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TALES 0F THE COLONIES: Volume 3

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CHAPTER I.

CRAB'S CONTRADICTIONS—FRENCH FASHIONS PENETRATE INTO THE INTERIOR OF VAN DIEMEN'S LAND—A PARSON WANTED—SMOKING A SHIP—A PLOT DISCOVERED—A DISGUISE, AND A NEW ADVENTURE.

IT was on a fine winter morning, in the month of July, that I put the saddle on my horse for a ride to Hobart Town to enquire for the bushranger's daughter. Some snow had fallen in the night, and it lay on the ground about an inch thick, presenting an appearance of striking contrast with the evergreen foliage of the native trees and shrubs. The air was sharp, but bracing and pleasant, and of that exhilarating pureness


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and freshness which I have sometimes fancied peculiar to this island. Crab stood by with his hand on the holster: he was thoughtful that morning. His new dignity as a landed proprietor sat uneasily upon him, and it was plain that an inward struggle was going on between the temptation to make use of his land, and the embarrassment of his habitual vituperation of the colony.

“I suppose,” said he, “I must build some sort of a hut on the land, to shew that it's mine—not that it matters whether it's mine or anybody else's for the short time that I shall stay here. But I must get some money to pay for the things, if there's a dollar to be had in the colony, which I don't believe. Do you carry your pistols loaded?” lifting up the cover of one of the holsters, and exposing to view the brass but-end of one of the large horse-pistols which formed my usual companions in my journeys to town.

“Best to be prepared, Crab,” said I; “I carry them for use, not for show; and what's the use of an empty barrel in a hurry?”

“Very true. It's dreadful to think of the horrid condition of this place, where a man can't


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step outside his own door without pistols and blunderbusses! But I must try to get to the other side of the country, and sell a matter of a couple o' hundred sheep or so, that I may have money to make things tidy a bit at the bottom yonder. It's too late to put in any cuttings, but I think we may make a good garden there, and in two or three years I may gather an apple from my own tree, on my own land—that is, somebody else may, because, of course, I shall not be here: and we may have some real cherries, not those outlandish things, like a hawthorn berry squashed, with the stone growing outside! I'm determined to see if hops won't grow there, and grow they shall, or I'll know the reason why! And only to think of making my own beer with hops grown on my own land! It would be a charity to teach the folks here how to do it!”

I admired the contradictory emotions which I saw perplexed my old friend, and I took care not to check his aspirations after a farm of his own. I encouraged him, therefore, to go over to his sheep-runs and dispose of some stock to meet his necessary outlays. I shall have to describe in another place the amusing occurrences of


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Crab's journey to Launceston, so I shall say no more of them at present.

I was gathering up the reins to start, when I was stopped by my wife, who put into my hands a list of various articles wanted by the family. As I glanced my eye over the items, I read—“bonnet for Betsey,” “bonnet for Mary,” “bonnet for Lucy.” Three bonnets! Stuff for summer dresses, gloves, kid shoes! “Why, my dear,” said I, “we shall be ruined this way; why can't the girls wear kangaroo-skin bonnets, as they used to do when we first came here? This is a new state of things entirely.”

“To be sure it is, my dear. When we first came here there was nobody in the wild bush but ourselves, but now we have settlers all round us, and I don't like the girls to go about such figures! Besides, I want a bonnet myself, and I see by the Hobart Town Gazette, that a consignment has come from Madame Somebody, at Paris; so you had better buy all we want while you are in town.”

“The deuce take the newspapers,” said I, “for putting things into people's heads that otherwise they wouldn't think about. The idea of French


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fashions up the country in Van Diemen's Land! I suppose the girls will be wanting parasols next to preserve their complexions!”

“I am glad you have mentioned it, my dear; I knew there was something that I had forgotten, and it's the parasols. You can get four, and then we shall have one apiece.”

“Upon my word,” said I, “I can't stand this. Parasols in the bush! Why, the kangaroos would laugh at us.”

“The kangaroos may laugh as much as they please, my dear, but I don't like to see the girls get so freckled. You forget that Betsey is a young woman now, and it's right that she should take a proper pride in herself.”

