behind the store. To their surprise nugget after nugget came to light.
"Phwy, it's alive with gold," cried the Irishman. "If that bucket's a sample, bedad, there's gold enough in the mine to buy up all the world. By St. Pathrick! I never saw such another sight in all my born days."
Again he examined what they had taken out, and as he did so his enthusiasm grew apace. He could hardly contain himself.
"Holy Mother!" he cried, "but it's like picking up sovereigns. Levi, me son, if I don't have this mine I shall die."
"If it has not already been sold, that may yet be done," said Levi. "I'll see the vendors first thing in the morning, if you like. Now, to what price do you feel inclined to go?"
"Do you think they'd be afther takin' five hundred pounds for it, sonny? I'd not be able to offer more than that."
Levi shook his head doubtfully.
"It's too little, I'm afraid," he answered; "but I'll do my best for you, you may be sure. If you come round to my store about twelve to-morrow, I'll be able to tell you what I've done. But, in the meantime, secrecy as before. Do you understand?"
"I do, me jewel; not a word shall pass me lips. I'll be as silent as Mooney's pig when the butcher whispered 'Pork.’"
"Come to me at twelve to-morrow, then. Now you'd better be getting home."
Daniel went, and all night long he dreamt of what he had seen.
Next day he was punctual as usual in reaching the store; but Cohen was out, and It was nearly the half-hour before he put in an appearance. When he did, his shifty little face looked craftier than ever. He led his unsuspecting victim into the room at the back of the store, and after he had carefully closed the door that led into the shop, and had drawn the canvas curtain across the doorway that opened into the yard, he sat down.
"Ye're mighty mysterious, Mr. Cohen, dear," said Dan, as he watched the other's attempts to guard against intrusion and eavesdropping. "I hope it's good news ye have to tell me."
"That's how you take it," remarked the Jew. Then he dropped his voice almost to a whisper and said, "I've seen the parties who own the mine, and I've bought it myself."
"The divil ye have!" Dan almost screamed.
"On your account, of course," the other hastened to explain. "It was a ticklish bit of business, but I managed it at last. The others were most anxious to have it, I can assure you."
"An' phwat have ye given for it, honey?" asked the Irishman.
"Six hundred pounds cash," returned the Jew. "Not a penny less. If they'd known the worth of it they would have asked me five thousand."
"Six hundred pounds. Phwy, ye divil, I said I'd not go above five hundred."
The Jew simulated wrath.
"Call me a devil again and I'll keep it myself," he said. "I thought I was doing you a good turn. You needn't take it unless you like. I will gladly keep it and work it, though I make it a rule not to speculate in gold mines."
At this the other's face went down to zero. He remembered the washings he had seen on the previous night.
"No, no, me son, that ye won't," said Daniel. "I'll take it at the price ye mention, and give ye a five-pound note for yer trouble. I'm obliged to ye. Shake hands on it, bedad."
If it had been possible to close the bargain without doing as he was asked, the Hebrew would have done it. But in the face of so much success he felt he would not be justified in refusing. So he held out his hand and had it crushed in the other's ponderous grasp.
"There's one stipulation, however, that the vendors feel compelled to make," he said, when he had recovered from the pain.
"Bedad, they're as full of stipulations, as ye call 'em, as a dog is with fleas. Phwat is it they want wid me now, me son?"
"That you shall give your promise in writing not to divulge the price you have paid for it," said Levi. "I felt I might give the promise on your account before handing over my cheque for the purchase-money. I suppose it was all right?"
"An' so it was. Ye need not fear that I'll bethray a mining secret, me jewel."
"Very well, then," said the other, producing a half sheet of note-paper on which some words were written. "When you've put your name to this I suppose we can consider the matter settled. You will let me have your cheque at once, of course."
The simple Hibernian fumbled in his breast pocket and brought out a dirty cheque-book on a Sydney bank. A pen and a bottle of ink were soon forthcoming, and with much labour, sucking in of lips, and hard breathing, the draft was made out and the promise signed. The Jew wrote a receipt for the money and then went into the store for the papers relating to the mine. Ten minutes later the Irishman was making his way down the street to the Commissioner's office for the purpose of taking out a Miner's Right and also to record his purchase. He walked with a proud step and his head thrown back, for he was dreaming of the future that was to be his when he should have made his pile. As he left the office, with his authority to dig for gold buttoned up m his pocket, the Commissioner himself crossed the street and approached him. Though he had only been on the field a fortnight, everyone knew Dan O'Rourke. His trusting innocence, combined with his irresistible good humour, made him a general favourite.
