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TALES OF THE COLONIES: Volume 1

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CHAPTER I.

THE SETTLER'S JOURNAL.

I DO not pretend to be philosopher enough to analyse deeply the reasons which induce me, after a long and active life, passed for the most part in laborious but pleasurable occupations, to lay down the axe for the pen, and to write an account of my life in this country. Perhaps it is that my family being grown up, and gently pushing, as the young do, the aged from their stools, by supplying my place in overseeing my farm, the leisure that has come over me prompts me to employ my mind, which from habit is disinclined to inaction, in recalling past scenes and old recollections.


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Or it may be that, at sixty-two years, the garrulousness of old age inclines me to indulge on paper in the talk which every one around me seems too busy to attend to orally. I would fain hope that I am actuated by a better reason than any such as these: that the desire to present a useful history of a settler's life, and to shew by my own instance how much may be accomplished by prudence, industry, and perseverance—incites me to write this record of facts and feelings. Whether these accounts may ever appear in print I do not know, although I will confess that it is not without a secret inclination that they may, in some shape, find their way to the perusal of the public, that I now proceed to arrange them. Whether they appear in print or not, I have at least the satisfaction of hoping, that when I shall repose beneath the soil of this beautiful country, which I have learnt to love so dearly, my children's children after me may sometimes turn to this manuscript of the old man's recollections, not without advantage from its perusal.




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CHAPTER II.

MR. WILLIAM THORNLEY, A SORT OF HALF-FARMER IN THE COUNTY OF SURREY, FINDING THAT HE CANNOT LIVE ON HIS SMALL CAPITAL, TURNS HIS THOUGHTS TO THE COLONIES—REASONS FOR EMIGRATION—A WIFE'S HEARTY CONSENT AN INDISPENSABLE PRELIMINARY—PREPARATIONS—VOYAGE TO VAN DIEMEN'S LAND—APPEARANCE OF THE COUNTRY—HE HAS AN INTERVIEW WITH THE GOVERNOR—MODE OF OBTAINING A GRANT OF LAND.

IT is now twenty-two years since I left London for Van Diemen's Land. When I got on board ship, I remember I found many of the passengers keeping journals, so I did the same, though I can't say I found, at first, much to put in it; however, the habit of keeping a journal stuck to me after I landed, so that I was never easy at night unless I wrote down what had occurred during the day. I am glad of it now, as I find that the looking back on what I have gone through is useful to me, and makes me the more thankful for what I have got now, and the reading


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of it will, I think, be of advantage to those who come after me; so I will first describe how it was that I came to emigrate, and then I shall copy all my bits and scraps of journals fairly out, that those who may think that some profit is to be got from them may easily read them.

It was in the beginning of the year 1816 that I was first in difficulties in England; that was just after the close of the long war. There was great distress in the country; all seemed to go wrong. So many lost employment from the change of war to peace, that many were starving, and there was great confusion and riots. If I recollect right, it was the year when the “Blanketeers” came from the north to present a petition to the king. I had carried on, for many years, a pretty good business at Croydon, in the corn trade. I did something with coals too, the canal being handy; (by the bye, that gave me the idea when I went abroad of the advantage of water-carriage), and I never refused any sort of small trading that seemed likely to turn to profit. But the corn business was my main stay, and that brought me a good deal into communication with farmers, and their way of farming; but I found that farming


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was a very different thing here in Van Diemen's Land to what it was in Surrey. I remember, as if it was yesterday, that one morning, when I went to the corn-market, I found a cluster of farmers and others standing round a neighbour of mine, reading a letter; it was from a son of his—a wild sort of chap—who had gone out as mate of a vessel to Sydney, or Botany Bay, as it was called then. By the bye, Botany Bay and Sydney are quite different places; Botany Bay lies round to the east of Sydney, and there is no town at all there; Sir Joseph Banks named it Botany Bay from the number of new plants which he found there, but the town of Sydney was fixed lower down, at a better spot. Well, the reading of this letter caused a good deal of amusement, speaking of the kangaroos, and the natives, and the bushrangers; but what surprised us most was to hear how easily the young fellow had turned farmer; for farming was not at all in his line, as he had scarcely looked into a farm in his life when he was in England. The accounts contained in this letter, of the beauty of the country, of the fertility of the soil, and of the largeness of the crops, made a great impression on me, and gave rise to


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vague ideas and designs, which dwelt in my mind, and set me about making further inquiries. However, I said nothing about it at home at this time, waiting till I had acquired more information, but went on with my business as usual: but my business did not go on as usual with me. My purpose is not to describe how a man breaks down in England, but how he gets on in the colonies, so I shall say no more of my losses and difficulties than this; that with one failing and another failing, and people crowding into the trade and taking the bread out of one another's mouth, and altogether, I found that it would not do any longer. So one evening, after a hard day's work, and no profit but all loss, I made up my mind to put an end to it. My wife was sitting alone in the parlour, and I said to her (for I ought to have said before that I had been married eleven years, and had five children), “Mary,” said I, “things are going on very badly.”

“They'll get better by-and-by,” said she.

“They've been getting worse the last six months,” said I. “I don't like the look of it at all.”

“We must work the harder,” said my wife.




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Said I, “I tell you what it is, Mary; I work as hard as any man can, and we both of us spend as little as we can, but we are eating up our capital; and work as I may, and pinch ourselves as we may, we can't go on at this rate. You know how many have broke, and there's no chance of our money from them; in three years we shall have nothing left, and maybe we should break down before then, for things are getting worse and worse, and the trade is like playing at hazard.”

“Why, William,” said Mary, “what would you have us do? Shall we try a farm?”

“Not in this country,” said I. “What with rent, and rates, and taxes, and tithes, with corn falling, and all things unsettled, I'm thinking farming never will be the business it used to be. No, Mary,” said I, speaking to her with much earnestness, “farming won't answer here; and with our five children depending on us for bread, and for their future provision in life, I should not like to risk the little that we have left in working at a farm in this country. We must make up our minds to a great effort, and since there are too many struggling with one another


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in England, we must go where the people are few and the land is plenty. We must emigrate.”

“Emigrate!” said Mary; “where to?”

“Why,” I replied, “perhaps I have not made up my mind which would be the best place to go to, nor indeed could I make up my mind that we should emigrate at all until I had consulted with you, and you had agreed to it. But I have thought of the matter a good deal, and the more I think of it, the more convinced I am that it would be better for us to take care of what we have left, and turn it to account in a new country. If there was only you and me, we could make a shift, perhaps, to rub on; but when I consider our children who are growing up, and how to provide for them comfortably I know no more than the dead, I do feel that to be sure of house and home, and bread to eat, and clothes to wear, would be better for them than to be exposed to all the chances of uncertain trading or farming in this country.”

Well, I saw that the tears had come in Mary's eyes at this talk, and her heart was quite full; for the thought of her mother, now advanced in years, and of her relatives and acquaintances


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about, of the scenes of her early childhood and the companions of her youth, all to be quitted perhaps for ever, was too much for her; and all the circumstances of our own losses and difficulties crowding in upon her thoughts, her emotion got the better of her, and she burst into tears and sobbed for some time. My own eyes were not dry; but I felt that in these cases almost all depends on the firmness of the head of the family, and that if he gives way, all gives way soon after. I soothed her with all the kindness of an affection as true and as deep as ever man had for woman; I explained to her exactly our condition and all our circumstances, and after a long consultation, her good sense coming to her aid, and, most of all, her strong affection for her children mastering all other considerations, she fell in with my views, and it was agreed, that as we had made up our minds to this decisive step, the sooner we carried it into effect the better.

I have been the more particular in narrating this conversation, because it made, as may easily be supposed, a great impression on me as it related to one of the most important acts of my


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life; and from the circumstance also, that from that hour my dear wife never made a single complaint, nor uttered a murmur at all the inconveniences and occasional hardships which she was put to, as well during the voyage as during the first years of our settling in the colony. This deserves the more worthily to be noted, as I have been a witness, in Van Diemen's Land, of the evil effects of a contrary course of conduct on the part of the wives of emigrants. To my knowledge, more than one failure has happened from the fancies, and fine-lady affectations, and frettings, and sulkiness of settlers' help-mates; forgetting how much of a man's comfort and happiness, and, in a colony, of his success, depends on the cheerful humour, the kindly good temper, and the hearty co-operation of his wife.

Well, the great point being settled, that of my wife's consent and hearty concurrence in the project, all the rest went on rapidly enough. She was a little frightened at first at all there was before her to do; but she found that the labours and difficulties which, viewed in the mass, seemed almost insurmountable, were easily overcome as


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they were encountered singly; and, as she said at the time, with her cheerful smile, “that if we waited until we had provided against all possible and impossible contingencies, we never should undertake the expedition at all; that what others had done, we, with prudence and care, and energy, might do also; and that, putting to the work all the zeal and industry that we could bring to it, we must leave the rest to that Providence which never deserts the willing heart and the humble mind.”

I could write a great deal about all our hopes and fears, and our little and great troubles; but I am anxious to get to my journal. I shall not give a long account of our voyage by sea, of the sharks that we saw, and of the flying-fish that we broiled, because all those things have been described over and over again. All sea-voyages are much alike; there must be some discomfort on board of a vessel, where you cannot have much room to yourself, and the passage to New South Wales is, I dare say, often a very tedious affair; but this I will say, that every thing is made better by good temper, and by a cheerful and contented mind. I have observed through


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life, that much of people's happiness or unhappiness proceeds from the way in which they take things. Some fret and grieve everlastingly at what cannot be helped, and lose the enjoyment of that which they might otherwise derive pleasure from, because they cannot have every thing their own way; and so they go on, miserable themselves, and making everybody else miserable around them; while others, making up their minds to bear the annoyances they can't escape from, contrive to make pleasures out of very slight materials, and, by their own good-humour and cheerfulness, to inspire the like in others. But, before I begin our voyage, it will be well to state what our circumstances were on leaving England and what we took out with us.

I found, after scraping together all I could get, that I could just manage to muster up £1,150; little enough to begin the world anew with, and with a wife, five children, and my wife's mother, to convey to the other side of the globe. It ought to be observed, too, that my wife had been well educated, and had always lived in a lady-like way; and although she had always been an industrious housewife, she had never had any practice


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in the hard work which, for the first year or two, falls on the settler in a new colony. Besides this £1,150 in money, we had our beds and bedding, and blankets and linen, and such household articles, in plenty; and a variety of things which lie about a house, and seem of no value, we took out with us, and found them valuable, for use or sale, in the new country. As to the bulk of our furniture, we sold it all, as I was told that it would be several years before we could have a suitable place to put it in, and that I should find the money more useful; that I must rough it for some time, and think of nothing but STOCK: that is, of sheep and cattle. This advice was very good, as I afterwards found, and I was as happy, for many months, sitting on the stump of a tree, with my wife opposite me on another, as if we had reclined on the softest sofas in London. But there was not much time for reclining, as will be seen when I come to my journal. I took care to carry with us all the usual tools imperatively wanted on first settling, such as saws, axes, chisels, augurs, &c. I had the good fortune to listen to the advice of the captain of a ship, and took out all the furnishing of a blacksmith's forge,


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which I found of the greatest use to me. I shall not further particularise here the list of articles proper for a settler to take out with him, because all those particulars will be found detailed at full length in two letters, one from me and one from my wife, to friends in England, advising them as to what they should bring out with them, and copies of which I find noted in my journal. They are too long to insert here, but they will be found in their proper place. I will only say here, that it is better to have too many tools than too few; for, to want a tool in the bush, a saw or an axe, is an inconvenience that often stops important work. I was wrong in the sort of nails that I took out; they were good enough for the soft deals and other woods usual in England, but too weak for the hard woods of New South Wales. I took out two pair of cart-wheels, with their boxes and axles complete. These were very useful, but they make them in the colony now as good, and nearly as cheap as they can be imported; and the colonial wood, when well seasoned, stands the summer heat better. But I see I am forestalling my journal.

Now to our voyage, which I shall make short


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enough. We set sail from Gravesend on the 7th September, 1816. We touched at the Cape of Good Hope; but I shall not stop to describe a place that has been so often described before. I want to hasten the way to the colony. After a passage of about five months, we arrived at Hobart Town on the 3rd February, 1817. Hobart Town is the chief town or capital of Van Diemen's Land, at the south end of the island. The new ideas which the words “north” and “south” conveyed in those parts confused me at first; for, contrary to the impression which they convey in Europe, the north wind on the opposite side of the globe is the warm one, and the south the cold one. “These warm north winds and these cold south gales” sounded oddly, and it was some time before I got used to the expressions. The aspect of the new country was not encouraging, and I felt a little damped at first. All the country up the river, from Storm Bay Passage to Hobart Town, had a mournful, desolate appearance. The trees had a sombre look, and the grass was a dirty brown, excepting here and there a green patch, where I was told it had been recently burnt. It looked like the close of


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autumn instead of the middle of summer, which it was, we arriving, as I said before, on the 3rd February, and the months of winter and summer being reversed here in this topsy-turvy place. A brown and dusky autumnal tint seemed to pervade all nature, and the place had a quiet, sleepy appearance, as if every thing had been standing still and was waiting for settlers to come and improve it. Mount Wellington, as the large high mountain, about four thousand feet high, is called, at the back of the town to the left as you go up the river, had a little cap of snow on its summit, which I have observed in summer several times since, but it seldom remains more than a few hours at that season of the year. The town had a straggling, irregular appearance; a pretty good house here and there, and the intervening spaces either unbuilt on or occupied by mean little dwellings, little better than rude huts. It is to be borne in mind that I am speaking of Hobart Town as it was twenty-two years ago; since then, great changes have taken place, as will be found noted from time to time in my journal. One thing I can't help adverting to, and that is the surprising number of dogs that


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kept us awake for some nights after we arrived in the town with their incessant barking. At that time every one had a kangaroo-dog who could contrive to keep one, and what with these and others, first one set up a growl, and then another caught it up, and he was of course answered from another part of the town, so that presently hundreds of dogs, watch-dogs, kangaroo-dogs, and mongrels of all sorts and sizes, all would set up such a barking and tearing, that we thought to be sure something dreadful must be the matter; that the convicts had risen, or the natives had fired the town. We wished that all the dogs had their tails stuffed down their throats to stop their noise. But we soon got used to this, like the apprentice that was lost, and found asleep in the copper that the workmen were hammering at outside; and afterwards we found the value of the faithful and intelligent kangaroo-dogs in the wild bush, for their vigilance saved us all from being murdered by the natives, or perhaps burned to death, as I shall have to relate in its proper place. Well, I did not care, at this time, for the statistics, as the term is, of the town or the colony; I was too much taken


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up with my own statistics, and with arranging to settle ourselves on our land and get out of the town, for we soon found that our money would melt away very fast if we stayed there, and no return for it, every thing being so dear. I paid 35s. per week for the wretched place that we got shelter in: as to going to an inn, of which there were one or two indifferent ones, of a public-house order, that would have been ruin indeed. Meat was 9d. and 10d. per lb.; bread a little cheaper than in London; as to milk and butter, that we were obliged to go without. Butter, for several years after, was from 5s. to 10s. 6d. a lb.; the common Irish salt butter sold for 2s. 6d. per lb., and that rank and oily. I was puzzled to understand how it was that there was not plenty of milk and butter in an agricultural country; but I soon found out that there was a reason for every thing. To get milk from the wild cows, in a country without fences, you had to catch them first. I shall have to describe in its place the operations to be entered on in those times for milking a cow. It was an expedition for the whole farming establishment to join in; but I must not anticipate.




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Altogether, I did not like the look of matters; but I was assured that the interior of the country was more inviting, and I was advised to lose no time in getting on my land, for it had been observed, that more than one emigrant who had lost his time in loitering over the town, gaping and staring about, and fretting and complaining because all things did not come easy to his hand, had soon got rid of so much of his money, as not to have enough left to establish himself and carry him through the first year. I must own I could not help feeling strange in a new country, where every thing was so different from what one had been used to at home; and the difficulty of getting a female servant, and that a convict one, to help my wife with the children and the house, trifling as it may seem to speak of, troubled her sadly. I felt very queer myself among the convicts; some with yellow jackets on, and some without, but all with a peculiar look, as it seemed to me, with here and there gangs of a dozen or more working on the roads with chains on their legs, and making the place look, as I must confess, not very respectable. However, I had not expected to find plum-puddings growing on the


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trees ready baked, and beds of rose-leaves ready spread to lie on, as some did, so I plucked up heart and set to work. My first care was to see all our goods and chattels safely landed from the ship, and properly housed in a store belonging to a merchant in the town. This I had to pay dear enough for. I was rather puzzled to know what to do with my money, in a land of convicts, where every finger was a fish-hook; but the governor allowed me to deposit it in the treasury. As it was all in dollars, the weight was pretty heavy, more than I could carry by myself, and I said jokingly to my wife that I had sometimes read of the embarrassment of riches, but that I had never felt it before. After all expenses of outfit and passage paid, I found myself in the colony with 3,600 dollars in hand, being about £780 sterling, having purchased the dollars in London at four shillings and fourpence a-piece. With this sum I had to set about establishing myself in the wilderness.

I had now to turn my mind to the fixing on a place to settle on. The way of obtaining land was very different then to what it is now, and, as I think, the alteration has not been for the better.


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The mode of obtaining land two-and-twenty years ago was thus: —

Before leaving England, I applied to the office of the Secretary of State for the Home Department, by letter, stating my intention to emigrate to Van Diemen's Land with my family, and requesting an authority to obtain a grant of land when I got there. In reply to this I received a sealed letter, addressed to the lieutenant-governor, and which, I was informed on an interview with the clerk to that department at the Home Office, contained the necessary authority. This letter, I afterwards ascertained, was an authority to allot to me a grant of land according to my means. When I arrived at Hobart Town, I waited on the governor with this letter. The governor, whom I saw himself, and who was very kind in his information and advice, made a note of my circumstances, of the amount of my property, of the number of my children and family, of my views in coming to the colony, and he dwelt much on the bonâ fide nature of my intentions to go on the land and work it. I told him that I had come with the intention of settling as a farmer, and of residing on my land, and cultivating


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it myself. At this time, in the year 1817, this class of settlers was always specially favoured by the colonial government, as indeed it was right and politic to do, for it was precisely the class that was wanted in the colony to form its inhabitants of the interior, to raise food for the colony, and to create establishments for relieving the government of the expense of maintaining the convicts. It aided the plan, also, of reforming the convicts, by removing them from the temptations of the town, and of habituating them to healthy work in new positions, where they would be removed from old habits and associations. Being one of this desirable class, I was told by the governor that he considered me entitled to as large a grant of land as was consistent with his general instructions; and that he should allot to me twelve hundred acres. Well, I thought, this was a good beginning. Twelve hundred acres of land of one's own has a good sound and is a pleasant contemplation; but the next thing was where to find them. There was plenty of land unappropriated in the colony, but very much of it was bad land and in unfavourable situations. On this point the governor said I must decide for


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myself; “that there was much bad land in the colony, and that the good land near the town, in any quantity at least, was nearly all taken up; but that if I thought of turning my attention particularly to the breeding of sheep, he should advise me not to be afraid of penetrating into the interior, for that he judged, from his communications from England, that emigration to these colonies would soon so much increase, that the difficulty of stock-owners would be to get far enough off from the influx of new settlers, so as to find sufficient range near their homesteads for the feeding of their flocks and herds.” And so I afterwards found it. At that time, when land was granted, it was a free grant, or gift, from the crown to the emigrant. This acted as a great encouragement, and I think the various plans that have been adopted since, although well adapted to raise the value of the land in the colony among the colonists, have had the effect of preventing many persons of moderate means, but of practical knowledge, from venturing to these distant regions.

As I shall have to speak of this subject hereafter, I shall not dwell on it further in this place,


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but I have thought it right to say thus much, as I was on the subject of shewing how I got possession of my own grant of land. I got the order easily enough, as I have said, but I found I had difficulties enough to contend against, and my first difficulty in respect to land was where to fix on it; for I heard so many contradictory accounts of the various parts of the country, every one praising his own district, as fancy or interest dictated, that I was fairly bewildered, and almost at my wit's end which way to turn my steps. But as the choice was one that must be made, and that quickly too, I set heartily about it. Leaving my wife and children, and her mother, who, though old, had the excellent quality of being trustworthy, as comfortable as I could make them in their lodgings in the town, and having arranged with a resident family to have an eye to their safety in my absence, I put my gun over my shoulder, and started up the country.




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CHAPTER III.

RESOLVES TO LOSE NO TIME IN GETTING OUT OF THE TOWN AND ON TO HIS FARM—HIS JOURNEY UP THE COUNTRY IN SEARCH OF GOOD LAND—HIS TALK WITH AN OLD HAND—HE MEETS WITH A STRA.NGE PERSON AND MAKES A NEW ACQUAINTANCE—MODE OF FARMING IN THE COLONY—AN ADVENTURE.

HOBART TOWN was quite still when I left it about five o'clock in the morning, but the sun was getting up beautifully. There were only one or two stragglers about. I fancied the air was beginning to feel warm already, and the summer sun in Van Diemen's Land is no joke in a hay-field, though I don't remember that I was ever inconvenienced by it more than in England. When I rose the little hill going out of the town I stopped and turned back to take a look at the town I was leaving. I certainly was much struck with it. It looked so like the BEGINNING of a town, there could be no mistake about it.


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It was all interspersed with the poles and scaffolding of houses being built, and it looked almost as if a lot of people had come only the night before and had begun to set up a city to dwell in. On my right hand, as I stood on the hill looking down upon the town, was Mount Wellington, with thick, white fleecy clouds hanging down from its top and concealing its head. All the space between the town and the mountain was covered with trees and shrubs, having for the most part a dusky green foliage. Nearly fronting me stood the Government House, unfinished, and towards the left was the broad river Derwent extending as far as the eye could reach to the south till it joined the sea. Lying at anchor close in shore were two merchant vessels and a few boats. It certainly was a magnificent sight: the noble river; the fine harbour, allowing ships of five hundred tons burthen to anchor within a stone's throw of the end of the jetty; the tiny patches of cultivated land here and there, which seemed to give a hint of the treasures lying unclaimed around, and requiring only tillage to reveal them; and, above all, the air of sleeping enterprise which the quiet town


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in the early morning seemed to be invested with formed together a remarkable picture. I stood looking at it a good while, and wondering what it would come to, when suddenly the bell of the convicts' barrack yard was rung to summon the government-men to work; and it served to summon me too, for I fancy that without being aware of it I was a little loth to leave human habitations and plunge into the bush among the natives. However, I was on a high road as yet, though not a very good one, so after giving a little look at the spot where I knew my wife and children were dwelling, I cast a glance at the priming of my fowling-piece and marched on.

I met nothing between camp, as Hobart Town was then called, and New Town, about three miles. I remember I felt very lonely; I had not warmed into the work, and I felt all the hesitation which a man feels when he sets out to take a journey without having first determined where he intends to go. I was in fact a-seeking where to go, and looking out for some information to guide me as to the point whither to direct my steps, with the impression on my mind, from my experience in the town, that every one would


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endeavour to deceive me as to what land was vacant, and which was the best part to settle on. With all these anxious thoughts I continued my way, passing one or two miserable-looking cabins by the road, till I reached the ferry on the right, about ten miles from camp. Here the river is still broad; about as broad as the Thames at Chelsea. At this place I made a halt, in order to decide whether I should continue my road to New Norfolk, about twenty-one miles from camp, or cross over and take the high road, such as it was, leading from the one side of the island to the other, that is, to Launceston, on the banks of the river Tamar. I walked down to the edge of the water, and talked to the ferry-men who were busy about their boat. They all advised me to go on to New Norfolk, where there was plenty of fine land, as they said, and a settled district. The master of the ferry and of the inn belonging to it hard by, came up, and I asked him what he thought. He looked at me a bit as if to measure what I was worth, and shook his head in a very wise manner:

“You're a new settler?” said he.




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“Yes,” said I, “very new; and should feel much obliged if any one would direct me a little which way I had better go to look for land.”

“Much land?” said he.

“Twelve hundred acres.”

“Not much for a sheep-farm, but enough to make a tidy homestead.”

“I think it is; but where can I find a good bit of land?”

“Breakfasted?” said the landlord.

“Before I set out.”

“Oh!—Well, I tell you what I should do if I was you; you had better take up your quarters with me for a day or two and then I'll see what can be done.”

“And then?” said I.

“And then you can cross the ferry, and—”

“Thank ye,” says I; for I saw which way the wind was blowing; the ferry-men would have me go to New Norfolk to save themselves the trouble of pulling me over for their master, and their master would have me spend my money at his inn, and I doubt not advised every one, as he advised me, to cross his ferry whether or no. So, thought I, I see I must depend on myself;


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now if New Norfolk is already settled, that argues that it was considered a good place to settle in when there was plenty of good land to pick and choose, so I'll go and see what the place is made of.

“Good morning,” said I to the landlord, who was standing looking at me, and his ferry-men looking at him: “I shall see what sort of land they have at New Norfolk.”

“You had better wait till evening,” said the landlord, “you'll find it precious warm.”

“I don't like to lose time.”

“Take a glass of rum?”

“No, thank you, I never drink it.”(The ferry-men grinned.)

“Or a glass of brandy?”

“No—much obliged.”

“I've got some whiskey, real farantosh—: or Irish, with the true smack of the turf in it? Or,”

“Thank you, I never drink spirits in the morning, but I should like to have a drop of beer. Although it's early, I've had a longish walk—and a little mild ale...”

“Beer!—mild ale! —Lord love ye, why you haven't come out here to drink beer! and mild


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ale! have you? You'll find no beer up the country. Rum's the stuff; that's our drink in this colony.”

“Why, you have water, I suppose?”

“Water? Water! Oh! yes to be sure we have water; we always use it for tea; and I can tell you, a cup of tea, with a glass of rum in it, is very refreshing.”

“I had rather have a drop of milk in my tea,” said I.

“Why, maybe some would; but you see use is every thing, and it isn't so easy to get milk in these parts, so that rum is mother's milk to us now. Ha! ha! you'll get used to a settler's life by-and-by, rum and all.”

“Well,” said I, “barring the rum, I hope I soon shall;” and so I took my leave, not over pleased with the conversation nor with the landlord of the Ferry. However, it was his business to make people spend money at his inn, and cross his ferry, and we are all somewhat selfish, I take it, in our own vocations.

The sun began now to be pretty warmish, and my watch told me it was ten o'clock. Thought I, if it is warm at ten, I shall be melted at mid-day;


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but to New Norfolk I must go; so I put my best foot foremost, and strode away manfully. In about an hour's time, however, the sun's rays became so powerful that, not yet having recovered my habits of walking, I began to give way; and I looked to the right and left for a likely place to rest in. As I cast my eyes about, I spied a rough-looking man seated on the ground at a little distance from the road, near a little rocky mount, drinking water from a spring which oozed over the shelf of a little platform of stone. Thought I, this is not one of your rum drinkers, as he is soaking in the pure element with such gusto; but he's a queer-looking chap too. It was the first of the species that I had occasion closely to observe, so I may as well describe him.

His feet were enveloped in a pair of old mocassins made out of a sheep's skin, with the wool outside, but much worn, it seemed, with travel. His legs were bare. A pair of very old knee-breeches, which once had buttons and strings, but which now had none, encased his nether person. The principal part of his dress was a frock-coat of kangaroo-skin, or rather of many skins, dried with the hair on, and presenting a curious


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variety of shade from wear and dirt.On his head he wore a hat, if hat it could be called, which once seemingly was black, but now was of no particular colour, the crown whereof was ingeniously fastened to the body with the fibres of the stringy bark tree, albeit that it permitted to peep forth the ragged ends of some dry native grass, which its owner had thrust within it (seeing that it was too large, not having been originally made for him), to maintain it in a becoming and convenient position. A grizzly beard, of a fortnight's growth, gave a finish to his ferocious appearance. I surveyed this hairy individual with much curiosity, as I advanced towards him, and with some mistrust, for there were bushrangers abroad, and although this was not a likely place to meet with them, I was strange to the country, and thought it best to be on my guard. I kept my hand therefore convenient to the lock of my piece, with the muzzle before me, careless like, but quite ready. My precaution, however, did not escape the observation of the kangaroo man, who now turning his face to me and looking up, said in a country-like tone:

“You needn't be afeeard o' me, Master. If


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you want water, come and drink. Thank God, there is water in the country, plenty and sweet enough—except where it's brackish. Drink, (seeing that I hesitated) well—I'll go farther off; no wonder perhaps you're timid a bit.—If you'd a gone through what I've gone through in this wretched country, you'd have reason enough for it.”

There was something about the man's manner and about his face too, though the sourest-looking I ever saw, that made me feel there was no harm in him, so I stooped down and had the most delicious draught I think I ever tasted. I had learnt the value of water by my long voyage from England, but I think I never, even as a schoolboy, enjoyed a drink of water so much before. This mutual draught from the same fountain established at once a sort of companionship between me and the man of skins, and we sat down together by the side of the spring.

I could not help gazing at my new acquaintance with a sort of wonder, and thinking in my own mind that he formed a queer figure in the foreground of the arcadian scenery of the new country.




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“You look at me.”

“I can't help it,” said I: “I don't mean any offence, but pray, do all the people in this country dress in your style? I don't mean to say that it is not a very proper dress, and (fearing to anger him) very becoming and suitable to the country; but I only arrived a fortnight since, and every thing seems strange to me.”

“Not stranger than it does to me,” said the man. “How do you think I came by this dress, as you call it? Well—you needn't guess; I'll tell you, I'm dressed by voluntary contribution.”

“Voluntary contribution! How's that?”

“Why, you see, about ten days ago I was met by the bushrangers on the other side of the island, and they stripped me of every thing.”

“The devil they did,” said I, and I clapped my hand on my gun.

“Oh—you needn't be afeeard—there's none on 'em here, and I hope you won't meet any in this horrible country. Lord forgive me—I wish I was well out of it. Fool that I was to leave my old master in Shropshire to come out here to get land of my own. Ah—well—go farther and fare worse. These rascals, these bushrangers,


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took every individual thing I had about me, and kept me for three days to carry their baggage for them. The one that took my coat, and a prime velveteen one it was, with plenty of pockets, chucked his kangaroo skin jacket to me; ‘here, my hearty,’ says he, ‘is something to remember us by. You can't say we haven't treated you well, for you have shared of the best with us, and we have shewn you all the country.’ These mocassins I got at a stock-keeper's hut, who let me fit the sheep skin warm to my feet, and they were comfortable enough at first, but now they are dry, they get unpleasant. But it's not long that I'll wear 'em, for I'll go back home again to England, if I have to work my passage. Heaven send that I was out of this horrible place! I do really think it was made before the other countries were begun, and found not to answer. There is nothing in it like anything anywhere else, and what's worse, there's nothing in it to eat.”

“Nothing to eat! that's a bad job; how do people subsist then?”

“Oh! I don't mean there's nothing to eat exactly; though I don't know what one can get all


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over the country but mutton chops and dampers; but I mean that the country furnishes nothing of itself: no animals, no fruits, no roots. Now I thought before I came here, there must be plenty of fruit in a warm climate; but, bless your heart, you may look a long time in the woods for anything to eat, I can tell you. The only thing like a fruit that I've ever seen, is a cherry wrong-made, with the stone growing outside. I did eat a lot of them one day when I was hard run, as I observed the birds eat 'em, and a pretty curmuring they produced in my inside; but that's neither here nor there. What I say is this: this is the worst country, and the most dreadful place that ever man was in, and all I wish is that I was out of it.”

“I am sorry,” said I, “to hear you give so bad an opinion of the country I have come to settle in, Mr. ——; you have not told me your name.”

“Crab—Samuel Crab; that's my name, and that was my father's name. You see I'm a Shropshire man, and for five-and-thirty years I was head ploughman to Squire Dampier, at Dampier Hall. A good master he was to me,


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and a fool was I for leaving him; but it all came from reading and writing.”

“From reading and writing!—how was that?”

