'Why, Hagan's business, of course,' says Maddie; 'four men killed in cold blood. Only I know you couldn't and wouldn't be in it I'd not know any of ye from a crow. There now.'

'Quite right, most beauteous Madeline,' says Starlight; 'it was a very dreadful affair, though I believe there was some reason for old Ben being angry. Of course, you know we weren't within miles of the place when it was done. You remember the night we were here last?'

'Of course we do, Captain, quite well. Weren't you going to dance at Bella's wedding and all? You'll have to do that sooner than we expected, though.'

'Glad to hear it, but listen to me, my dear; I want you to know the truth. We rode straight back to the -- to where we lived -- and, of course, found the old man gone away from the place. We tracked him right enough, but came up when it was all over. Daly and Moran were the chief actors in that tragedy.'

'Oh, we said it was Moran's work from the first, didn't we, Bill? It's just the line he's cut out for. I always think he ought to have a bowl and dagger. He looks like the villain on the stage.'

'On or off the stage he can support the principal part in that line most naturally,' says Starlight; 'but I prophesy he will be cut off in the midst of his glorious career. He's beastly cunning, but he'll be trapped yet.'

'It's a pity Jim can't stay a few days with us,' says Maddie; 'I believe we'd find a way of passing him on to Victoria. I've known more than one or two, or half-a-dozen either, that has been put through the same way.'

'For God's sake, Mad, lay me on!' says poor Jim, 'and I'll go on my knees to you.'

'Oh! I daresay,' says Maddie, looking saucy, 'but I like a man to be fond of some woman in a proper way, even if it isn't me; so I'll do what I can to help you to your wife and pickaninny.'

'We must get you into the police force, Maddie,' says Starlight, 'or make you a sort of inspector, unattached, if you're so clever at managing these little affairs. But what's the idea?'

'Well,' says she, settling herself in a chair, spreading out her dress, and looking very knowing, 'there's an old gentleman being driven all the way overland in a sort of light Yankee trap, and the young fellow that's driving has to find horses and feed 'em, and get so much for the trip.'

'Who is it?' says I.

'Oh! you know him,' says Maddie, looking down, 'he's a great friend of mine, a steady-going, good-conducted chap, and he's a little -- you understand -- well, shook on me. I could persuade him a bit, that is ----'

'I don't doubt that at all,' says I.

'Oh! you know him a little. He says he saw you at the Turon; he was working with some Americans. His name's Joe Moreton.'

'I remember him well enough; he used to wear a moustache and a chin beard, and talk Yankee. Only for that he was a good deal like Jim; we always said so.'

'Do you see anything now, Dick, you that's so sharp?' says Maddie.

'Bless my soul,' says Starlight, 'of course, it is as clear as your beautiful eyes. Jim is to shave his beard, talk like a Yankee, and go in Joe Moreton's place. I see it all. Maddie persuading Joe to consent to the exchange of duties.'

'But what will his employer say?'

'Oh! he's as bad as bad can be with the sandy blight,' says Maddie, 'wears green goggles, poor old gentleman. He'll never know nothing, and he'll be able to swear up for Jim if the police pull him anywhere this side of the Murray.'

We'd told Maddie that money needn't stand in the way, so she was to promise Joe the full sum that he was to get for his contract would be paid to him in cash that night -- Jim to pay his own expenses as he went, the same as he was to do himself. Of course she could get the money from old Jonathan. A word from us then was worth a deal more than that'd come to. Money wasn't the worst thing we had to care about.

They would have to change clothes, and he'd tell Jim about the horses, the stages, and how to answer the old cove, and what to do to humour him as they went along. If he'd had his full eyesight he might have noticed some difference, but as it was, it was as much as the poor old chap, she believed, could see there was a driver at all. His eyes was bound up mostly; he had a big shade over 'em, and was half the night swabbing and poulticing, and putting lotion into 'em. He'd got sandy blight that bad it would take months to get right. Once you get a touch like that it's a terror, I can tell you. I've had it that bad myself I had to be led about.

