II Statement Made by John Muspius, Superintendent of Merridale Station.

It was a pure accident, but a most unfortunate one, to happen on the very morning when I rode over to Rumford

  ― 29 ―
Plains to propose to Miss Lawrence. Just as I was going to hang my horse up I saw Tommy standing at the low fence, with his head over the second rail, watching me. Now, I had had more than one bridle broken through his tricks, and after ineffectually telling him several times to clear out, I gave him a tap with the double of my whip. It caught him on the back of the neck, and, to my astonishment, he dropped down dead. It struck me at once that no one would believe it was an accident, for only the other evening I had got into a dispute with Lawrence about shooting blacks in North Queensland; and he had said that he would not trust anyone's life in my hands. Of course he was in a temper because I had the best of the argument, but this accident happening just after such a remark would look altogether too suspicious; and besides, I dared not face Miss Lawrence, for I knew how fond she was of Tommy. There was no one about, so I just rode quietly off into Wattleville to think it over.

About half-past two that afternoon old

  ― 30 ―
Jennings, landlord of the Royal, told me that Ah Foo, the cook at Rumford Plains, wanted to see me. “Well, Ah Foo,” I said, when the old scoundrel came in, “what do you want?” I had no suspicion at the time that he had witnessed the unhappy affair. He grinned and made a motion with his arm like striking a blow, which at once told me that he knew all. “Welly unlucky, Misser Muspius,” he said, “poor Tommy—dead.”

“Ah!” I said, “it can't be helped. You know I never meant to kill him.”

“I savee,” he replied, “I saw you. Evelyone say Misser Vawn kill Tommy. I no savee, only laugh. Missee Lawrence cly, cly, cly.” So that confounded bank jackeroo, Vaughan, was suspected, was he? Well, the best thing that could happen. I gave Ah Foo a sovereign, and he winked and said, “You go see Missee Lawrence, I tink welly good.” Then he vanished. Under the circumstances this was excellent advice, and I determined to follow it. Of course I would not go out of my way to

  ― 31 ―
shift the blame on Vaughan, but if anything were said about the matter I would not hide my opinion of him. All's fair in love and war. Besides, he had no business to be out there at that time in the morning; serve him right if it proved the means of getting him into trouble.