“Why, you see, one day I was at the blacksmith's about a plough, and as I had nothing to do, I took up a newspaper that was there (od rot the writers on 'em) and began reading about the colony of Van Diemen's Land, of all places in the world, what capital land was there, and what high wages were to be got, and how much farming men were wanted, and particularly ploughmen, and how you were sure to make your fortune there quite out of hand like. Well, if ever I longed for anything in my life, it was to have a bit of land of my own, but I never could get hold of it any how, nor saw any likelihood of it. So, in short, I was seized with a sort of fit to go to Van Diemen's Land, and go I would, spite of what master could say. I had saved a matter o' 'bout a hundred and fifty pound, and so go I did, and now I'll go back again.”

I was a little damped to hear this talk from a real farming man, and one, too, who had seen a good deal of the country, and I began to have misgivings of the prudence of what I had done


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in leaving a rich and settled country like England, for a new and wild region such as Van Diemen's Land. My new acquaintance seemed rather of a dull and obstinate nature, like most farming men in the middle counties of England, and was likely enough to be prejudiced against the country after the mauling the bushrangers had given him; but still I thought he could tell me what he had seen, so as he seemed inclined to talk I went on to question him for the sake of information.

“What system of farming,” said I, “do they follow most in this country?”

“System? Bless you, you don't suppose they follow any system here. The way they go on is quite disgusting to me; they know no more of farming than a Londoner. They don't know how to grow anything.”

“No wheat?”

“Yes, they do grow wheat— such as it is.”

“Barley?”

“Yes: barley.”

“Oats?”

“Not seen much oats: however, I believe they can grow.”




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“Potatoes?”

“Oh—plenty of potatoes.”

“Vegetables? cabbages, peas, beans, and such like?”

“Yes: I can't say but they can grow'em; but they're too large to please me, and I'm sure they grow too quick; besides, it stands to reason that things can't grow properly with the soil just disturbed as it's done here. A man in my country would be ashamed to call it digging. And then to see what they call a field of wheat! I call it a field of stumps! And where there's no stumps they don't do much better. They just put the plough once through it, and there lies the sod turned up with the grass growing on it; and then a weaver chap, or a London pickpocket, comes with the seed in a bag, and oh, my eyes, how I laughed! he flings it about as if he was feeding the chickens; and then another chap comes with a large branch of a tree, drawn by a couple of oxen, and he sweeps the grain about, and that they call harrowing! and when that's done they just leave it.”

“And what becomes of it?”

“Oh, first the cockatoos get a good bellyful,


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and then the parrots and magpies have a peck at it. But it comes up at last.”

“Well, that's something.”

“Yes—maybe but it oughtn't to come up done in that slovenly way. It's a shame to waste good seed so. And then when they do get a bit of land a little—no not in order—but out of disorder, how they do work it, dear me! What do you think a sort of cockney chap said to me at Pitt-water, for I've been over there? Says I to him, ‘Friend,’ says I, ‘how often do you let your land lie fallow in these parts?’ ‘Fallow,’ says he, ‘what's that?’ ‘You're a pretty chap to be a farmer,’ said I, ‘not to know what lying fallow means. Why lying fallow means letting the land rest a bit to recover itself for another crop.’ ‘Oh,’ said he, ‘our land in this place never lies ‘fallow’ as you call it; we just put the same crop in every year. There—that field has grown wheat for eleven years.' ‘What, have you had the cruelty,’ said I, ‘to put wheat on that bit of land for eleven years?’ ‘To be sure I have,’ said he, ‘and shall grow wheat on it for eleven years longer, if I live.’ Master, you might have knocked me down with


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a feather; I never before heard anything so horrid. I felt sure at once, that no good was to be done in a country where creatures harrow with branches of trees, and treat their land so cruelly. But it was worse than that when I came to look more into it. I know you won't believe it; they'll never believe it of me when I get back to Shropshire. This very bit of land, that I've told you of, that the creature grew corn on for eleven year without stopping, never had—no—not so much as a handful of manure the whole eleven year. What do you think of that? Would any Christian farmer in England treat his land so? Why, it's against nature!”

I now began to understand the sort of man I had to deal with; one of those obstinate sons of the soil who cannot be made to understand that it is possible to carry on farming in any other way than the way which they have been accustomed to; and whose prejudices against innovation are so strong, that they will not believe in the truth of what they see with their own eyes, and wring everything from its true bearing to the backing up of their own notions. Now that I felt at ease with my new friend, I


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began to be amused with his oddity and obstinacy, and I thought perhaps, as he had had some experience in the colony, and knew the country, he would be a useful companion to me, though not very prepossessing in his personal appearance.

“Well, Mr. Crab,” said I,—“what do you mean to do now?”

“Oh, I shall make the best of my way on board-ship, and get out of this miserable country as fast as I can.”

“But to my certain knowledge no ship will sail for six weeks; what would you do in the town all that time?”

“Ah—there's another horrid thing against the country; when a poor man has been enticed over by all the lies of the captains and ship-owners, and book-writers, here he must stay till some captain gets as sick of the country as he. What's to become of me for six weeks I'm sure I don't know! To live in that wretched town is horrible, where all the people are convicts, or worse than convicts, with their wickedness and extortions. Only once did I go into a public-house while I was there.




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“And how did you fare there?”

“Oh! I'll tell you: ‘Glass of beer,’ said I.

“ ‘Nothing under a bottle,’ said the landlord.

“ ‘How much does your bottle hold?’ said I; for I knew it was necessary to be cautious in dealing with these town chaps.

“ ‘Just the same as in England,’ said he, showing a bottle with Barclay's bottled stout marked on the label. It's true—my heart did warm to the beer, and quite forgetting to ask the price I said, with a sort of glee, ‘Out with the cork.’ It was out in a twinkling; that drink was a prime one, I must say, if I never have another. ‘Take a glass yourself, landlord,’ said I. ‘With pleasure,’ said he, and filling it slowly to the brim, ‘Your very good health,’ said he to me. ‘The same to you,’ said I, filling another. He filled his at the same time, without waiting to be invited. ‘How do you like it?’ said he. ‘Never drunk better in my life,’ said I. ‘What's to pay?’ ‘Half-a-guinea,’ said he. ‘Half-a-guinea,’ said I, ‘for a bottle of beer!’ ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘and cheap too; there's only two dozen left in the colony, and you've just drunk one of them.’ The beer seemed to move in my stomach


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at this charge, as if it had got down there by mistake and wanted to come up again. I said nothing; I couldn't speak; I felt I was done. Had I paid the money in their paper shillings and sixpences it might have taken off the edge of the mishap a bit. But I laid down two silver dollars. The landlord took 'em up. ‘Another sixpence,’ said he. I pulled out another silver dollar, he gave some bits of dirty paper for the four-and-sixpence change, and I made a vow that if ever I had the opportunity I'd sarve him out for it. But that's nothing to what I've suffered in this abominable country, which is fit for nothing but convicts and kangaroos to live in.”

“Seeing how ill you've been treated in the town,” said I, “and it seems that the bushrangers have not treated you much better in the country, I hardly know what to say to you. I'm going up the country to look for land, but sadly in want of some intelligent person to advise me how to proceed. It is difficult to get sincere information, I fear, from people already settled, all being interested in advising you to take land either near them or far from them as the case may


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happen to suit them. It is a difficult matter for a stranger to know what to do.”

“You're a farmer, I take it, by your look?” said Mr. Crab, inquiringly.

“I can't pretend to be a farmer like you,” said I, “because I am sure you're a thorough-bred one, but I know something about it.”

“That's very properly said,” replied Mr. Crab. “Well—I don't know, master,—may I ask your name?”

“Thornley,” said I; “William Thornley, late of Croydon, in Surrey: some good farming there.”

“Why, for London-farming, perhaps there may be; but you Londoners can't be supposed to understand farming like us in Shropshire. However, master, I'm thinking, that if you like it, I'll go with you over the country a bit; and perhaps I shall be able to persuade you not to stay in this villanous place, but go back to the old country, where people farm their land like Christians. I suppose you don't mistrust me?”

“Not a bit,” said I. “There's honesty in your face; so now, if you have rested long enough, let us be moving.”




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“Come along then,” said Mr. Crab, “and I can show you a way through the bush, where, although rougher than the road, we shall be screened from the rays of the sun.”

One soon gets acquainted with one's fellows in the bush, where there is not much picking and choosing of companions, and I and my grumbling friend soon got pretty well used to each other. We strolled on leisurely through the bush, and were within a short distance of New Norfolk, when our ears were suddenly assailed by a confusion of sounds that startled the quiet wilderness, and made us wonder what outbreak or disorder could occasion such a furious outcry; presently we descried a horseman riding with all his might through the trees beside us, now jumping over fallen timber, then ducking his head to avoid the branches of trees, but in spite of the dangers which he seemed ever to avoid by some special miracle, still keeping at the top of his speed, and urging on his horse, which seemed to be as much excited as the rider. Presently the cracking, it seemed, of innumerable whips, making sharp reports like small fire-arms, was heard around, and a straggling multitude began to encircle us.


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We were lost in amaze at these strange proceedings but as this was my first introduction to a curious branch of the agricultural economy of a ‘Settler,’ I shall defer the explanation of the disturbance which confounded us to a new chapter.




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CHAPTER IV.

HOW TO MILK A WILD COW—PICTURE OF A SETTLER'S DWELLING—— MUTTON-CHOPS AND DAMPERS—A SPARE BED “IMPROVISATISED”—NIGHT ALARM—SHEEP-STEALING.

IN the meantime the tumult increased, and the shouts of men and the cracking of whips drawing nearer and nearer betokened a speedy catastrophe. My kangaroo-skin friend seemed to regard with a sort of scornful glee the burly-burly around us. His sour visage became puckered up into a knotty contexture, expressive of the most intense disdain, coupled with a secret satisfaction. “Now,” said he, “master, you'll see how they manage some matters in this beautiful country.”

“What can the matter be?” said I.

As I pronounced these words, a sudden crash of dead boughs and dry bushes at no great distance from us excited in me apprehension of danger. Instinctively I turned to the quarter


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whence the threatening sounds proceeded, and stood ready with my fowling-piece against accidents. I saw my friend Crab give a grim smile at this movement, as I was inclined to do myself, had I not been, I must confess, rather frightened; for at this moment I beheld a mad bull, as it seemed to me, making right to the spot where we stood. The animal appeared to be in a state of the most intense excitement, with its mouth covered with foam, its nostrils dilated, eyes wild, and its tail twisted into that cork-screw figure indicative of a disposition to mischief. I jumped aside as the creature made a plunge at me, glad enough to escape.

“It's a mad cow,” said I. “I suppose this climate makes cattle very savage when they get worried?”

“Not madder than the people that are after her,” said Crab; “however, wait a bit till you see the end of it.”

By this time we were in the midst of the crowd which was chasing the cow, but I could not yet divine their particular object.

“What do you want to do with her?” said I to a tall thin man who had ceased for a


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moment to crack his whip;“she seems terribly wild.”

“Wild!” said he, “the brute is always wild, but she's one of the best milkers I've got, and have her in the stock-yard I will this blessed evening, if I raise all New Norfolk for it.”

“I shall be glad to lend a hand,” said I, “but I'm not used to the ways of the country yet, and perhaps I might do harm instead of good.”

But my aid was not wanted on this occasion, for at this moment a general shout in the distance proclaimed that the victory was won. I and Crab, with the tall thin man, the proprietor of the vivacious cow, immediately set off at a rapid pace for the scene of triumph. There were about thirty people assembled, among whom were one or two women. I observed that some of the men were provided with ropes made of bullock's hide twisted together, of great strength. I was still puzzled to know what was intended by all these preparations. Presently, a farming man appeared, with a tin pannikin of a half-pint measure, and a stool with one leg. The stool with one leg looked like a design to milk the animal, but what the tin pannikin was for was a mystery to me.


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Had there been a milk-pail, I should have made out their object at once; but this piece of machinery was as yet but little known in the colony. I continued to watch the proceedings with great interest, when presently a man advanced with a stoutish long stick, or small pole, with a hide-rope forming a large loop at the end of it; the other part of the rope he held in one hand in a coil. Climbing over the rails of the stock-yard, which were formed of the solid trunks of trees placed lengthways, about six feet high, he stood within the space. The cow eyed him as if she was used to the game, and without waiting to be attacked, made a dart at him ferociously. This did not disconcert the man with the pole and loop, who, stepping aside with the most perfect coolness and with infinite agility, let the animal knock her head against the rails, which she did with a force that made the massive pile tremble. This process was repeated several times, to the great amusement of the spectators, some of whom applauded the pole-bearer's nimbleness, while others were inclined to back the cow.

“That was a near go,” said one, as the beast made a sudden plunge at her tormentor, tearing


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off with her horn a portion of his jacket; “she'll pin you presently, Jem.”

“Never fear,” said Jem, “a miss is as good as a mile. She is the most cantankerous varmint I ever see'd: but I'll have her yet.”

“What are you going to do,” said I; “kill her?”

“Kill her!” exclaimed my tall friend; “what! kill the best, the nicest, and sweetest-tempered creature of the whole herd: she's so tame, she'll almost let you pat her, only she doesn't like to be milked; that always puts her out. Now for it, Jemmy, that's the way; haul in quick, keep it up—don't slack—hold her tight, now we've got her. Where's the foot rope?”

Watching his opportunity, the man with the pole had succeeded in throwing the loop over the animal's horns, and two or three men on the outside of the yard, quickly gathering in the end of it, hauled it taut, as seamen do a cable in getting up the anchor, round the thick stump of a tree. I looked at Crab at this stage of the proceedings, and I admired the expression of scornful enjoyment which his sour face exhibited. He gave me a glance which said, without the


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necessity of words, “This is the way they milk a cow in this country.” The cow, however, was not milked yet; to arrive at that conclusion, some further steps were necessary. The animal was now standing with its legs firmly planted before it, its neck elongated, its tongue hanging out of its mouth, and kicking with its hind legs continuously. These refractory members were now secured by a loop, into which they were dexterously insinuated, and half a dozen men catching up the end, hauled it out, and kept it on the stretch, to prevent her from plunging about. The creature, it seems, was now in a correct posture to be milked. Crab gave me another look.

The man with the one-legged stool and pannikin now advanced, speaking soothingly to the animal to be operated on, and using much ceremony and caution in his approach. Seizing a favourable opportunity, he contrived to squeeze a few drops of milk into his pannikin; but the sensitive cow, outraged, it seemed, at this indignity on her person, gave a sudden plunge, which upset the heel-rope holders, and, recovering her legs, she kicked man, stool, and pannikin over and over. Shouts of laughter proclaimed the


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amusement of the bystanders, and numerous were the gibes and jeers lavished on the occasion. And now, the pride of the stockmen being roused, and their honour piqued by the presence, besides, of two strangers the witnesses of their manoeuvres, they set to again to manacle the almost-spent animal; and he of the pannikin, discarding the stool as a womanly encumbrance, boldly kneeling down, with the determination of a hero, and undaunted by the moanings and writhings of his victim, contrived to exude from her about half a pint of milk. This triumph achieved, the cow was set at liberty, the poles of the gateway were withdrawn, and the animal bounded into the bush.

“Well, master,” said Crab, “did you ever see a cow milked that way before?”

“Surely,” said I, “they might manage better than this.”

“Ah!” said Crab, “this would be a tale to tell in Shropshire. It's worth while to go back only to tell this much. But you'll see more curiosities, master, as you go on.”

“Come with me,” said the proprietor of the


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cow, “and see my house, and my farm, and my wife and children. I see you're a stranger (addressing me); as to you,” looking at Crab, doubtfully, “you seem to have settled down into the habits of the place, to judge by your dress, though it is a little queerish even for the bush. Where are you come from?”

“I am come from camp,” said I, “to look for land, and this—(gentleman, I would have said, but as I looked at my companion the word stuck in my throat)—this settler—”

“Don't call me a settler,” said Crab, “I arn't going to settle, as you call it; the bushrangers and the convicts and the thieves of people have settled me.”

“Well,” I said, “I met my companion by the way, and he has had the kindness to offer to show me the country.”

“You've come to the wrong place,” said the New Norfolk man, “to look for land; there's none to be had here. The land hereabouts is but poorish, after all, and we settled on it more for the sake of the water-carriage than for the quality of the land. But there's my house, just


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on the other side of the water; cross over with me, and at any rate you shall have a hearty welcome.”

The river Derwent is but narrow at New Norfolk, but deep just below the town, and very rapid. Its navigation ceases at New Norfolk, as through the town and above it there is a succession of falls, and the country becomes very mountainous. This settlement had been formed by the immigration of about a hundred and fifty settlers in a body, from Norfolk Island, which experience proved to be inconvenient for a colony, from the difficulty of approach and of landing. The Government, in consequence, had effected the removal of the colonists, and had granted to them proportionate allotments of land on the banks of the Derwent, where the emigrants had rounded the incipient town of New Norfolk. It was to one of the farms thus called into existence that I was now introduced.

I cannot easily describe the feelings of interest and curiosity with which I approached the place. I regarded it as a mirror into which I was about to look for the reflection of the condition which in a little time I was myself to assume. The


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golden visions in which I had indulged on ship-board had already begun to vanish before the rough realities of settling in a new country, and it was not without a tincture of sadness that I prepared myself for a view of a settler's farm. I will endeavour to describe it as it existed twenty years ago, and as it may still be found, in its material resemblance, in some parts of the colony.

I beheld before me a low building, which I afterwards ascertained was built of the logs of the stringy-bark tree, split in half, and set on end. The building was about thirty feet long, and whitewashed. Its roof was composed of shingles; that is, of slips of wood about nine inches long, four inches broad, and a quarter of an inch thick. These shingles had acquired a bluish cast, from exposure to the atmosphere, and had a slatish appearance. At one end of the house was a rough-looking piece of stone-work, formed of irregular pieces of stone procured near the spot, and forming the end wall and chimney. At the back of the building was a tolerably large stack of wheat, enclosed with trunks of trees, forming an occasional small stock-yard. At one


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side was a garden, paled in with palings of the stringy-bark tree split into irregular rough boards or pales. I could see in this garden the aspect of the most luxuriant vegetation. In front of the house a small tree was left standing, from one of the boughs of which was suspended a sheep newly killed.

At the sight of our approach, it seems, an attack was instantly made on the carcase, as a man was busily employed in cutting it up. At the same time, a sun-burnt, but very pretty face became visible at the door of the house, and instantly disappearing, a hissing sound was immediately heard within, proclaiming that some culinary preparation was put in progress. At a little distance was heard the bleating of a small flock of sheep, for evening was now set in; and from another quarter a team of bullocks, urged on by a strange-looking driver, with an immense cracking of his whip, and a prodigious deal of expostulation, slowly drew near with a huge load of wood for fuel. We were in the act of entering the house, when our passage was impeded by a tiny swarm of little children, the eldest about seven—the youngest of the six


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being held up by the eldest to greet its father. Each was provided with a thick lump of “damper,” which had been served out to amuse them until the more substantial repast should be prepared. The clothing of these urchins was of the lightest possible description consistent with decency, and mocassins seemed to be the prevailing fashion. They were clean, however, and cheerful, but inclined to have a lanky appearance, like little weeds running to seed. This, I ascertained afterwards, was the general appearance of the children born in the colony.

“Any milk, father?” said a little lisping girl.

“Just a drop, my dear, for your mother and the baby. Where's your brother?”

As he spoke, a slender lad, of about ten years of age, made his appearance, with a grave and tired air. He came up to greet his father.

“Sheep all right, Ned?”

“Yes, father; we should have left them on the Green-hill all night, but Dick saw two men watching the flock in the early morning, and he came upon them again in the afternoon. He doesn't half like their looks. But the sheep are safe enough now in the little yard.”




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“Now, Sir,” said the New Norfolk man, “if you're inclined for supper, come along.”

We entered the habitation, which consisted of one spacious apartment, opening into the air. At the end opposite the chimney a space was divided off into two small bedrooms. Opposite to the entrance of the house a door led to a skillion, which served for a kitchen; and it was from that spot that the hissing sounds, now become more violent, proceeded. In the middle of the principal apartment was a rough table of boards, on which were disposed sundry tin pannikins, a few plates, with some odd knives and forks. A gigantic green bottle, containing rum, graced one corner of the table, and in the centre was set, as a place of honour, the pannikin of milk which had been obtained by the united efforts of the establishments within reach.

And now the hostess emerged from the back recess, bearing in her hands an enormous dish of mutton-chops, which was quickly followed by another dish, in which appeared a sort of doughy cake.

“I thought,” said the lady of the house, “you would like a cake in the pan better than a


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damper; so here it is. Edward, help the gentlemen; they have had a long walk, and must be hungry.”

This hospitable intimation was responded to by her husband, who forthwith thrust out of the large dish three or four of the chops into a plate, and handed them to me. “Help yourself,” said he to my companion; “you're used to the ways of the place. Where's the salt? No mustard?”

“The mustard's out; we must have some more from camp. And the salt! Well, that is unlucky. I declare there's not an atom left. Well, you must do without it, or we can send to Conolly's farm, not three miles off. I know they've got salt there, for they were to salt down a bullock to-day.”

“Don't trouble yourself,” said Crab; “I've got some salt in my pocket—in this kangaroo jacket, which the bushrangers gave me for mine. I dare say they've missed the salt before now, confound them.” With this he inserted his fingers into a recess of his hairy garment, and produced a small quantity of a blackish and gritty substance.

“Ah!” said our hostess, “that's come from


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Saltpan Plains. Well, any is better than none. And so, friend, the bushrangers have had hold of you; did they treat you ill?”

“They just stripped me of every thing I had got—luckily, my money was left in camp—and made me carry their baggage for three days. No joke that in the sun, I can tell you. But I saw a good bit of the country with them. It's a dreadful country; all up hill and down dale.Scarcely a good bit of land to be seen anywhere. I do believe that there isn't any twelve acres in the country that would feed a single sheep for the whole year.”

“You don't seem to like the country,” said mine host, addressing Crab.

“Like it! How can any one like it? Who would live in it that could get out of it? There isn't one single thing to stay for. Poor land; where it's better, it's covered with trees, and they must be cut down before you can get at the soil to do anything with it. And then the stumps! Impossible to drive a plough in a straight line. And then, suppose you have stock; if you have cattle, they start away into the bush, and catch 'em again when you can! And if you have


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sheep, they're driven away by the thieves, and find 'em again if you can; let alone being shot at when you're looking after them. As to the bushrangers, it's very pleasant, isn't it, to have your house broken open in the middle of the night, and every thing cleaned out of it, while you have the satisfaction of looking on with your hands tied behind your back, and a blackguard pointing a cocked musket at you head? Oh—the fools that come here deserve to be robbed, and starved, and murdered. I say, serve 'em right for being such fools as to come, and bigger fools to stay!”

The pile of mutton-chops was now discussed, and the ponderous cake in the pan had nearly disappeared under the vigorous attacks of the party. Mine host now turned to the bottle of rum.

“If we only had a lemon here, we would cook up a bowl of punch. But, never mind, we must make the best of what we have got.”

With this philosophic remark, he poured into his pannikin about a quarter of a pint of rum, qualifying it with what seemed to me an exceedingly small modicum of water out of a pail that


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stood by, and invited me and my companion to do the same. Not being used to the liquor, I declined, much to the astonishment of the New Norfolk man; but Crab, without any hesitation, poured out for himself a stiff portion of the stuff, evincing that in this particular he had condescended to conform with the customs of the colony. I must not omit to mention that while our banquet of mutton-chops was being enjoyed by the elder portion of the company, the good dame of the house served out tea to the juveniles from an iron tripod boiling on the hearth. A handful of tea was thrown into this receptacle, and set to boil. The tin pannikin of each was then successively inserted in the decoction, to which was added some very dark-looking brown sugar. The unusual luxury of milk added an especial zest to this refection, the imbibing of which was interspersed with frequent and unceremonious attacks on the pyramid of mutton-chops, not forgetting the cake in the pan and the eternal damper, the never-failing accompaniment in those times of a farmer's meal.

Symptoms of drowsiness now began to appear. The young fry had long since been stowed away


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in their various dormitories, and our worthy hostess bestirred herself to contrive some place of rest for myself and my companion. With this intent, her husband was dislodged from a sort of wooden sofa or bench, and Dick was called in to assist in the preparations.

“Have those kangaroo skins been sent into camp ?”

“No, missis—they're in the hut—and they'll make a capital bed for the gentlemen. I'll get 'em in a minute.”

A heap of crackling skins was presently produced, which Dick, acting as chambermaid, proceeded to arrange for my accommodation. A contribution of blankets and rugs was levied on the premises to make up our beds, my friend Crab being accommodated with a heap of sacks spread on the floor. In this manner, after the usual compliments, we prepared to take our rest. Crab, I observed, flung himself on the sacks without the ceremony of taking off his clothes, and presenting the appearance of a huge hairy animal of a nondescript character, soon gave indications of being sound asleep. As for myself, fatigued as I was, the novelty of the scene, and


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the excitement of the day's journey, kept me awake for some time. I pondered on my first day's experience of a settler's life; the rudeness of the cottage; the roughness of the materials about it; the coarseness of the food, in the manner of serving it, as well as in its substance; the slovenliness and uncouthness of the farming establishment, so far as I had been able to inspect it; and a feeling of disappointment and of insecurity which I could not shake off, all tended to sadden me. Every thing was quiet within and without; the very dogs, watchful as they are in this country, seemed to be buried in sleep. Gradually my thoughts grew more and more confused as weariness overpowered me, and I fell asleep.

My rest, however, was not destined to be of long duration. About three o'clock in the morning, I was dreaming that I was in Hobart Town with my wife and children, and that we were exclaiming against the annoyance of the ceaseless barking of the dogs. The barking grew louder and louder, and my children, it seemed to me, began to cry, frightened at the fierceness of the uproar. I started up to still them, and in so doing, awoke. The dream, however, had been


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suggested by a present reality. My host's dogs were barking violently outside, and the children were joining in chorus in aid of the general out-cry. The door of the house was now vehemently assailed by Dick, the shepherd, and my host, roused from his slumbers, was quickly on the alert.

“Master!” cried out Dick, “the sheep are out of the yard—there's mischief abroad. You had better look to yourselves inside. The stranger gentleman has got a gun with him—is he waked up?”

“All ready,” said I, jumping up in the dusk, “gun and all; but what's the matter; have the bushrangers attacked us?”

“Of course they have,” said Crab, who had risen from his couch of sacks; “of course! what else could you expect? Bushrangers, ah, to be sure! this is a pleasant place to live in. But I suppose you won't give in, master,” speaking to our host, “without a bit ofscrimmage?”

“Hope not,” said the farmer, “it's bad fighting with the bushrangers when you have a wife and children to defend. But I don't think it's them; it's only some chaps after the sheep; but they


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must be cautiously dealt with, for they don't mind giving you a shot when they're close run.”

“What's o'clock?”

“It's a quarter past three.”

“Ah—then it's not far from daylight. Rouse up the men, Dick, and call the dogs in. It's not much use to follow till there's light enough to see the tracks. Keep close, my dear (to his wife, who had huddled on her clothes), while I'm away, and don't let the children stray about. This is no bushranger's affair, but it's an audacious trick to drive away a man's sheep under his very nose, I must say. I and Dick will follow the track. Give me my musket. Where are the cartridges? That's right; I'll take that half-damper with me; we may want it before we come back. Dick, we'll take Hector and Fly with us; let the other dogs be kept back. I wish the mare had not run off to the bush just at this time. Well, perhaps we are better on foot, as it's sheep we are after. Now, Sirs, I must wish you good bye.”

“Good bye!” said Crab; “not a bit of it. You don't suppose I'm going to eat your meat


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and drink your rum, and desert you in this strait No—no—I'll lend you a hand. Just give me a good thick stick, that's what I'm best used to, and I'll stand by you. And you, master,” speaking to me, “you'll come too, won't you? Your barrel may be of use to us.”

“I'll go with you with pleasure,” said I. “I know nothing of the bush yet, but I'll do what I can to help.”

“Thank you both,” said our host; “we shall be four men with two barrels, and three men left behind to take care of the farm. We may have a long journey before us, so prepare yourselves for it. Wife, get out a bottle of rum; Dick, you'll have no objection to carry it, I'm sure; but play fair, my man.”

“Better take a couple of pannikins with us,” said Dick.

“Right,” said our host. “And, Dick, take a light tether rope with you—we may want it. And now let no one speak; and don't let it be known, if we can help it, how many have left the farm.”

“I think it would be the best way,” said the


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practised shepherd, “for two to go to the right and two to the left, and meet at the Green Hill, so that we shall be sure to cross the track; no doubt there will be plenty of tracks; that's the trick of the rascals, but we must try to get on the main one.”

“Take the man with the kangaroo-skin jacket with you, then,” said the farmer, “and go to the left, and I and the gentleman will take the right. And here, take the musket, that there may be a barrel with each party. We must make the best use of our time, or we shall have no chance of coming up with the rogues.”

The day now began to dawn, and there was light enough to see where to set the foot. Each party proceeded to its destination without further delay, and I soon found myself with the farmer at a considerable distance from the homestead. We kept near the banks of the river for about half a mile, and then, turning to the left, the farmer began diligently to search for the tracks of the stolen flock. I assisted him in his search as well as I could, and we were both so absorbed in our examination that we did not perceive, till we came


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suddenly upon them, on turning round an eminence, a mob of natives, seated by a fire. They started up at our approach, and the farmer laying his hand on my arm, paused, with some signs of alarm, to reconnoitre them.




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CHAPTER V.

PURSUIT OF THE SHEEP-STEALERS—MEETING WITH THE NATIVES—THE BLACK MAN'S INSTINCT IN TRACKING—WALK OVER THE COUNTRY—FINDS LAND TO PLEASE HIM—RETURNS TO HOBART TOWN WITH HIS NEW ACQUAINTANCE, CRAB—PROCEEDS WITH HIS FAMILY TO THE CLYDE.

“THERE'S no harm in them,” said the New Norfolk man, after having examined the natives for a little time; “this is a town mob; you see they have got blankets among them; but it is always well to be on one's guard, for they're treacherous devils. Don't let your gun out of your hand, and don't show any fear of them. Now we'll go among them; if I could make 'em understand that I am looking after strayed sheep, they could be of use to me I don't doubt.”

While he was speaking, we advanced towards the fire, the natives standing near us here and there, and gazing at us with a sort of cold, lazy, idiotic look.Near the fire was the log of a tree,


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and my New Norfolk friend motioned to me to sit down.

“Sit opposite to me—there—face to face, so that each may see what is going on at the other's back, without seeming to take particular notice. I'll try if I can make anything out of these fellows.”

Three or four of the natives, meanwhile, re-seated themselves at the fire and resumed the meal which, it seems, our approach had interrupted.

I was a little curious to observe how these grave-looking black personages were pleased to conduct the ceremony of their morning's repast, and my curiosity was presently gratified. Being satisfied, I presume, that we had no hostile intentions, they continued their culinary preparations. A tall and slender young lady, with a ragged blanket gracefully festooned about her person, appeared with a net slung round her neck, in which was a large lump of gum. She handed this lump of gum, about the size of a small cocoa-nut, to one of the men. Another lady produced an opossum, which looked to me something between a dead cat and a squirrel.


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The gum and the opossum were thrown on the fire, the hair on the outside of the latter and whatever it had in its inside helping to its relish. After the gum and the opossum had fizzed and crackled and smoked a little time, one of the party snatched out the opossum from the fire, and plunging his face into its entrails, enjoyed himself with the delicacy for a brief space, and then threw back the remains on the fire; another of the party snatched it up, and tearing the limbs asunder and picking off the choicest bits, chucked the half-picked bones to the ladies of the community, who stood behind them, and who received these testimonials of affection with much submissiveness and respect, and with considerable gratification.

“They don't seem to have much respect for the ladies,” said I to my New Norfolk friend. “These black fellows take the lion's share of the breakfast.”

“Oh, that's the way they always treat their gins.”

“Their gins! what are they?”

“Oh, they call their wives ‘gins’. You see, a native will have three, or four, or five, or perhaps


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more wives, according to accident—sometimes more, sometimes less; I rather think it's according as they can find food. They make their gins work for them, and collect the little bits of gum from the trees, such as you saw in that one's net just now. And they're capital hands to catch opossums! I've seen a black gin get up a stringy-bark tree after a 'possum as well as any one of the men could. But they seem to have done breakfast. I must try now to get them to help me after the sheep.”