“I see,” said I, “how it is. That affair of the bull is at the bottom of all the mischief. Well—time moves on. Nothing else wanted, I hope?”

“We want another chest of tea; the last one is nearly out; but this time I wish you would buy a little green to mix with the black; and you see I have put down a couple of bags of sugar and a bag of rice.

“I see,” said I, “and now I'm off, or I shall be late in town.”


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“Wait a moment,” cried young Beresford, out of breath; “I have a little commission for you. I wish you would do me a favour.”

“With pleasure,” said I, “what is it?”

“I don't suppose it would give you much trouble, or I would not ask you.”

“Never mind the trouble. What is it? I'll do it if I can.”

“Why—you see I can't go to town myself just at this moment, and writing will not do ——”

“But what is it, that writing will not do?”

“I don't want you to do anything—exactly; but it's just to make some enquiries.”

“Enquiries about what?”

“Oh, it's not about anybody; but you see —— don't you think, Mr. Thornley, it's a great inconvenience not to have a resident clergyman at the Clyde?”

“What are you going to turn parson?”

“Me! Nonsense! that's not it; you don't understand what I mean.”

“How can I, if you don't tell me? what is it that has kindled this sudden religious zeal in you, pray?”

“It's not religious zeal, as you call it.—Upon


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my word, it's very provoking that you can't understand me.—You remember when poor Moss was carried off by the bushrangers!—In short, Miss Moss....”

“Oh!” said I.

“Well, now you understand my meaning perfectly.”

“But you have not told it.”

“Haven't I? why I have been telling you all the time. But we can't be married without the parson; we can manage all the rest ourselves. Now, just do me the favour to find out what we must do. We must go to town, I suppose, because Miss Moss wishes to be married in the church. So if you can contrive to see the Reverend, I want you to say that we propose being in town on the twenty-fourth of this month—the twenty-fourth, mind—don't forget the day—and that's all.”

“And enough too,” said I. “Are you aware, unhappy man (I just looked round and saw that my wife was out of hearing), of the rash step you are about to take? It's only the other day that the parson had to attend a very respectable gentleman on his last appearance for killing one of


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his wives—although he had tried three before; you see how difficult it is to find one to suit ! —— and now it seems it is your turn to require his professional assistance, though not precisely in the same way. Well, if it must be so, I suppose I must consent to be an accessory before the fact, although why I should help you to marry I'm sure I don't know, for you never did me any harm. And now I'm off.”

I rode leisurely on to town, stopping for about two hours at the Green Ponds. As soon as I had seen my horse properly taken care of, I set about the principal object of my journey, and walked to the part of the town where the person who had charge of the bushranger's orphan resided. I tapped at the door, and was surprised not to receive any answer. I tried the latch, and found that the door opened easily; there was no particular appearance about the house, so far as I could observe, but it was empty; and I thought it odd that it should be left unsecured.

As I stood before the door musing on what I should do, and expecting every moment that some one would appear to give me information of the inmates, I cast my eyes towards the Derwent—for


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as the house before which I was standing was at the upper part of the town on the eminence to the north, I had a fine view of the river and the harbour. I thought I observed an unusual bustle on the jetty, and I descried a corporal's party of soldiers stepping into a boat, whose destination seemed to be a vessel about a quarter of a mile from the end of the jetty, with her sails unfurled ready to start outward bound.

As no one came, I conjectured that the occupants of the house, which stood at some little distance apart from any other dwelling, had gone out for some purpose, so I closed the door, and, prompted by that curiosity which is apt to seize on us when we have nothing particular to do, I walked down to the jetty, where I observed a number of persons congregated, and apparently excited by some object of interest. The boat with the soldiers had already pushed away from the shore, and was on its way to the ship.

I quickly reached the spot, and found myself in the midst of a crowd of the miscellaneous character usual on such occasions in Van Diemen's Land. The principal part was composed of prisoners, those in Government employ being distinguished


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by their yellow jackets, and the others bearing that peculiar physiognomy which characterises those in the bondage of punishment—a sort of cast-down expression of countenances, averting themselves shrinkingly from the eye of any observer that is cast enquiringly upon them. The remarks which I heard around me soon made me acquainted with what was going on.

