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Jerry of the Islands Jack London

Chapter XXIII

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"Good boy" he knew for praise; and he knew beyond any doubt, by Harley's repetition of it, that he had served him and served him well.

"Do you know the beggar intended to bush-whack us," Harley told Villa, who, half-dressed and still dressing, had joined him. "It wasn't fifty feet and he couldn't have missed. Look at the Winchester. No old smooth bore. And a fellow with a gun like that would know how to use it."

"But why didn't he?" she queried.

Her husband pointed to Jerry.

Villa's eyes brightened with quick comprehension. "You mean . . . ?" she began.

He nodded. "Just that. Sing Song Silly beat him to it." He bent, rolled the man over, and discovered the lacerated back of the neck. "That's where he landed on him first, and he must have had his finger on the trigger, drawing down on you and me, most likely me first, when Sing Song Silly broke up his calculations."

Villa was only half hearing, for she had Jerry in her arms and was calling him "Blessed Dog," the while she stilled his snarling and soothed down the last bristling hair.

But Jerry snarled again and was for leaping upon the black when he stirred restlessly and dizzily sat up. Harley removed a knife from between the bare skin and a belt.

"What name belong you?" he demanded.

But the black had eyes only for Jerry, staring at him in wondering amaze until he pieced the situation together in his growing clarity of brain and realized that such a small chunky animal had spoiled his game.

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"My word," he grinned to Harley, "that fella dog put 'm crimp along me any amount."

He felt out the wounds of his neck and face, while his eyes embraced the fact that the white master was in possession of his rifle.

"You give 'm musket belong me," he said impudently.

"I give 'm you bang alongside head," was Harley's answer.

"He doesn't seem to me to be a regular Malaitan," he told Villa. "In the first place, where would he get a rifle like that? Then think of his nerve. He must have seen us drop anchor, and he must have known our launch was on the beach. Yet he played to take our heads and get away with them back into the bush--"

"What name belong you?" he again demanded.

But not until Johnny and the launch crew arrived breathless from their run, did he learn. Johnny's eyes gloated when he beheld the prisoner, and he addressed Kennan in evident excitement.

"You give 'm me that fella boy," he begged. "Eh? You give 'm me that fella boy."

"What name you want 'm?"

Not for some time would Johnny answer this question, and then only when Kennan told him that there was no harm done and that he intended to let the black go. At this Johnny protested vehemently.

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Jerry of the Islands
Jack London

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