It is to be observed that the repast which I have slightly described passed in utter silence, the natives eating voraciously of the singed opossum and the hot lumps of gum without speaking or noticing us. On the principle that it is ill to come between a fasting man and his meat, the farmer had refrained from asking any questions or making any proposals about his lost sheep, until the natives were free to attend to him. He looked out, therefore, for the chief of the party, and the following colloquy took place: —

“Much kangaroo?”

“Kangaroo gone.”




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“Opossum good?”

“Good.”

The correctness with which these few words were pronounced by the black man surprised me.

“Do they speak English?” said I to my companion.

“Only a word or two; but they are capital mimics; they catch hold of a word and repeat it very correctly, even when they don't understand it. ”

“Sheep many?” continued my companion to the chief.

“Sheep many.”

“Sheep gone,” said my friend, pointing to a hill in the distance.

The black man shook his head.

“Find sheep?” said the farmer, accompanying the words with the action of a man searching for tracks on the ground.

The black man turned to his companions, and said something to them which we could not understand. The group gathered nearer to us, and chattered together doubtfully.

“They have not seen the sheep driven away,”


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said the farmer to me; indeed they could not, as the job was done before it was light, and the natives never move about in the dark; “but I think they understand what I mean, and are considering about it in their way. See, the black chief with the red cotton handkerchief round his neck is going to speak. I suppose it's about the terms.”

“Sheep gone?” said the black man.

“Gone!” said my friend; “can't find;” and he repeated the gestures of looking for tracks on the ground.

“What give?” said the native.

“Now what shall I offer the rascals?” said my friend. “They are too knowing by half; I don't know which are the worst, the wild or the tame ones. It's astonishing how soon savages learn our Christian ways of doing nothing for nothing. By the look of that black villain's face, he's determined to make a bargain of it.”

“I've some dollars in my pocket,” said I; “I'm sure they are much at your service.”

“It's not dollars they want; they don't understand the meaning of money yet; but they want what's as good as money.”




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“What give!” said he to the black functionary; “give bottle of rum.”

The words “bottle of rum” seemed to be perfectly well understood by the black creatures, but they looked to their chief; their chief looked at them, and seemed to consider in his mind how much, after sharing the contents of the bottle among his tail—to the number of about twenty—would remain for himself.

He shook his head.

“One bottle,” pointing to the group, “little.”

“The old rascal,” exclaimed my companion; “he's as hard to deal with as a camp storekeeper; but he can do what I want if he likes, I'm sure; I'll try him with another bottle.”

“Two (holding up two fingers), two bottles of rum.”

“Two,” repeated the chief to his gang, pronouncing the words very correctly. The natives looked irresolute; but the chief decided. “Two bottles—little.”

“We had better make a pretence of going,” said the farmer; “then, perhaps, they'll agree.”

“Two bottles much. Good bye.”

“Good bye,” said all the natives together.




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“Why they seem all to talk English,” said I.

“They've all caught that word up. But we must have that old fellow to help us. Confound him! But, however, I can water the rum, that's something.”

Turning round, we observed the natives still looking at us, as if waiting for a last bid.

“Three bottles,” said the New Norfolk man, holding up three fingers. “Three big bottles of rum.”

We were turning round to continue our way, when the black negotiator, concluding that he had now arrived at the limit of the reward, called out —

“Tree bottle—good!”

We stood still upon this; and presently four or five of the men joined us. A consultation now took place between them, and after some considering, the chief pushed forward a young slim native. “Good,” said he; “find sheep.”

The farmer not approving of this substitution, shook his head.

“Pickaninny not good to find sheep.You,” pointing to the chief, “you go.”

“No go—gins!”




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“Ah,” said my friend; “he says he can't leave his gins. Well, I suppose we must take the young one. Come.”

The young native immediately stepped forward. He was completely naked. The weather, to be sure, was very warm. His hair was woolly and frizzled; his limbs clean and straight; but his whole body was very slender, with the exception of that portion of his person which served as a receptacle for the opossums and gum-balls with which he had recently regaled himself. I could not help remarking on its extraordinary protuberance.

“These chaps are made to carry a good lot of provender,” said I.

“They do eat enormously,” said my companion. “Perhaps it is, that, as their food is very precarious, they think it prudent to lay in a good stock when they can get it; and so it swells 'em out a bit. But which way is the fellow taking us? Why, he's going back again. Ah! I see he's going back for the first track. Well, he knows what he's about; that's some encouragement. Look—he's going to speak. No; he can't do that. But I understand him; he wants to


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know where the sheep were driven from. Let me see—where are we? Oh! there lies the farm, over that little hill. There,” said he, speaking to the native—“sheep there”—and, throwing his arm away from it—“gone?”

The native considered a few moments, and then, without any attempt to make his intention understood, led the way over a low hill that was to our left.

“This will bring us near the place where we appointed to meet the shepherd and your friend,” said the New Norfolk man; “they will be wondering what has become of us.”

While he was speaking, we heard a distant sound, as of some one hallooing, but with a cadence that was strange to me. The peculiar mode of the country—whether hit on by accident or scientifically designed, I know not —of throwing the voice to a distance in the bush, was new to me; but I could make out the sounds easily enough. “Coo-oo-ee!”

“That's Dick and your friend,” said the farmer; “they think we have missed them, and they are trying the chance of our hearing them coo-ee. I'll answer them.”




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With that he put his hands to his mouth, and replied with a loud and shrill “Coo-ee!” His cry was answered, and, standing still, the native seeming perfectly to understand the reason of the proceeding, presently two dogs came bounding towards us through the trees; and in a little time the bulky form of my kangaroo-skin friend Crab and the blue jacket of the shepherd were visible to us in the distance. They soon joined us. “What luck?” said the farmer.

“I think I've found the tracks,” said the shepherd; “but I suppose we shall be sure now, as I see you've got one of the natives to guide you. I saw a smoke over the hills, and thought it was likely there was a mob of 'em about. Well, master, we had better put the black fellow on the track that I've found, and then he can go right ahead.”

The black man, however, refused to proceed in any other than his own way, and continued to lead us straight to some spot that he seemed to have fixed on as a favourable starting point.

“I suppose we have nothing to do but to follow him?” said the shepherd.

“Follow him!” said Crab, who had hitherto


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continued silent. “Follow him! Now, isn't it a pretty thing to see us following a black fellow, to find a whole flock of sheep that's been driven off in the night? Here's a country to live in! A man lies down in his bed with a flock of sheep in his yard, and when he gets up the next morning he finds all his sheep driven off, the Lord knows where! And then he must get a black fellow to find them for him! Well, if this won't make a man sick of the country, I don't know what will. What do you think of it, master?" turning to me; "you came out to look for land, and now you are looking for sheep; and you'll find about as much of one as the other, I'm thinking.”

It was very odd—but I must confess the truth, the excitement that had taken possession of me had put out of my head my own particular business, that of looking for a piece of land to settle on; and I found myself embarked in an expedition with the New Norfolk settler after his lost sheep, with as much keenness and eagerness as if it was an affair of my own; so apt are we all to be acted on more by the pressing and immediate circumstance than by the distant consideration.


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But I felt I was in for it, for better or worse, and that I was bound in honour to go through with it. I could not help, however, letting the thoughts that came across me break out in words to my New Norfolk acquaintance.

“Well,” said I, “I did not contemplate this sort of fun when I came to New Norfolk; I came to look for land, and now it seems I'm turned sheep-hunter or sheep-finder; but I suppose this is a part of the usual adventurous life of a settler?”

“I'll tell you what, my friend,” said the farmer; “I am much obliged to you for your company and assistance in this matter, and the more so, because it was done readily and good-naturedly; but if you want to see the country, you could not have a better opportunity than this; for you are very certain to be led a pretty dance before we have done, and that over parts of the country that neither you nor I perhaps would think of penetrating into, unless compelled by the necessity of following the track. So don't suppose you are losing time; rather you are gaining time, for you are seeing, if you will


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make use of your eyes, more of the country than most strangers do.”

“Well,” said I, “I was told before I set out, that a settler's life was one of adventure; and this is a pretty good beginning.”

We had now arrived at the margin of a little rivulet, of which there are many in this country, a foot or two broad, and of the depth of a few inches only. The native paused here, and seemed to ponder for a while. Not being used to the bush, I had no notion where we were, and I felt, for the first time, how easily those unaccustomed to the bush get bewildered. There was the sun to go by, to be sure, and we could see it—and feel it too. But wandering in the bush, and becoming lost in it, seems to produce some specific emotion of the mind, by which the faculties become actually stupefied and the wits lost. But I sha'll have to speak of this in another place. The black fellow soon made up his mind; pointing backwards and shaking his head, to signify that the sheep were not in that direction, he continued his way to the left, keeping near the little rivulet, and searching, as I observed


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by his eye, for the tracks of the sheep. We continued to this line for some miles, till we began to feel tired. Crab called a halt.

“This seems to be rather a wild-goose chase. Here we have followed this black rascal for I don't know how many miles, and not the tail of a sheep have we seen—and in my opinion never shall; for I'm quite sure he's only leading us to a proper place for a mob of these devils to set on us, and devour us,—the Lord help us! To think that this should be the end of my mother's son! To be eaten up by those black villains—just chucked on the fire, and before we're half done, to have them set their teeth in us. Well, to be sure! master, what do you think of it? I'm for going back again before it comes to worse.”

“Go back!” said the shepherd; “never think of it. We must come on the tracks some time. Why! you would never go back without the sheep! Three hundred and fifty sheep must leave their marks behind them.”

“But they don't,” said Crab.

“Come on,” said the farmer, motioning to the native to move forward. “It would be a pretty joke to go back without any of the flock. Ah!


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the black fellow has got scent of them—see, he is pointing to something on the ground.”

We now hastily followed the native, who, after rapidly continuing on the track, suddenly stopped, and seemed to require some information, which he did not know how to ask for.

“Go to him, Dick,” said the farmer, “you know their ways better than we do. Try to make out what he wants.”

The shepherd approached the native. The native pointed to the tracks.

“Sheep,” said he.

“Sheep, sure enough,” said the shepherd; “but he means something that I can't make out.”

The native now, throwing his arms about so as to describe a large space of land, said in an inquiring tone, “Sheep? sheep? sheep?”

“Ah!” said Dick, “I see what he's at now; he wants to know if there were many sheep; he has come upon fresh tracks, but only of a few, and he fears being led away after the wrong lot.”

“Many,” said he to the native; “little,” pointing to the present tracks, and shaking his head. The native, it seems, understood him, for he


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immediately turned off at an angle to his left, and in about a couple of miles we crossed the track of a number of sheep, which we now found had been driven parallel to the river for some distance; the sheep-stealers then turned sharply to the left, and crossed a part of the river where it was easily fordable. On the other side of the river the tracks were plain and fresh, and we proceeded at a rapid pace in pursuit. We continued our course for several miles, when the tracks suddenly assumed the appearance of a fork, part towards the right and part towards the left.

In this dilemma it was resolved that the farmer, with the shepherd and the native, should proceed to the left, and that I and Crab should follow the track to the right, and act according to circumstances. To this arrangement Crab made no objection, as there was “as good a chance,” he said, “of finding them one way as another, although he had no doubt they had been driven away by this time where nobody would find them; and if they were found, so that nobody could know them, as they would be all


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fresh marked and firebranded.” And so we parted on our respective expeditions.

I afterwards learned that the New Norfolk man recovered nearly all his sheep, but I shall not stop here to relate the particulars. I want to show how I got on my farm, and by what means a settler arrives through difficulties and dangers to independence and fortune.

“Well, master,” said Crab, “you have seen something of the country now; what do you think of it?”

“It's a beautiful country to look at,” said I; “but beauty of scenery is one thing and goodness of land is another. A settler can't live on a fine prospect; he must get his living out of the fatness of the soil under his foot; but just at this moment, Master Crab,” continued I, “I would rather look on a good breakfast than any thing else.”

“In that case,” said Crab, stopping and speaking softly, “you have a chance of something—look there, just over that log of a tree—don't you see his head? it's a brush kangaroo. There, he's hopping off; now you've a good shot at him.”




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I fired, and the animal gave a bound forward. “You've hit him,” said Crab; and, tired as we were, we set off at a run after the wounded kangaroo.

The animal, however, hopped away at an amazing rate, and it continued its course for more than a mile before it fell. Crab quickly cut it up, and lighting a fire of the dead wood which lay in plenty about, we made a bush breakfast and dinner all in one. The water of a spring close by supplied drink; and Crab armed himself with the tail of the defunct, as a supply, as he said, against accidents.

The chase of the kangaroo caused us to lose the track of the sheep, and Crab proposed that we should cross over the country till we came to the high road uniting the two extremities of the island. I assented to this scheme, and after a toilsome march of thirty hours, we found ourselves on the main road. A settler's bullock-cart fortunately was proceeding to Norfolk Plains, on the northern side of the island. We availed ourselves of its convenience; and partly riding and partly walking, we arrived at the large tract of level land known by that name. From thence


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we proceeded to Launceston, and returning by the high road, we arrived at a place called “Green Ponds,” in the district of Murray. Here, at a little public-house, newly set up, I heard of a tract of country lying westward, on the banks of the Clyde, particularly suitable for cattle and sheep feeding, which was the line I had a mind to follow. I crossed over, with the persevering Crab, and lighted on a spot, which pleased me at once, from the back run for sheep and cattle which it afforded.

Having fixed on my land, I hastened back to Hobart Town, that I might be the first to apply for it. I had been away seventeen days, and it was with not a little delight that I saw my wife and children again, for I seemed to have been absent a much longer time. The very next day I got an order from the governor to take possession; and I was informed the land would be regularly surveyed and marked out for me by the government surveyor, as soon as his engagements would permit, and that in the meantime I might take possession and erect my buildings. My next care was to provide myself with two bullock-carts, and two teams of four bullocks


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each, to carry up such utensils and things as were absolutely necessary.

On consulting with my wife, I found that she preferred going on the land with me at once, with the children, to staying in the town until I had got some accommodation for her. Fortunately we had brought out with us two good tents, one a pretty large one; these served us in good stead. We were in a pretty bustle, it may be supposed, packing up and getting ready for our journey. It was about fifty miles from the town to the spot I had chosen. All our goods and traps being ready—and having had assigned to me two government men, a bullock-driver and a farming-man—my wife, her children, and her mother, occupying one cart, with the woman servant, and all sorts of articles for bedding and use; and the other cart being filled with utensils and tools, and provisions, we commenced our journey on the 26th February, 1817, with anxious thoughts, but full of spirits and of hope, for the river Clyde.




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CHAPTER VI.

JOURNEY UP THE COUNTRY WITH FAMILY, BULLOCK-CARTS, AND CRAB—A STEEP HILL—A NIGHT IN THE BUSH—ARRIVES AT HIS LAND—HIS FIRST CHOP AT A GUM TREE.

IT is more than twenty-one years since I set out on this memorable journey, but the whole scene is present to me as if it was an affair of yesterday; and I remember well my sensations at the sight of my wife perched on the top of a feather bed in a bullock-cart, with her old mother sitting beside her, and the children higgledy-piggledy about her, enjoying the novelty and the fun of being dragged by bullocks in a cart. There was something so droll in the set-out, and at the same time the occasion was so serious, that my poor wife did not know whether to laugh or to cry; but the tumblings that the roughness of the road gave the children soon made them merry enough, and their joyous mirth set the


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rest of the party a-laughing, so that the journey was a merry one in the beginning at least. The old lady sat very quietly in her place, a little frightened, but resigned to her fate. She owned, afterwards, that she never expected to get to the end of the journey alive by such an outlandish sort of conveyance, and she was like to be right in her forebodings at one time.

We got on very well till we arrived at the ferry, for many years known as Stocker's Ferry, about nine miles from camp. The bullocks behaved admirably. These were all fine animals. I gave forty pounds a pair for two pair. The other two pair I got for thirty-five pounds a pair; but one of the bullocks was rather old and weak, but a steady worker, and a prime fellow to break in the young ones; it seemed to me he took a pleasure in it. Bob, who lived with me for many years afterwards, had the honour of conducting the principal team, the first cart being committed to the care of my other servant. I walked, helping the one or the other, as the occasion happened, with Will, my eldest boy, now nearly ten years old, for my companion. We had not gone more than a mile from the town when we


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heard some one calling after us, and who should it be but Crab, who joined us, terribly out of breath, and with an uncertain expression of countenance which represented an odd appearance of habitual sourness and present concern, which induced me to stop the whole cavalcade for a moment, wondering what could be the matter.

“Well, Mr. Crab,” said I, “nothing wrong, I hope ?”

“Nothing wrong yet that I see,” said Crab; “ but I'm thinking, master,” said he hesitatingly, “ you're rather short-handed for what you're about. You see, when one of the bullock-carts turns over, you'll hardly be strong enough to set it on its legs again....”

“Oh, gracious! Mr. Crab,” said my wife, “don't make things worse than they are; you will always look on the worst side so.”

“Why, ma'am,” said Crab, trying to look gracious, “I don't like to frighten the ladies; but it's always best to be prepared for what's to happen, then when it comes it isn't so bad. So I thought I might be able to help you a bit, as I'm used to the ways of the country, and see you


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safe on your land; and I don't doubt that when you get there, you'll be glad enough to get back again; and then it would be a consolation to me to see you safe in the town again, and aboard ship, so that you may go away home from this horrible place, which it's a shame to entice people to,—poor, deceived, wretched, miserable creatures! Besides, I've taken a sort of liking to your good man here, and the long and the short of it is, if you like, I'll go along with you to your land, and lend you a help, for you'll want it bad enough. What do you say to it, master?”

There was a real good and honest feeling in the man, which, in spite of the rough husk that covered it, had given me a liking for him, and I readily agreed to his proposal; telling him that I was heartily glad of such a valuable addition to our company. He gave a nod, to intimate that he considered the social compact as concluded, and then eagerly relapsed into his accustomed sourness and sarcasm. He immediately began to complain of the state of the roads, of their ruts and unevenness.

“Did ever mortal man,” said he, “conceive


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the stupidity of these road-makers? Here they take you right over the hill, when it would have been no further, and much easier, to go round it. But no—the road must be carried in a straight line, and so the poor cattle must be murdered in dragging their loads over it. And then look at the stumps of trees left in the middle of the road. A nice place, isn't it, for a gentleman to travel in?”

“But you can't expect,” said I, “to find things in a new country all ready made to your hand; there must be a beginning to every thing.”

“Then why do you come to a new country? Why can't you wait till it's an old one, and fit for Christians to live in? Not that this place will ever be fit for anything to live in but a convict or a kangaroo.”

By this time we had arrived at Stocker's Ferry.

“What do you intend to do now?” said Crab.

“Cross the ferry.”

“How?”

“How! why, in the ferry boat, to be sure.”

“You'll be capsized—bullocks, carts, and all.”

“We must take our chance of that.”




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After a good deal of trouble, we crossed over safe.

“Well, Crab, that job's done well,” said I.

“Better the other way, and so saved worse,” said Crab; “but, however, as we are on this side, Heaven help us! we had better get on to where there is water for the bullocks, for they begin to be distressed in the heat of the day. They'll never be able to get these loads to the end of the journey; that's my opinion.”

With these pleasing prognostications as an accompaniment to our toil, we reached Brighton Plains, where we made a halt, in a sheltered spot, by the side of a little stream, and let loose the bullocks to graze. Crab assured us that we might make up our minds to stay where we were for some weeks, or days at least, as the bullocks would be sure to stray away into the bush.

We laughed at his talk; and the children, glad to be released from the confinement of the cart, made the little valley ring with their shrieks and their merriment. My wife was as merry as any of them; and the old lady was pleased to have proceeded so far, and to have accomplished the much dreaded crossing of the river without


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accident. I thought even the furrows of Crab's rugged features once or twice nearly relaxed into a smile, as he witnessed the frolicsome mirth of the children, but he shook his head with much gravity “Ah,” said he, “poor things! let them enjoy themselves; they little know what's in store for 'em.”

We now called a council of war, and it was determined to wait till the cool of the evening, and then make a vigorous push for the Green Ponds, where a little public-house had been recently established. We arrived there just at dark; and as the house was small, and the night fine and warm, we preferred passing the night under our tents, which were quickly set up. We secured the bullocks in a small stock-yard, close by the little inn; and, with the exception of Crab, the whole party was soon fast asleep. That indefatigable individual insisted that we should be attacked by the bushrangers; and he remained therefore on watch, to give the alarm.

Nothing occurred, however; and, by four o'clock in the morning, we were all a-foot, and ready to start. We proceeded in due order for about four miles on the high road. We had then


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to turn to the left, westward, on our way to the place of our destination. Crossing the narrow river Jordan at an awkward ford, which would have been of difficult accomplishment at any other than the summer season, we continued our way with much precaution, as there was no marked road, and the track was not always very plain.

After a few miles' progress, we arrived at the foot of the Den Hill—part of a ridge of mountainous hills, extending to the left. On the right was a smiling valley, watered by a little stream. The appearance of the ascent before us was very formidable; it is not very much better now; but at that time the country was little known, and an untravelled road always appears, the first time, longer and worse than it is. Here we made another halt, to gather up courage to face the ascent, and to recruit the strength of the cattle and their drivers. Crab looked at the hill covered with a thick mass of trees, and without any visible opening, and then at the carts and bullocks, with a very long face. I confess I had some misgivings myself. I had gone over the hill before, when I went to look at the land at


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the Clyde; but going over such a hill on foot and surmounting it with laden carts are two very different things.

As we discussed some bread and meat on the grass, we were all very serious, even the children regarding the black dense mass of trees rising one above another before us with fearfulness and perplexity. We turned to Crab instinctively, expecting to hear from him some of his usual evil prognostications. But he preserved a rigid silence, stuffing huge pieces of damper into his mouth, with a diligence and perseverance that seemed to imply he was doubtful when he might have the chance of doing so again, and enjoying maliciously, I was inclined to think, the novel disappointment of his unusual taciturnity.

At last, seeing that the thing must be done, I shook off the lethargic feeling which fatigue, the heat, and apparently insurmountable difficulties before us had cast over me, and I braced myself up for the effort. We got on pretty well for about a quarter of a mile, but the steepness of the way and the impediments of the dead timber, lying on all sides about, brought us to a stand-still. Putting pieces of wood behind the wheels


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of the carts, to prevent their rolling backwards, we looked inquiringly at one another. It seemed a hopeless task. Crab said nothing. The men looked at the bullocks despairingly.

“It's more than mortal cattle can do,” said Bob, who had shown himself a civil and diligent fellow; “you might as well attempt to climb up the walls of a house.”

I thought so too, but I took care to keep my thoughts to myself. I was puzzled to know what to do; and the evening was drawing in, and the clear light failing us, though at that time of the year the nights are never quite dark in Van Diemen's Land. In this difficulty my wife came to our aid.

“If four bullocks cannot draw one cart up the hill, why not put the whole eight on, and draw one cart up at a time?”

It was like Columbus's egg; nothing more easy when it was done. In a trice we unharnessed the provision cart, Crab lending himself with alacrity and energy to the movement; and with prodigious labour, and the exhaustion of the whole party, we succeeded, after two hours' work, in dragging the cart, with my wife and children,


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to the summit of this terrible hill. It was now nearly dark, and we had left the provision-cart about a mile behind us, and the animals were too much exhausted to render further attempts possible. Under these circumstances, we were obliged to pass the night, as it were, under arms, with the bullocks yoked and chained, for we were afraid to let them wander to feed, not knowing the country. Crab volunteered to mount guard over the cart below, and to keep up a good fire to point out his whereabouts. We did the same; and in this way we passed the night, not very commodiously; but the genial warmth of the season, and the brilliant fineness of the night, reconciled us to our rough lodgement, and as we had plenty of covering for the children, they slept soundly, and all passed off well.

At the first sign of light we were stirring. We had to pursue the same process to get up our provision-cart, when we made a hearty breakfast, and not the less so from having gone without our supper. Our way was now all downhill by a gentle inclination; and sometimes following the faint track, and sometimes guided by the notched trees, and making our way over the dead timber


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and through the bushes as well as we could, we arrived in about a couple of hours at the site of my future farm.

It was now noon. The sun was intensely hot, and we very tired, bullocks and all; but we had arrived safe, and we felt in spirits. And here we were, our little party, alone in the wilderness. To the west there was no human habitation between us and the sea; and the nearest settler's residence was not less than eighteen miles. There was pasturage for sheep and cattle for scores and scores of miles, and no one to interfere with them. But I had not yet a single sheep, nor a single head of cattle, except my eight working bullocks. We turned them out to graze on the plain before us, through which ran the Clyde, then better known by the name of the Fat Doe River; we had no fear of their straying, for they were tired enough with their journey. The two men then set up the tents, without bidding.

I remember I sat on a fallen tree, with my wife and children and her mother stretched on the ground in the shade, for some time absorbed in thoughts of mingled pain and pleasure. Crab had strolled into the bush. It was a brilliant


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day. There was a solemn stillness around that was imposing; the sun shining gloriously in the heavens, and the prospect around most calm and beautiful. I felt melancholy. Thoughts crowded thick upon me. I had undertaken a vast task, to establish a home in the wilderness. The first stage of my enterprise I had accomplished; through toil, and labour, and difficulty, and danger; but I had accomplished it. The first object was gained. I had reached the land of promise. I had taken possession of my land, and a noble domain it was. But what were the risks and difficulties that remained? I felt fearful at the work before me. No help near in case of danger; no medical assistance; no neighbour. I looked at my wife and children lying listlessly on the dry and parched grass; I looked around me, and tried to penetrate into the obscurity of the future, and guess the end. Worn out with thought, and weary with travel, I insensibly gave way to the feeling of lassitude which possessed us all, and fell asleep on the grass. My wife would not have me wakened, but taking on herself, without hesitation and without delay, the duties of a settler's wife, she silently gave


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directions for unloading the carts, and preparing our canvass house. The smaller tent she made the temporary storehouse for our multifarious goods; the larger one was converted into a general bedchamber for herself, her mother, and the children. The store tent was destined for me to sleep in. Two boxes formed a table on the outside, and fitting logs of wood formed appropriate seats. A fire was kindled near the spot, and dinner got ready. It was quite an early settler's meal; boiled salt pork and damper with tea and brown sugar, and rice for the children. All this was prepared while I slept. I was awakened by Crab, who had been absent about a couple of hours on his exploring expedition.

“Holloa!” said he; “here's a pretty settler, to go to sleep while his wife works for him. Look here, I've got something for you.”

I awoke at this, and felt quite refreshed and ready for action. Crab displayed a brace of wild ducks, which produced a general curiosity among the party. Without stopping to ask questions, Crab prepared them for the spit after his way. But spit we had none, so we contented ourselves with throwing them on the hot embers,


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native fashion, and hooking them out with the ramrod of one of our muskets. We distributed them among young and old in equitable proportions. I had brought up with me a five-gallon cask of rum, rather in compliance with the customs of the colony than with my own inclination; but on this occasion, and to do honour to the splendour of our repast of game, I served out a moderate ration of it, much to the satisfaction of the two men, who were well pleased at the unexpected libation. We soon got very merry, and at last felt so reconciled to our new position, that I caught myself proposing three-times-three to the success of the FIRST FARM on the Fat Doe River.

And now, having rested and refreshed, we all began to bestir ourselves in earnest to our work. My eldest boy, Will, was set to watch the bullocks, to prevent their straying too far. The men busied themselves in erecting a sod hut for themselves about a hundred yards from the tents. Crab got out the grindstone, fixed it on a convenient stump of a fallen tree and prepared the axes. My first care was to put our fire-arms in order and handy for use. I had two muskets


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with bayonets, a fowling-piece and two pair of pistols, one a large pair of horse-pistols: I had besides a yeomanry broadsword and a hanger, so that we were tolerably well armed. Crab looked grim at my warlike preparations.

“Ah!” said he, “a pretty way of taking possession of a farm, with guns and blunderbusses, instead of ploughs and harrows. Well, to be sure! the madness of the people to come to such a place as this to fight with the natives and the bushrangers. However, as you are here, I suppose something must be done to get a roof over your heads. I have found some capital timber not a quarter of a mile off, that would do to build a log-house. You'll find that the best thing you can do, is to house yourself comfortably;—comfortably! yes, pretty comfort there is in the bush! we look very comfortable, don't we? all alone in the wilderness, without a soul near us to help us, and not a drop of beer to be had for love or money. Well, as you have made your bed, you must lie on it. You are in for it for a while, and so I suppose you must make the best of it.”

With these appropriate and gratifying observations,


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the cross-grained, but diligent Crab, furnished himself with the heaviest axe of the lot, and we went together to the verge of the forest; our encampment having been formed on a piece of ground nearly clear of timber. We eyed some hard-looking gum trees for a little time, pausing to select those most fit for our purpose.

“Now,” said Crab, “who is to strike the first stroke?”

“That will I do,” said I, and, fetching a blow at a gum-tree before me, stuck my axe in the bark.

“Well done for a beginning,” said Crab; “here goes for another.”

At this he struck a sturdy stroke on the other side of the tree, but without producing much impression.

“Hard stuff this,” said Crab. “I'm thinking we have harder work before us than we thought for! I wonder how long it will take you and me to cut down this tree? but let us at him again.”

We chopped, and chopped, and sweated, and worked, till we were fairly exhausted; we made a pretty decent gap on both sides, but the tree gave no intimation of coming down




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“This will never do,” said I; “there must be something wrong here; we must not be all day cutting down one tree.”

Casting my eye on the axes that lay on the ground, it occurred to me that the fault was in the tools. We had made use of heavy, broad axes, which after experience taught us were quite unfit for felling timber.

“There's something wrong with these axes,” said I; “let's try the axes which I bought in camp.”

They were much longer from heel to edge, and much narrower, presenting not more than half the breadth of edge to the wood. The first cut showed their superiority.

“This is the article,” said Crab; and with that he gave a flourish with his axe in the air, and shivered off a prodigious slice of the obstinate gum-tree. We went at it merrily, and presently the tree began to shiver, and suddenly it fell down with a prodigious crash to the ground.

“That's number one,” said Crab, “and precious hard work it is, I must say. And this is what we have come to t'other side of the


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earth for! to cut down gum-trees! A nice employment for middle-aged gentlemen, I must say. I'm thinking we might have had enough of this pleasure at home, without coming so far for it. However, every one to his mind. And now for the next, master. Here is a good-looking chap; let's have a chop at him.”

“Let us try the saw,” said I; “it's ready set, perhaps that will do it easier.”

“Any way,” said Crab, “so long as we are amused. I take it, in about six months, at this rate, we shall be able to get timber enough for a hut. But here's a nice breeze got up. Oh, this is what they call the sea-breeze that comes in the afternoon; but sure we are too far from the sea to feel it.”

“Well, never mind where it comes from; it's too pleasant to be asked questions about. Upon my word I thought it was rather warmish.”

The wind now rose so as to bend the branches of the trees, and its grateful coolness was unspeakably refreshing, after the sultry heat of the day. I saw the tents agitated by it, and the loose things on the grass dancing about, and the children merrily chasing them. But I found the


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breeze more than pleasing; it was a useful help in felling the trees, and we quickly took advantage of it. Cutting the side of the tree next to the breeze, we found that the force of the wind saved us half our labour, for the branches being full and thick in leaf, they presented such a hold to the wind, that a slight notching of them brought them down. In this way we felled eight trees, and gave the appearance of a little clearing to that spot.

In the meantime the evening was drawing in, and the shades of night soon fell on us. The men had raised the walls of their sod hut, and covering it over with branches of trees, they were content for the night. The bullocks shewed no disposition to stray; so, after seeing all things put in order as well as the circumstances permitted, we disposed ourselves for rest. Crab insisted on keeping watch with musket and fixed bayonet; and with a cartouch-box slung behind him, he made a most formidable figure.

