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The Danger Trail, October 1926

Black Dog and Sweet Tongue

A STORY OF PAPUA

By Frank Bisson

"SAINTS be!" Barry whooped exultantly; "'tis the real, Mckay! Forty ounces to the ton, if its a pennyweight!"

Sam Trenton took the lump of auriferous quartz from Barry's shaking hand, and balanced it appraising on his own.

"I guess it is," he admitted, with characteristic impassivity. "I've been searching for something like this ever since I quit looking for the Lost Lode of Montana. It's all forty, and help yourself. But this," frowning intently at the strange conglomerate in his left hand, "beats me. It looks like mica," handing back the gold quartz, and prodding stiffly with the point of his heavy knife at the specimen Fothergill had unearthed. "But it's as hard as a chunk of granite. What do you make of it yourself, Alec? You reckon to be some mineralogist—mind, we're not admitting that you are!"

Dry, dusty old Fothergill turned the steel-blue lump over and over in his long, big-knuckled hand. Red spots and streaks ran like marble veinings through its mass. Trenton, and the excitable Barry, shifted questioning and expectant eyes from the conglomerate to Long Alec's unshaven mask.

"Well?"

"Well?"

"Aye-e-e!"

"Aye, the divil, man!" Barry yelped. "What the blazes is it, at all, at all?"

"Oh, palladium. Platinum in it, almost certainly. And iridium, I believe. We'd need a fire to make sure—"

"Oh, mother be! Let's chance one! Why not?"

"Well, any smoke we'd make would probably be sighted from Black Dog's village. That would be sufficient for most men. But of course, I know it wouldn't trouble you. He's probably got a few hundred Mambari bucks eating their hearts out for want of something to hunt. We'd do nicely."

"We might chance it for once, Alec," Trenton ventured. "I confess I'm just as sharpset as Barry to know what it's worth—"

"Of course! Of course!" Barry interjected, beaming to find Trenton for once on his side. "Hey! You divils! Makum big fire one-time—"

"No!" Trenton cut in. "A small one'll do. And that's risky."

Sedu, the headman of the half dozen Woodlark boys who formed the labor party of the little expedition, protested feverishly. Neither he, nor any of his island mates, had relished from the beginning of the journey that the petering out of their employers' claim in the Yodda Valley had prompted. Another claim could have been had almost for the asking. They were well aware that the foothill selected was one of the "purple patches" scheduled in record and memory, among blacks and whites in the Yodda, as places whence venturers se...

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