'Perfectly, my dear fellow,' says Mr. Knightley. 'Don't mention it. I shall always feel personally indebted to you for far more than I can express. But let that pass for the present. What shall we do to pass the evening? You play picquet and hazard, of course?'

'Do I not,' says Starlight, his eyes lighting up in a way I didn't remember. 'It's many a day since I've met with any one near my old form.'

'Then suppose we have a game or two,' says Mr. Knightley, 'after dinner or supper, whichever we choose to call it. I have cards; they luckily came up the other day. In the meantime you will find the claret very fair, and this cold wild turkey -- I shot a brace last Thursday -- is not to be despised.'

We had a rattling good feed, and no mistake, whatever it was. The turkey was a grand bird, and weighed 21 lb., he told us. The cook had sent in some hot potatoes, and chaps like us that had been riding, walking, and fighting for twenty hours right on end had just the sort of appetite that a bird of that kind deserved. He was as fat as butter, too. They feed on dandelion seeds at that time of the year. It gives 'em a sort of gamy flavour such as no other bird, wild or tame, has. To my liking the wild turkey beats the black duck even. He's the best game bird that flies in the bush.

Mr. Knightley, too, now his wife was safe on her way to Bathurst, and things seemed going well, was full of fun, and kept us all going. He helped everybody twice over, and wouldn't hear of any one keeping the bottle standing. The night was close rather, and we were all that thirsty it went down like mother's milk. Wall and Hulbert got pleasant enough and joined in, now that Moran was out of the way. He was snoring in a back room, and, like a man in the deadhouse of a bush shanty, not likely to wake before sunrise. Mr. Knightley told us some out-and-out good yarns, and Hulbert and Wall swore that if they'd known he was such a good sort they'd never have thought of sticking up the place. He said he had been quite mistaken about them, and that another time he should know better than to volunteer for work that was not part of his duty. By that time the claret had gone round pretty often; and without being screwed we'd all had our tongues loosened a bit.

After that we lit our pipes, and we three began to play all-fours and euchre, sometimes one pair, sometimes another. As for Mr. Knightley and Starlight, they got out a curious filigree sort of a little card-table and began to play some outlandish game that I didn't know, and to look very serious over it.

They had notes for counters, and I could see, as I looked over every now and then, that each man was doing all he knew to best the other. Sometimes one had the show; sometimes the other. We got tired and had another smoke and turned in. The beds were snug and comfortable. Mr. Knightley showed us where to go, and we wanted a good night's rest bad enough.

Just before I turned in I went up to the table. They looked as keen at it as if they'd just began, and I heard Starlight say, 'I owe you a hundred now. I'll play you double or quits.' So I left them to it. I could see they were not on for bed just then. Both men were cool enough, but I could see that Starlight (and I'd never known him to touch a card before) was one of those men that would never rise from the table as long as he had a shilling left, and would stake everything he had in the world upon the turn of a card.

We all slept sound, but most of us were up at sunrise. It doesn't do for chaps in our line to be caught napping, and the police might have got wind where we were at work. We had our horses to look to, and to give a look round in a general way to see if things were right.

Starlight and Mr. Knightley didn't turn out, they took it easy, perhaps they'd been up later than us; anyhow, they didn't show till breakfast, when they both made pretty fair time over the eatables.

My word! it was a breakfast, though we'd got a bit tired waiting for it. The old cook had hashed up the turkey; it was stunning, almost better than the day before. Then bacon and eggs, grilled steak, fresh bread and butter, coffee and tea, watercresses. Really, I thought we never should stop. It was lucky the police didn't come, or we shouldn't have done much in the fighting line, or the runaway either. As it turned out, Sir Ferdinand wasn't so very far off the line, but he took another road. He never had any luck somehow in following us up, though he had some first-rate chances. Moran was off his feed, and wouldn't come in. He took a nip and walked down to the creek. We were all glad enough to get shut of him.

After breakfast and a turn round the stables, blest if Starlight and Mr. Knightley didn't have out the cards again, and at it they went as fresh and keen as ever. We didn't know what in the world to do with ourselves till it was time to start to ride out to the Black Stump, where we were to meet the doctor and collar the 500 Pounds. They didn't waste a minute of their time, till about half-past twelve Starlight puts down his cards very gently, and says he --

'I'm afraid we have no more time to spare. I've enjoyed the play more than I have done anything for years. I leave you 100 Pounds now in notes, and you must take my I O U for the balance. What bank shall I pay it into?'

'The Australian,' says Mr. Knightley. 'At your convenience, of course.'

'Within a month,' says Starlight, bowing. 'And now a glass of wine and a biscuit, it's time to be off.'

We had something as good, nearer the mark than that, and Moran sat down too, and played a good knife and fork. He'd come to, after his booze, and was ready for any fresh villainy, as usual. He didn't let on to be nasty, but he looked sulky enough, and I saw his eye fixed on Mr. Knightley and Starlight now and then as if he'd have given a good deal to have had them where they hadn't so many at their backs.