All was still; the stars were bright in the heavens, and I could distinguish the faint outlines of the distant hills. It was long before I could compose myself to sleep. I was full of thought and


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anxiety. I had every thing to do: mine was really a beginning. The soil around me had not been disturbed by civilized man since its creation. The vast wilderness seemed to have received us into its ample bosom, and to have closed around us, shutting ting us out from all communication with humanity. We formed but a little speck on the vast space of the uninhabited country. I endeavoured to picture to myself the future farms that might arise around us, and the coming of neighhours to cheer and strengthen us. But the reality was too present and too strong to admit of the consolations of the imagination. I felt committed to an act of doubt and difficulty. I revolved my past life in England, and wondered how any state of misfortune could have been urgent enough to induce me to embark in so fearful an undertaking as that of a settler's life in the wilderness. But the very peril of my position served at last to nerve me up to the encounter. I felt the deep responsibility of my position as the father of a young family and the husband of an affectionate wife, who by my act had been conveyed from home, from relations, and from early friends, to brave the risks and adventures of a settler's life.




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With the serious thoughts with which this contemplation inspired me, I lay down to rest, not without returning my grateful thanks to the Great Disposer of all events, for having arrived thus far with my family in health and safety; and entreating the Divine protection and help in my solitary encampment, with such prayer I addressed myself to sleep to gather strength for the morrow.




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CHAPTER VII.

A SETTLER'S DAILY LABOURS—CHOPPING DOWN GUM-TREES TOUGH WORK—BUILDS A LOG-HOUSE—BUYS SOME SHEEP—SHOOTS A WILD ANIMAL—BLACK-COCKATOO PIE—A KANGAROO STEAMER.

Thursday, February 28th, 1817.—Up at day-light. Set the men to work to cross-cut the trees that we felled yesterday. Crab helped, and they sawed and felled alternately. Crab said it was regular nigger work; when they were tired of chopping down the gum-trees, they had to set to to saw 'em—to rest themselves!

Walked over my land; guessing, as well as I could, the extent of twelve hundred acres, at the rate of one-third frontage to the river. Fixed on the line where the measurement of my lot should begin. After a good deal of consideration and examination of the parts about, I settled on the spot for building our log-house. I


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thought that the time might come when I should be able to erect a better house, so I marked the place for our temporary habitation close to the spot for the future building, and so as to form a part of the general plan. Marked out in my mind a garden and entrance. After this I set to work to help Crab and the men in preparing split logs for the hut. My wife says that she doesn't like me to call it a “hut;” so, mem., “to call it a COTTAGE.” Got twelve more trees down to-day. My eldest boy, Will, who had been watching the working bullocks within sight of the tents, told us at dinner that he had seen a kangaroo, with a young one in her pouch, grazing not far from him. I must get dogs, not only for hunting occasionally, but for safety, to give the alarm at night and in the day-time too. The weather beautiful. We live in the open air, and it seems to me it would not harm us to sleep in the open air; but we have our tents. No one came near us all day.

Friday, March 1.—At work all day with Crab and the men, sawing the fallen timber into lengths and splitting it to set up. Crab has been splitting shingles to serve instead of tiles


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for the roof. Bob said that many huts are thatched with a sort of grass, abundant in all marshy places, and which serves the purpose of straw pretty well; but I don't like the idea of having a combustible roof where you are exposed to fire as well from the natives as from the accidental firing of the dry grass in the summer season; so although it is more labour and more expense, I have decided against thatch. Had the shingles split ten inches long and four broad. Only cut four more trees. Saw no one all day.

Saturday, March 2.—More chopping. We were all at it all day. Got down twenty-eight trees, making in all fifty-two. My wife says we must get some fowls to make a poultry-yard. Will complains that the bullocks want to stray off the ground. Weather beautiful. Saw no creature but ourselves all day.

Sunday, March 3.—Could not make up my mind at first what to do, whether to go on with our cottage, which was a pressing want, or to keep the Sunday as a day of rest. Consulted with my wife. She thought it was proper to keep up the distinction of the Sunday for the


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sake of preserving the good habits of the children. Pondered over the matter a good deal. As to there being any harm in working on a Sunday on such matters as we were engaged on, I did not think there was; but as the weather was fine, I thought it best not to disturb Sunday habits. So after we had read prayers to the children, we passed the day talking, and planning, and strolling among the trees, but not far from the house. And I don't think there was any time lost, after all; for our day's rest made us the fresher and stronger for Monday's work. As I am upon this subject, I may say here, that in my experience I never knew any harm come to a man's constitution from working the six days of the week as hard as he might, if he rested on the seventh. But I have observed that when a man in his eagerness has worked every day without taking his rest on the seventh, it has worn him out, and that he has become used up much sooner than the man who rested one day in the week. And this remark holds good, as I have had occasion to know, with those who work with their heads as well as with those who


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work with their hands. Saw no one all day. No Sunday visitors here.

Monday, March 4.—Chopping and sawing.

Tuesday, March 5.—Sawing and chopping.

Wednesday, March 6.—Chop, chop, chop, saw, saw, saw.

Thursday, March 7.—Crab wants to know if I am going to build a town. He says it's a pity to take so much trouble about a thing which I may leave, perhaps, next day. My thoughts are very different.

Friday, March 8.—Began setting up the logs to form the walls of the house. House to be sixty feet long and sixteen broad, and the logs nine feet out of the ground; to be divided into one large room, twenty feet long; a passage ten feet wide; and on the other side of the passage four rooms, one to be a store-room. At the end of the passage, facing the entrance, a closet for all sorts of things. At the back of the long room of twenty feet, a skillion, to serve as a kitchen, &c.

When I shewed the plan to Crab, he said “I should never live to finish it; however, I might


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go on building it till I left, and he would not balk my humour if I had a fancy for it.”

Saturday.—More chopping and sawing.

Sunday.—Passed as before.

Monday, March 11.—Hard at work at the house, and all the week; put the logs in the ground two feet deep; got all the shingles split for the roof.

Tuesday, March 19.—The cottage presents a respectable appearance. Shingled it over as far as the long room, then stopped for want of shingle nails. We had not had fresh meat since we got on the land, and my wife thought the children were not thriving. Arranged to send the bullock-cart to camp for a fresh supply of nails and flour, and to bring up as much as it could carry of our goods from the merchant's store—Crab to go, with one man.

Wednesday.—Saw the cart off. We all felt very lonely. We did not lose time, however, but finished odd things about that wanted attending to.

Thursday, March 21.—Took my gun, to see if I could bring down some ducks, to make a fresh meal for the children; for we had been


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living on the salt pork we had brought up with us. Tried to keep the tents and new building in sight, but was led further than I intended. Came up to a lot of ducks swimming leisurely about at a part of the river that was very deep, with the current not so rapid as in the shallow parts. I was going to have a shot at about twenty of them, when suddenly a gun was fired in the midst of them, close to me. I was in a terrible fright—the suddenness of the report and its unexpectedness filling me at the moment with all sorts of fears. My first impulse was to run home to my wife and children; and then the thought occurred that I should be exposed, and defenceless that way, to be shot at, if there was any one of a mind to do it.

All these thoughts passed through my head in an instant; and in the meanwhile the man who had fired the shot advanced rapidly through the shrubs after his game. As he came on, his eyes lighted on me with my gun cocked and pointed towards him. I saw at once by his manner that he was as much frightened at me as I was at him. The Fat Doe River at this place is about forty feet across: he was on the


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other side. There we stood for a little while, he stopping and gaping, and I standing with my piece in the position to fire. How long we should have remained in these positions, each in fear of the other, I can't pretend to say; but the suspense was ended by a flock of ducks that came flying between us, just over our heads. The ducks were so close, they looked so plump as I stood under them, and I wanted them so much, that I could not resist the temptation. By a sort of instinct, for I was always fond of sporting, I raised up my piece, and forgetting my usual caution, I let fly at them. Down came three.

“Well done!” cried out the stranger; “I see there's no harm in you, or you would not have flung away your fire that way; but you'll lose your ducks, if you don't mind; there are two in the water sailing down the stream.”

I soon found a long rod, with which I secured my birds; and the stranger, going further down the stream, recovered the four which he had shot before me.

“I suppose you took me for a bushranger?” bawled I, speaking to him as he was standing


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and holding his wet ducks by the legs, on the other side of the narrow stream.

“I did not like the looks of you, as you stood with your gun pointed at me as you did; that's just the way of' em. I suppose you're looking for land?”

“I have found my land, and I'm on it, not a quarter of a mile from here. What are you doing?”

“I have got charge of a stock-yard, about fifteen miles off, and I'm going my rounds to see how the cattle lie.”

“Cattle! I wish I had known there were cattle hereabouts; I should have been glad of some of the fresh meat. I've seen none near us. But, to be sure, I have never left my tents before to-day, to go as far as this even. But we can talk as we go home; they are waiting for me, and glad enough will they be at what I am bringing them.”

With this we proceeded homewards, till we came to the part of the stream where a tree had fallen across, which served as a bridge for the stock-keeper to come over to me. When we got


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to the tents, he went, as a matter of course, to the men's sod-hut, where Bob did the honours; this relieved me from a little embarrassment, for I did not know on what footing to treat the stock-keeper. After awhile Bob appeared with the stranger's four ducks, saying that he would be glad of salt pork instead, as it would be a treat to him.

Friday, March 22.—The stock-keeper slept in Bob's hut. I found that he had two kangaroo dogs for sale, a dog and bitch—asked twelve dollars each for them. Thought it a large sum, but after some explanation agreed to give it. To bring the dogs on Tuesday.

Saturday, March 23.—Tried my hand with Bob at making a table. Took some of the cleanest of the split logs, and splitting them again, contrived by smoothing them with the axe and planing them where possible, to produce a tolerably even surface. It was six feet long, and four wide. My wife praised my ingenuity, and her mother declared it was a splendid piece of furniture. The children were very merry at it, and Betsy, my eldest girl, who was christened after her grandmother, covered it with an old green


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cloth, that had served to pack things in, which gave it quite a genteel look.

We were all abed and asleep, when we were awakened by a prodigious cracking of whips and sounds of voices in the distance. We were agreeably surprised by the arrival of the bullock-cart, with Crab and the man, bearing fresh supplies and additions to our stores, for we did not expect him till next day.

Sunday, 24.—Passed as usual. Crab says he has seen a fine lot of sheep—one hundred and eighty ewes with their lambs, and forty wethers, to be had cheap for money, near the Green Ponds. Thought of the sheep all night, but could not plan how to keep them without another servant.

Monday, 25.—Found that John Bond, one of my government men, had been used to sheep in England. Determined to have a look at the sheep next day, but very reluctant to leave home.

Tuesday, 26.—Crab and Bob set to work to complete the shingling of the cottage. Seeing the importance of beginning to get stock about me, and of taking advantage of cheap sales, I started off at daylight with John Bond to the Green Ponds. Arrived there at mid-day; examined


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the sheep, bought the whole lot at 10s. 6d. a head, that is, reckoning the ewe and lamb as one. The lambs are about five months old. This comes to four hundred and sixty-two dollars, dollars passing for five shillings, which cost me four shillings and fourpence in London.

They were large-carcased sheep, partaking more of the Leicestershire breed than any other; their wool far from fine, but not positively coarse. These one hundred and eighty ewes formed the basis of my future flocks, of the rise of which I shall have to speak in the proper place. I paid for the sheep by an order for so much money in camp. When I had bought them, the next thing was how to get them home. I and my man drove them to the foot of the Den Hill that evening, and then letting them feed in the valley, they rested quietly where they were when the day closed.

We kept watch and watch all night. About the middle of the night the sheep became very restless, and I wondered what was the matter, and was easily alarmed, being in constant apprehension of bushrangers and natives. I had my gun ready, and listened attentively; I could hear


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nothing but my man snoring. Presently I thought I heard a sort of snuffing, as of some animal, and peering through the dark, I thought I saw an outline different from that of a sheep, and standing by itself. I knew there were no wild animals in the country that would attack man, but I felt a little queerish at the appearance of the shadowy form of a creature which I took to be the native dog, as I had heard it called in camp. I was curious to know what it was, and, prompted by that feeling of using the gun which grows with one in the bush, I fired. The whole flock roused up at this, and my man awoke directly. I told him what I had done, and when we had settled the sheep down again, we went to the spot, and found an animal killed and warm.

When the daylight came I found I had killed a sort of animal peculiar to the country, as all animals are in Van Diemen's Land. It was more like a large wild dog or jackal than anything else; about the size of a Newfoundland dog, but not so thick and heavy; of a brownish colour, and was partly striped and partly spotted like a leopard. It was a female, and possessed the peculiarity attached only to the animals of New


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South Wales, of the false belly or pouch for containing the young one. I was not naturalist enough to make out to what description of animal the creature belonged, but my friend Mr. Moss, who settled near me some years after, has told me since, that the animal is of the canine genus, and of a species before unknown. My man skinned it for me, and when we got home Betsy covered the stump of a gum-tree with it, and being elegantly stuffed with dry grass, it formed a seat of honour for my wife.

We lost no time in getting the sheep over the long hill, and then, letting them travel leisurely, we reached home with them before noon.

There was a fine stir about the tents when the sheep came in sight. We were welcomed by my wife, and her mother, and the children in a body. Even Crab seemed pleased.

“Well,” said he, “here's more company, at any rate. You must look sharp after them, or not a tail will you see to-morrow morning. The sheep in this country are dreadful creatures to stray. And no wonder, poor things! they naturally try to find some grass fit to eat, which they never do, and that makes 'em eternally


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wandering about. We shall have a pretty job to brand 'em. Where do you mean to mark 'em?”

“Why,” said I, “I must do as well as I can, for I have no marking-irons.”

“No marking-irons! Here's a mess! We must make another journey to town. Only think of travelling fifty or sixty miles, and the same back, after marking-irons or any little thing that may be wanted. Why, there isn't a blacksmith nearer than camp!Well, I suppose we must make another trip?”

“And no great harm in that,” said I; “I don't see the use of putting the plough in the ground yet; it's too late and too early; so we had better take advantage of the leisure, and cart every thing up that must be carted.”

“Why, you never mean to drag all your goods up here, when you're sure to have to drag them all back again?” said Crab; “for as to staying here, that's out of all question. You'll soon have a visit from the bushrangers when they smell out there is something to be got; or else the natives will call on you in a friendly way, and make a bonfire of your new house; or else—you'll make


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a bonfire of it yourself, when you come to be sick of the whole affair, as you soon will.”

“We shall see,” said I. And so it was settled that the cart should go down next day with Crab and Bob, as we should want the other man to mind the sheep. We turned our little flock into the meadow, where we could see for a mile before us, with only trees enough to make the place look pleasing, like a gentleman's park in England.

The stock-keeper came this afternoon with the two kangaroo dogs, Hector and Fly; I found they were the very same dogs I had met with at New Norfolk. They soon got used to us.

Wednesday, March 27.—Crab went to camp with Bob and one of the carts and four bullocks. The stock-keeper staid with us to-day to lend a hand to finish the shingling; but my boy was mad to take the dogs out after a kangaroo, and the stock-keeper promised to go with him and shew him the sport next morning.

Got on well with the shingling to-day.

Thursday, March 28.—Finished the shingling to-day all but the skillion. And now I was puzzled about the chimney, which I had planned to


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be at one end. Searched about near the house, for I did not like to go far, after lime, but could not see any thing that looked like it. Found a nice bit of clay that I thought would do for plastering. Got John Bond to help me a bit, while the sheep were in sight, to saw some trees into blocks for seats; contrived to cut six; but this sawing is hard work. The sheep seem to take kindly to the place, but the feed is beginning to be scanty. The flat, I am inclined to think, is overflown some time in the year, by the look of some water-furrows. Came on a capital stone quarry about a quarter of a mile from the tents, with some monstrous black ants crawling about. Saw a snake to-day for the first time on my land; I had seen many in my walks over the country, but I had not seen one before at the Fat Doe River. It was quite black, about four feet long, and was an ugly-looking thing; it glided away very quickly through the long sedgy grass, and seemed to be as much afraid of me as I was of it. I did not think to shoot it till it was out of sight.

Coming home I spied four black cockatoos chattering in a bush hard by. I fired and killed


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one. It was curious to see how the others wondered and fluttered about the dead bird as if they could not make out what harm had come to it. I fired again and killed two, and then shot the remaining one, which had not shewn any inclination to fly away.

I have thought since that there was something like cruelty in what I did; it was like slaughtering them in cold blood, in their ignorance and innocence, they never having heard the report of a gun before, and being unresisting, and not knowing the necessity of fleeing from man and his engines of destruction. However, these thoughts did not trouble me at the moment. I took the birds home and gave them to my wife to make a pie of. The children laughed at the idea of black cockatoo-pie, and they all said it was a pity to kill such pretty birds; but we ate the pie nevertheless with a good deal of relish, and I thought it a very prime one.....Killed a wether in the evening; it weighed forty-eight pounds, sinking the offal; it was about twenty months old.

Just after dark Will came home with his new friend, the stock-keeper, tired enough, and he soon made an end of the remains of the cockatoo-pie.


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He brought with him the tail of an immense kangaroo as a trophy, while the stock-keeper bore on his shoulders the hind-quarters of another, holding the two hind-legs before him, while the tail was hanging down his back nearly to the ground. I asked what they had done with the kangaroo that Will's tail belonged to, and they said they had left the fore-quarters on the ground, and that they had hoisted up the hind-quarters and the skins on a tree, some six or seven miles from the tents. I thought this a sad waste, but it was the general custom in those times. The women then busied themselves in cooking part of the venison for supper, under the instructions of the stock-keeper, who was an experienced epicure in kangaroo cookery. The tenderest parts, and those most free from the tendons and fibres with which the flesh of the kangaroo abounds, were carefully cut out, and chopped up fine; some slices of salt pork were added to this, and the whole put to steam slowly over the fire.

This national dish of the Van Diemen's Land bush is called a “STEAMER.” I think I never ate anything so delicious; we all had a hearty stuff, and the old lady insisted on having the rum


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introduced, to celebrate, as she said, Will's first exploit of hunting. The tail was left on the fire in a Papin's digester, to make soup for the next day. The soup was better even than the steamer; but I must not anticipate. As we sat round the fire on our logs of wood, enjoying ourselves after the bush fashion, I sitting, as my custom was at that time, with my gun over my arm, for fear of surprises, but feeling more safe since the arrival of the dogs, which in this country act not only as hounds for hunting, but as capital watch-dogs, the ladies were curious to know how Will had contrived to catch the kangaroos, and what sort of sport it was. Will was very tired, but the cockatoo-pie and the steamer had refreshed him, and he soon fired up at the recollection of the sport, and told us what had happened to him. As this was my boy's first expedition, I noted down his description in my journal, thinking it might interest him in after-times; and to do it the greater honour, I have made it the subject of a separate chapter.




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CHAPTER VIII.

AKANGAROO HUNT—DESCRIPTION AND HABITS OF THE ANIMAL—CRAB DILATES ON THE TOPSY-TURVINESS OF ALL THINGS ANIMAL, VEGETABLE, AND GEOGRAPHICAL IN VAN DIEMEN'S LAND.

IT was just light when the stock-keeper called me, and I wasn't long dressing. I took one of the large pistols that father said I might have, and the stock-keeper had a musket, and we had half a damper and a paper of salt, and I had my big hack-knife, and so off we went. I do think Hector knew he was going to have some kangaroo, for he seemed so glad, and licked his chops, and Fly wagged her tail, and the morning was so beautiful, and what do you think, father? the bird that mother likes to hear so much is a magpie! it is indeed, for I saw it, and it's just like an English magpie, only it sings so beautifully. We walked over the plain till we came to the hills; the dogs kept quiet behind us. The


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stock-keeper said I might see they had been well trained; they kept their heads low and their tails hanging down behind them, as if they had no life in them; but you should have seen them when they got sight of a kangaroo, didn't they pluck up! We went on till we got about four or five miles from the tents, and then we did not talk, for the kangaroos are startled at the least noise; they are just like hares for that. Then the stock-keeper stood still. He said to the dogs “Go find,” and then the dogs cantered about round us, going farther and farther off, till Hector began to smell about very earnestly.

“He has got scent,” said the stock-keeper; and so he had, for he galloped off with his nose to the ground, straight ahead. Fly saw him, and she galloped after.

“I think it's a big one,” said the stock-keeper, “the dogs seem so warm at it.”

I was running after them as fast as I could, when the stock-keeper called after me to stop.

“Stop,” said he; “it's of no use for you to run, you could not keep up with them.”

“Why, what are we to do?” said I; “if they kill a kangaroo, how can we find it?”




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“Wait a bit,” said he; “all in good time. If the dogs kill a kangaroo, we shall find him, I'll warrant.”

So we waited and waited till I was quite tired; and a good while after, Hector came back quite slowly, as if he was tired, with Fly following after. The stock-keeper looked at his mouth. “What's that for ?” said I.

“To see if he has killed,” said he; “look here, his mouth is bloody, and that's come by killing a kangaroo, you may be sure of it.”

Then the stock-keeper stood up and said to Hector, “Show;” and then Hector trotted off, not fast, but pretty fast, so that I was obliged to trot too to keep up with him; and he trotted on and on till I was rather tired, I dare say for three miles from where we were at first; and on he went, and we following him, till he brought us to a dead kangaroo, close to a little pool of water. It was a monstrous big one, with such a claw on each of his hind-legs; a claw that would rip up a dog in a moment, or a man too, if he got at him.

“Good dog!” said the stock-keeper, and Hector wagged his tail, and seemed to like to


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be praised. Then the stock-keeper gave me his gun to hold, and he cut open the kangaroo and gave the inside to the dogs. Then he skinned the upper part down to the loins, and cut the kangaroo in half, and hung it up in a tree, noting the place; the other half he left on the ground; that is, when he went away from the place, for he would not let the dogs have more than a taste of the blood, lest it should spoil their hunting.

“What's to be done now?” said I.

“We'll kill another,” said the stock-keeper, “if you are not tired.”

I said I was not tired a bit; so after we had rested a little while, we went on again, the dogs following us as at first. We saw plenty of brush kangaroos, but we would not touch them. After we had got a mile or two, the stock-keeper, who had been examining the ground all the way along, said, “I think there are some big ones hereabouts, by the look of the marks;” so he said to the dogs, “Go, find,” as he had said before. Almost directly, we saw such a large fellow—I'm sure he was six feet high—he looked at us and at the dogs for a moment,


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and then off he went. My gracious! what hops he did give! he hopped with his two hind-legs, with his fore-legs in the air, and his tail straight out behind him,—and wasn't it a tail!—it was as thick as a bed-post! and this great tail went wag, wag, up and down, as he jumped, and seemed to balance him behind. But Hector and Fly were after him. This time the stock-keeper ran too, for the ground was level and clear of fallen timber, and you could see a good way before you. I had begun to feel a little tired, but I didn't feel tired then. Hop, hop went the kangaroo, and the dogs after him, and we after the dogs; and we scampered on till I was quite out of breath; and the kangaroo was a good bit before the dogs, when he turned up a hill.

“Now we shall have him,” said the stock-keeper; “the dogs will beat him up-hill.”

I wanted my breath, but I kept up, and we scrambled up the hill, and I thought the dogs would get him; but the kangaroo got to the top of the hill first, and when we got a sight of him, he was bounding down the hill, making such prodigious leaps at every jump, over every thing,


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that you couldn't believe it, if you didn't see it. The dogs had no chance with him down-hill.

“It's of no use,” said the stock-keeper, “for us to try to keep up with him; we may as well stay here. He'll lead the dogs a pretty chace, will that fellow; he's a Boomah, and one of the biggest rascals I ever saw.”

So we sat down at the top of the hill, under a gum-tree, and there we sat a long time, I don't know how long, until we saw Hector coming up. The stock-keeper looked at his mouth.

“He has killed,” said he; “but he has got a little scratched in the tussle, and so has Fly. That big chap was almost too much for two dogs.” Then he said, “Go, show!” and Hector and Fly trotted along straight to where the kangaroo lay, without turning to the right or left, but going over every thing, just as if they knew the road quite well. We came to a hollow, and there we saw the kangaroo lying dead. Just as the stock-keeper was going to cut him open, I saw another kangaroo not a hundred yards off.

“There's another,” said I; and the dogs, although they had had a hard battle with the


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kangaroo lying dead, started off directly. Close by us was a large pond of water, like a little lake. The kangaroo was between the dogs and the lake. Not knowing how to get past, I suppose, he hopped right into the lake, and the dogs went after him. He hopped further into the lake, where the water got deeper, and then the dogs were obliged to swim, but they were game, and would not leave their work. When the kangaroo found himself getting pretty deep in the water, he stopped, and turned on the dogs; but he could not use his terrible hind claws, so when one of the dogs made a rise at his throat (they always try to get hold of the throat), he took hold of him with his fore-legs, and ducked him under the water. Then the other dog made a spring at him, and the kangaroo ducked him in the same way.

“Well,” said the stock-keeper, “I never saw the like of that before; this is a new game.”

And all the while the dogs kept springing at the kangaroo's throat, and the kangaroo kept ducking them under the water. But it was plain the dogs were getting exhausted, for they were


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obliged to swim and be ducked too, while the kangaroo stood with his head and fore-legs out of the water.

“This will never do,” said the stock-keeper; “he'll drown the dogs soon at this rate.” So he took his gun from me and put a ball in it.

“Now,” said he, “for a good shot; I must take care not to hit the dogs.”

He put his gun over the branch of a dead tree, and watching his time, he fired, and hit the kangaroo in the neck, and down it came in the water. He then called off the dogs, and they swam back to us.

“He is such a prime one,” said he, “it would be a pity to lose his skin;” so he waded in after him, and dragged him out. “It's a pity,” said he, “to lose so much meat, but his hind-quarters would be a bigger load than I should like to carry home; but I must have his skin, and I'll tell you what, young fellow, you shall have his tail, though I'm thinking it's rather more than you can carry home.”

This roused me a bit, to think I couldn't carry a kangaroo's tail; so I determined to take it home, if I dropped, though I must say it was so


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heavy that I was obliged to rest now and then, and the stock-keeper carried it a good part of the way for me.

“What shall we do with the meat?” said I.

“What shall we do with it!” said he; “are you hungry?”

“I believe you,” said I.

“Then we'll make a dinner off him,” said the stock-keeper.

With that we got together some dry sticks, and made a fire, and the stock-keeper took the ramrod of his musket, and first he cut a slice of the lean off the loins, which he said was the tenderest part, and put the ramrod through it, and then he cut out a bit of fat, and slid it on after the lean, and so on a bit of fat and a bit of lean, till he had put on lots of slices, and so he roasted them over the fire. He gave me the ramrod to hold, and cutting a long slice of bark out of a gum-tree, made two plates; capital plates, he said, for a bush dinner. I told you we had got some salt and some damper, and I was pretty hungry, as you may suppose, and I thought it the most delicious dinner I ever ate. When I had done, I laid down on the grass, and


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Hector and Fly came and laid themselves down beside me, and somehow, I don't know how it was, I fell asleep, I was so tired. I slept a good while, for the stock-keeper said it would have been a sin to wake me, I was in such a sweet sleep. I woke up, however, after a good nap, and felt as if I could eat a bit more kangaroo. But it was getting late, and so we made the best of our way home. We passed by the place where we had killed the first kangaroo; so the stock-keeper brought home the hind-quarters and the three skins, and I brought home a tail; and really I don't know which is best, kangaroo steaks or kangaroo steamer.

“Or cockatoo pie,” said his mother; “and now to bed; I dare say we shall dream all night of your 'Tale of a Kangaroo.' ”

Will's account of his sport amused us very much; and it was a correct description of the way of hunting the animal. I may remark here on the amazing quantity of grass that a kangaroo eats; it eats nothing else in its wild state, but the quantity found in it has often astonished me, When caught very young, and tamed, it will eat


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all sorts of vegetables; but of all things I ever tried it with, it is fondest of brown sugar; it will follow you about for brown sugar, just as sheep will follow the shepherd to get a lick of a lump of salt. It is a timid, fearful animal; very pretty in appearance when its head and neck only are visible over the bushes, but an ungainly creature in its whole aspect. The feature of its false belly or pouch, into which the young one creeps to sleep or to avoid danger, is peculiar to the females of all the native animals of this country.

Crab says that every thing is wrong on this side of the globe, and that he is sure Nature first tried her hand at creation in Van Diemen's Land, and found that she was making mistakes, so she went right over to the other side and mended matters. “For,” says he, “look at the trees, instead of shedding their leaves in winter, they shed their bark; and there it hangs, in rags and tatters, till it drops off. Would any decent, respectable tree in England behave in such a manner? And then look at what they call rivers! Why, the river Jordan (it's a shame to give it such a Scripture name) isn't so broad


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as the New River at home! As to the Clyde, I don't know what to make of it; it runs up-hill in some places. The river Derwent is a biggish river, to be sure, but you can never depend on it; it never knows its own mind, sometimes it's high and sometimes it's low, and there's no trusting to its tides, at least so they tell me in camp. And the grass! it isn't green, like honest, wholesome grass at home, but brown, and as coarse as wire-grass in a swamp. If you want to make the grass green in Van Diemen's Land, you must set fire to a patch, and then what comes up after is green for awhile, but there's little of it. There's not a natural flower in the whole country; nor a root, nor a plant, nor a fruit fit for man's eating. The cherry-tree, as they call it, is a funny thing indeed! a sour, squashy thing, with the stone forgotten in the middle, and so it was stuck outside, for the look's sake, I suppose. Then every thing is contrary; you never know which is north and south, and it's winter in June and summer in January! I tell you what it is, Master, it's all a mistake, and the best thing we can do is to go back to a country fit for a


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Christian to live in—to Old England, where a man knows what he's about, and can get a pint of beer if he wants it, and get his plough and his cart dragged by horses, and not by bullocks in this outlandish fashion.”




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CHAPTER IX.

TAKES POSSESSION OF HIS NEW HOUSE—DELIGHT OF INDEPENDENCE—CRAB PUTS THE PLOUGH INTO THE GROUND—THE GARDEN, AND SHEEP—SHEARING—THE SETTLER TAKES STOCK AND MAKES A DISCOVERY.

March 29.—The nights begin to get cold; the children felt the change last night. Puzzled to contrive doors and shutters for the cottage.

March 30.—Crab returned with the bullock-cart about mid-day. Told me there was a lot of sawed stuff just below the Green Ponds, which I might have if I liked at the cost price. This is just what I want for the doors and shutters of the house. Set Bob to work at the stone chimney; the whole end of the house and the chimney to be built of stone.

March 31.—Went down myself with Bob to the Green Ponds, with both carts and the eight bullocks. Drove one cart myself, and Bob the other. Find I'm a capital bullock-driver; no


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man knows what he can do till he tries. Bought the stuff, and brought it back the same day. The nights begin to get cold.

April 1.—Took possession of our new house, and worked hard at the doors and window-shutters. Frost at night.

April 2.—All hands at the stone chimney. Made a rough job of it, but got on pretty well. The stone is easy to work, it easily breaks into flakes handy for working; as for mortar, we use some sandy loam mixed with clay from the river, and it seems to make cement good enough for our purpose.

April 3 and 4.—Finished the stone chimney, and lighted a blazing fire, for the nights are cold now; and with our large table in the middle of the room, with Betsy's green cloth on it, and seated on our logs of wood, we formed a cheerful party at supper.

April 5.—Rose early, according to my custom, and surveyed my new dwelling with a particular sort of satisfaction. “No rent to pay for you,” said I; “no taxes, that's pleasant; no poor-rates, that's a comfort; and no one can give me warning to quit, and that's another comfort; and it's


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my own, thank God, and that's the greatest comfort of all.” I cast my eyes on the plain before me, and saw my flock of sheep studding the plain, with my working bullocks at a little distance. My dogs came up and licked my hands. Presently my children came out into the fresh morning air, which was rather bracing, as the weather was getting colder every day in the morning and evening, but still warm in the middle of the day, and we had a romp with the dogs. As we sat at breakfast that morning in our rude cottage, with the bare walls of logs of trees and the shingle roof above us, all rough enough, but spacious, and a little too airy, I began to have a foretaste of that feeling of independence and security of home and subsistence which I have so many years enjoyed in a higher degree than I then looked for; but I must not anticipate.

Finished all the doors and shutters, and put on good fastenings of bolts and locks which I had brought from England.

April 6.—Considered in my mind whether it would not be well to turn up some ground to sweeten ready for spring sowing in September.


