'The long day's task is done. With the strange power of a dying man he tore off his leopard-skin and belt till he stood stark as on the night when he had been crowned. From his pouch he took the Prester's Collar. Then he staggered to the brink of the chasm where the wall of green water dropped into the dark depth below.

To the south ran a thick patch of forest, but I saw beyond it the spur of the mountain over which runs the highroad to Wesselsburg. The clear air of dawn was like wine in my blood. I was not free, but I was on the threshold of freedom. If I could only reach my friends with the Prester's collar in my shirt, I would have performed a feat which would never be forgotten.

One of the heels was almost twisted off my boots, and my shirt and breeches were old at the best and ragged from hard usage. The whole outfit would have been dear at five shillings, or seven-and-six with the belt thrown in. Then there was the Portugoose's pistol, costing, say, a guinea; and last, the Prester's collar, worth several millions.

The swim and the anxiety had tired me considerably, and though it meant delay, I did not dare to continue with the weight of water-logged clothes to impede me. I found a dry sheltered place in the bush and stripped to the skin. I emptied my boots and wrung out my shirt and breeches, while the Prester's jewels were blazing on my neck. Here was a queer counterpart to Laputa in the cave!

Patriotism, which I had almost forgotten, flickered up in that crisis. At any rate Laputa should not have the Snake. If he drove out the white man, he should not clasp the Prester's rubies on his great neck. There was no cover in the green cup, so I turned up the ravine on the right side.

I told myself that treasure-hunting was an enterprise accursed of God, and that I should most likely die. That Laputa and Henriques would die I was fully certain. The three of us would leave our bones to bleach among the diamonds, and in a little the Prester's collar would glow amid a little heap of human dust. I was quite convinced of all this, and quite apathetic.

I caught his eye fixed on the rubies, and in it I read only a devouring greed. It flashed through my mind that Laputa had a foe in his own camp, and the Prester's collar a votary whose passion was not that of worship. The next thing I remember was a movement among the first ranks. The chiefs were swearing fealty.