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CHAPTER VIII

LATE that afternoon the monkey turned up at his old home. Donald found him lying at the door, an almost unrecognisable object. Thanks to the way the robber had carried him, one half of his body was untouched, but the other half was a pitiable spectacle, and the long curly tail, Gum’s great ornament and plaything, was blown off by the root. The poor creature had swooned, but that he had lain there an hour or two in great pain was plain from the way the gravel was tossed about in all directions round him. Donald was greatly touched, and lifting him up in his arms as tenderly as if he were a child, placed him in his own bed and dressed his burns. After a long sleep it awoke, and Donald, who had sat silently by his side, bent over to allow it to lick his face. The moment it opened its mouth the miner sprang from his chair as if he had been shot. For there, between his teeth, the monkey held the nugget!

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .     .     .      .      .      .     

Five years have passed. Donald is the richest man in Silver Creek County, and his great mines are worked by hundreds of men. He lives in a great house, sumptuously furnished and full of precious things, which he delights to show to the many visitors who flock to see his mine. But of all these precious things, by far the most precious is Gum, the monkey without a tail, ‘the finder of his first nugget, and the founder of his fortunes,’ as he says to everybody. Then he tells how Gum found the nugget, and how it was stolen and once more brought back; and how when Gum got better, the two went back to the spot where the big lump was found, and searched and searched, and found lump after lump and nugget after nugget, until, in a few months, more gold was hidden below Donald’s bed than had come from all the mines put together since they first were opened. Then the good man calls out a word in Gaelic, and the monkey without a tail jumps into his arms to be caressed, and Donald asks his guests to read the inscription on the golden collar round its neck:—

TO
FAITHFUL GUM
FROM
HIS GRATEFUL MASTER.
Made out of the first nugget—August 2nd, l888.

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