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The winter frosts, should there be any, of June, July, and August, would pulverize the clods a bit. I can't help smiling while I write this of June, July, and August, being the winter months; it shows how topsy-turvy things are here. Consulted Crab about it, for he understands farming well. Crab says there must be something wrong about it; he cannot understand how I can pretend to have a SPRING sowing in SEPTEMBER! “It's against reason,” he says, “and against nature, and he can't encourage such nonsense.”

April 7.—Thought I'd try a bit of land about a quarter of a mile from the house, and that lay handy for fencing—about twelve acres. Stuck the plough into it this morning, and it turned up rarely. Crab came to laugh at us. I saw he eyed the furrows wistfully, and cast a longing look at the plough. At last he grew very fidgetty, and taking occasion to find fault with the furrows for not being straight, he seized hold of the shafts, shoving me aside without much ceremony, saying, “Heaven be good to us! do you call that ploughing? Here, give us hold.” His grim visage seemed actually to change and light up when he felt the wood in his hands, and giving


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the word, Bob smacked on the bullocks, and Crab, in the exuberance of his joy, began to sing some extraordinary Shropshire song, which made the woods ring again, and the work went on merrily. From that hour Crab would allow no one to touch the plough but himself, and he really seemed to enjoy his work with all the relish of an unexpected restoration to an old and loved occupation.

The ground was quite clear of trees, and with-out many stones, and in little more than a fortnight the whole was turned up. Then we set to, to cut down the light timber in the vicinity to make a bush fence, which employed us for some time. After that, we worked hard to fence in a bit of ground for a garden. We had to go rather farther from home after some stringy-bark trees best for splitting laths, and contrived to enclose about an acre. Then we had a stock-yard to build, and pens for the sheep, and to fence it with bush fences. Building the stock-yard was hard work, as we had to form it of the solid trunks of trees, about nine inches to a foot in diameter, and from twenty to thirty feet long; these we had to drag by bullock-chains and four bullocks, from a spot


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about a mile and a half from the house: heavy work, and hard labour to set them up. I determined to do every thing well, and in such a way as to fall in with my plan of the future farm and buildings. All this work, and the sending of the cart three times to Camp to bring up various articles, occupied the whole of the winter months, of June, July, and August.

In the spring, that is, in September, I sowed the whole of my twelve acres, after giving them another ploughing, with the best seed wheat I could get, casting it pretty thickly, and allowing two bushels and a quarter to the acre, which Crab thought too much. This seed cost me twelve shillings a bushel. I might have waited, I found afterwards, till October or November, but I thought it best to sow too early rather than too late.

At the latter end of this month, taking advantage of the dry days, seeing that the weather was mild, I sowed the various seeds in the garden which it is usual to sow in the spring in England.

I ought to say here, that I found the winter very mild. The snow lay on the ground once for three days, about two inches thick, and there


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was ice strong enough to bear in one or two places, in a deep hollow about three miles from the cottage, which the rays of the sun did not reach. The mornings and evenings were cold, particularly just before daylight, when the cold was sharpest, but the middle of the day was like a bright October day in England. There is very little rain in the autumn in Van Diemen's Land, that is, from the beginning of March to the end of May; and not much rain during the winter months of June, July, and August. The rainy season is for about six weeks or two months in the spring, that is, in September and October.

November 1.—My one hundred and eighty ewes, which I bought last March, have produced me two hundred and twenty lambs, many having dropped two lambs a-piece. I trust the wool will be improved, as I had taken care to choose the best rams I could find shortly after I bought them. This makes my flock look respectable.

This month I bought six cows heavy with calf, for four pounds each. They are fine cows, but rather wild. Applied for another servant from the government, and had assigned to me


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a tolerably good one, but he knows nothing of farming. We find now that we have plenty to do. My poor wife works hard, for the female servants are generally idle, troublesome things. Her mother, however, helps her with the children.

Got the windows of the cottage glazed, and covered the floor all over with boards, and put boards over our heads for a ceiling. The shepherd found some whitish earth, like whiting, about six miles from the cottage. I had long since plastered it inside and out with sand and river clay, and now I gave it a coat of this whitewash outside, which gave it a very smart appearance. For the inside, I mixed with the white earth some of the red ochre which is abundant in many parts of the country: this produced something of a salmon colour, and the plaster being smooth, the ochre gave it the appearance of stucco, and it looked very well and seemly.

We begin to think something of ourselves, and should assume airs of importance, only there is no one near us to show them to.




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December.—Month for sheep-shearing. Rather light-handed for this work. Washed the sheep in a bend of the river close by. The wool turns out pretty well, but far from fine. The wool of the lambs, now fourteen months old, the best part. I calculate the whole of the fleeces together weigh about nine hundred and twenty pounds: that is, two pounds and a half to the fleece of the one hundred and eighty ewes, one hundred and eighty lambs, fourteen months old, and eight of the forty wethers which I bought in March last. In England, I think this wool would sell for about fourteen-pence per pound.

We are now getting to the end of December, and summer is coming on. The wheat looks well, which Crab attributes to his peculiar method of ploughing, which he has endeavoured to explain to me; but I cannot understand it, although I agree with him, of course. He says he shall wait to see how the wheat comes up, and then he shall bid me good-by and go home.

The garden comes on beautifully. Peas want sticking. Cabbages and cauliflowers transplanted last month doing well. The six cows dropped their calves this month. This will make them


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attached to the place. The beginning of the farm looks thriving; may the end not disappoint me!

January.—Wheat up high, and the ears well formed. Crab says there will be a good crop, but thinks I should have done better if I had turned up a bit of the land lying lower, as the present bit seems to want more moisture. I proposed to try it for next year.

“Next year!” said he; “you won't catch me here next year. I don't know how I've come to stop in this strange country so long already; but somehow there has always been something to do, and I must own I should like to see how this bit of land will turn out that I've had the ploughing of, and take home a handful of wheat to Shropshire, to show the folks there what sort of stuff they grow in Van Diemen's Land. I shall be sorry to leave you and the children, but here I won't stay, that I'm determined on. Things have certainly seemed to turn out lucky with you as yet; but that will only make the ruin when it does come—and come it will—more miserable. That's my mind.”

After this long speech, the grumbling and


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good-natured Crab proceeded busily to begin a piece of fencing which it would take at least six months to complete. But I shall have to say something more of him by-and-by.

February 3.—The anniversary of my landing in Van Diemen's Land.

February 4.—Cut the wheat. Crab rejoices at the fine harvest. “Thirty-five to the acre,” says he, “if there's a bushel!” This produce he attributes principally to his own sagacity and superior skill in ploughing.

About half an acre of potatoes looks well, but I fear it is running too much into top. Every thing grows here with a remarkable luxuriance; the garden is a mass of green vegetables.

February 27.—Kept this day as a grand holiday, being the anniversary of our arrival at the Fat Doe River. Crab can hardly believe that we have been here a year, and that he has been so forgetful as to remain so long in the country. Sat down with my wife to take stock. After enumerating all our goods and chattels, sheep, bullocks, cows, &c., I was about to conclude, when my wife stopped me.




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“You have forgotten part of our stock,” said she.

“What stock is that, my dear?” said I.

“The five children,” my dear.

“Oh,” said I, “very well; by all means let us put them in the list. There's William to begin with, and a fine fellow he grows.”

“And Betsy,” said she.

“And Ned and Mary,” said I.

“And Lucy.”

“And that closes the account,” said I.

“Not yet,” said she.

“How's that?” said I.

“You had better leave a space there.”

“Hulloa!” said I, “what's all this about?”

“It's the air, I suppose; but you say yourself that every thing in this new country is topsy-turvy.”

“Topsy-turvy, indeed!”said I. “Why, how shall we feed them all?”

As I spoke those words, my eyes rested on my increasing flock of sheep, with the cattle grazing on the beautiful plain before me; and, turning my head, I admired my yellow wheat-stack,


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which seemed like the promise of the future abundance which would reward patience and labour. Many thoughts crowded on me; I began to feel the solid enjoyments of an agricultural life. I looked at my kind and patient wife, the companion of my toils, my helpmate and my consolation in troubles of mind and difficulties of fortune. I rapidly compared the difficulty of providing for children in the old country with the facility of subsistence in the new one; and, elated with my feelings of independence, I startled my wife with crying out joyously, “Well, there's plenty for all; land, and house, and meat, and what not! so the more the merrier!”




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CHAPTER X.

EXPENSES OF SETTLING—INCREASE OF SHEEP AND CATTLE—ANECDOTES OF SNAKES—HIS POSITION IN 1821—INCREASE OF SHEEP AND CATTLE IN 1824—SHEEP-STEALING INCREASES IN THE COLONY—HEARS SOME DISAGREEABLE ACCOUNTS OF BUSHRANGERS—HIS PROSPEROUS STATE IN MAY, 1824—HIS TRANQUILLITY IS SUDDENLY DISTURBED BY DISTRESSING CRIES OF ALARM FROM A NEIGHBOURING FARM.

March 1st, 1818.—As I had from the first formed the plan of attending particularly to the breeding of sheep, as the easiest and most profitable occupation that could be pursued in Van Diemen's Land, I did not embarrass myself by attempting to bring a large quantity of land under cultivation, and I applied myself therefore to the tillage of my farm no more than was sufficient to supply my own consumption. I kept my attention steadily fixed on the raising of wool, as a commodity, should the value of the carcase fail, of easy conveyance, compared with corn, and of certain sale as an article of export.


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In early settling, the weight of the flesh of the sheep is better worth attending to than the wool, as it is difficult, if not impossible, to regulate the breed of the animal without separation and fencing, which during the early years of settling cannot be done, at least without sinking a large sum of money. My first care, therefore, was to endeavour to improve the fineness of the wool, without lessening the weight of the carcase, and I found that the stock which I had begun with was very fit for my purpose. In taking stock last month the numbers of my sheep stand thus: —

         
180 ewes, bought in March, 1817  180 
Their lambs, then five months old, viz. 100 ewes and 80 wethers  180 
2 wethers, left out of the 40 bought in March last 
220 lambs, three months old, dropped in November, by the 180 ewes bought in March last; viz. 120 ewe lambs and 100 wethers  220 
The 100 ewe lambs bought in March last produce me this February 120 lambs; namely, 64 ewes and 56 wethers  120 

So that at the present time, March 1st, 1818, my flock of ewes, wethers, and lambs amounts to 702—too large for one flock. However, as the


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land around me is unoccupied, I may leave them so for some time, without any material damage to them.

I have eight working bullocks; six cows with six calves, three male and three female; six dogs, Hector and Fly having added their share to the general stock; and my wheat-stack containing about 420 bushels of wheat.

With respect to my money, I find a great hole in the sum of last year.

My exchequer stands thus: —

                   
Dollars 
Expenses of living in town on arrival  100 
Two pair of working bullocks, at 160 dollars each  320 
Two pair do., at 140 dollars each  280 
The sheep bought in March  462 
The six cows  96 
Expenses of sending carts to camp  60 
Expenses of living for one year on the farm, for self, wife, mother, Crab, the three servants, and five children, exclusive of the 38 wethers eaten  900 
Sawed stuff  16 
Dollars  2,234 
______ This leaves me 1,366 dollars in hand.

Determined to sow a month earlier this year, which will give me an earlier harvest. Turned up twenty acres in the flat, and sowed in August;


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and increased my twelve-acre field to sixteen, reserving four acres for barley. Sowed all the barley in October.

December 31st, 1818.—Divided my sheep into two flocks. Their numbers stand thus: —

In March last I find the numbers 702. Since then, lambs dropped in October from the 180 old ewes—ewes, 118, wethers, 100 = 218 lambs. The 100 young ewes dropped in November 62 ewe lambs and 58 wethers = 120.

     
This makes— old flock  702 
Old ewes' lambs  218 
Young ewes' lambs  120 

________ 1,040 Deducting from this number 84 head consumed on the farm, my two flocks amount to 956. My working bullocks are the same as before, namely eight. My six cows have produced me six more calves, raising my stock of cattle to 18, besides the working bullocks.

I was a little puzzled to know what to do with my wool, the expense of carting it to town being great. An agent of one of the merchants offered me threepence per pound to take it away at his


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own expense, which, after some consideration, I thought it best to accept.

I worked hard this year at my fencing, which is one of the most difficult, laborious, and expensive of a new settler's operations; but if it can be done without encroaching too much on his funds, it amply repays the labour and outlay; I mean the fencing in of his corn-fields, paddocks, sheep-yards, and homestead. As to fencing in sufficient land for the grazing of his flocks and herds, that would be an undertaking not only too expensive, but unnecessary where there is sufficient land unoccupied for pasture at the back of his farm or around it. I had plenty of land near me, for there were few settlers for some years between me and the western coast. I had all the country to myself; it was rather lonely, to be sure; but my solitariness had one advantage, there was no one to interfere with me, and I had full range for my stock rent free.

In October of this year, 1818, I find by my journal that Michael Howe, a notorious bushranger, who had rendered himself dreaded by


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numerous atrocities, was killed by a party sent in pursuit of him. He had plagued the colony terribly before my arrival, but since then he had kept himself at a distance from any settlement, being fearful of treachery. This is a good riddance.

I have not said much about the snakes to be seen all over the colony. We have killed a great many of them, but we have never been bitten by them. They always avoid you, and are glad to get out of your way. I have one or two anecdotes to relate of them, which I may as well introduce here.

I was one day walking with my shepherd, and observing the sheep, when being tired, we sat down on the grass; there was dead wood scattered around. I had only just seated myself, when turning my head I beheld a monstrous black snake close behind me; he was nearly six feet long, and apparently asleep, at least he was quite motionless. I silently pointed out the reptile to the stock-keeper, and drawing from my pocket the pistol which I usually carried, and which was loaded with ball, I approached cautiously


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within a few inches of the creature's head, intending to blow its brains out. Drawing the trigger, the powder flashed in the pan, but the charge having escaped, either from careless ramming or from having long carried it about in my pocket, the remaining powder in the barrel was only just sufficient to move the ball, which rolled slowly out of the muzzle, and dropping on the snake's head, roused him. I think I never was in such a terrible fright in my life; I made sure that I should kill the snake on the instant, and there I was on one knee close to it, and without the chance of escaping if it made a dart at me. By some extraordinary good luck, the snake was frightened too; it raised up its head—looked at me for a moment—and then glided away. We were both in such a fright that we had not presence of mind to kill it with sticks, and so it escaped, and right glad were we to escape the danger.

At another time, I was looking about at a short distance from the cottage, in the autumn, when the rivers get very low, when I observed on the opposite side of a deep pool of water a rustling among the long grass, and presently the head of


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a snake appeared over the bank, peering with curious eye into the pool below. I judged, from the creature's movements, that it had been accustomed to drink out of this pool, and was disappointed to find the water so low as to be out of its reach. It seemed to ponder a good deal on this state of things, turning its head to the right and left, as if to devise some means of getting at the water. At last it turned its head towards the long wiry grass around it, and selecting an appropriate tuft close to the edge of the bank, it twisted the end of its tail round the grass, and so letting itself down and hanging by the extremity of its tail, it was enabled to reach the water. It then drank, frequently raising up its head as a fowl does when it drinks. I was observing the motions of the gentleman all the time with much curiosity, and with my fowling-piece ready to shoot it before it retired; for the deadliest war is the constant proclamation of the colony against all snakes, and no mercy is ever shown to this most dangerous and insidious enemy. I fired and killed him. He measured nearly five feet and a half in length.

I shall tell only one more story of snakes. I


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was riding on the other side of the colony, about twenty miles from Launceston, when I suddenly came upon a snake crossing the road; it was not a very large one, but I was struck with the remarkable beauty and brilliancy of its colours. I had my double-barrel fowling-piece slung at my back, as was usual with me, and in my hand I had one of the little straight horsewhips used on horseback. The snake crossed just before me, and I stopped immediately and alighted with the intention of killing it, urged by that instinct to kill a snake wherever seen, which becomes added, I think, to our other natural instincts, after a residence in the colony. The creature moved away with great rapidity towards some trees at the distance of about a hundred and fifty yards, on a path which I directly saw was a snake-track. I had great difficulty in making my horse follow me in this chase. When I came up to the reptile, I reached out my arm and gave him a slash on his tail with my horsewhip. This made him stop and turn his head and hiss, with a threat to dart at me. Then I kept back, and the snake made another start, till I brought him to a stand-still by another cut of my whip. I could see no


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broken bough near me to smash him with, and I did not like to dirty my fowling-piece by discharging it.

This running fight lasted for some score of yards, till at last the snake, getting exasperated, turned, and stood at bay. I relate this anecdote principally, because of the attitude which the snake now assumed, which I had often seen in pictures, but never before in nature. The snake coiled itself up into a close coil, so as to form a good foundation, it seemed, for a spring. It reminded me, in this attitude, of the picture of the snake in an old edition of Milton's "Paradise Lost," where the serpent is represented tempting Eve. This resemblance occurred to me while I was fighting it.

We now had a grand battle. I let go the rein of my horse, and fought the snake with my horsewhip, I slashing him occasionally round the neck and body, and he darting out at me, and hissing furiously, with its eyes as bright as diamonds. It was rather rash of me, I confess, but I was excited at the time, and did not think of the risk that I ran. I could not master it, however, with my slight weapon, so I retired, when it immediately made off again, as much as to say,


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“Let me alone, and I'll let you alone.” I followed it till I came to some broken boughs, when I easily killed it by a blow on the body.

On looking over my journal, I do not find any thing deserving of particular mention up to 1821. I ploughed, and I sowed, and I reaped in due order, and my flocks and herds increased without much attention on my part, except to keep them together. I attended carefully to the garden. My children had suffered no illness since I had arrived in the colony. In 1821 some new settlers took land in this district, and the place began to assume the appearance of becoming more inhabited.

A surgeon, a gentleman-like and clever man, settled near us; but there was nothing for him to do except attending to an occasional accident. A blacksmith, at the close of this year, established himself on the banks of the Clyde, and this was a great convenience to us. During this year I planned out a cut from the river, where a natural bend afforded the facility, for the purpose of erecting a flour-mill which was much wanted, as there was no mill nearer than Camp,


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fifty miles off; and we had to cart our wheat down to the town, and return with the flour—a tedious and expensive process. I had to manage with a handmill for my own use, but the time consumed in grinding corn this way was very great, and the labour of it was distasteful to the servants, so that it was frequently out of order. In the course of the following year I erected a small flour-mill, with an undershot wheel, which answered very well, and its cost was soon repaid by its convenience to myself, and by the toll which was paid to me by my neighbours as the inhabitants increased.

In 1821, a careful census was taken of the statistics of the colony, which I find in my journal to stand thus: —

Number of inhabitants, 7,185; acres in cultivation, 14,940; sheep, 170,000; cattle, 35,000; horses, 350. During 1822 two magistrates were appointed for this district. May, 1824.—Matters remained much as usual up to May, 1824. This completes my seventh year in the colony. During these seven years the colony had assumed a very different appearance.


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Numerous emigrants had arrived, and the country had become more settled. The value of sheep had risen in 1821, and good ewes sold currently for 20s. a-head, and if with lambs by their side, from 20s. to 30s. This state of things put the old settlers who had attended to their stock in fine spirits, for the influx of settlers kept up the price of stock for some years. I did very well by the sale of mine, and had the good fortune not to neglect taking advantage of the opportunity. I realised considerable sums by the sales which I made, and my sheep sold well, as the wool was fine enough to command a ready sale at the same time that the carcase was heavy enough to suit the new settlers, who wanted sheep as meat for consumption. I find, on referring to my journal, that in May, 1824, my stock stood as follows: —

Sheep—Ewes, 3,650; wethers, 290.Total, 3,940. Cattle—75. Working bullocks—14.

This year I bought three horses, two mares heavy with foal for £50 and £60, and a gelding, for which I gave £65, for my own riding, as my


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circuits began to be too heavy to be performed on foot. I was in Hobart Town at the close of the autumn of 1821, at which time there was more than one excellent hotel, when, in walking about, I came upon a bit of land, about half an acre (within the town, I may say), and covered with rubbish and stagnant water here and there, and looking wretched and neglected; the run of new buildings had taken a turn in another direction, and this piece of waste had been overlooked.

Living at a distance, I could not help being struck with the rapidity with which the town was increasing; a sightly church had been built; a new court-house in progress of completion; the government-house completed in its improved state; there was a talk of the establishment of a bank; and the colony was thriving and improving rapidly. I took all these things into consideration, and was surprised to find this plot of ground neglected; but so it was, and nobody seemed to care for it. Having spare money which I did not at the moment well know how to dispose of, I made inquiries about the owner and price, and found that I might have the lot


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for a hundred pounds. So I bought the bit of waste land; but other matters distracting my attention from it, I did nothing with it for some years after. What was done with it I shall have to relate in its proper place.

Sheep-stealing had been rife for the last two or three years, the value of the animal making it a great temptation, and the facilities for driving off and concealing sheep being considered, it is not to be wondered at. One or two bushrangers have also been abroad; I was on business in town this year (1824), and heard the information of a party who had been attacked by bushrangers. It made a very disagreeable impression on me, and I felt very uneasy as I listened to it, from thinking that my own family was exposed at that moment to the same disaster. I got a copy of the information from the clerk, and took it home to my inn, and pondered over it till I became very restless. I find this copy preserved among the papers of my journal. Here it is:—


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Pitt Water, May 19th, 1824.

The information of William Stark, Esq.: —

“At my farm at Kangaroo Valley, yesterday evening, about dusk, I went out to see my sheep folded, while my son went to bring in the cattle, the herdsman having been that day otherwise employed. When the sheep were yarded, my shepherd returned from the hut, and I waited at the well for my son, who was bringing up the cattle to drink.

“During this interval, I was talking to a shepherd in the service of Mr. Lorton, who has lately taken possession of Mr. Duckett's land at Stringy Bark Plains. When my cattle arrived, a bullock was missing, and Mr. Lorton's shepherd told my son that he had seen it go out of the field towards the hills. My son immediately went in search of it, while I remained with my cattle at the well.

“My son not returning so soon as I expected, and as it was then nearly dark, I drove the cattle home. When I arrived within about twenty yards of my men's hut, I called out to one of my men to come and put the cattle up. At this moment I was accosted by a man whom


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I had not seen before, although he was close to me; he was armed with a double-barrel gun and a brace of pistols. He said to me,

“ ‘I have your house completely surrounded by a banditti, and your men are all tied, therefore resistance would be unavailing: surrender immediately.’

“I said that I would not surrender. He said, ‘If you stir a step, I'll blow your brains out.’

“I said, ‘Fire away, I don't regard a shot.’ “He instantly levelled his piece at me, and drew the trigger. Fortunately, his piece missed fire. I then retired in the direction of the shepherd and my son, whom I knew to be in the rear at some distance.

“I was pursued by this man. I called out loudly for assistance to Lorton's shepherd, whom I left at the well. I received no assistance from him. As this man, who afterwards told me that he was Collier, was fast coming up to me, and I receiving no assistance from Lorton's shepherd, I stopped, as Collier assured me that all he wanted was a little tea and sugar.

“I then walked with Collier to my men's hut, where he bound my hands, and where I found


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all, namely six, of my men tied together with three men, who I afterwards learnt were brought from Mr. Fullarton's, where Collier and his party, I was informed by Collier, had stopped the preceding day. I then went into my house with Collier. He searched my house. He took away a small quantity, about two or three pounds, of tea, and two or three pounds of sugar, which was almost all there was in the house, and about eighteen pounds of tobacco. Another man, calling himself McGuire, took one pair of blankets, a shawl, and two necklaces, nine silk handkerchiefs and one cotton handkerchief, and two guns. The blankets, the shawl, and the handkerchiefs were all marked ‘Stark’.

“My son, when I called out for assistance, heard me, although more than half a mile off. He came running back. Mrs. Stark, his mother, met him at the door, told him that I was bound together with all my men, and told him that the best thing he could do would be to alarm the neighbourhood. My son returned in about an hour, with Hammond, the constable, and another man, armed, my son and another man being without arms. On his return, he found that the


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bushrangers had left the house about three-quarters of an hour.

“The bushranger who stood sentry at the door of my men's hut was recognized by one of my men to be Sturt, lately one of Mr. Franks's servants.

“When Collier left my house, he took away with him the three men whom he had brought from Mr. Fullarton's.

(Signed)“WILLIAM STARK.”

I could not sleep all night after hearing this news of bushrangers being out. Hitherto we had not been molested at the Clyde, but it occurred to me that the arrival there of fresh emigrants likely to have money and valuables about them, and new to the country, and thereby more easy to be attacked, might tempt the convicts to go up there. These thoughts kept possession of me all night, and I could not resist the desire of returning home. At dawn of day, therefore, I set out, and my horse being fresh, I had no difficulty in reaching the Clyde before two o'clock the same day. I may remark here that the horses in Van Diemen's


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Land are capable of enduring great fatigue; they are small, but strong and hardy; sure-footed, and capable of supporting their work on the natural grass of the country on their journeys. * * * I was glad to find all safe at home, but I made my wife rather uneasy by my report of the marauding of the bushrangers at Pitt Water.

I went the same evening to one of the resident magistrates at the Clyde, to report about the bushrangers, when I found him hearing a complaint of the sheep of a neighbour of his having been stolen. This made me think of my own. I find the following copy of this complaint among my papers: —

District of Murray

“Mr. Philip Bushel, being first duly sworn, saith: —

“That he is manager of Captain Flood's agricultural affairs; that some months ago, about one hundred and thirty sheep belonging to Captain Flood were lost; that this deponent, after diligent search and inquiry, has reason to believe that some of the said lost sheep are in the flock of one MacShane at the Shannon River, in


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this district; that he has examined part of the said MacShane's flock, and that he can positively swear to one sheep that it is one of the sheep lost some months ago; and that he verily believes there are more of the said Captain Flood's sheep in the said flock of the said MacShane. He prays, therefore, that a warrant may be granted to search the said flock of the said MacShane.

“PHILIP BUSHEL.

“Sworn before me, May 21, 1821.”

This information about the sheep-stealing coming upon the news of the bushrangers at Pitt Water, made me uncomfortable and restless. But the sight of my family and my home soon restored me to my usual cheerfulness.

Extract from my Journal of May, 1824: —

“Kept a sharper look-out after my own flocks. Certainly I have been very lucky hitherto; things have thrived with me most prosperously. I am now in possession of a numerous flock of sheep; of a tolerable herd of cattle; I have forty-five acres of land under tillage; the building of my


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new stone house proceeds favourably; I have a fair portion of land fenced in; my garden has succeeded admirably; I have all sorts of English vegetables in abundance; strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, currants, young apple and pear trees, vigorous and growing fast.

“My family, now increased to seven, begin to be companions to me; and their education, even in this out-of-the-way place, has not been neglected. The place is becoming settled around me, which, although it curtails the run for my sheep and cattle, increases the feeling of security, and affords some society.

“My eldest boy, now seventeen years of age, is a valuable assistant to me, and affords the promise of becoming a healthy, intelligent, and honourable man. My daughter Betsy grows a fine, handsome girl; and my other children are healthy, happy, and improving. I have the pleasurable feeling of caring little whether my consumption of meat and flour is a little less or a little more. Abundance reigns around me. The feeling of anxiety with which I used to be haunted in England in respect to how my children could be made certain of lodging, food, and


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clothes, has departed from me. There is plenty for all; and the dominant desire now is changed to that of becoming wealthy! To be sure, we still live rather in the rough, but usage has made it familiar to us. We use no fine furniture, wear no fine clothes, and our establishment still bears the impress of a settler's early life. But I am rich (for independence is riches) in sheep and cattle, and house and land. My large room has become furnished with an ample supply of books, and I find recreation and advantage in their perusal.

“The climate, on experience, we find healthy, though very changeable, and subject to extreme variations of heat and cold. I find by the register of my thermometer that the temperature has varied thirty-two degrees between night and noon; being below freezing-point in the night, and above sixty-three at twelve and one o'clock. These variations, however, do not affect the health of any of us; we feel the cold, that is all.

“This year we have added fish to our table. We threw a net across a narrow part of the river, about half a mile from the house, and we now obtain a plentiful supply of eels at most times.


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We catch also a small fish of the nature of the gudgeon, but larger, which we call the fresh-water smelt. But the rivers in this colony, at least the inland portions of them, are not prolific of fish; nor do the large lakes, the sources of several of them, supply much. Scarcely a fish, indeed, is to be found in the lakes of the colony. There is plenty of wild fowl at the lakes; I have seen flocks literally of thousands of wild ducks on one of them.”

But to return to my Journal.

Thus, in May, 1824, all things prospered with me. But now, the uniform life which I had led for some years experienced a great change. Just before the winter, that is, in the beginning of May, 1824, we were sitting round our cheerful fire, and the servant had with difficulty borne in a huge log to replenish it; it was about nine o'clock, and quite dark, when the barking of the dogs announced the arrival of a stranger; he was on horseback, as we could hear from the sound of the horse's hoofs on the hard ground. He was quickly shown into the house, and according to the custom of the colony, food and drink were


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placed before him ere he was troubled with any questions. But he was eager to communicate the tidings with which he was charged.

Information had been received by the government of the escape of a body of convicts from Macquarie Harbour, who were spreading consternation over the district of Pitt Water, where they had plundered and ill-used many settlers, and where they had been joined by further bands of convict servants. Our guest was in haste to communicate the intelligence to the resident magistrates, as it was thought likely that the band of bushrangers would turn their steps to this district, as being unprotected, and abounding to the west in places of concealment.

We were still in earnest conversation on this alarming news, and I was hastily revolving in my mind the best means of guarding against an attack, when loud cries, seemingly for help, from the opposite side of the river, on which a new settler had lately fixed himself, caused us suddenly to break up our party. I lost no time in preparing our arms, which from habit were always kept in a state of efficiency, and calling in two of my men on whom I could entirely depend, I entrusted


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them with a musket apiece, and made such preparations for our own defence as the circumstances afforded.

Crab, who had now become part of the family, undertook to defend the house; and after a hasty consultation, we agreed that it would not be kind or manly to abandon our neighbours in their distress and difficulty. I was perplexed to contrive how to render them the requisite assistance, and to leave a sufficient defence at home, when a fresh and violent barking of the dogs caused us a further alarm. The night was quite dark, but the stars shone brightly. The dogs barked furiously, and it was plain to us, who were acquainted with the language of their warnings, that they were excited by the approach of some unusual object, and of more than a single individual.

Seeing the necessity of prompt and decisive action, I advanced from the door of the cottage, being protected in the rear by one of the men. A voice amidst the tumult called out to me to call off the dogs, who were furious. I thought I recognized the voice of the speaker, and it proved to be a neighbour who had settled about four miles off. He had been going his rounds to look after


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his sheep, marauders being abroad, when, approaching within half a mile of my cottage, his attention had been attracted by the cries which had alarmed us. He was well armed, and accompanied by two friends, also well armed.

Cheered by this reinforcement, I lost no time in acquainting them with the news of the escape of the convicts from Macquarie Harbour, and of my fears that our new neighbour was in the hands of the bushrangers. They at once agreed to lend him their help; and as I was well acquainted with the point where the river could be best crossed, and my home being now secure from any sudden attack, we advanced without delay to the scene of danger. But as this forms one of the epochs of my life, I must reserve the account of the adventures and disasters which now came thick upon me to another chapter.




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CHAPTER XI.

HASTENS WITH A PARTY OF FRIENDS TO HIS NEIGHBOUR'S ASSISTANCE—THE DANGEROUS PASSING OF THE RIVER ON THE TRUNK OF A TREE—THE LIFELESS BODY OF A YOUNG GIRL STRANGELY DISCOVERED—THE PLUNDERED DWELLING, AND THE DESOLATE MOTHER.

THE family which we were hastening to help had not arrived on their land more than three weeks, and consisted of a Mr. Moss, his wife, a daughter about seventeen, and two young boys of seven and six years of age. They had been well off at one time, but a succession of misfortunes had reduced their means to an income too small for a bare subsistence in England, but amply sufficient for a prosperous establishment in Van Diemen's Land. Mrs. Moss had been highly educated, and her daughter was possessed of more than the usual accomplishments of her age, and of their former station. The arrival of this young lady at our settlement seemed,


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as a young friend of mine expressed himself, “like the springing up of a beautiful flower in the wilderness.” We all felt a strong interest in these new settlers, and we were ready to risk much to serve them.