“Have they found him?” said one.

“No: found him! don't you see the soldiers are going after him now?”

“They'll never find him,” said another.

The constables rummaged every hole in the ship that a rat could get into, and they could find nothing.

“They say they're going to smoke the ship.”

“That will puzzle him; there's nothing like smoking a ship to unkennel a runaway.”

“Who has run away?” enquired another. “Some chap tired of his lag?”

“It's Black Jack,” said a rogueish-looking fellow in a yellow jacket; “they say he's got stowed away in a cask, and that some of the crew have helped him.”

“Jack had plenty of money,” said the first


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speaker, “but where he got it from always puzzled me.”

“It puzzled more than you,” said the yellow jacket; “Jack seemed to be always a-scheming after something, but we never could make out what.”

“Was he a Government man?” enquired a farming-looking person in a velveteen coat and a straw in his mouth.

“Yes; a lifer; but he got a ticket of leave nobody knows how; it wasn't for his beauty, at any rate. But money can do anything. They say he was an attorney's clerk before he came here—the one that did the swearing part of the office business, serving the notices and making any davys that were wanted—I do believe that fellow could swear through a two-inch board! But it's all up with him now if they find him.”

“What will they do with him, if they catch him?” asked the farmer.

“Scrag him,” replied the yellow jacket; “don't you know it's a job for the sheriff if a prisoner tries to escape?”

“They wouldn't hang him,” observed a decent-looking man who had listened to this colloquy;


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“they would only send him to Macquarie Harbour.”

“Only!” exclaimed the yellow jacket. “Do you call Macquarie Harbour nothing? I'd rather give a jump and a kick from the parson's hustings any day than go to that cursed place; they kill 'em there by inches. There go up the soldiers! see they are ranging themselves in line across the deck! we shall have some fun, I suppose, presently.”

I got interested about this attempted escape, though I knew nothing about the man whom I had heard called "Black Jack," and I made my way through the crowd to the edge of the jetty, where I saw one or two persons with whom I was acquainted. We watched the vessel for about a quarter of an hour, when we observed some smoke to issue from the fore part of her, and presently afterwards a signal was hoisted on board, which was answered from the shore. Some little bustle now took place on deck, and a small party of soldiers which had been marched down to the jetty, advanced to the edge of the water to keep clear a space for the expected landing. In a minute or two some person huddled up was lowered


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into a boat alongside, which was rapidly rowed towards the shore.

“There's Black Jack!” exclaimed a voice, which I immediately recognized as that of the yellow jacket; “they've smoked him out of his hole, and now they've got him, and he's booked, and no mistake!”

With that, he edged himself closer to the spot to which the boat was approaching, as if impelled by a sort of restless curiosity.

“Keep back!” said the sergeant who commanded the party of soldiers at the landing; “what are you pushing in here for? there's plenty of room on the jetty without crowding on us.”

“I ain't a-crowding,” said the yellow jacket; “only I want to see how a fellow looks after he's been smoked. He looks preciously down in the mouth; he's black Jack now, if he never was before.”

Two constables now took charge of the poor wretch, holding him up by his arms; he seemed to be in the last stage of exhaustion, and so helpless was his appearance that they forbore to handcuff him. As he tottered on he passed the


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spot where the man in the yellow jacket was standing; I fancied he gave him a look, and immediately afterwards he staggered and fell from the arms of the constables. The yellow jacket officiously stepped forward, and caught hold of his hand to assist him in rising, and I again observed Black Jack give to this man a peculiar look. I was struck with this circumstance, and it immediately occurred to me that the captured man was acting a part, and that the other was a confederate in some plot understood between them.

