― 57 ―

Tranter's Shot

  ― 59 ―

“I SHOT him like a dog!” said Tranter, as he got off his horse and proceeded to unsaddle.

“Whom did you shoot?” asked the new superintendent, who was standing by.

“Never mind,” returned Tranter. “I'm not going to give myself away, but I shot him like a dog.”

There was bad blood between Tranter and the new super., and, as Tranter was about to leave, he was far from respectful in his manner.

The new super. was a young man from the South, and Tranter was an old Gulf hand. The new super. was a black-protector and temperance-advocate, and objected to swearing. Tranter, to sustain his character as an old Gulf hand, swore the

  ― 60 ―
most blood-curdling oaths in his presence, and told the most awful lies he could invent about black atrocities. Consequently, they fell out, and Tranter was leaving the station.

“Now, look here,” said the super., “I'll get to the bottom of this—I'll just follow your tracks and find out what you have been up to.”

“You'll find him safe enough,” said Tranter, “he won't get away.”

The wrathful superintendent had his horse brought up, and started back on Tranter's track, taking another man with him. The trail was not hard to follow, as Tranter had been after horses and they had come home along a cattle-track.

The two had gone about five miles when a loud, wailing cry suddenly startled them. They were in scrubby country at the foot of a low conglomerate rise, with many boulders strewn about.

Following the direction of the cry, they came to an old gin seated on the ground cutting herself, or endeavouring to do so,

  ― 61 ―
with a piece of broken glass, and occasionally uttering the wail that had first attracted their notice. Green, the super., knew that this was a sign of mourning, and guessed that he was on the right track.

“There's been murder here,” he said, dismounting and approaching the gin. She took no notice of them, but kept on moaning and scraping at her breast.

“Let's look about,” said the man, “they always go on like this, and we can't stop her.”

They searched a while without result, the gin still maintaining her lamentation. Then Green, having made up his mind that a vile outrage had been committed, remounted, and they cantered back to the station.

“I will get F——,” he said, naming the native-police inspector, “to bring a trooper and search.”

The “barracks” were only some three miles from the station, and F——was soon up there with his smartest tracker.

Meantime, Green had been trying to extract from Tranter what he had done with the body of his victim.

  ― 62 ―

“I shot him like a dog, and I buried him like a dog,” was all he could obtain in answer. “Go and find him, he won't run away.”

Green was infuriated, but he knew he could do nothing until evidence of the murder was established.

With one delay and another it was late in the afternoon ere Green, F——, and the black trooper arrived at the scene of the tragedy. The old gin was still sitting there raising her requiem song, but the black boy could obtain no information from her.

“Some fellow bin go bung,” was all he was assured of.

They searched without avail until dusk, and then had to depart unsatisfied, the most astonishing thing being that they could find no tracks of blacks other than those of the gin. Green took counsel with F——, but the latter could say nothing, except that the fact of the presence of the gin sounding the death-wail and Tranter's boasting were not sufficient evidence to obtain a warrant on. For himself he thought, from what he had

  ― 63 ―
seen, that Tranter had shot a blackfellow there, but his mere belief would go for nothing. However, he slept at the station and promised to renew the search as early as possible.

Green passed a sleepless night. Here was a chance right into his hands of vindicating his opinions as to the murderous treatment of the natives, and he seemed most unaccountably baffled. He vowed that he would leave no stone unturned on the morrow, and at daylight fell asleep and slept so long that it was late when they got away.

Arrived at the fatal spot they at once set to work and began to examine the ground. The old gin had gone back to camp, and they were undisturbed by her outcries. Green had brought two men with him, so they were a strong party.

Suddenly the black trooper stopped and stamped his foot. “What for me——fool?” he exclaimed. “Me know what that fellow shoot!”

“What?” cried the others, crowding round.

  ― 64 ―

“You know, can't find em track—only old gin's track.”


“Of course, that one shoot em piccaniny. Gin bin carry it.”

This probable solution, so much more horrible than they had expected, struck them all as the true one, and they hastened to the spot where the old native woman had been squatting. The trooper set to work and rolled away the boulder she had been leaning against, then he threw out some of the smaller stones, and, putting down his hand, drew forth by one leg the ghastly object of their search—the corpse of a fine fat dog, evidently the late property of the lamenting lubra.

Tranter was even with the super., who never got over the chaff, but returned south.