"Well, O'Rourke," said the Commissioner, who had heard of the other's desire to purchase a tried property rather than to chance his luck on a new claim. "Have you found your mine yet?"
"Mine is it, yer honour?" said Dan. "Bedad, it's a fortune I've just taken out in yer office yonder. I'm the owner of the 'Great Tipperary,' away t'other side of the Creek."
"What?" cried the Commissioner, astounded by the answer. "You've taken the 'Tipperary'?"
"That one and no other," said Dan.
"You don't mean to tell me seriously that you've been idiot enough to purchase the 'Tipperary'?"
Dan's eyes twinkled. He had seen the gold for himself and knew it was there.
"Bedad, and I have, then," he answered.
"Well, all I can say is, you'll lose every halfpenny you have put into it, O'Rourke. Let me give you a bit of advice. I don't know what you have paid for it, but be sure to sell it again if you can find a big enough fool to purchase it, or you'll bite your fingers."
"Not while there's enough gold in it to buy me a dinner, yer honour. Don't be afraid, sir! I know it's there, and, work or no work, I'm going to have it out."
"Well, good luck to you, but I'm afraid you're a fool."
The Commissioner went into his office shaking his head, and Dan made his way down the street to his tent, where he wrote to his three cousins in Sydney, telling them of his good fortune and bidding them come up and assist him in his work at once. It was consistent with the man's simplicity and generosity that he gave each of them a share in his venture.
As soon as the letter was written he started off to the mail-office and posted it, in order that it might go down by the coach that night.
A week later the three cousins arrived. They were as curious a trio as any man ever set eyes on, and as green as spring grass. They all possessed the same red hair, the same enormous mouths, hands like hams, and the same twinkling blue eyes. They were also invariably in good spirits, and their greeting to Daniel when they descended from the coach was little less than cyclonic. Then and there they were taken out and introduced to the mine, and next morning they commenced work in real earnest.
Now, if there was one man on the field who took a greater interest in their success than another, it was the Jew, Levi Cohen. He knew very well that after the first load was taken out of the drive no more gold would be found, and he spent the greater part of his time wondering what form the Irishman's vengeance would take. However, he had come safely out of one or two little episodes of the same kind before, and trusted to his luck to be able to wriggle out of this as he had done out of the others. But to his thunderstruck surprise the bottom did not fall out of the mine in the time he had predicted. On the contrary, the prospects of the O'Rourke Company, as the field nicknamed the quartette, seemed to improve with every succeeding day. When a week had elapsed, and the field was beginning to talk of the numbers of big finds made in the "Tipperary" drives, Cohen mustered up courage and went over to the mine to inquire for himself.
On reaching the claim he discovered that a stout paling fence had been erected all round it. In the centre of this was a gate, which was kept locked. He knocked upon it, and after a while it was opened to him. When he had passed inside he inquired for Dan, and while he was waiting for him to make his appearance he noticed that the firm had permitted themselves the luxury of a whim-horse, and a large tank in which to keep the washing-water for the cradle. A neat tent had also been erected near the gate, and on the other side of it a canvas stable for the horse.
Presently T)zn appeared from the shaft, attired in an old pair of moleskin trousers and a Crimean shirt, and covered with dirt from top to toe. He greeted the Jew with his accustomed cordiality and asked him what he thought of the mine.
"I hear great tales in the township," replied the Jew suspiciously. "But the thing is, are they true?"
"Come along wid ye and see the day's find for yersilf, alannah," said Dan, and led him into the tent. "Another ten minutes an' ye'd have been too late, for I'm just off to the bank wid it."
He unlocked a box that stood in the corner and pulled out a canvas bag, the contents of which he tipped on to the bed. Nuggets of all shapes and sizes rolled out, with dust enough to make a small handful. The Jew looked, and as he looked his eyes bulged nearly out of his head. There was an expression of almost consternation on his face. One question dominated all others. Could he have been fool enough to part with a mine that turned out gold in t his abundant fashion for the small sum of six hundred pounds? He asked himself the question, and the only reply he could give nearly made him sick.