While my friends put themselves in fighting order, I buckled my old cavalry broad-sword round me so as not to interfere with my movements, for having served in the yeomanry in Surrey, I had ever after a liking for the weapon, to which I felt I could trust in case of close conflict;—and with my double-barrel fowling-piece slung over my back, and my large horse-pistols in the pockets of my shooting-jacket, I led the way across the river. My companions followed cautiously and silently in Indian file. It was quite dark, with the exception of such glimmering light as the brilliancy of the stars afforded. It was my plan to cross the river by the trunk of a tree, which had fallen over from the opposite bank, and formed a natural bridge, a rough one, and not easily to be passed by day; and in the dark the passage over it was rather a dangerous experiment. There was a dead silence around, which seemed more terrible than the cries by


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which we had recently been alarmed, and filled us with ominous fears for the fate of our neighbours.

We quickly reached the crossing-place, and in a low whisper I warned my companions of the dangerous points of the bridge. My young neighbour Beresford was particularly anxious on this occasion. I did not remark it at the time, as we were all active and excited; but subsequent events made me remember it. The river at this spot is narrow, and flows with the rapidity of a mountain torrent. I observed in the gloom that Beresford's two companions hesitated at the sight of this difficulty.

“I wish we had light for this work,” said one; “I can see the foam of the water, and I think I can see something which I suppose is the tree lying across it; but it's an awkward job this.”

“Speak low,” said I; “you don't know what ears may be listening to you.”

“Speak low!—why, the roaring of this water is enough to drown all the noise that we shall make on this side. The river seems to be angry to-night. I hope you are sure of your tree-bridge. I should not like to find myself in that


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boiling gulph below; if I did, I'm inclined to think no one else would find me.”

“It's an ugly sight,” said the first speaker; “but if Thornley is sure of the passage, I'll venture it; and don't let us lose any time, for if we are to do any good, we must be quick about it.”

“Well, we are in for it; we can't go back; who leads the way?”

“I'll lead the way,” said Beresford; “I'm the youngest of the party; now, follow me.”

“No,” said I, “that's my business; I know the passage best......”

“Perhaps not better than I do,” said Beresford; "come on."

“How can that be?” said I; “you have not occasion to cross the river so often as I have.”

Beresford said something which the noise of the waters prevented me from hearing. I led the way, and began to crawl over on my hands and knees.

I must confess that it was not without a momentary tremor that I beheld the white foam of the torrent dashing furiously past beneath me. A single false movement was death; and the disagreeable feeling came over me, that if an


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enemy should have had the foresight to guard this point, I and my companions in our defenceless position were exposed to sure destruction.

With these thoughts agitating me, and the darkness of the night, the incessant rushing of the water, and the danger of our expedition, all tending to inspire doubt and fear, it is impossible to describe my sensations, when, stretching forward my arm to feel the way before me, my hand encountered what seemed to be a human head of hair. I was clinging to the trunk of the tree, in a position disabling me from the use of my weapons, nor indeed did the necessity of holding fast allow me to have more than one hand momentarily disengaged in my creeping posture. All sorts of fears were instantly conjured up in my horror and bewilderment.

My first thought was that the bushrangers, suspecting our intention, were lying in ambush, and every instant I expected to receive a volley from the opposite bank. Then visions of the natives arose, and I actually crouched myself up, the better to defend myself against the shower of spears which I knew would be the beginning of their attack. My companions behind


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me, embarrassed by my stoppage, and not knowing the cause, urged me to proceed, as the swift running of the white waters beneath their eyes was beginning to produce giddiness. For nearly a minute I was totally at a loss what to do. At last the mist with which the sudden alarm had enveloped my brain began to disperse; I reasoned with myself rapidly and decisively.

I knew that to go back over our perilous bridge was, in the dark, and encumbered as we were with our arms, impossible. Go on we must. As I formed this resolution, it suddenly occurred to me that the form before me must be in the same embarrassment as to advancing or retreating as myself; and that at any rate the chances were equal in the event of a struggle for mastery. Emboldened by this thought, I stretched out my hand again, and met with the same object. It seemed certainly a human head! It was motionless, and had remained, as well as I could judge, in the precise position in which my hand lighted on it before. But the second time, the hair struck me as being softer, and the sensation flashed across me that it was not a man's hair that I was feeling. My wonder increased


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by this new discovery, and my fears yielding to my excitement, I extended my arm and traced the long ringlets of a woman! My alarm was now changed to wonderment and horror. Laying my hand on her face, I found it deadly cold; her arms were encircled round the trunk of the tree, but they hung lifeless, and I at once guessed that the female, whoever she might be, in attempting to cross the river by this dangerous place, rendered more dangerous and frightful by the darkness, had been terrified by the roar of the raging waters, and had fainted.

What to do in this unexpected dilemma, I was at a loss to imagine. My companions began to be alarmed, and the infection of superstitious fear was beginning to unnerve them. In these perplexing and dangerous circumstances I felt the necessity of coming to some prompt decision. The female before me had evidently either fainted, or perhaps overcome by fear and exhausting excitement was dead! But her lifeless body formed an obstacle to our further progress, and I considered that, at that very moment, while I was deliberating, the work of death


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might be going on among our neighbours whom we were endeavouring to succour, and that our assistance was prevented by an impediment to whom all help perhaps now was vain.

With this feeling that four lives were at stake on the trunk of the tree, trusting to my guidance, and that other lives were jeopardised by the delay of our assistance, the exquisitely painful thought came over me, that stern necessity justified the sacrifice of the one for the many, and that we must risk the dislodging of the body of the woman for the purpose of completing our passage across the river. The form lay motionless, and on the balance on the slippery trunk of the tree; the slightest motion was sufficient to overturn it into the boiling and roaring gulph below! My companions urged me to proceed. I explained to them in few words the cause of my stoppage; but they still continued to press me to go forward, their fear of the present peril overcoming their apprehension of the remoter hazard, should the bushrangers be in ambush on the other side, and waiting for us to rise up to get the surer aim; they vehemently


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and angrily complained that they could no longer keep their hold, and that they could neither recede nor advance.

Impelled by the imminency of the danger, my senses benumbed by the cold, and my mind confused by the unceasing roaring and foaming of the furious waters, my presence of mind almost forsook me. I stretched out my hand again: the form was still motionless—but I traced the outline of the small and delicate features of that cold face, and quick as lightning the thought of my own daughter flashed across me. That thought restored my wandering senses. I became instantly calm and collected; and with a sort of desperate energy I raised myself to a sitting posture across the tree, and propelling myself with my hands towards the object before me, I took firm hold of her long tresses to prevent the body from slipping from its dangerous resting-place. All continued to be still around, except the noise of the river. I now raised my voice to overtop the roaring of the waters, and turning my head towards my wondering companions, I communicated to them my intention to preserve the body, dead or alive.




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“It is the form,” said I, “of a young girl.” “A young girl!” exclaimed Beresford. “Then—”

“In the name of heaven,” said the man behind him, “do not stay talking. Man or woman, young or old, we must pass now to the other side. Necessity has no law. Move on quickly, for I shall not be able to hold on half a minute longer.”

“Yes,” cried out the hindermost, “move on—move on—I dare not attempt to move backwards. As it is, the cold has so benumbed me, and I am so giddy with the roaring of these waters under me, that every moment I expect to slip off. Move on, I say; this is no time for fine feelings; our own lives are at stake. We are lying here to be murdered if there are really bushrangers abroad—and this affair looks like it. Move on, I say, or by —— I shall be tempted to make a way for myself.”

“Stop,” said Beresford; “stop—for God's sake, stop. I have a horrible presentiment of who this poor girl must be. We must make an effort to save her. Let me try to pass you (speaking to me); or stay—I think I see a


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branch below that the water is rushing against; I will make the attempt to save her if I perish.”

With that my young friend, passing his fowling-piece to me to hold for him, threw himself by a bold and active movement under the tree; and clinging by the broken boughs, by a succession of desperate struggles succeeded in gaining a position on the other side of the female, where the thick part of the trunk afforded a surer footing. He then gradually drew the motionless form towards him, and taking it in his arms, bore it to a small distance from the river, and laid it on the grass, glistening with the white frost. In the meantime we had all succeeded in crossing the bridge safely; and the men finding themselves on firm ground, soon recovered their presence of mind and courage, and were ready for action. There was no time to be lost. The spot which we had to reach was less than a quarter of a mile distant, and we were all eager to move forward. But what was to be done with the lifeless female? Young Beresford had been endeavouring to restore warmth by chafing the hands of the inanimate body, but


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without success. It seemed as dangerous to leave it on the cold ground, should life be not quite extinct, as to bear it with us. But decision was necessary; and yielding to the entreaties of Beresford, whose interest in the inanimate form seemed overpowering, we hastily agreed that he should bear the body with us, while I advanced before, being best acquainted with the locality, his two friends following close after me. In this order we approached the spot where our new neighbour had raised his homely dwelling.

As I neared the place, my foot lighted on a soft substance, which induced me to stoop down to examine it. It was a dead kangaroo dog. I felt it, and found that its brains had been dashed out by some heavy instrument. This occurrence foreboded danger, and we proceeded rapidly and silently, but with increased caution. The outline of the hut now loomed through the dark; all was silent. We were perplexed how to proceed; we could see no enemy, and feared some plot to entrap us. We continued our advance, however, to the door of the hut in a line, young Beresford bearing the body in the rear. I held his fowling-piece in my hand, with my


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own slung behind me. We reached the door; it was fastened, but we thought we could distinguish stifled breathing within. We knocked; no answer. We were impressed with the conviction that the enemy, whoever it might be, was there.

I directed Beresford, in a whisper, to take the body to the side of the hut, that it might be out of the line of fire from the windows and door. Then, with one dash of my foot, I burst the door from its hinges, and we three rushed in. A scream, so deep, so piercing, so full of mortal fear and agony, that it even now thrills through me as I recall it, arrested our steps. But I guessed on the instant the real state of the case. On the hearth the embers were still red. Snatching a handful of thatch from the roof, I made a blaze. That light revealed to me the form of a woman, crouched in a corner, bound, with two young children beside her. The transient blaze of the lighted grass ceased, and we were again in darkness.

“Oh God!” cried the woman, “are you come again? I have never spoken—not one word—


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indeed I have not—and the children have scarcely breathed—but if you are determined ——”

“We are friends,” said I, “come to assist you; we heard your cries ——”

“Oh, why did you not come sooner?—my husband—my child—my daughter, where is she?—she ran out to get help—is she drowned?—what have they done with her?—my God! my God! shall I ever recover the horrors of this dreadful night?”

While she spoke these words, which pierced our very souls, and filled us with the most fearful forebodings, one of my neighbour's friends had again lighted up some thatch on the hearth, which threw a glare around, and enabled us to see about us; fortunately a candle which had been extinguished was found close at hand; this afforded us a dim and dismal light.

Beresford, who heard the scream, had caught the words of the mother, and while I stationed one of our party at the door of the hut, and another at the back, he hastily brought in the body of the apparently lifeless girl. The mother, whom I had unbound, did not speak;—she gazed on the body of her child in speechless agony.




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“She is dead!” at last she muttered—“she is dead!—they have killed her!—better so, perhaps, than worse! What may have happened?—Am I awake, or is it a dream? Oh, no—it is all real—cold and dead—cold and dead!”

A passionate burst of tears followed these words, uttered in all the calmness of despair, and the children, now recovered from their stupor, mingled their cries with the bursting sobs of the mother.

But my young friend was not inactive during this painful scene. With wonderful coolness and presence of mind, he took all the steps that were likely to restore consciousness, if life remained, and the energies of the mother beginning to revive, she presently added her assistance. He had placed the body of the poor girl on a rough wooden couch, with her feet close to the fire, which was now blazing up briskly. The mother rubbed her feet, and my friend chafed her hands; but life seemed to have departed. The mother said nothing, but worked on silently, the two children looking on in trembling expectation. I stood by, racking my brain to remember all the means that I had read or heard of to restore suspended


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animation. There was no apparent injury, her mother assured us, to cause death, and our hopes revived even at the faint prospect of restoration which this intelligence afforded us. All that I have related, since we began to cross the river, took place in less than twenty minutes, so that the possibility of life being not yet quite extinct still remained; but the hope became every moment less and less.

While we were thus employed and thus agitated with our various fears—the mother for her child, the young man for the beautiful girl before us—and I, as a parent, entering into the bitter sorrows of their weeping mother, we heard loud shouts proceeding from the direction of the place where we had recently crossed the river, and presently, at a rapid pace, a party of friends joined us.

The news of “bushrangers abroad” had quickly spread from neighbour to neighbour, and the present party having assembled, they learnt at my house our expedition and its object, and immediately started to support us. They had crossed at a point of the river higher up, but affording an easier and a safer passage. Fortunately the gentleman


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who had settled among us as a surgeon was among the party, and his attention was immediately directed to the apparently lifeless form of the beautiful young girl.

It was a moment of most painful expectation. He felt her pulse long and anxiously. I saw his countenance change. He held before her lips a small pocket looking-glass, which he first, with professional coolness, carefully wiped. He inspected it once—twice!

“Place her,” said he, “on her side.” It was done.

Again he applied the glass to her lips. It was untarnished.

“Throw more wood on the fire,” said the surgeon. “Light wood—quick —make it blaze up.”

He applied the glass again.

Gradually his countenance changed from the expression of hopelessness which had saddened it, and suddenly it lighted up as the brightness of the glass became obscured. We were breathless.

“Hush!” said he. “Be calm,” addressing her mother. “All will depend on your coolness


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and presence of mind. If you can command your feelings, I may do much. She is not dead!”

Here an hysteric sob seemed to choke the mother, but she stifled it; and with hands clenched, and eyes streaming with silent floods of tears, she sunk on her knees, with her eyes dimly gazing at him who seemed to be her guardian angel.

“She is not dead,” repeated the surgeon, in a low tone. “Life—I think—I am sure—still remains; but the slightest shock would instantly destroy it. Beware of exciting her by questions or by disastrous news, should I succeed in restoring her to consciousness. Nothing but silence and soothing will save her from death or insanity. Has any one some brandy with him?”

Fortunately one of the party—the most drunken fellow in the settlement—had a travelling flask of rum, which, indeed, he was never without. It was quickly produced, and after its owner had taken a sip of it, “to see,” as he said, that “it was the right stuff,” he handed it to the surgeon. I am inclined to think that that flask of rum saved the young lady's life, but it cost its proprietor his own sooner than in the ordinary


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course of things, for from that moment he was never without his flask, always emptied, and ever refilled, “in case,” as he used to say, “any other unfortunate person might chance to want some of it;” and so, on the strength of the life that he boasted it had saved, he hastened the end of his own.

“And now, gentlemen,” said the surgeon, “be pleased to retire from the hut, and leave me alone with this lady. There seems to be more work for you to do before this family can be set to rights.”

We silently obeyed. I was the last who quitted the room, and as I was going out at the door, the poor mother laid her hand convulsively on my arm, and with a sort of desperate calmness whispered, “My husband—have they murdered him?”

“Surely not;” I said, “hope for the best—you see we are strong enough to take active measures for his safety. Depend on us that we will neglect nothing to find him and to restore him to you.”

“I am sure you will. See, the surgeon is


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trying to pour some spirit down my poor child's throat. Now leave us.”

All this time Beresford had not spoken a word. I found him as I passed stationed close to the door. There was light outside the hut now, as some of the party had kindled a fire in front of it, which threw its glare around for a considerable distance. All our party now assembled together, and it was agreed that we should keep watch round the place during the night, and that at daybreak we should go in search of our neighbour. We made a diligent examination of the parts about, as we conjectured that the bushrangers might have bound and gagged him, and left him at a distance from the hut; but we could find no traces of him or of them. With one accord I was chosen the leader of the present expedition, as being the oldest settler, and the one best acquainted with the bush. I had mustered my party with the view of allotting to them their different stations, when a cry from the hut arrested our attention, and young Beresford came running to us and crying out,

“She is saved! She is saved! She is alive!


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She is breathing! And now,” said he, “for her father; that's the next thing to attend to. It's the first inquiry she will make when she recovers her senses, and if she should suspect the worst, the consequences in her present state I am sure would be instantly fatal.”

“That is our object;” said I; “we must find the poor fellow. And now let us make our arrangements. There are twelve of us; I dare say we are strong enough to cope with the other party; for we have the right on our side and that is a tower of strength. I propose that at break of day we should remove this family to my cottage. In the meantime it is necessary that we should prepare ourselves for bushing it, for some days perhaps. Let four men go to my cottage and procure all the necessaries that we shall want, and don't forget the kangaroo rugs, for the nights are cold, and we shall need them.”

“Don't forget some brandy,”said one.

“Nor the tea and sugar,” said another; “there's nothing like a cup of tea in the bush; it's more refreshing than all the spirits in the world.”

“Bring plenty of pannikins,” said a third; “one a-piece will not be in the way.”




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“Take care to bring plenty of rice,” said I; “it lies in a small compass, and is more handy for the bush than flour; but tell them at home to make as many small dampers as we can carry; and bring away all the baked bread in the house. My men will help you to carry the things.”

“How are your powder-horns?” said young Beresford.

“Plenty of powder, but little shot.”

“Ask for the bag of slugs and the little bag of balls that hang by my bed's head,” said I; “and bring a dozen or two of spare flints with you, and —anything else that you think will be useful.”

“Would it not be well,” said one, “to give notice to the magistrates?”

“Right,” said I; “who will volunteer to go over the plain this dark night, and tell the one farthest off?”

“That will I do,” said a spirited young fellow; “I know every inch of the way; if I meet with anything, I will fire off my piece.”

“You can tell one of my servants to apprize the other magistrate of this night's work, as his house is in a line from my cottage. If he


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is at home, he will be with us by daylight, you may depend on it; for he is young, and has no wife nor child, and he likes these expeditions. It may be useful, too, to have a magistrate among us to sanction our proceedings, so ask him to come with us, and say that we should be obliged to him if he would be our leader; and you may as well say that no one could do it so well as himself. There's nothing like being civil, and we all like to be flattered a bit. Who knows what it is o'clock?”

“Not eleven yet.”

“Then we have the whole night before us.”

“And so have the bushrangers; they may get well away before morning.”

“No,” said another; “it is impossible to travel fast on a night so dark as this. Let us have daylight before us and get well on their tracks, and they can't escape us.”

“Shall we try the dogs after them?”

“No; the kangaroo dogs are of no use as bloodhounds; they will track those they are used to for any distance, but they don't understand being set to track strangers. But we must


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take some dogs with us, for we shall want to pull more than one kangaroo for our dinners before we have done, I'm thinking.”

“Here is one to begin with,” said I, “as I felt a cold nose thrust into my hand. Hector and Fly are growing old now, but here's one of their breed, and here's another. They have found me out, you see. Now let some one get two more, so that the four may not all belong to one party, in case of being separated. Shall we take any horses? I have three in the stable, and four more in the bush that are sure to come for their corn in the morning. Perhaps they're in the open stable now, for they often come up and get under shelter when the nights are wet or cold.”

It was agreed that four of the party should be mounted, to act as scouts; but as it was likely that the marauders would choose the most inaccessible paths, where a horseman would be taken at great disadvantage, it was thought best that the rest of the party should be on foot.

“Take another horse, as a pack-horse,” said


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one, “to carry our provisions, and let one of your men lead him.”

“A bright thought!” said I, “and now I think we shall be well prepared for the bush; so I recommend all to sleep as much as they can till daylight, that we may be the fresher for the work.”

“Oh, never mind sleep; we are too much excited to sleep to-night; but let us have some supper.”

“Will you come to my cottage, or stay here?”

“Oh stay here will not leave the poor woman to-night; no, we'll sup here, and make a bush night of it to begin with; but it's terribly cold. There,” said the speaker, throwing a heavy log on the fire, which made the sparks fly up like a fire-work, “there's some food for you; and there's another and another. By George, we'll have a jolly fire, and make a merry night of it. I say, how's the young woman?”

Beresford required no further hint than these words; looking at me, I gave him a nod, and he


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disappeared in an instant. He tapped gently at the door of the hut, and returning to us immediately, whispered to me —

“She lives! she has not spoken; but she sleeps.”

“Good,” said I, “and now do you sleep too; we shall want all your strength to-morrow.”

He smiled, and shook his head—“I will never sleep,” said he, “till I have found her father.”

“I do not doubt,” said I, “that you will spare no exertion to recover him; and now let us try to get some information about this sad affair. Is the mother cool enough to tell us her story? It would be a help to us to know something of the character and numbers of the party who attacked the hut. We should not lose any time by it, as it would be useless to start in pursuit of the bushrangers till daylight. See if the poor lady can leave her daughter for a while; the surgeon can sit by her while the mother is away; and we ought to know all the particulars as well as she can tell them.”

Beresford went to the hut, and presently returned with Mrs. Moss, from whom we were


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happy to learn that her daughter still breathed and slept. We placed the afflicted lady on a log of wood before our bush-fire, and our sentinels being planted in suitable places, to guard against surprise, she described the attack in the following terms.




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CHAPTER XII.

THE ATTACK OF THE BUSHRANGERS—THE MYSTERIOUS FATE OF THE LOST HUSBAND—IT IS RESOLVED TO PURSUE THE BUSHRANGERS—PREPARATIONS FOR THE EXPEDITION—THE MAGISTRATE HEADS THE PARTY—HORRIBLE DISCOVERY.

‘I HARDLY know where to begin:—I have very little to tell. It all seems now to have passed in a moment. We were sitting round the fire, I and my husband, and my poor Lucy and the two children. Since we came up here, my husband always used to keep his gun in his hand, or else close by him, ready for use, for our greatest horror was these bushrangers! and I don't know really whether I was most frightened to see him always carrying that eternal gun about with him, or to see him without it; though it would have been but little protection against so many! Perhaps it's all for the best. If he had fired, and killed one of them, it


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might have exasperated them, and they might have done worse. Well; we were assembled round the fire, as I said, and my husband was particularly cheerful; he was sitting in the corner close to the window, with his gun leaning against the wall close to his hand, when he got up to close the shutter on the other side, as the wind was chilly.

It seems that we had been watched all the evening, and I suspect one of our men (we have only one man besides the shepherd) was a spy on us, for my husband had left the corner where his gun was, only a moment, when a man in a kangaroo jacket rushed into the room, and got between my husband and his weapon, which he seized hold of, and pointing his own gun at my husband, commanded him to throw up his hands over his head, or he would fire.

We were all in a cluster together, and my husband fearing, I dare say, that he might be wounded or killed, held up his arms. On this the bushranger threw his gun over his arm; but my husband in an instant rushed at him, and clasped him round the body. In the struggle the bushranger's gun went off. But in the


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meantime more bushrangers had come in; two of them immediately seized my husband from behind, and the first struck him over the head with the end of his gun, which I think stunned him for a time. They then bound him tightly hand to foot, and at the same time two of them held me and bound me also, and another man took hold of the children. Looking round, I missed Lucy, and guessed that she had escaped from the back window of her little bedroom. God help her! I hardly know whether to wish she may be restored to life and consciousness or not. But, God's will be done!

Well, gentlemen, when they had bound my husband, they asked him where he had put his money; for being new settlers, we had been so imprudent as to bring nearly a thousand dollars with us, besides a little plate, and our watches, and other articles of value, of which no doubt the bushrangers had information. My poor husband was scarcely recovered from the stunning blow of the bushranger's gun, but he declared that we had no money; that we were poor settlers, and had nothing with us but a few necessaries, such as flour and tea and sugar.




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The man who had first pointed his gun at him now placed it close to his head, and swore most horribly that if he did not instantly tell him where the money was hid he would blow out his brains. This man seemed to be the leader.

“Money,” said he, “we will have; we know you have got it, so tell us where it is, or”—and here he swore a dreadful oath—“you shall have the contents of this barrel through your brains.”

I was held by two men, who had tied a handkerchief over my mouth, and it was in vain that I struggled to get loose. The bushranger put his finger on the lock of his gun, and I heard a click; I knew well what that click meant. In another instant I expected to behold my poor husband's head shattered to pieces. With a desperate strength, which nothing but despair could have lent to me, I loosened one arm, and tearing the handkerchief from my mouth, I exclaimed, “Oh! tell them, tell them! For God's sake tell them!—life is better than money...”

“Oh—ho,” said the leader, “so there is money, after all. Then I think I'll find a way to get it. Here” he said to one of the men, “put your musket close to this gentleman's


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head; that's right—now cock it—now put your finger on the trigger, and if he offers to cry out—fire! And now for the lady. Just put the handkerchief over her mouth again, and this time take care she doesn't get it off again; a woman can't hold her tongue, though her husband's brains may be blown out from her talking. In the meantime, Ma'am,” said he, with a sort of mock politeness, “I'll trouble you to walk into the inner room. I should not like to shock a lady's nerves, nor a gentleman's neither, with what is usual in these cases.”

“I will not move,” said I, horrified at his words. “I will not move; I will not leave my husband and my children. Kill me, if you will, but here I will stay.”

“By no means,” said the mocking bushranger; “we never wish to kill anybody if we can help it, that's not our game; but if you will not walk you must be carried.”

The two men who held me then lifted me up in an instant, and carried me into the bedroom, where they threw me on the bed.

“Now,” said the leader, “is the lady put comfortably to bed?”




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“Ay, ay,” said the man who held me down, “we've got her tight enough.”

“You see,” he said to my husband, for I could hear him speak plainly, as the two rooms are separated only by the log partition, “you see how things are; you had better tell at once, before we proceed to further extremities.”

Extreme terror and faintness had kept me silent till this moment, but now fear for my husband and my children, as well as the horror of my own condition, overcame all other feelings, and I cried out, “I'll tell, I'll tell. Don't fire. Take up the stone before the hearth—the money is there.”

The leader immediately desired some one outside to bring a strong stake to lift up the stone, telling him to be quick, for they had no time to lose, as they had far to travel before morning. Then I heard them remove the stone, and the dollars chinked as the man pulled out the bag and threw it on the floor. The sight of the heavy bag and the sound of the money, I fancy, put the party in good humour, for the men who held me relaxed their hold, and one left, telling the other not to lose sight of me.




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Presently I heard the leader say —

“Where's the young girl?”

No one seemed to know.

“By ——” said he, “the young hussy has escaped, and she will give the alarm. Be quick, my men, quick—quick; leave nothing behind that you can carry away—blankets, sheets, clothes—every thing. We shall want them when we get to the lake. It's a pity, though, that the girl has escaped. She will set her father free, and that may be awkward for us. Stay; we'll take him with us, and then he can't give any information about us.”

“To shoot him is the shortest way,” said one.

“Hang him,” said another. “Chuck him into the river, and there he'll be snug till somebody finds him.”

“Don't stand talking about it,” said a third; “shooting him would give the alarm, and throwing him into the river is unnecessary trouble. Just lend me a bit of cord, or a silk handkerchief, and I'll warrant he'll be quiet enough after.”

I conjectured he was about to strangle my helpless husband, for I heard the leader say —

“ Stop!—no murder, if we can help it. We


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can do that with him at any time, if his living is likely to harm us. For the present we will take him with us. Loose his legs and bind his arms behind his back. And now let us be off. But first let us make the lady safe.”

I was taken accordingly into the sitting-room; and then they bound me fast, and left me as you found me. My husband had been silent all this time, with the object, no doubt, which he carried into effect when he was removed outside the hut. When he found himself on the outside, where his voice could be heard, he immediately set up a loud shout for help; that made the woods ring; he was answered by screams near the river, which proceeded, I do not doubt, from Lucy. My husband's cries were instantly silenced.

“Gag him!” cried out a voice.

“Let us knock that young vixen on the head before we go,” said another voice; “she will rouse the neighbourhood, and our plan will be defeated.”

“It's too late,” said the leader; “the alarm is given already. It would do us no good to put the girl out of the way now; we should only lose time; we must be quick, and place a good distance


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between us, before we can be pursued. We shall gain a march, for we cannot be tracked till daylight; but we can travel all night, and so get well ahead.”

With that they left me, threatening me and my children with instant death if I uttered the least sound of alarm. I think I must have fainted; for I remember nothing more, till I was aroused by the door of the hut being burst open, which the bushrangers, I suppose, before they left, had fastened on the outside.

“How many in number,” said I, “do you think they were?”

“I cannot tell; I think there must have been eight or ten at one time in the hut; at the same time I heard the voices of some outside. All those whom I saw were armed with a gun of some sort. They were very wild-looking; the leader had on a kangaroo-skin jacket, and he did not look very ferocious, but he was very determined.”

“It was your husband's and your daughter's cries,” said I, “that we heard on the other side of the river, and it is plain, from your story, that your daughter endeavoured to cross the river for


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help, but was terrified by the roar of the waters and the difficulty of the passage, and that, overcome with exhaustion, she fell into the fit on the trunk of the tree in which we found her. Let that fortunate escape,” added I, “inspire you with the hope that we may be successful in finding your husband uninjured.”

The lady then returned to her daughter; and our companions, who had gone on their several missions, having returned, we passed the remainder of the night by the fire, planning our next day's expedition, and giving and receiving mutual information on the best course to be pursued, and the likeliest track of the bushrangers.

The day had just begun to break, when we were cheered by the appearance of the young magistrate on horseback, with a servant and two friends also mounted, and two constables on foot. They were all well armed; and when he had communicated to us the intelligence which he had received in the night of the numbers and desperation of the bushrangers, we were not a little glad to be joined by such an efficient reinforcement. The magistrate immediately took on


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himself the conduct of the expedition; and his activity and determination were so well known, that all the party were happy to place themselves under his direction.

The plundered family having been first removed with the greatest care to my house, the poor young lady shewing no other sign of life than a low breathing, we lost no time in putting ourselves in order. The magistrate divided our body into two parties, entrusting the command of one party to me, and the other to young Beresford. As the four horses brought by our last reinforcement were sufficient for the purposes of scouts, the remainder of the party proceeded on foot, so that each of our parties, Beresford's and mine, consisted of seven, including ourselves. VVith these preliminary dispositions we set about searching for the track of the bushrangers, extending ourselves in a line, the better to cover the ground. The track was soon found, as the large body of the bushrangers, laden with their booty, could not conceal the marks of their passage.

“Stick to the track,” said our leader to the constable who acted as guide, “and let nothing distract you from it. Gentlemen,” said he, addressing


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us, “I shall leave on the track all those on foot, who I trust will be ready for action. I and one of my friends will gallop on for some distance towards the tall tree on the high hill yonder, and try the chance of coming up with the rascals. Two of the horsemen will scour the country on your flanks. We are only eighteen in number, and the bushrangers are reported to have more than thirty among them. But we are in a better state of efficiency than they can be. Take care not to throw away your fire. Now we will go and clear the way for you.” Saying this, he galloped off in the direction to which the track of the bushrangers seemed to lead us.

We continued our course warily but rapidly for about ten miles, when we found the magistrate and his three companions waiting for us at the spot where two tracks were distinctly visible. We had scarcely exchanged a few words when the horseman to our left galloped into view, and made silent but expressive signs for us to come to him. He motioned us to be cautious, and to look about us. I beckoned to the horseman on our right to join us, and leaving him as a sentinel to mark the point of the track from which we


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had been called off, we moved quickly to our left, and soon reached the spot to which the horseman had called us. Here our eyes were suddenly arrested by a spectacle which caused us all instinctively to throw forward our arms and gaze anxiously around us. The sight chilled our very blood, and was sufficient to strike the boldest among us with consternation and horror.




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CHAPTER XIII.

THE RUINS OF THE BURNT STOCK-KEEPER'S HUT—THE MURDERER MUSQUITO AND THE NATIVES—THE SAGACITY OF THE KANGAROO-DOGS—NATIVE'S TOMB—THE NATIVES BEGIN AN ATTACK—SKIRMISH WITH THE BUSHRANGERS.

AMIDST the ruins of a stock-keeper's hut, recently burned down, we beheld a form which we recognized as human only from the outline of the body. One arm was totally consumed; the other was shrivelled up. The body was literally roasted and charred. It was in vain, after we had recovered the first emotions which the horrid sight created, that we endeavoured to trace the features of the disfigured head; it was a shapeless mass of calcined bone. The clothes, which might have served to identify it, were, of course, utterly consumed.

