Very quick I make catchum," retorted Barry grimly. The little brown men stared at each other and then at the white men, some grinning openly, others shifting uneasily under the skipper's scrutiny. "This is Cornelius Houten's gold camp, ain't it?" put in Little, addressing a man who seemed to be pushed forward by his fellows.
He divided them into two watches, bidding them to cook some food for all hands against his return, and giving permission for them to rest or sleep if they wished to, so long as half of them remained awake. Then followed by Little in abashed silence, he went up to the huts and announced his mission. "Gol' dust, sar? No catchum here," was the response in a chorus. "No catchum, hey?
Simon repeated, in accents of incredulity. "Me savvy 'Clyde. Him big man-horse hyas skookum man-horse. Him mammook plow, mammook haul wagon!" "You hyas damfool Injun!" said his host politely. "Missee Clyde Chlistian gal's name, catchum in Chlistian Bible; all same Swede Annie, all same Spokane Sue, all same Po'tland Lily." Simon digested this information with preternatural gravity.
"Don't hit me again!" whined someone. "I won't try to escape!" Tom flung open the door and saw his giant servant dragging a man up the steps. A feeling of tremendous relief swept over young Swift as he discovered his precious green disk in Koku's left hand. "Ha, Master Tom! Catchum bad mans tryin' to sneak through gate! See green thing stick out of pocket and grabbum bringum here.
"Here you, Ah Sing, hurry muchee quick and cook us a meal," roared Red Bill as he perceived the newcomer. "Alee litee," was the easy-going response, "me catchum plentee quick." The Oriental, who was by this time quite close, allowed his slant eyes to rest curiously on the two young prisoners.
Peppajee grunted. "What for yo' no stoppum all same Peaceful?" Good Indian scorned a subterfuge, and spoke truly. "That girl, Evadna, no likum me. All time mad me. So I no stoppum ranch, no more." Peppajee grinned briefly and understandingly, and nodded his head. "Me heap sabe. Yo' all time heap like for catchum that girl, be yo' squaw. Bimeby that girl heap likum yo'. Me sabe."
"All time, yo' sleepum," he said, in the sonorous, oracular tone which he usually employed when a subject held his serious thought. "Peaceful Hart, him all same sleepum. All same sleepum 'longside snake. No seeum snake, no thinkum mebbyso catchum bite." He glanced down at his own snake-bitten foot. "Snake bite, make all time much hurt."
Koku, stay on guard here from now on until I return from Cuba. And get several of the men to relieve you. Another thing: I don't want either of you to mention this affair to anyone. Dad would hear about it and worry." "If I catchum fella I breakum in little bits!" cried Koku fiercely. He shook the rolling-pin vigorously. "Better him stay 'way fum me!"
Two piecee priest, all dressum white savvy? You mus' buyum coffin yo'self. Velly fine coffin, heap much silver, an' four-piecee horse. You catchum fireclacker one, five, seven hundled fireclacker, makeum big noise; an' loast pig, an' plenty lice an' China blandy. Heap fine funeral, costum fifteen hundled dollah. I be bury all same Mandarin all same Little Pete. You plomise, sure?"
Trask had promised him a reward on their return to Manila, at which he had remarked, "Me no catchum for cash," and shook his head. The Chinaman either from pique at the crew's total disregard of him in their plans or from a real liking for the passengers themselves had lined himself up on the side of the Lockes and Trask.