"And where's yesterday's find?" he asked after a moment's pause.
"Where should it be, me Jew bhoy," said Dan, "but in the bank wid its little brothers. Ah, me broth of a lad, it was a fine turn ye did me phwen ye sold me this mine for six hundred pounds."
Inwardly the other groaned; but aloud he said he was glad to hear it.
"It's a fortune we're turning out," said Dan, with a chuckle. "Ye're a benefactor of humanity, Levi Cohen, an' so ye are. Now, will ye have a drop of the crature to wish us luck?"
The Jew declined hastily and made his adieux. He felt that a thimbleful of spirit at that moment would have choked him.
A few days later he was standing at his store door, when Dan appeared before him, clad in his best, and carrying a black bag in his hand.
"The top of the morning to ye, Mr. Cohen, me dear," said he. "And how are ye this fine spring morning, ye benefactor of humanity?"
"How's the mine, Mr. O'Romke?" asked the other, disregarding the inquiry after his own health.
In reply the Irishman led him into his store and put down the bag he carried in his hand. From it he poured, as he had done at the mine, another quantity of gold upon the counter. When he had let the Jew's eyes feast upon it for a minute or so, he swept it back into the bag and said—
"Two days' clean up, me son, and divil a day more."
To make a long story short, I may say that this performance was repeated almost every day, with variations. Sometimes the weekly amount of gold was larger, sometimes it was smaller, but it was never of less value than a hundred pounds, while sometimes it reached even to three. As may be imagined, Cohen was by this time on the verge of insanity. Taking into consideration the debt in payment of which he had originally received it, he had not made more than three hundred pounds on the transaction. And if the evidence of his eyes could be believed, this rascally Irishman must have got back his money and have made nearly a thousand pounds clear profit already. He determined to set his brains to work to try and devise some scheme for getting possession of the property again. On the first available opportunity he sounded the Irishman on the subject, but his offer of five hundred pounds cash was rejected with derision. A fortnight went by and then a month. The phenomenal returns a day more still continued, and three times a week regularly Dan called at the store, and tipped his fifty, hundred, or even one hundred and fifty pounds' worth of gold out on to the counter for the other's inspection. At the same time he invariably took good care to attest his gratitude to the Jew for his assistance in procuring him the means of making such a fortune. The story of the sale, minus the price paid, had leaked out and about the field, and on every hand the Jew was commended for his extraordinarily generous behaviour. As a result he bit his fingers with rage, in private, and became more anxious than ever to participate in the firm's good fortune.
One morning, towards the end of summer, Dan appeared in the store with a solemn face and dejected bearing. Levi inquired the cause and was informed that Barney, the youngest member of the association, was seriously ill. The next day he was worse, the day following his life was despaired of, the next day he was dead.
On the night of his decease Cohen met Dan on his way back from the undertaker's. He commented on the sad news and inquired after the mine.
"We've not touched it these three days past," said Dan, wiping his eyes with an enormous red cotton pocket-handkerchief. "We haven't the heart to lift a pick. Poor little Barney! Poor little Barney! I've made me fortune, and now I'm of two minds as to whether I won't sell off the mine and leave the field. There's not one of us could bear to work it now the little lad's gone."
The Jew scented an opportunity and hastened to make the most of it.
"If you really think of disposing of the property, Mr. O'Rourke," he said, "I'll gladly make you an offer for it. You know you owe me the first chance for having obtained it for you."
"If ever I do sell it, I'll promise ye the first chance," said Dan, "that I will. Ye're a benefactor of humanity, Levi alannah, as I've so often tould ye."
He squeezed the Jew's hand and left him.
Next morning it was known all over the field that Daniel O'Rourke intended to take his cousin's body down to the nearest railway and send it thence to Sydney, to be buried in the Roman Catholic cemetery. The remaining trio were to accompany it on its dismal journey. Then came the confirmation of Dan's threat of leaving the field, and it was finally settled that, notwithstanding its richness, he intended to dispose of the "Great Tipperary" without delay.
