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CHAPTER XIII. A GENERAL RECORD.




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ON the following day a summons was sent to Willis's station, requiring that person to answer an information filed by the Inspector of Distilleries, according to a certain section of a certain act, on which he was charged with having twenty gallons of illicit spirits on his premises. As Arabin had not returned, and as the lunatic seemed in a convalescent state, the officer prevailed upon him to start for town. The strangers present did not oppose this, but, on the contrary, sent a letter by the officers of the law to warn Dr. Arabin of the circumstance.

He was out of town that evening, and did not reach home until the succeeding morning: before he opened the letter it was too late to afford assistance, and he walked to the Police Office just in time to hear the case called on. The Office was crowded with settlers, for Willis had long been a favourite amongst them; and the long-talked-of mystery was now cleared up, for it was evident that Willis had been able to live in good style for a length of time by means of the illicit traffic which he had thus carried on.

The case had just been called on, and the magistrates were examining the act on which the information was laid. The Inspector of Distilleries came forward: the information was read; it contained no fewer


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than eight counts, but the first count was the one selected upon which to take the evidence. It appeared that the magistrates had no favour for the pert official; the Bench inquired his name, and he replied, “Francis Augustus————, Esquire.” “Esquire!” said the clerk with a sneer; “where of?” “Where of?” demanded the Bench. “Why,” replied the officer with the utmost sang-froid, “of nowhere in particular.” This reply excited the mirth of the bystanders, and the Inspector turned sharp round and glanced magnificently upon the assembled throng. The worthies on the bench, who indeed seemed about as fit to act as bishops as magistrates, thought this display of feeling as infra dig. and ordered silence; this created another laugh, and the magistrates looked tenfold more fierce than before.

The case was now proceeded with, and as there seemed no question of the guilt of the party implicated, he was fined in the full penalty of one hundred pounds, or in default to twelve months' imprisonment. Dr. Arabin came forward and explained, that as he was the medical attendant of the defendant, he considered it his duty to mention that he was not in a sound state of mind. The Inspector of Distilleries here interfered, and suggested that it was of no consequence, that the act did not regard the state of mind in which the defendant on a summons for illicit distillation might be; and the Bench, after a long conversation, agreed with him.

The Court looked for the defendant, but he was nowhere to be found. At the moment when the Court was attending to Arabin's communication, he had disappeared. He was under no restraint; and the Bench


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thought it was very probable he had gone to try and raise the money.

Arabin left the Police Office, and walked home rather sharply. It was possible the lunatic might have wandered thitherward; he glanced around the streets as he passed along, but there was no person of his appearance to be met with: on his arrival he was disappointed to find that he had not been there. He was about to depart again, when he observed Captain Thomson approaching. This was a welcome arrival, and he was immediately put in possession of what had occurred, and his advice requested.

“Poor fellow!” he said, “I was aware many months ago that he had the concealed still, but, of course, never informed one human being of the fact. I liked him, although he was a madcap, and am really sorry for him.”

“Then, where do you think he may be found?” inquired Arabin.

“It is almost impossible to tell. He may have gone home, or up the country with some erratic tribe of blacks; or he may have proceeded to some of his old haunts. If he is on his way home, we might overtake him on the plains.”

“An excellent thought !” replied Arabin. “We will set out, the moment my horse is ready. We must keep a respectable distance, however, for I nearly met a violent death at his hands.”

“He is particularly violent when in his mad fits,” said Captain Thomson. “Indeed, for some time, not one of the servants, with the exception of the black boy Mango, would approach the house where he resided.


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I believe he commonly paraded the house with loaded fire-arms the livelong night, and threatened to shoot any person who dared to enter.”

“I wonder, then,” continued Arabin, “that he was not put under the charge of proper keepers a long time ago.”

“He had no friends,” said Captain Thomson; “and no person would interfere. What surprises me most is, that none of his servants informed upon him before. But when pretty well, he was very kind and generous, and always allowed them to have their own way, and I suppose he was too good a master to ruin.”

Dr. Arabin now mounted his horse, and the two rode off towards the plains. They took a wide circuit and looked carefully for the wanderer, but no trace of him could they discover. They returned to town and looked everywhere for him, but the search was of no avail. He had escaped to some hiding-place which they were unable to discover.

Captain Thomson had come into town to settle the bargain with Arabin, because he was very anxious to depart, and business withdrew their attention for a time from the poor sufferer. It was not difficult to make a final arrangement with Captain Thomson; he was usually a hard person to deal with, but upon this occasion every moment was precious, which forced him to be generous. Arabin purchased his stock, with the exception of the few maiden ewes he had reserved for himself. The money was paid, and all that now remained was to take possession. The following day was spent in vain endeavours to discover


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the retreat of Mr. Willis; but upon the next they both started at daylight for the station.

In another week Arabin was fairly established in his new possession. The squatters of Australia now had him amongst their number. Who has not heard of these strange beings endenizened in the wilderness, and who live so solitary a life? Arabin was not disgusted now with the trade of a settler; it had attractions of which he had not dreamed; his flocks pleased him. He did not, however, throw up his own profession, but still continued to practise in town, while the station remained under the charge of an overseer. Every week the owner found time to visit it, and see how things were going on; indeed, he was very much surprised at the turn which his feelings had taken, and at the interest which he began to feel in the affairs of the station when he found it would pay.note

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