My curiosity was roused, and I kept my eyes on the yellow jacket, who I observed took no further notice of the prisoner, but seemed solicitous to make his way out of the throng as quickly as possible. I don't know what feeling prompted me other than a vague idea that there was some confederacy between them—and anything like a plot among the convicts was sufficient to excite suspicion—but I felt a strange inclination to watch the man. He contrived to make his way quietly and rapidly through the crowd, but I followed him closely. Without turning his head, and affecting a careless manner, he hastened


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towards the upper part of the town. He stopped when he had turned the corner of the street, and looked at something in his hand, which he read attentively. He was about to move forward again hastily, when he caught sight of me, and seemed surprised and confused to see me near him. He hesitated for a moment, and then, as if he had made up his mind to abandon his present intention, he retraced his steps, and taking off his hat as he passed me, he went away in another direction.

I mused for a minute or two on this occurrence, and regretted that I had not questioned the man. I looked after him, but he was out of sight.

The afternoon was now drawing to a close, and I thought that before I went to my inn, I would make another visit to the house in which I was led to believe the bushranger's little girl resided. I walked up the hill accordingly, and knocked at the door of the house with my stick: there was no answer. I opened the door and found the house still untenanted, and apparently no one had visited it since I was there before. I thought this odd; and being tired with my ride


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to town and walking about, I sat down by the window.

As I looked down the road in the opposite direction to that from which I had reached the house, I saw at a little distance the man in the yellow jacket, who seemed to be making his way to the same spot. This unexpected re-appearance of the man roused me, and vague surmises crossed my mind, that he was in some way connected with the persons whom I had come to seek. There was no one in the street but himself, and I observed that, after giving a careless look around him as if to be sure that he was not watched, he came straight to the house. He laid his hand on the latch, but checked himself; and I heard him slowly walking round the building.

It instantly struck me that his object was to ascertain whether there was any one behind it or near it, and I determined to counteract his project.

There was a window at the back with the shutter closed, the house consisting only of one room and a kitchen at the side. It was getting dusk, and I thought that if I could open the door so as not to be heard, I could go round one side of the


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house while he was going round the other, and so avoid being seen by him. I opened the door cautiously; it made no noise, and I moved silently to the left, and looked round the corner. There was no one to be seen, and I immediately stepped to the left side of the house; in a few seconds I heard the man lift up the latch, and enter the house.

Without losing a moment, I stationed myself at the back of the house by the window, and waited for what might happen. I remained in this position for nearly half an hour, and was getting tired of waiting, being at a loss what to do next, when I heard in the direction of the bush—for this house was the last one on the outside of the town—the pleasing note of the native magpie, which seemed to me, however, to be an imitation, though a very good one. I guessed that it was some signal. As I was between the house and the bush, I moved away to the side, and it was just in time, perhaps, to avoid being discovered, for I had scarcely done so, when a light was shown at the window at the back of the house, upon which the signal was immediately repeated.

It was now nearly dark, and I remained stuck


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up against the wall, my curiosity being now excited more than ever, for I felt convinced that the present proceedings had some reference to the absence of the child whom I had come to town to see. In a minute or two I heard the footsteps of some one cautiously approaching, and I was terribly frightened lest I should be discovered in my hiding-place.

Luckily for my project, the party who approached, from an excess of precaution, crept in by the back window or opening, for there was no glass to it, only a shutter. Anxious to catch the conversation of these worthies, I crept on my hands and knees round the corner as softly as I could, and ensconced myself under the window through which the man had crept. I could see no light, so I supposed the candle had been put out. The first words that I caught were these: —

“So Black Jack is caught; it was a clever trick though, to get hooped up in a cask with two false heads, and with water top and bottom.”

“Yes,” said yellow jacket; “but the smoke found him out; he lost his senses in the dark, and began to kick before his time, and so they nabbed him. It's all up with him now.”


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“Is it a scrag, d'ye think?”

“It's all one; he's of no more use to us. We must think now of the job; what's to be done next?”

“I'll be hanged if I know. What's the use of keeping the girl stowed away now that Jack's done up?”

“Oh, it' s not Jack's work,” said yellow jacket; “he's only second fiddle; there's a swell at the bottom of it, and he don't spare money, as you know.”

“But what's the game?” said the other; “one don't like to go blindfold to work in this way. Do they want to put the girl out of the way—that's the long and the short of it?”

