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The Recipe for Diamonds

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... The first shot was just a rib too far back, and though it staggered him, he didn't stop to it. Out tinkled cartridge number one and in went a second, and "cluck" said the breech-block. And then as he slewed round, I got the next bullet home, bang behind the shoulder. That did it. He tucked down his long Roman nose, and went heels over tip like a shot rabbit; and when a big elk that stands seventeen hands at the withers plays that trick, I tell you it shows a new hand something he hadn't much idea of before.

We ran up eagerly enough. "Meget stor bock," shouted Ulus, and whipped out his knife, and proceeded to do the offices, being filled with strong glee, which he imparted to the driving rain, the swishing trees, and my dripping self.

And, by Jove, his highness was a beauty too! Antlers in velvet, of course, as is the fashion with all Norwegian deer at this time of year; but there were eight points on each, and they've got the most approved "impudent" downward curve. What with no rype and few trout, I'd been feeling rather down on my luck all these long weeks till now; but this big elk turned the scale. Glad I came.

September nights drop down early here, and day was getting on, so we hurried up with the work, and loitered not for tempting admiration. Off came the coarse-haired pelt, pull by pull; and away dropped head and neck, after a haggle through sinew and vertebræ; and then we got heavy stones and built in the meat securely, lest the lynxes should thieve the lot. It all took time, and meanwhile the weather worsened steadily. The rain was snorting down in heavy squalls, and often there were crashes from amongst the pines. But the stor bock's trophies repaid one for these things.

At last we got through the obsequies, shouldered the spoils between us, and started.

It was slow passage. On this primæval ground one is so constantly being baulked. There are so many knotted jungles of splintered rock, such frequent swamps, so much fallen timber. And, moreover, the watercourses and torrents were all new-bloated with the rain, so that we had to cast about for fords, and then to grip one another at stiff arm's length, so as not to get swept adrift whilst wading amongst the eddying boulders. And when at last we did come to the lake, we saw there in the gray dusk a thing which caused Ulus to offer up hot words in Norsk, which were not words of prayer.

To remind you again of where we were:—

Some eight miles distant in crow-flight was the salt-water fjord. From it two mountain walls sprout out towards the north. At first the valley between these is filled with land which is mostly forest. Then comes a lake, hemmed by two precipices. Then another two-mile-wide strip of forest. Then another lake, with shiny granite walls running up sheer two thousand feet, so that of the fosses which jump in cream over the brinks above, only the stouter ones reach more than half-way down.

We were on the farther side of this last sheet of water, and across it lay our only practicable way to the coast—to home, dinner, dry things, and other matters longed for....