After a lot of talking, that Jim was to try his luck as the Rev. Mr. Watson's coachman, he was mad to get away somehow, and such another chance might never turn up in a month of Sundays. He would have plenty of time to shave his beard and make himself look as like as ever he could to Joe Moreton. Maddie said she'd see after that, and it would be as good as a play. Lucky for old Jim we'd all taken a fancy at the Turon, for once in a way, to talk like Arizona Bill and his mates, just for the fun of the thing. There were so many Americans there at first, and they were such swells, with their silk sashes, bowie knives, and broad-leafed 'full-share' hats, that lots of the young native fellows took a pride in copying them, and could walk and talk and guess and calculate wonderful well considering. Besides, most of the natives have a sort of slow, sleepy way of talking, so it partly came natural to this chap, Joe Moreton, and Jim. There couldn't be a better chance, so we thought we'd stay a day and give Jim a send off all square and regular. It wasn't no ways too safe, but we wanted a bit of a jollification and we thought we'd chance it.

That night we had a regular good ball. The girls got some of the young fellows from round about to come over, and a couple or two other girls, and we had no end of fun. There was plenty of champagne, and even Jim picked up a bit; and what with being grateful to Maddie for giving him this lift, and better in spirits on the chance of seeing Jeanie again, he was more like his own self. Maddie said he looked so handsome she had half a mind to throw over Joe Moreton after all.

Joe came rather latish, and the old gentleman had a cup of tea and went to bed at once, leaving word for Joe that he wanted to start almost before daylight, or as soon as he could see to drive, so as to get half-way on their stage before the sun was hot.

After Joe had seen to his horses and put the trap away he came into the house and had a glass or two, and wired in with the rest of us like a good 'un. After a bit we see Maddie corner him off and have a long talk, very serious too. After that they went for a walk in the garden and was away a good while. When she came back she looked over at Jim and nodded, as much as to say, 'It's all right,' and I saw poor old Jim's face brighten up as if a light had passed over it.

By and by she came over and told us all about it. She'd had a hard matter to manage it, for Joe was a square sort of fellow, that had a place of his own, and at first didn't like the notion of being mixed up with our crowd at all. But he was regular shook on Maddie, and she went at him as only a woman can, and I daresay, though she didn't tell us, made it part of the bargain, if she was to marry him, to help Jim in this particular way. He was to be well paid for this journey by old Mr. Watson, and he wanted a bit of money before harvest or he wouldn't have taken the job at all.

The end of it was that Jim and Joe sat up ever so late, pretty well on to daylight, smoking and yarning, and Joe practising Jim in all the things he was to do and say, giving him a kind of chart of the stages, and telling him the sort of answers he was to give to the old chap. It was just before daylight when they knocked off, and then Joe goes and peels off his duds and hands 'em over to Jim, rough great-coat and all -- up to his chin and down to his toes.

Joe takes Jim's togs. They fitted him all to pieces, and Jim hands him over his horse, saddle, revolver, and spurs, and tells him the old horse is a real plum, and he hopes he'll be good to him. Then Jim shakes hands with us all round. Blessed if the girls wasn't up too, and had some coffee smoking hot for us. 'We can sleep when you're all gone,' says Maddie, 'and perhaps we shan't see old Jim any more' (this was said when Joe was out of the room), 'so here's good luck; and when you've got your wife and child again don't forget Maddie Barnes.' Then she shook hands with him, and made a quick bolt to her own room. Queer things women are, my word.

When old Jim drove round to the front with the pair of horses, setting up square with his big coat and Joe's 'full-share' hat on him, we all bursted out laughing. He'd first of all gone to the old gentleman's room and sung out, 'All aboard, sir, time's up,' just to liven him up a bit. Joe kept away down at the stable.

Well, presently out comes the old chap, with a veil on and his green goggles, winkin' and blinkin' as if he couldn't see a door from a window. He drinks off a cup of coffee and takes a munch of bread and butter, makes a kind of bow to Bella, and shuffles into his carriage. Jim touches up the horses and away they go. We rose a bit of a cheer. Maddie waved her handkerchief out of the window. Jim looked round and raised his whip. That was the last sight any of us had of him for many a day. Poor old Jim!