“I guess it's something like it,” said yellow jacket. “You see she's very much in the way at present, at least so Jack said. There's something about estates in England that she has a right to, but Jack couldn't well make out the whole secret. We were all to be well paid for it, and that's enough for us to know; we have only to do the trick.”

“Then that's not the trick for me,” rejoined the other; “I know I'm book'd for Macquarie


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Harbour, if I'm caught, let alone this job; but the Gypsey was a good friend to the prisoners, and he died game; and I'll have no hand in harming his child. As to keeping her close for a while, that's nothing; but I want to know what they're at? And why was it that Black Jack tried to escape just at this time when he's wanted?”

“That's more than I can tell,” said yellow jacket; “but I've got a scrap of paper from him.”

“Hah! how was that? What does he say?”

“Here's the paper; but it doesn't tell much.”

“Get a light, and let us look at it.”

I now redoubled my attention, and I became aware by the light that gleamed through the cracks of the shutter that the letter was being perused.

“Well,” said yellow jacket, “what do you think of it?”

“It doesn't say much: —

“‘If I am taken, carry this letter to the red-house in Emu-street, and the bearer will receive a handsome reward.’”


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“I suppose,” said yellow jacket, “that you will not attempt to take it?”

“No, not I; the town is too hot for me; you must do it; and as to the reward, I suppose I must trust to you for my share of it.”

“Never fear, that will be all right: but I must be going now; I must show myself by seven o'clock.”

“Then I'll be off, too; when shall we meet again?”

“Be here to-morrow, at the same time, and make the same signal.”

“I will.”

The window-shutter was now opened, and I slipped round the corner, and lay hid at the side of the house. The stranger, without waiting to look behind him, and indeed it was too dark for him to see much, hastily retreated in the direction of the bush. As soon as he was at some distance, I resumed my position under the shutter, and I observed by the light that it was not quite closed. Prompted by a powerful curiosity, I cautiously raised myself up, and peeped through the opening between the shutter and the wall. I saw the man in the yellow jacket lifting up a stone in


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the floor, under which he deposited a letter, which I guessed was the same to which allusion was made in their conversation. Having done this, and trodden down the stone so as to efface any appearance of its having been disturbed, he quitted the house to the right, and returned into the town.

After waiting a short time to guard against being surprised by his sudden return, I entered the house. It was dark, but I had noted the spot, and I easily found the stone, and raised it with my fingers. I seized the letter with no small satisfaction, and taking the left hand road, I deliberated with myself on my way into the town what step I should take next. I resolved to lose no time in communicating the circumstance to the proper authorities; but first I thought I would try the effect of the letter on the mysterious inhabitant of the red-house, before he could be put on his guard. I examined the letter; it had no address, and it was closed with a wafer, and also sealed with wax, with the initials rudely engraved of I. S.

I deliberated with myself as I walked along, whether I should open the letter, and get at the


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information it contained; but I considered that it was probably so worded as to be intelligible only to the party to whom it was addressed, and that the breaking of the seal might awaken alarm, and prevent me from arriving at the knowledge of facts which might be communicated to me as a supposed party in the confederacy. With that view I thought it best to deliver the letter unopened, and act according to circumstances, for if it came to the worst, I thought that I could seize on the letter before I left the house, and so get at its contents.

I repaired, therefore, to a friend's house, and told him that I was engaged in an affair which required disguise. My friend could not avoid exhibiting considerable surprise at this request, but he was too polite to give expression to his thoughts further than to hum in a subdued tone, the well-known air of "Mr. Lobski." I let him have his joke, for I was too intent on my project to mind his chaffing, and he soon furnished me with a sailor's dress, which with a very small and very round hat, having an abominable fishy smell, changed my appearance from a respectable, middle-


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aged settler, to that of a sort of fresh water sailor.

My friend strongly recommended me to wash my hands in a tar bucket, to give a better resemblance to the character, and hinted that a slight application of the same substance to my face and whiskers would assist in the personation of my new character. I declined these kind suggestions, but I thought it advisable to acquiesce in a huge quid, which he thrust into my mouth, in order, as he said, "to inspire me with some seafaring lingo," and I was not aware of the malice of this latter suggestion until I found myself getting sick with the nastiness of the "knock-me-down" tobacco.