It must not be supposed that in making this examination we were neglectful of our own safety. Our active magistrate immediately despatched the


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two unemployed horsemen to make circuits of discovery round the place, and while he, with one of the constables, made a close investigation of the ruins, the remainder of our little party stood in order with our arms prepared in readiness to meet any attack. Our first impression was, that the hut had been visited by the bushrangers, who, either in malice or revenge, had set fire to the hut, and burned to death the unfortunate occupant. But the truth was presently made manifest by one of the horsemen, who hailed us from a little distance to join him.

We proceeded towards the spot where he was standing, and we presently came on two dead bodies, evidently stock-keepers from their clothes and appearance. They were quite dead and cold. Their wounds at once informed us that they had been killed by the natives. On laying bare their clothes, we found their bodies pierced with innumerable small holes caused by the long thin spears used by the natives in their encounters. Their heads were battered to a jelly-like mass, from the frequent blows of the waddies, a small and light club of hard wood, which forms the weapon of the natives of Australia in close combat.




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The sickening sight of these two bodies, coupled with the horrid form amidst the ruins of the hut, told plainly what had happened. The stock-keepers had been attacked by the natives, who had, no doubt, intercepted the two unfortunate men before us, and had killed them after a hard fight, as the number of their wounds testified. The third stock-keeper, it seemed, had been able to gain the hut, in which, perhaps, he had defended himself for some time against the natives; and the black people had set fire to the thatch of native grass, and so consumed it and him. We searched again and more narrowly amongst the charcoal ruins, and found the barrel of a musket partially melted by the fire, with the lock nearly whole, and the piece of brass belonging to the butt of the piece. This was confirmation of our surmise. The stock-keeper in the hut had very likely wounded or killed one or more of the natives, and they, rendered more savage by their wounds, had burnt him alive!

At this time a native of Australia, by name Musquito,, a tall and powerful man, had been committing many atrocities in Van Diemen's Land. He had been sent from Sydney some


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years before for an offence, I think it was a murder that he had committed, by Governor Macquarie, a proceeding complained of at the time, but gradually forgotten, as Musquito, until within the last year or so, had conducted himself well, and had proved himself useful on several occasions by tracking runaway convicts, and lost or stolen sheep. It was known that he was at the head of a mob of natives, consisting of about thirty; but we had no idea that he was in this part of the island; however, this looked very like some of his work, and we were not a little troubled at the prospect of having to contend against the treacherous natives as well as with the fierce and desperate bushrangers. This was an addition to our difficulties and our danger on which we had not calculated, and the magistrate called a council of war to deliberate on the best mode of proceeding.

We took advantage of the opportunity of this halt to refresh ourselves, as we anticipated hard work. On the hearth of the demolished hut we found a tripod, such as was in common use then and now too, for boiling things in, holding three or four gallons. One of the constables


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cleaned it out to make tea in. There were many of the shrubs known by the name of the tea-tree growing near, and as we wished to husband our stock, we made tea of some of the leaves, which make a very good substitute for the China tea. The leaf resembles the leaf of the privet, which is common in the hedges in some parts of England. In the meanwhile some of our party buried the two dead stock-keepers, after having first examined their clothes narrowly, to see if we could find any paper or marks by which they could be identified. On one we found a tin tobacco-box, which was given in charge to one of the constables, and on the other was his pass, from which we ascertained his name, and also that he had recently arrived from Hobart Town.

All this time we took care to guard against surprise, for we did not know who might be watching us, but we felt no fear from an open attack of any body of natives that could be collected against us; but if by chance Musquito and his mob of natives should join with the bushrangers, we felt that such a body of sixty or more persons, with the bushrangers well


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armed and desperate, might be more than we could cope with. These considerations troubled us all not a little, and we made haste to despatch our meal, keeping a strict look-out the while.

Our banquet was not a very merry one, I must say; we all had very long faces, with some slight misgivings of the prudence of our expedition; not that there was any want of courage among us, or of the spirit of enterprise; we were bold and cool enough; but some of us had left wives and families behind, and we felt that we were fighting against odds; that we were risking our own lives, which were precious, against the lives of rascals, which were worthless.

These thoughts, with the burial of the dead and disfigured men, and the sight of the other man burnt into charcoal, cast a gloom over us which was painful and dispiriting. Our kangaroo-dogs went smelling about with their tails down, and crouching with that expression of fear which these hounds display when they are in the vicinity of an unusual object, and especially when they see or smell a native. One of them poked about among the ruins, and startled us


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with a howl so dismal that it almost chilled us with a sort of superstitious fear.

“Young Hector is uneasy,” said one.

“He knows there's something wrong,” said another; “and he can't make out what that charcoal body means. I don't think he has much spirit in him just now to pull a kangaroo.”

Hector, however, suddenly belied this surmise, for, ascending the little eminence above the ruins, he assumed an attitude of lively and fixed attention. His head became erect, his eyes keenly piercing into the bush, and his body ready for a spring.

“Silence,” said I; “Hector has got scent of something; I know his ways well. See, he looks at me to intimate that there is something in the wind. Go see,” said I; “see, Hector, good dog, what is it?”

The intelligent animal immediately set off into the bush, stealthily and without barking or growling. He was soon out of sight.

“It's only a kangaroo,” said one of the constables.

“It's more than a kangaroo,” said I; “Hector


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is almost equal to his old sire, who could do everything but speak, and, indeed, I think he could have talked, if he only knew how to begin; but I understand his signs well. Depend upon it, there's a reason for what he does.”

As I spoke these words, we observed the dog cantering back to us at a swift pace. He came straight up to me, and whined with peculiar signs of fear.

“He has seen a native,” said I; “that I'll swear. I can't mistake him. We had better be prepared, though I can't think they would have the temerity to attack us.”

“Let us go and face the danger,” said our young leader; “it is better to put an end to it, one way or the other; as to retreating, that is out of the question.”

"Oh," said we all, ——" no retreat, no retreat!"

"Then put yourselves in order, gentlemen, and let us move on."

“Let us follow the dog,” said I, “and go warily about it; these natives hide behind the trees, and you can hear nothing of them till you find a spear sticking in you. Keep the other


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dogs back, and let me and Hector go first. Now, Hector, good dog! where is it?”

Hector licked my hand, as if to say, “take care ofyourself,” and trotted on before. I kept immediately behind, taking care not to over-run him, and the rest of our party followed quickly after us, on the alert, and with their arms ready. Hector continued at his trotting pace for about two hundred and fifty yards, when he stopped, and assumed the attitude of a dog pointing at game. I tried to pierce into the bush with my eyes, but I could discover nothing. I looked back, and saw my party behind, all ready for action.

“Go see!” I said to the dog.

The dog hung down his tail, sniffed, whined, and, standing up, pawed me with his fore-legs. I patted him.

“What is it, Hector?”

But some terror hung over the hound, and he was reluctant to move forward; but he looked towards a particular part of the bush, and uttered the low whine expressive of unusual fear.

The magistrate now, leaving the others behind, joined me.




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“What is the matter with the dog?” said he.

“I can't tell,” said I; “but there is some reason for all this; I am sure there are natives about by his manner; if they were bushrangers he would bark or growl.”

“We must put an end to this suspense,” said the magistrate; “observe him now, he is looking intensely at some object not far off. Stand here, and hold my horse, and I will go on the line the dog points to.”

He immediately advanced on foot, having first observed the bearing of an object behind me, in order that he might keep in a line straight to the point to which the dog's eye was directed. In the meantime the party behind came up to where I stood, and we all held ourselves ready for an alarm. The magistrate had not advanced far before he stopped, and looked cautiously around him, holding his fowling-piece in a position to fire, and, without turning his head, beckoned with his arm for us to advance.

We came up to him, and he silently pointed to a hollow and blackened trunk of a tree, the branches of which were still standing, and covered with the late autumn leaf. Within the


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trunk we saw standing up a native, with his face turned towards us. The blackness of his colour assimilating with the charcoal of the burned tree prevented the body from being distinguished from the blackened trunk, until we got close to it, but the acuteness of the hound's organs had enabled him to detect this object at a considerable distance. The sight of this native lurking within the body of the tree instantly filled us with the fear that there were more close at hand, and we expected every moment to receive a volley of spears from the hidden enemy; but none appeared, and all was silence; the dogs, however, showed symptoms of uneasiness, which made us look about us.

“Shall I fire?” said one of the constables; “it's a sure shot.”

“Stop,” said the magistrate, “let us try to take him alive; we have got him safe; he can't get through the back of the tree, and we hem him in at the front. But it's odd that he doesn't move.”

We were about thirty yards from the tree, but as the native was within the trunk, we could not discern in the obscurity more than his dusky


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body; the trees were very thick all around, forming a dense mass of trunks as close as they could grow. It was a favourable place for the natives to fight in, and they are so active, and so clever in hiding themselves, that you may be in the midst of hundreds in such a place without being able to catch sight of one of them.

“I'll put an end to this,” said the magistrate; “be ready, my friends, and don't let him escape.”

Saying this, he ran towards him with his fowling-piece pointed towards the tree.

“Why, he's dead! and we have come upon a native's grave; I have heard of them, but never saw one before. This is one of the black fellows that the stock-keeper shot, no doubt, before he was burnt to death in the hut.”

On examining the body, we found the mark of the musket-ball that had gone through his heart and passed out at his back. He was most likely close to the hut when he was shot, and must have been killed instantaneously.

We were clustering round the tree, gazing at this sight, and a little off our guard, when a whirr was heard among us, and a long thin spear


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passing through the group of heads without wounding any one, stuck in the bark of the tree. We were quickly roused by this compliment, and we turned about, looking round on all sides; but we could see nothing. Presently we heard the tramp of a horse's feet, and a crashing through the bushes, and the horseman whom we had left as a sentinel came into view. A spear was sticking in his back, and two pieces of broken spears were sticking in the sides of the horse, which seemed maddened with fright and pain. It was with difficulty that the rider could direct his horse towards us, the animal being almost unmanageable.

“Look out!” he cried,“the natives are on us—I have not seen them; but they have marked me and my horse. Depend upon it they are joined by the bushrangers, or they would not think of attacking an armed man on horseback. Musquito is with them, you may be sure, and he has taught them that the danger is over when a fire-arm is discharged; I dropped mine when this spear struck me. It came on me unawares, and in catching at the bridle when the horse started, I dropped my piece. I am


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not much hurt; but this spear makes me smart a bit.”

“Oh! never mind a spear-wound,” said our young magistrate; “we have got a surgeon among us, so we are all right.”

While these words were passing, we had secured the horse, and our friend dismounted. The spear had penetrated the flesh under his right arm, and the point was sticking out of the wound three or four inches on the other side. It was a small spear about ten feet long. The end had been sharpened and hardened in the fire, by scorching it, according to the custom of the natives, and it formed an ugly weapon to be lodged in a gentleman's person. The two constables quickly drew out the pieces of broken spear from the horse's side; they found more than a dozen spear-holes in the horse's body, which bled freely, but none of them seemed to be deep except two. All this passed in less than half a minute; and we were all the time looking out for an attack, but could not guess from which quarter it would come. We stood in this way for several minutes, straining our eyes to discover our enemies, but in vain. Suddenly


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our young leader, who was sitting on horseback, cried out —

“Holloa, they're at me.”

We turned and looked. A spear had gone through his hat sideways, and knocked it off; but we could see no one.

“That was a good shot,” said one of us. “Perhaps the next may be better—look out!”

A shower of spears fell among us from the same quarter, hitting one of the constables, and wounding another. As the distance, however, was great, they did little more than penetrate the skin, and a laugh was raised at the expense of the sufferers. The parties speared, however, did not seem to enjoy the joke at all.

“It's of no use,” said one of them, “to stand here to serve as targets for these black rascals; let us make a rush into the bush, and come to close quarters.”

“They will not let you,” said our leader; “you have no chance against them that way; but we must do something, We must try to drive them through this belt of wood, and get them into the plain beyond, where we shall


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be able to see what we are about. But we must be very cool and very cautious. Take three of your party,” said he to me, “to the left; and do you, Beresford, take three of yours to the right, so as to slant the black rascals, and drive them from the trees. Take care to keep us in sight, and don't advance too far. The rest must advance steadily straight on; I and the two on horseback will be ready to give assistance to either party.”

We lost no time in effecting this movement, and proceeded at a brisk pace through the wood. Beresford's party had the first shot:—the natives moved round to the other side of the trees; then we had a shot at them; and in front was our main body. They could not stand this long; they did throw some spears at us, but they fell harmless. They scampered off, in number about thirty or forty, as near as we could guess, and we after them, till they came to the edge of the bank bounding the wood, over which they disappeared.

We were hastening after them, when suddenly thirty or forty armed men started up from beneath the bank, and fired a volley on us which


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brought us to a stand-still. We were all in a line, separated, but not far from each other, the chase after the natives having caused us to break our ranks. I looked down our line when the volley was fired, and it was with the most painful concern that I saw my young friend Beresford drop to the ground.

It was clear that the natives had formed a junction with the bushrangers, and our little party now stood in their presence, with fearful odds against us, and with three of us disabled. Thus fairly brought into action, we had nothing to trust to but our courage and discipline, and the moral superiority which the right always has over the wrong. The bushrangers, after their first volley, had disappeared under the bank. Our leader instantly called out, “Reserve your fire—close together—now follow me.”




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CHAPTER XIV.

THE BUSHRANGERS RETREAT—THE MAGISTRATE'S PARTY PURSUE—A BIVOUAC—TRACKS OF THE BUSHRANGERS—CROSSING OF THE BIG RIVER—THE PURSUIT GROWS WARM.

WE immediately turned to the right to a point about fifty yards off, where there was a clump of trees which projected from the main mass of the forest. By this manoeuvre we turned the position of the bushrangers, which at first was in their favour, to our own advantage, as it enabled us to take them along their line, so that they stood in one another's way; and while they were unprotected in the open plain, we were sheltered by the trunks of the trees.

As I followed with my division of the party, I passed poor Beresford, whom I had seen fall at the first volley of the bushrangers. Raising him up, we bore him to the shelter of the wood. Our present position enabled us now to see the movements


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of the bushrangers. It was not their game to fight, only to disable and embarrass the pursuit; we were not surprised, therefore, though I must confess I felt considerably relieved, to behold the bushrangers in rapid retreat stealing under the bank.

Perhaps it would have been prudent in us, seeing their numbers and determination, and assisted by a harassing body of natives, to have let them alone, and to have suffered them to retire without molestation. But our blood was up, and as I have often observed on other occasions, there seems to be a fighting instinct in human nature, so that two men, or two bodies of men, when they have got opposite each other with the intent of fighting, do not like to separate without exchanging blows.

These thoughts occurred afterwards, for I was as hot as any of us at the time, and as eager to continue the pursuit. The sight, too, of our neighhour fired us. We saw him amidst his plunderers, with his hands tied before him, and goaded on by two or three of them. We were all going helter-skelter after them, when we were


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stopped by the voice of our young leader, who was the coolest among us.

“Stop, gentlemen, said he, we must not go too fast. Remember that our lives are precious, and it is my duty not to allow you to expose yourselves unnecessarily. I am afraid these rascals are too strong for us. You may observe that the natives seem to be confident in their numbers. We are only eighteen in number, and our enemies are at least sixty or seventy. I make no doubt that a party of soldiers which the Governor has directed to the Clyde will follow our steps, and they can easily track us to where we are. My advice to you is to wait here till that help reaches us; then we shall be a match for them .”

“No waiting,” cried out one bold young fellow; “let us go at them while we are in the humour for it. Those rascals will never fight when it comes to the scratch; let us make a rush at them, and put an end to it.”

“If you will allow me to give my advice,” said I, “I am of the same opinion as our magistrate. We ought to endeavour to take these


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fellows alive; it would be a dear victory if we were to buy it at the expense of many of our own lives .”

“Oh! let us fight it out now,” cried several; “why, these bushrangers will be joined by more convicts, depend on it, as they go on. Let us crush them at once before they get to a strength too much for us to put down.”

“Well,” said the magistrate, “if you are determined to go on with this job, I will not disappoint you; but we must use a little stratagem in our proceedings. It is now four o'clock; in a few hours it will be dark, when, you know, the natives will not stir, for they are afraid of the evil spirit which they believe wanders about in the night-time. I propose, then, that we should remain where we are for two hours, so as to make the bushrangers think, if they watch us, that we have given up the pursuit. Then we must track them to their resting-place for the night, and so surprise them asleep or off their guard, for our object is to secure them alive, and to rescue our friend from their hands, with as little risk as possible to ourselves. Are you agreed?”

"Agreed," said we all.




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“Then now let us lose no time in attending to young Beresford.”

We were all glad to find, on examination, that Beresford had only been stunned by a ball which had grazed his head; there was not much bleeding from the wound, but as the blood had flowed down his face, which was pale as death, it gave him a ghastly appearance. In less than half an hour he was sufficiently recovered to sit up, but he complained of headache and weakness of the limbs.

“Do you think you could keep up with us?” said our leader.

“I'll try,” said he, “and at any rate you shall not be stopped on my account. I would rather stay behind.”

“And be speared by the natives,” said I, “which you certainly would be. No—no; if we go on, you must go with us, if we have to carry you, for our party is too weak to be divided.

“And now, gentlemen, pray make the best use of your time. Rest yourselves; and while you have the opportunity, put your arms in order, and I recommend you to put new flints in your hammers. It is half the battle to have your weapons


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in good order. We shall have the advantage of the bushrangers there, for their muskets must be rusty and out of order.”

We set ourselves about the work accordingly, and put our arms in good condition, keeping a good look-out the while, but we were not molested. At the end of two hours, one of the horsemen was despatched on the track of the enemy, and after him another to keep the first in view, and to communicate with the main body. The third wounded horse we feared would be of little use, so he was turned loose in the bush, and his saddle and bridle stowed away in the fork of a tree, and covered over with bark to keep it dry. His rider's wound was a little stiffish, but he said he should be all right if it came to a brush and he got warmed to the work.

Our party was divided as before. I had the direction of six men, and Beresford of six more. The dismounted horseman made Beresford's party amount to seven. Our leader, who was well mounted, made excursions of observation on either side.

In this order we proceeded on the track of the bushrangers till the dusk of the evening, when we


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made another halt. Planting sentinels around, whom we relieved at stated times, we remained in this position till midnight. We then resumed our march in Indian file, calculating that we should reach the resting-place of the bushrangers at three or four o'clock in the morning, at which time the slumber of sleepers is most profound.

But we found that we had over-rated our powers of tracking; we had not proceeded half a mile before we were brought to a stand-still; we had lost the track, and in the obscurity of the night we found it impossible to recover it. We remained, therefore, where we were, afraid to light a fire lest we should reveal our position. We made cautious excursions to the right and left, in the hope of discovering our enemies from the light of their fire; but we could see nothing, and the night passed away in one of the most disagreeable bivouacs I ever witnessed. We contrived the best supper that we could in the dark, and those who could, got some sleep.

At the first dawn of light we were up and stirring, but it was a good half-hour before we could recover the lost track. The morning was hazy and raw, and we all felt that it was anything but


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a pleasurable expedition that we were engaged in. I have often admired how much difference a good night's rest and a good supper make on the capabilities of a man; it is in vain that enthusiasm lends its aid to support us in arduous undertakings; man, after all, depends much on his physical condition, and the old proverb of an English soldier being in the best fighting condition after a good dinner I have had frequent opportunities to test the truth of.

On we went, with very long faces and very blue noses, for about three miles, when we came to a brook about twenty feet wide and not very deep, to the border of which our track led. The walk, or rather the trot, had warmed us up a bit, and, without any hesitation, we all dashed into it. It was nearly up to our middle, and the stream ran very strong, but we crossed it merrily. Proceeding onwards, the track led us to the summit of a green hill, at which point it appeared the bushrangers had taken a sudden resolution, for the track now proceeded at a right angle from the old one, and, after following it for a couple of miles, we found ourselves on the bank of the Shannon River.




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Here we were a little at fault, for the stream was too deep and too rapid to be forded, and we were not sufficiently ingenious to construct an extempore canoe from the bark of a tree, as the natives of New South Wales are accustomed to do. On the other side of the river, which was about sixty yards wide, was a stock-keeper's hut, which looked as if it had been abandoned, so desolate and wretched was its appearance.

The tracks on our side of the river were quite fresh, and it was evident that a body of men had recently crossed at the spot where we stood. Our leader despatched the two constables to the right and left to make discoveries; but they returned after the lapse of an hour with the report that they could find no means of crossing the river, and that they had discovered no track.

After similar explorations on all sides, we were compelled to come to the conclusion that they had crossed the river at the point where we were standing, but how they had done it was the puzzle. There was no sign of any living creature on the opposite bank, and the stock-hut, from its roofless condition, and the general aspect of things about it, seemed to have been long since


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abandoned. It was in vain that we held a council of war; no one could help us out of our difficulty; there was the deep river between us and our enemy, and there we might stay for ever if we waited till it had done flowing.

“Let us cross the river higher up,” said one, “till we come to a place that is fordable.”

“Lord bless you,” said one of the constables, “you will find no ford on the Shannon. It's the most rumbustious river in the whole colony, and always goes ramping and roaring along as if it was in the most terrible hurry in the world to get over the ground. It's quite a spec to cross it on horseback, unless your horse is a real good one, and in the dry season. But what do I see there? Look! Don't you see a little sort of a punt behind those sedges? It is a punt! Depend upon it the bushrangers crossed by that thing.”

We all gazed anxiously, and sure enough there was a something about six feet long, and how wide we could not tell, which looked like an outlandish washing-tub set to soak, and which might, by a vivid stretch of the imagination, be likened to a punt.




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“Well,” said the magistrate, “we will not be stopped by the Shannon, or by anything else, in doing what we have a mind to. The horse that I am on will do anything that a horse can do, and I will make the attempt. Do you, gentlemen, draw yourselves up so as to protect my crossing, in case of enemies lying on the bank opposite, and I'll try what Diamond can do.”

With that he was about to urge his horse into the water, when the constable called out,

“Stop, Sir, stop! You don't understand the strength of the stream, or you would not attempt to cross straight over. You must go up a hundred yards or so, and you will find the force of the current will not allow you to land on the other side nearer than the point opposite. Better say a hundred and fifty yards up, and pray take care to keep your horse's head well up the stream, or you will be turned over in no time.”

“Thank you,” said the magistrate, “for your counsel. I always listen to the advice of old hands.”

Taking the stream at about a hundred and fifty yards to the right, he plunged in, taking a little leap from the bank. He went under water


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as high as his waist, but it was only for a moment, for as he leaped his horse against the stream, the force of the current, aided by the exertions of the horse in an opposite direction, buoyed him up directly. He had taken the precaution of holding his fowling-piece in his hand above his head, so that his weapon escaped damage.

The action and struggle of the horse, guided by a practised hand, were beautiful. The rampant stream swept on with a sort of fury, as if ravenous for the prey upon its bosom, but our young leader, as cool as if he was on the high road, with his fowling-pieee raised high out of the reach of the spray of the waters, held on his course, undismayed by the rushing waters.

It was a short course and a dangerous one, for the utmost efforts of the noble and powerful animal whose energies were called forth to battle the impetuous current of the famed Shannon River were barely sufficient to enable him to reach the landing-place. But he did reach it, and our breathless suspense was allayed by a success which, during its progress, seemed all but impossible.




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He waved his gun to us when he was safe, and we replied by a cheer, forgetting our habitual caution, and the necessity of silence in a bush expedition. We then observed him to ascend the bank, and approach the ruined hut. Some argument that he made use of was irresistible, for presently, to our great surprise, we saw a man emerge from the building in the usual habiliments of a sojourner in the bush, that is, a kangaroo jacket.

This detected individual proceeded with some alacrity, partly prompted by his desire to assist his fellow-creatures in crossing the stream, and partly, I suspected, by the persuasive influence of the magistrate's gun, which I observed to be most pertinaciously pointed at the head of this inhabitant of the Shannon, to the place where the washing-tub punt was moored under the bank. Something that the magistrate said to him seemed to have the effect of making him redouble his exertions.

Having taken his place in the punt, he proceeded to creep up the bank, sometimes propelling his frail boat by a sort of oar, and sometimes catching hold over the shrubs and


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inequalities of the bank. Having obtained the requisite distance to enable him to shoot the passage, he used his paddles with the most commendable vivacity, stimulated, perhaps, by the sight of a tolerable number of gun-barrels ready to inflict instant punishment on any vacillation or treachery, and quickly came to land a little above the spot where we were standing. When we saw this nondescript species of craft, we were amazed at any one trusting himself to such a speculative attempt at navigation. We looked at the punt, and we looked at one another, but no one offered to take his seat in this novel addition to the transport service.

“Now, Worrall,” said one of the constables to the other, “you're the man to set the example. Didn't you cross the Derwent once in a bark canoe when you were ——”

“Hold your tongue,” said Worrall; “if I was a fool once, it's no reason why I should be a fool again. Get into it yourself with your fat carcase, and then perhaps there will be one rogue less in the world.”

“Not cross in my punt!” said the Columbus of Van Diemen's Land, “why there's no danger at all.


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There was a stock-keeper last week who crossed, that is, who would have crossed if he had not been so obstinate. He would lift up his head as he was lying at the bottom of the punt, and of course it upset, and I got a wetting, and was very near losing my punt. But it was his own fault that he was drowned. Now, misters, who comes first?”

No one seemed at all inclined to “come first,” and there were whisperings about wives and families, and the first duty of a man, and such like. Meanwhile the magistrate, on the other side, was making earnest gestures for us to join him, and I felt that it was necessary for some one to take a decisive part, and I stepped forward with the intention of making the first trial. But the gallant young Beresford anticipated me, and, without saying a word, he placed himself in the punt, and the man of the river pursuing the same process of crawling up the side of the stream by which he had reached us, landed him safely on the other side. This put us all on our mettle, and it was not who should shrink from the risk, but who should go first, that was now the question. I have often thought since of the hazard of this


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crossing, and wondered how we escaped; but so it was; we all crossed over in safety, and leaving a couple of sentinels on the outside, we all entered the hut.

We were wet, and cold, and tired. The sight of glowing embers therefore on the hearth was very cheering. We quickly provoked the fire to a blaze, and enjoyed the warmth with unusual satisfaction. There was a tripod on the fire, in which we immediately made tea for the party, for tea is always cherished as the grand restorer of fatigue in bush excursions; spirit heats and debilitates, but tea refreshes and strengthens; such is the experience of all in Van Diemen's Land. I don't know whether porter or ale might not do as well, or better; but porter and ale are not to be found in the bush, and they are commodities too bulky to be carried about with you; so that the universal ingredient is tea; and a rough-looking stock-keeper, in appearance something between a bear and a badger, talks of his tea with the same gusto as an old woman at a Scotch christening. With tea, then, we made our bush breakfast, and as we were all particularly well pleased with our


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own courage in crossing the river, we were in high spirits.

We endeavoured to ascertain from the occupant of the hut something of the condition and probable route of the bushrangers, but this ambiguous individual protested most vehemently that he had seen nothing of them, and that how the marks of the footsteps came which we pointed out to him surpassed his comprehension!

We knew that this was a lie, and some of us were strongly inclined to shoot him on the spot, to prevent his giving information about us; but the magistrate prevailed on us to postpone this summary mode of execution till we came back, observing that shooting was too good for him, and that he would certainly come to be hanged without our taking the trouble to interfere in expediting so desirable a consummation. Having refreshed ourselves and dried our clothes, and having carefully examined our locks and ammunition, we proceeded gaily on the track of the enemy.




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CHAPTER XV.

ARRIVAL AT THE GREAT LAKE—BUSHRANGERS AT BAY—THE FIGHT—SIMULTANEOUS ATTACK OF THE NATIVES—MATTERS REMAIN IN SUSPENSE—THORNLEY LOOKS OUT FOR A KANGAROO FOR SUPPER.

WE followed the track, but we could not come up with the bushrangers. We kept on for about twenty miles over a rough and difficult country, crossing the big river by a ford, till we came to the foot of a tier of hills too steep for a fatigued party to encounter. Here we made a halt for the night. The next morning we continued the pursuit. When we reached the top of the tier we beheld in the bottom before us the wide and beautiful lake then known by the name of Arthur's Lake.

The scene was beautiful beyond description. The morning broke clear and bright, and the sharp mountain air was exhilarating and exciting. Behind us was a romantic country of undulating hill and dale, and before us were the


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tranquil waters of the great lake. We were all struck with the impressive character of the scene, and for some minutes we were silent.

“How beautiful and quiet the lake looks,” said our leader, “with the morning sun lighting it up; it seems a pity to disturb such a place with sounds and acts of blood and battle, but I have a notion that we shall hem in the bushrangers on the borders of that lake, and then, when we bring them to bay, we may prepare for a desperate struggle. Now, gentlemen, if you have satisfied your love for the picturesque, we will move on.”

As well as we could calculate, we were about four miles from the margin of the lake, and we proceeded at a tolerably rapid pace, following the track of the bushrangers till we came to its banks. Here, it seems, they had come to a halt, and were doubtful how to proceed; for the shore was much trampled by men walking to and fro. We did not stop long, for, observing that the track led to the left, we followed it. It seemed that the bushrangers were undetermined how to proceed, for they followed the winding of the margin of the lake for some


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distance, when suddenly quitting that course, their track led direct to a point of the lake where some cedar-trees grew on a tongue of land stretching into the lake about a quarter of a mile.

As we proceeded, we observed a smoke to arise from the extremity of this point, which we had no doubt was the fire of the bushrangers. After our long and toilsome pursuit, we hailed this indicator of the refuge of the bushrangers with joy and satisfaction, although with a secret consciousness that the end was not to be attained without a sharp and desperate struggle. At the entrance of this little peninsula we halted, and our leader, assuming the air of one on whom rested a serious responsibility, urged on us the importance of discipline, and the necessity of attending strictly to orders in the coming conflict.

“My friends,” said he, “we are about to engage with men whom we are driving to desperation. If that fire, as I believe it does, indicates the presence of the bushrangers, you will observe that our approach will hem them in, and that they will have no means of escape


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but by our destruction. Are you resolved and ready?”

“Resolved and ready!” said Beresford, who had recovered all his energy, although looking a little pale from the effects of his wound; “do you think that we have come thus far to shrink back when the decisive moment is come? What would any one of us feel if he was in the hands of the bushrangers, and saw his friends and neighbours sneaking off when it came to real blows, and afraid to go on with the enterprise they had begun? I, for one, am ready for the worst; I have been hit once, but I have no mind to duck my head for all that.”

“We are all ready and resolved,” we said, “do you lead us, and, depend on it, you may trust to us as if we were drilled soldiers.”

“Then,” said he, “let us lose no time, but endeavour to surprise them in their lurking-place. I think they don't suspect they are followed, or they never would have chosen a ground from which they have no retreat.”

“Or, perhaps,” said one, “they are confident in their strength.”

“It may be so. At any rate it behoves us to


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use the utmost caution and address in our advance. And now, let us move on.”

We advanced accordingly, with that sort of tremulousness produced by excitement, not fear, which is apt to pervade those on the eve of a dangerous exploit. But our hope of surprise was soon shown to be in vain, for we had not proceeded more than two or three hundred yards, when a shot from behind a tree warned us that our approach was discovered. This did not stop our advance, however, and rapidly ascending a green knoll, we beheld before us the party of bushrangers in battle array. We levelled our pieces, but the voice of our leader arrested our impetuosity.

“Stop,” said he; “that is not according to promise. You must not fire without the word.”

“The bushrangers will not wait for the word,” said one of us, for at that moment they fired a volley at us. Again, my poor young friend Beresford had the misfortune to be hit. He dropped to the ground. Quitting my party, I ran to him; he was bleeding fast. Several slugs had struck him on his right side; he was in great pain, and almost fainting from loss of blood, for


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the jagged shot made from split bullets had torn him sadly. Without losing a moment in asking questions, I contrived to drag him behind the dead trunk of a tree which was lying close to us. Our leader lost no time neither. In an instant he formed our little party in the position most advantageous to it, by moving us a little to the right.

