“I slapped him on the back and shouted, 'We shall have rivets!' He
scrambled to his feet exclaiming, 'No! Rivets!' as though he couldn't
believe his ears. Then in a low voice, 'You... eh?' I don't know why
we behaved like lunatics. I put my finger to the side of my nose and
nodded mysteriously. 'Good for you!' he cried, snapped his fingers above
his head, lifting one foot. I tried a jig. We capered on the iron deck.
A frightful clatter came out of that hulk, and the virgin forest on
the other bank of the creek sent it back in a thundering roll upon the
sleeping station. It must have made some of the pilgrims sit up in their
hovels. A dark figure obscured the lighted doorway of the manager's hut,
vanished, then, a second or so after, the doorway itself vanished, too.
We stopped, and the silence driven away by the stamping of our feet
flowed back again from the recesses of the land. The great wall of
vegetation, an exuberant and entangled mass of trunks, branches, leaves,
boughs, festoons, motionless in the moonlight, was like a rioting
invasion of soundless life, a rolling wave of plants, piled up, crested,
ready to topple over the creek, to sweep every little man of us out
of his little existence. And it moved not. A deadened burst of mighty
splashes and snorts reached us from afar, as though an icthyosaurus had
been taking a bath of glitter in the great river. 'After all,' said the
boiler-maker in a reasonable tone, 'why shouldn't we get the rivets?'
Why not, indeed! I did not know of any reason why we shouldn't. 'They'll
come in three weeks,' I said confidently.