At midday the man himself called at the store. Cohen received him and together they passed into the room at the back. "I'm going to sell the mine," said Dan abruptly. "I've got three offers for it here. Would ye like to see them?"
He took from his pocket three letters and laid them on the table.
The writers were well-known miners, and their offers ranged from five to ten thousand pounds.
"Now, my lad," he said, "if ye want the mine, ye must say so at once, for I've no time to waste. I leave for Sydney to-night, and I'm niver coming back. Ye did a poor bhoy a good turn when he was a stranger in the land, and I'll do the same for ye. Two thousand is the price I'm askin' ye. Will ye take it at that, just as it stands, tent, whim, palin' fence, an' tank, or shall it go elsewhere?"
"Give me an hour to think it over, Mr. O'Rourke," said the Jew, with almost trembling earnestness. "I can't decide in such a hurry. It's a large price to pay."
"For that beautiful mine that ye said yersilf was worth thousands?" cried Dan. "Phwy, it's dirt chape at the money. Say no more—I'll go elsewhere. Bedad I will, if I'm trated like that when I'm doing a kindness to an old friend."
The other reflected for a moment. If the takings he had seen every week could be in any way relied upon, and Daniel was too simple to have faked them, he would get his money back in less than three months, and the rest would be all profit. It was a speculation, but still he felt he would be justified in risking it.
"Will ye take it, or shall I go elsewhere?"
"I'm to take it just as it stands, do you say?"
"Barrin' the horse and cart and the lad's personal belongings, just as it stands."
"Make it fifteen hundred and I'll give you my cheque at once."
"I've said two thousand, and to two thousand I'll stick. Say 'No,' and I'll go elsewhere."
"Then I'll take it."
"Give me your cheque and make it payable to bearer. I'll collect it before I go, to save throuble, d'ye see?"
The cheque was written and handed over. Then Dan shook hands with his benefactor and went on to the bank.
A week later there was weeping and wailing in the store on the main street. In spite of the gold the unhappy Jew had been shown week after week, the mine had proved worthless, after all. There wasn't as much as an ounce of payable dust in it from top to bottom.
With a fear that was worse than the fear of death in his heart he hastened to the bank where Dan had dealt and interviewed the manager. He begged the latter to tell him in confidence how much gold Mr. O'Rourke had sold them from the "Great Tipperary" every week.
"Not an ounce, as far as I can remember, Mr. Cohen," said the manager, with a twinkle in his eye. Then he added politely, "I am told you have purchased the mine. I hope you did not give a very large sum for it."
"Two thousand pounds," groaned the unfortunate Jew.
"And, knowing it to be worthless, I believe you originally sold it to my client, Mr. O'Rourke, for six hundred. Well, all I can say is, Mr. Cohen, that I think you have only received your deserts. I should advise you to be a little more careful in your speculations in the future."
The other, however, disregarded this speech entirely.
"But he used to show me gold twice a week, nuggets and dust to the value of nearly three hundred pounds," he insisted.
"He was evidently preparing his trap for you. Ah! Now I come to think of it, we sold Mr. O'Rourke three hundred pounds' worth of nuggets and dust soon after he bought the mine. It was evidently that you saw. You think you must be going? Well, good morning."
But the Jew did not answer; he was too busily occupied thinking about other things. His reception on the field was not cordial. He had oppressed many, and the many were not sorry to have a chance of paying him back.
That night he left for Sydney by the coach. But he had not reached the bottom of the mystery yet. The morning following his arrival he was walking down George Street with a friend when his constitution received a severe shock. Crossing the road in front of him was an ungainly figure topped with a mass of red hair. On reaching the pavement the man turned round. It was Barney O'Rourke, the poor lad who had died at Warramindah a fortnight before.
Cohen clutched a lamp-post for support and came within an ace of fainting. He saw at last how beautifully he had been caught.
Nowadays, Levi Cohen is on a field in Queensland, working with redoubled energy to make up the amount of which he was so cruelly mulcted at Warramindah. If a man at any time wants to hurt his feelings and to reduce him almost to tears, he has only to mention the name of O'Rourke, and to ask him if he remembers the "Great Tipperary" swindle.