Our enemies had not had time to load again; but they were busy about it, and as they stood in a position slanting from us, the six shots fired promptly, but coolly, confused them not a little; it stopped the loading of more than one musket, and before they could recover themselves my party of seven put in a deliberate fire, for we were all used to the bush, and were not at all flurried. We now observed three of their men to drop; but two got up again, one remaining on the ground, apparently shot dead. In the meantime, Beresford's party were ready to fire again, and almost at the same time about a dozen shots came from the bushrangers; but not one struck us; but one ball struck the hollow trunk of the tree behind which Beresford was lying, and was stopped by his body.




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The bushrangers were now ranged in a line opposite to us, and we counted thirty-one, three having fallen. Several of those, however, who were standing in line were disabled, for one or two were stamping and writhing with pain, and we saw one man with a fowling-piece in his left hand, and with his right arm hanging down, and seemingly rendered useless by a shot. There was one man among the bushrangers whom we could not help noticing and admiring. He was one of the finest men I ever saw. Tall, broad-shouldered, and muscular, his whole form denoted great strength, combined with great activity. He stood a little in advance of his party, as cool as a cucumber, and quite regardless of the shots that flew about him. As the two parties were not above a hundred yards distant from each other, we occasionally heard his voice encouraging his men.

“Fire away, my hearties,” he cried out, while he was reloading his musket with all diligence,—“fire away; better die by a musket-ball than a rope.”

With that I saw him deliberately examine the pan of his piece. He was not quite satisfied


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with its appearance, for he paused for a moment, as if in search of something. Stooping down to the ground, he picked up a little twig or stiff straw, and coolly cleared the touchhole of its obstruction. He then primed the pan quickly, but without hurry, from his powder-horn, and putting his musket to his shoulder, pointed it here and there among us, as if seeking for the best mark. He was not long in finding one. The magistrate, who was on horseback, formed a conspicuous object. The other two on horseback were behind us among some trees, to guard against a surprise from the natives. I saw the bushranger take a quick and steady aim, and immediately after, a cry from our leader made me fear that the shot had taken effect. It was certainly a capital shot; it went through his hat, and knocked it off.

“Everybody seems to have a spite against my hat,” said the magistrate; “the natives sent a spear through it the other day, and now these rascals have put a bullet through it. Any more of this fun will spoil my best hat. Keep up your fire,” said he, to me and my party. “This bit of a scrimmage is no joke, gentlemen. Fire


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coolly, and take aim at a particular man. They are double our numbers, but we have the advantage of position. Who is that man in front? There he is, going to fire again;—he has fired, and one of you is down. This is a bad job,” said he to the wounded man, “but we can't help it. But what do I see behind us? The natives! By George! they are on us ! Look out for the spears! and keep steady, for God's sake.—Now we are fighting for our lives indeed. Keep steady and fire quick. Keep it up—keep it up! Show a firm front, and I with the other two horses will make a rush at them.”

We heard the natives at our back uttering loud cries and screams, and inciting one another to close with us. I had enough to do to attend to my own work, for we were almost tired with loading and firing, and another shot from the bushrangers tore open the left arm of one of our party.

The yells of the natives now became louder and fiercer, and the fire of the bushrangers became quicker, and I thought I observed symptoms of an intention to make a rush at us simultaneously with the advance of the natives.




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Spears now fell thick among us, and I thought a crisis had come which would settle the fight without any more long shots, when suddenly I saw our leader with the two other horsemen dash in among the natives, and slash away with their swords. They had served in the yeomanry in England, and understood the use of the broad-sword well, and every cut told on the naked bodies of the natives. The waddies were of no use against the broad-swords of horsemen, and their slight spears were not strong enough to serve as pikes, so that they were completely at the mercy of the sabres.

If it had been among trees, the horsemen would have stood no chance against such a body of natives; they would have been riddled like sieves by their spears, without being able to get a cut at them; but in the plain the horsemen had all the advantage, for the natives were afraid of the horses as much as of the riders, and finding themselves unexpectedly assailed in that fashion, they were for a little while panic-struck, and incapable of resistance. They soon found the use of their legs, however, and they scampered off like deer across the little plain towards


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the entrance of the peninsula. The horsemen followed them for some distance, and then returned towards us. In the meanwhile a brisk fire was kept up on both sides.

We had at this time seven of our men disabled, and about thirteen of the bushrangers were in the same condition. But this increased the odds against us; for we were now only six, and with our three friends on horseback nine, against twenty-one. But we had the advantage of position, and we had got rid of the natives; but the hazard seemed desperate.

I now observed the magistrate with his two companions to the left of the bushrangers. They had sheathed their swords, and unslung the double-barrel fowling-pieces which they carried at their backs. All this did not take long in occurrence, though it requires many words to relate. They immediately fired at the bushrangers and hit two of them. This move evidently puzzled the enemy; but their leader soon formed his party to meet it. Some of them faced about and fired, and one of the horses was hit, as I observed by its plunging about.

The fire of the horsemen, however, sensibly


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relieved us from the shots of the enemy, and our little party of six now redoubled their fire, and the bushrangers began to waver and show signs of unsteadiness. It was plain that their weapons were not in the same state of efficiency as ours, for although they all had pieces of some description, their fire was slack and infrequent, while every one of our barrels told; besides, we were all accustomed to the use of fire-arms, which most of the bushrangers were not. I am inclined to think, too, that they were fearful of expending all their ammunition, which they would have a difficulty in replacing.

This and other reasons combining caused them to slacken their fire. Their fire-arms, too, for want of proper cleaning, and from the damp of the bush, became every minute more and more unserviceable, and all the while we were pelting them with our shots, sheltered by the trees behind which we fought.

Once I thought they had fully made up their minds to a rush, and the result might have been fatal to us. They gathered themselves up in a compact body, and the leader led them about fifty paces towards us at a running pace, but at


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this distance our volley told fearfully. We fired plump into the midst of them, at about fifty yards' distance, while the horsemen gave them the contents of three barrels on their left.

This was enough for them. Five fell—two got up again, and three remained on the ground. They now broke, and ran away over the little plain. Their leader was the last to run. He turned round, and levelling his musket, gave us a parting shot. This was the only shot that came close to me, to my knowledge, during this bloody fight. The ball struck the left-hand side of the tree behind which I was standing loading my piece; it knocked off the end of my ramrod, which in the act of ramming projected of course beyond the trunk of the tree. I thought it an odd shot, but I was too satisfied that it did not knock off me to make any remark about it at that time.

I thought the horsemen would have pursued the bushrangers as they were running off, but, contrary to my expectation, they galloped towards us.

“Keep where you are gentlemen,” said our leader. “Don't let the bushrangers see how we are reduced in number. On the plain they would


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be more than a match for us, and they might turn and defeat us. We must be content with what we have done, and think ourselves well off. And now for our wounded friends: where is the surgeon ?”

“He was one of the first of us that was hit; he is lying on the other side of that mimosa tree.”

“That's unlucky; but we must do the best we can. Let us see—how many of us remain fit for service ?”

Six of us stood forward.

“Here are six, and that with myself and my two companions on horseback, makes nine, out of eighteen. A melancholy deficit. But with our small numbers it would be madness to force a close conflict with desperate men. We must take counsel what to do. In the meantime let us show a bold front. I did not expect, I must confess, that the bushrangers would fight so well; but they are desperate, and they feel that their alternative is a halter.”

We all thought that our situation, with the bushrangers in superior numbers on one side, and with the natives on the other, was desperate indeed. We felt as doomed men; but, unwilling


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to give up our lives without a struggle, and retreat being now as dangerous as to stand where we were—to say nothing of the impossibility of our forsaking our wounded companions—we determined to sell our lives as dearly as possible. We therefore drew ourselves up in three parties of two each, posted behind the trees.

In this position we stood for about half an hour without any signs of further attempts from the bushrangers; they had ceased firing and so had we; and presently afterwards they retired behind a green ridge about a hundred yards behind them, close to the water's edge.

During the fight we had seen nothing of our friend whom the bushrangers had taken with them from the Clyde, and, to tell the truth, in the urgent necessity of defeating them and of defending our own lives, we had almost forgotten that his rescue was a principal reason for our pursuit of the bushrangers. The horsemen now did good service; they served as patroles to guard our little party from surprise to the right and left, and one of them made occasional excursions to the rear to look after the natives,


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but it seemed they had had enough of it for the present.

Relieved from the apprehension of an immediate attack, we now turned our attention to the wounded. They had contrived to drag themselves behind the big hollow log of the tree where I had placed poor Beresford, and we were relieved to find them all still living.

The course of the conflict had drawn us more to the right, and in the excitement and the noise of the firing we had not been able to pay attention to those who were hit; it was as much as we could do to defend ourselves from being massacred by the numbers against us. It was an agreeable surprise to us, therefore, to find the surgeon, with a bloody handkerchief tied round his head, as busy as possible with his patients. During his sojourn in the colony, and indeed in the whole course of his life, he had never, he said, had such a favourable opportunity of gaining experience in gun-shot wounds.

I could not help thinking, notwithstanding our distress and peril, and the ghastly faces of the wounded, that his professional gratification


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at the sight of such a variety of lacerations acted like a charm on his own wound. Planting the two horsemen and two on foot as sentinels, we bent all our attention to the care of our suffering companions.

There was plenty of water at no great distance; we fetched some, and it refreshed them greatly. The surgeon was sadly troubled, however, at the prospect of passing the night in the open air, for there were three of them in a bad way, and he feared the cold, frosty air of the Lakes, would be too sharp for the sick, and we had doubts about the prudence of lighting a fire. In this occupation the remainder of the day wore away, when I saw our four dogs coming to us.

I was startled at first, for really I had never missed them, the fighting and firing having put everything else out of my head. Hector came up to me with a meaning air, as I thought, and I looked at his chops, and saw that he had assisted in the killing of a kangaroo not long before; the other dogs looked significantly about something, but they kept in the rear of Hector, paying a sort of deference to his superior sagacity


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and favour. It struck me that a kangaroo steamer, if we could venture to make a fire to cook it, would be no bad thing in our present circumstances, and it was agreed that I should go after it, if it did not lead me too far.

“Take my horse,” said the magistrate,“if you should fall in with the natives, he will save you from a spearing, and I'll stay to help the surgeon. He wants some splints, he says, for Worrall's arm, but there's no surgical instrument maker with a shop hereabouts, I fancy.”

“I have it,” said the surgeon, “I have it; where's your axe?” said he, to the other constable; “here, Tucker, chop me a strip of bark from this tree. That's right; that's a capital piece. Here,” said he, cutting some longitudinal slips in it, “here's a beautiful cradle for a wounded arm! This is another wrinkle for me! I never thought, when I was serving my time in Aberdeen, that I should have to invent splints from the bark of a gum-tree in Van Diemen's Land! Now, my man, it's almost worth while to get one's arm shattered a bit, to have it done up so nicely; that's it; don't wince, man; stop, give me a pocket-handkerchief, one of you, or


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something; there—that will make a nice soft bed for it. A little water do you want?”

“Couldn't you put a little brandy in it?”

“No—no brandy; inflammation, you know, and all that. And now for the others. Well, to be sure, I have enough to do with you all. Where have you been hurt?” said he, “Mr. Nicholls?”

“Here, on the right side. I feel very faint.”

“I see; but we must get out the ball; it isn't deep in. How to do it, though—that is the question—for I have not got the tools with me.”

“I've got a cork-screw,” said Worrall.

“A cork-screw! Why, I never did hear of balls being extracted by a cork-screw; but ——”

Nicholls groaned.

Seeing that I could be of no use in this difficulty, and thinking that the meat would be a help to us, I slung my fowling-piece behind me, and throwing the horse's bridle over my arm, I set off in search of the kangaroo. I first did all that it was possible for me to do for my young friend Beresford. His left arm had been shattered by a ball, and he was suffering


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the most excruciating pain. The surgeon, who was much attached to him, but who, under the present circumstances, made no distinction, helping those first who most wanted assistance, now took Beresford's case in hand, and our mutual friend the magistrate gave him all the aid he could think of.




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CHAPTER XVI.

HECTOR POINTS AT UNEXPECTED GAME—THORNLEY MEETS WITH A PARTY OF SOLDIERS—HIS JOY THEREAT—HIS DIS-APPOINTMENT THEREON—HIS LAMENTABLE PREDICAMENT—HIS FORTUNATE ESCAPE FROM A PISTOL—BULLET—HIS RELEASE—A LETTER FROM HIS WIFE—THE BUSHRANGERS ESCAPE TO AN ISLAND IN THE LAKE—MELANCHOLY NEWS FROM THE CLYDE—THORNLEY RESOLVES TO RETURN HOME.

THE day was drawing to a close; I judged there was a good hour and a half's daylight. I saw there was something in Hector's manner more than usual but I set it down to the recent scrimmage with the natives, and the firing. I bid him “Go show!” He trotted on, and at about half a mile's distance he brought me to the dead kangaroo, lying not far from the lake. I did not wait to cut it up, but threw it as it was across the saddle, and was about to return to my friends, but Hector exhibited a strange unwillingness to go back, and ran on a little way in the direction from which we had come from the Clyde.




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Being well acquainted with his ways, and knowing the wonderful instinct of the dog, I was uneasy, my mind being full of the fear of natives being at hand. But the signs he gave were not the signs of natives; they meant something else. The bushrangers, I knew, were behind me, and that they could not pass our little party without an alarm being given. “Well,” thought I, “the dog knows something that he seems to think I ought to know too. I'll follow him a little way at any rate;” so I threw down the kangaroo from the horse, and mounted.

Hector seemed pleased at this, and knowing that I could keep up with him on horseback, he cantered off at a pretty good pace, keeping the track by which we had reached the lake. When we had gone about a mile, I stopped; but Hector still showed a great anxiety to proceed. “Well, Hector,” said I, “I'll trust you, but I can't understand what you are at; if it is to go home that you're trying for, that won't do.” The other three dogs had staid by the kangaroo, which I had thrown on the ground, so that I was alone with Hector.

We had proceeded in this way about three


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miles, and I was beginning to think I had gone far enough, when Hector suddenly stopped, and assumed the attitude of pointing at game. “What's in the wind now,” thought I! “Is it an emu that the dog has been bringing me to? It's worth a shot, however, for the sake of the fat; but I must be wary!” I got off my horse, which I tied to a tree, and advanced stealthily in the direction to which Hector pointed. I had not proceeded more than twenty steps, when, to my surprise, and I must confess, exceeding fear, a quick sharp voice cried out —

“Who goes there?”

“More bushrangers,” thought I; “now I'm in for it!”

“Who goes there?” repeated the voice, and I heard the well-known click of the cocking of a musket; it came from the direction of a thicket close by. I looked and saw the muzzle of a musket projecting just beyond the leaves.I was in a terrible fright.

“A friend,” said I, in a hurry.

“Stand, friend; if you move, I fire!”

“I'm done!” thought I; “it's all over! I shall


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be made a target of by these rascals, and there's the lake handy by to throw me into afterwards!”

As these horrible thoughts crossed me, I heard the peculiar sound of the shouldering of arms together by drilled soldiers, and immediately afterwards a sergeant's party showed themselves in line to the left of the thicket.

“Hurrah!” said I, jumping about in delight; “well done, Hector!”

“Hurrah! What the devil is the man hurrahing about?” said the sergeant. “I've a notion, my friend, that the next caper you cut will be from a tight rope. Secure him! Present! There, you see, resistance is of no use. The rascal has got a beautiful fowling-piece with him, stolen, of course, from some unfortunate settler.”

“What the devil are you about?” said I; “you're mistaken........”

“No mistake at all. There, tie his arms behind his back—a little tighter. Two file, present at him. Now, my friend, lead us on to where your other blackguards are nestling, or by ——, you shall have a couple of the most beautiful balls through your rascally body that ever were cast by


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the king's commissioners. Lead on—I say! you won't! Fix your bayonets, and touch him up behind. Ah, that makes him move!”

“Holloa!” said I, “none of that fun, I'm not a bushranger, I'm after them myself. I'm a gentleman!”

The laugh that the soldiers set up at this assumption of dignity made the woods ring again.

“A gentleman! a beautiful gentleman you are, ar'n't you? It's a pity you hav'n't got a glass, to see how a gentleman looks when he has taken to bushranging!”

It struck me then for the first time, that my appearance might well lead the soldiers wrong as to the personal consideration which was due to my standing in the colony. I had on my bush-dress, which was dirtied and stained with travel, and my hands, face, and clothes were smeared with the blood of my wounded companions, whom I had recently been assisting. In addition to these unfavourable indications, my beard was of three days' growth, so that it may be easily imagined that I presented a capital likeness


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of a hunted bushranger to the eyes of the soldiers.

I might have laughed at my ludicrous position if it had not been so dangerous, for the two soldiers behind me, with cocked muskets and fixed bayonets, which seemed to have been sharpened up for my especial accommodation, kept their fingers, as I observed, and I shuddered at the sight, on their triggers, ready to treat me with the contents of their barrels at the least sign from their commander; and soldiers, I well knew, were not very particular about shooting a bushranger in the bush, and taken, as the lawyers say, in flagrante delicto. I was in a cold sweat, and my excessive perturbation was visible to the men.

“Look at the sneaking hound,” said the sergeant; “what a desperate funk the coward is in just at the chance of being shot! Be steady, my men, don't shoot him if you can help it. Now, my beauty, use your stumps.”

“I'll take you,” said I, with a sort of desperate eagerness, “to where you will find the bushrangers —— and ——”




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“Oh—you will, will you? You're a nice fellow for a bushranger! A pretty blackguard you to betray your comrades!”

“I don't betray anybody,” said I. “I ——”

“Hold your jaw,” said the sergeant, “and get on, or you shall have another spur from behind; and take care you don't think of betraying us, or you'll regret it as long as you live, though that wouldn't be long, you may depend on it. And—hold your jaw,” again said he, seeing I wanted to speak “lead us to your comrades in silence; we don't want you to give 'em notice of our coming by your blackguard and treacherous tongue.”

Compelled thus to be silent, with my arms tied behind my back, if I had been inclined to philosophize, I might have mused on the instability of human affairs; but my contemplations were interrupted by the sight of my horse with his bridle hooked over the branch of a tree.

“O ho!” cried out my tormentor, “bushrangers ride a-horseback now-a-days, do they? The Clyde magistrate's horse, by George! You infernal rascal! you've shot the magistrate, that's clear, and here's his gun that you stole. Don't


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speak; we want none of your lies. Williams, lead the horse. Oh! the villain, to shoot a magistrate! A bushranger to shoot a MAGISTRATE!! That deserves double hanging! Now don't attempt to give us any of your jaw, or we'll gag you in no time. Prick him up behind if he speaks. A murdering bushranger is not going to come over us, at any rate.”

“A pretty situation,” thought I, “for an old Surrey farmer and middle-aged gentleman to be in! After I have escaped being shot by the bushrangers, it seems that I am now more likely to be summarily executed by a sergeant's party of soldiers! Well; this is the last time that I will ever go a-hunting of bushrangers—that's certain.”

All this I said to myself, for the terrible sergeant had his eye on me, and I feared that if I opened my lips I might have a couple of balls through my body, to say nothing of the points of the bayonets, the smart of whose application was uncommonly disagreeable.

In this trim we marched on. I looked round for Hector, but he had disappeared. After a three miles' march, we came to the dead kangaroo,


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which the dogs, for some reason, had abandoned.

“Here's their dinner,” said the sergeant, “and a very pretty piece of venison it is. We are right on the track, I see; there it leads. We are not far from the rascals now, I'm thinking. What says our honest friend here? He nods his head. He's wise. (Here I rubbed myself against a tree at the place where I felt the smart of the bayonet.) Oh,—I see, he knows how to take a hint. Now for the kangaroo. Johnson, you're a clever chap with your knife. Just divide him at the loins here.”

“How shall we carry him?” said one.

“Put it on the horse, to be sure,” said one of the soldiers.

“On the horse!” said the sergeant; “no, you would not dirty the magistrate's saddle that way. But—eh! it is dirty already, and with blood, too! That's the poor magistrate's blood! Oh, you murdering villains,—won't you catch it for this? Here—stick the kangaroo on his shoulders, and let him carry it for us. Not a word! Let him feel the point of your bayonet, Steadman—that's enough! Why, it makes him dance with


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the kangaroo on his shoulders. Now for it—move on, my men, and keep awake—there's mischief near, by this blackguard's looks, I'm thinking.”

I was straining my eyes to endeavour to discover some sign of friendly help to release me from my very disagreeable situation, and it was my gaze that attracted the attention of the vigilant sub-officer. But it was now getting dark, and I could distinguish nothing but the dim and thick foliage of the cedar-trees, and the wide and cold-looking expanse of the dreary lake. The sergeant took the lead on the track by which I, with my companions, in the morning, had followed the bushrangers to their retreat, and we presently entered the neck of land at the extremity of which we had hemmed them in.

“A likely place for a nest of vipers to lurk in,” said the talkative sergeant, in a low voice; “but what do I see there? Halt! Steadman, take two file, and examine that odd-looking lump there.”

Steadman departed, and reported in military style,—


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“It's a dead native; he's been slashed all to pieces with broadswords. He's quite warm, and seems only just dead.”

“Broadswords! natives! oh, the cruel villains, they have been killing the natives to boil them down for their fat to make bush-candles! What a horrid set! But now, silence! no more talking; let no man speak a word. We can't be far off from the villains, for this neck of land doesn't stretch above a quarter of a mile into the lake; so now, my men, be awake, for we shall have a brush presently. Now, my friend with the kangaroo, we will take the liberty to gag you; we can't have our precious lives put in jeopardy by your treachery. Open your mouth, you blackguard, or I'll wrench it open with the end of my firelock. There, now you're quite comfortable—so move on.”

We moved on accordingly, leaving the horse tied to a tree, in silence, and in Indian file, the wary old sergeant using every art to surprise without being surprised. It was nearly dark, so that we came on one of our horsemen who was standing sentinel without his perceiving us', so silent and cautious were our movements. At the


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sight of him, at not many yards' distance, we halted; but the sentinel's horse was aware of our approach before the less acute senses of his master had distinguished us. He snorted and betrayed our advance. The horseman immediately fired one of his pistols at us, and galloped off to give the alarm.

The hind-quarters of the kangaroo on my shoulder, being the most conspicuous object of the party, attracted the attention, I presume, of the horseman, for the pistol-shot struck one of the thigh-bones of the animal, and the legs being tied tight to my person, the shock knocked me and my burthen down.

“There's a shot that has robbed the gallows,” said the sergeant. “Don't be in a hurry, my men; take it coolly.”

They had not advanced many paces, however, before they were confronted by the magistrate, with all our party who could act. I could just distinguish them as I lay on the ground, in an attitude of preparation for mutual attack. The steady discipline, however, of the military, and their habitual coolness in danger, saved both parties from a murderous discharge.




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“We are a party of soldiers,” said the sergeant, “and we are too strong for you. You had better surrender, and trust to the governor's mercy.”

“Hurrah!” cried out the supposed bushrangers.

“Hurrah!” said the cool old sergeant, almost inclined to be offended at this apparent insult to his dignity. “Hurrah! You're very fond of hurrahing, my fine fellows. The first thing that other chap that one of you has just shot said was hurrah! but I'm thinking ——”

“It's all right,” said a voice I was glad to hear—“we are friends!”

“The magistrate of the Clyde! Well, I'm glad you are safe, but I hoped you were bushrangers. The Lord forgive me, I hope I have not made a mistake with the other man.”

“What man? what do you mean?”

“Why, we got hold of a terribly ill-looking chap, I must say—one of the most ferociousest-looking bushrangers I ever set eyes on; and we were bringing him along with us, when your sentinel, I suppose he was, fired off his piece and shot him. But I hope there's no harm done.”


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“It's Thornley, I'll be bound,” said the magistrate; “where is he?”

“Oh—he's not far off.”

My friends immediately came to seek me in a body. It was some little time before they could pitch upon the spot where I lay, for being gagged, I was not able to respond to their inquiries. At last, however, they found me, and as it was dark, in a seemingly desperate plight. Wet with the blood of the kangaroo, which was bound tight to me, and with my arms tied behind my back, and gagged, the only signs of life that I gave was by low and hollow groans.

“He is almost gone, poor fellow,” said my friends; “but let us release him from his bonds.”

They untied my arms, and loosened the fastening of the kangaroo, and feeling about my face, they discovered that I was gagged. I was quickly relieved from this stopper; and the first thing, I remember, that I said, was, “Take care of the kangaroo; it's the finest haunch I ever saw, and we shall want it for supper.”

“Well,” said the magistrate, “you can't be very bad, after all, if you are wanting your supper. Come, tell us all about it.”




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I told them how I was mistaken for a bushranger, not forgetting the hint a posteriori which the soldiers had given me to hold my tongue; so that I had not the opportunity of explaining the mistake. I believe that I narrated this part of my mishap so ruefully, that it was impossible for them to resist the temptation to laugh at the mingled danger and drollery of my position, and then and there they set up such a burst of merriment as must have startled and astonished the bushrangers if they were within hearing. Being now confident in our strength, by this addition to our numbers of the party of military, we lighted a fire and cooked the kangaroo after the usual bush fashion.

“Thornley,” the magistrate began to say......

“Thornley,” said the sergeant—“I've a letter for that gentleman. Sorry to be the bearer of ill-news, Sir, but your house and farm have been burned down. But this letter will tell you all. There is another for a gentleman of the name of Beresford—here it is. Oh—sorry to see you've been hit, Sir; but it's nothing when you are used to it. Here—let me hold this piece of lighted wood near you, that you may see to read it.”




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Availing myself of the same light, I read, with an anguish which it would be in vain for me to endeavour to express, the following letter: —

“DEAREST HUSBAND, —

The sad misfortune that has befallen us, and the fright and cold of the night, have so shaken me that I can scarcely write to you, and the soldiers cannot wait long for my letter, as they are in a hurry to go after the bushrangers. Thank God! there are no lives lost, but the house is burned down to the ground, and almost everything that was in it. The large wheat stack, they tell me, is burning now. How the fire began I do not know. Dick let the horses out of the stable, so that they were saved, but the saddles and all the harness are burned or spoiled.

“The cattle were got out of the stock-yard in time; but the home flock of merinos is dispersed in the bush. The wind was very high, and, unfortunately, the fire began at the further end, so that it embraced all the buildings except the new barn. The large pile of sawed stuff and the stock of firewood helped to do the mischief, for they caught fire early and communicated it to the


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house. As to trying to put out the fire with water from the pond, it was all useless. We longed for the London fire-engines. Poor Lucy Moss was the first who gave the alarm; she was awakened by the blaze of the wood-stack, and very soon afterwards the house was in flames. The men did not like to go near it, as they were frightened at the little keg of gunpowder that was brought up about a fortnight ago. We are all housed at the old stock-hut by the creek, and all our neighbours are very kind.

“It is now seven o'clock. A sergeant's party of soldiers has been sent by the governor after these bushrangers. They saw our fire in the night, and thought it was the bushrangers who had attacked us. They were out-lying on the Den Hill, about five miles from us, but they hurried to the spot, and gave us all the help they could, but help was useless against such a fire; however, it saved a few things for us. I am terribly uneasy about you, as we have heard nothing of you since you left to go in search of Mr. Moss, and I am glad, indeed, that the soldiers are going on your track. The sergeant seems a most determined fellow, but very grim-looking; you will be


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glad enough when you find yourself among them. They say that if they catch hold of a bushranger they will make short work of him, for the bushrangers shot one of the soldiers at Pitt Water, and the others are very much enraged at it.

“I hope to Heaven that you may get safe out of this affair, and let the soldiers go on with it, for it is their business to go after bushrangers. However, my hope is, that the soldiers may soon fall in with you, and then I do not doubt you will feel safe and comfortable. William wants to go with the soldiers to join you, but I have persuaded him to stay with us, as he is of more use here.

“The old sergeant says he must go now. Farewell and Heaven protect you. Pray try to come back directly, as there will be plenty of people to fight with the bushrangers without you, when the soldiers join your party.

“Your affectionate and anxious,

“MARY THORNLEY.”

While I read this disastrous intelligence by the light of the cedar-stick which the sergeant held for the wounded Beresford's accommodation, preparations


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were promptly made by the magistrate for a night attack on the bushrangers, in order to take them by surprise before they could be aware of the arrival of the soldiers.

What Beresford's letter contained I had no opportunity at that time of knowing, although I observed he read it over, short as it was, very earnestly two or three times, and then put it by very carefully. I was in a manner stupified for awhile by the intelligence of my wife's letter, and unknowing how to act. My first impulse was to hasten home immediately, but that was more easily said than done, for I was upwards of thirty miles from home, and the country was a desolate one to travel through, and difficult to cross. Besides, there was reason to believe that the natives were between our party and the settlements, and it was a risk of too great danger to encounter them single-handed. While I was hastily revolving these thoughts, the word was given for volunteers to step forward for the night attack.

“We don't want any volunteers for this business,” said the sergeant, “you had better leave it to us, and stay where you are to take care of your wounded men. We are enough without you,


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and I warrant, if we come on the rascals, we'll give a good account of them.”

“Ah! Mr. Sergeant,” said the magistrate, “you want to have all the fun to yourselves. But I think you are right this time. I think, gentlemen, we had better stay where we are, and take care of our friends. I will go with the soldiers, because the presence of a magistrate may be useful; and do you, Worrall, come with me; you can act as a messenger, if you're wanted.”

They set out accordingly, and we remained by our fire, keeping strict watch, however, and full of anxiety for the issue of the adventure. We remained in suspense about a couple of hours, when Worrall returned and reported that they could see no signs of the bushrangers. Presently afterwards the soldiers came back, and the sergeant posted some of them at intervals across the neck of land, so as to prevent the bushrangers from stealing past us in the night.

“We need not be in a hurry,” said the sergeant; “we have them safe, and when the daylight comes, we can catch them like rats in a corner.”

“A pent rat is a dangerous animal,” said Beresford.




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In this position we waited till daylight; when leaving the two horsemen to act as sentinels for the wounded party, we all proceeded to the point where we calculated the bushrangers would be found. In this expectation, however, we were disappointed; we could see no traces of them. Pursuing our search, we discovered footsteps at the water's edge, with the furrows made by the dragging of pieces of dead timber from the bank to the water. Some little bits of hide-rope were scattered here and there, as if recently cut.

“Depend upon it,” said the experienced Worrall, “they have been watching us, and saw the arrival of the soldiers, and as a last shift they have made a raft of the dead timber, and floated away to the little island of snakes yonder. They could easily do it, for it is not above a quarter of a mile over. Anything to escape hanging!”

“And how are we to follow them?” said the sergeant; “why they would pick us off like cock-a-toos a-roosting if we were to approach them that way! But they must soon starve there for want of provisions. Well, we must keep a sharp look-out, and see what's to be done. If we had a


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boat now, we could venture it, though that would be a ticklish job.”

“A boat!” said I,“why I know there's a boat hid somewhere hereabouts, by a party who visited the lake last year. I remember they told me it was hid at the end of a neck of land like this, on the left-hand side of the lake.”

“In that case,” said the magistrate, “it is very likely to be found on that peninsula that you can see about three miles off there; at any rate we can look for it. But, Thornley, you are wanting to get home, I dare say, and we can do without you now. Take my horse, if you like, and if you think it safe to venture, which I must tell you, I doubt. But of course you must be anxious to get home.”

“There is not much of a home left for me,” said I, “but I should like to get to my family as quickly as possible, and if I can trust your horse I will risk it, for I am not wanted here now.”

“Oh, you may trust the horse; he will take the water like a duck—only give him his head;—and you may fire from his back like an armchair; he will stand as steady as a rock.”

“Well, then,” said I, “I'll go. ” So taking


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leave of my young friend, Beresford, and bidding good-bye for the present to my companions, I left them to continue their pursuit of the bushrangers, and set out on my way home. It would have been well for me had I remained; but I little anticipated the disasters and perils which beset me on this memorable journey through a difficult and desolate country. The account of the six days, however, during which I was lost in the bush, and the adventures that befel me, must form the subject of another chapter.

END OF VOL. I.

J. L. COX & SONS, PRINTERS TO THE HONOURABLE EAST-INDIA COMPANY, 74 & 75, Gt. Queen St. Lincoln's-Inn Fields.
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