The Red One and Other Stories
There are some stories that have to be true--the sort that cannot be fabricated by a ready
fiction-reckoner. And by the same token there are some men with stories to tell who
cannot be doubted. Such a man was Julian Jones. Although I doubt if the average reader
of this will believe the story Julian Jones told me. Nevertheless I believe it. So thoroughly
am I convinced of its verity that I am willing, nay, eager, to invest capital in the
enterprise and embark personally on the adventure to a far land.
It was in the Australian Building at the Panama Pacific Exposition that I met him. I was
standing before an exhibit of facsimiles of the record nuggets which had been discovered
in the goldfields of the Antipodes. Knobbed, misshapen and massive, it was as difficult to
believe that they were not real gold as it was to believe the accompanying statistics of
their weights and values.
"That's what those kangaroo-hunters call a nugget," boomed over my shoulder directly at
the largest of the specimens.
I turned and looked up into the dim blue eyes of Julian Jones. I looked up, for he stood
something like six feet four inches in height. His hair, a wispy, sandy yellow, seemed as
dimmed and faded as his eyes. It may have been the sun which had washed out his
colouring; at least his face bore the evidence of a prodigious and ardent sun-burn which
had long since faded to yellow. As his eyes turned from the exhibit and focussed on mine
I noted a queer look in them as of one who vainly tries to recall some fact of supreme
"What's the matter with it as a nugget?" I demanded.
The remote, indwelling expression went out of his eyes as he boomed
"Why, its size."
"It does seem large," I admitted. "But there's no doubt it's authentic. The Australian
Government would scarcely dare--"
"Large!" he interrupted, with a sniff and a sneer.
"Largest ever discovered--" I started on.
"Ever discovered!" His dim eyes smouldered hotly as he proceeded. "Do you think that
every lump of gold ever discovered has got into the newspapers and encyclopedias?"
"Well," I replied judicially, "if there's one that hasn't, I don't see how we're to know about
it. If a really big nugget, or nugget- finder, elects to blush unseen--"