Fortified by this disguise, I hastened to the red-house, which I found to be of tolerable dimensions, and furnished with the aristocratic appendages of a bell and knocker. Not wishing to appear presuming, I left the knocker alone, and applied myself to the bell, at which I gave a vigorous and sailor-like pull, and waited with no small anxiety for an answer to my summons.




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CHAPTER II.

FIRST APPEARANCE IN A NEW CHARACTER—THE DISGUISE DISCOVERED—THE STRUGGLE—THREE TO ONE TOO MUCH—AN APARTMENT FOR A SINGLE GENTLEMAN.

IT was about nine o'clock, and the night was very cold. Some light fleecy flakes had begun to fall, just sufficient to spread a thin white carpet over the ground, and from the dense clouds which hid Mount Wellington from the sight, I anticipated a heavy fall of snow.

As I stood with my hands in my pockets, and the abominable quid in my mouth, assuming as well as I could the air of a sailor, and balancing myself as I have observed sailors do on land, as if they missed the motion, with my legs stretched out apart and my toes turned in, I could not help admiring at the odd variety of adventures in which I had been engaged, very unlike the dull plodding life of an old Surrey farmer; and now I


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found myself embarked in an affair about a little girl whom I had never seen, which seemed likely, to judge from the beginning, to turn out an awkward business to interfere in.

All these thoughts passed through my mind while I was waiting for the door to be opened; and I wondered then, as I have often wondered since, on the number of by-gone scenes which can be conjured up by the imagination in a very short time, the events of a lifetime being reacted as it were in a moment. But this contemplation is too deep for a plain man like me, who have not had the advantage of book-learning in my early years, though I sometimes think that the experience of actual life is worth more than all the book-learning in the world,—so I leave this inquiry to the philosophers to explain if they can.

One thought, however, came suddenly on me like a puzzle, and it gave me a shock like striking one's plough against an old stump of tree that you didn't expect, and that was, that I had neglected to ascertain the name of the occupier of the red-house, and that I should look very foolish if I should be asked who I wanted to see. But it was too late to deliberate, for I heard the lock


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shot back, and the door opening, a woman, who from the glimpse I caught of her face by a light in the passage, seemed very old and very ugly, put to me the very inconvenient question that I apprehended.

“Who are you wanting to see, pray?”

I shall be in a mess here, thought I, if I don't mind; so taking a hint from the advice that I heard a lawyer give one day, that “when you can't reply to a question, answer it by asking another,”I said whisperingly, "Is he at home?"

“Is who at home?” said the perverse old woman.

“Who?” said I; “Why, him; don't you know?” Here I tried to recollect some seafaring phrase, but for the life of me I could think of nothing but “shiver my timbers;” and that observation, somehow, didn't seem appropriate to the occasion. So I contented myself by replying, “I've got a letter for him.”

“A letter! Eh! give it to me.”

“Beg pardon,” said I: “avast there! that's what I can't do by no manner of means (I flattered myself that this style was the real thing);


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I was told to give it into the gentleman's own hands, that is, if he's got any; so I clapped my helm hard a-starboard (what this meant I didn't exactly know, but I was obliged to chance it), and here I am come into port.”

I saw that the old lady was considerably struck by my display of nautical phraseology; so to follow up the favourable impression, and to keep up my character, I gave the quid—which during this brief colloquy I had stuck scientifically into my cheek, producing thereby I trusted a forecastle cast of countenance—a determined squeeze with my teeth, which almost made me vomit; and committing an Americanism with a knowing sort of air, I gave a professional hitch to my trousers, and waited for a reply.

“You nasty beast,” said the old woman, in a shrill tone, and retreating down the passage; “how dare you foul people's houses with your filthy tobacco juice; do you think I've nothing to do but to clean after filthy sea-sailor men! you dirty seaweed!”

“What's the matter?” said a voice from the parlour-door, which was now opened; “what's all this noise about at this time of night?”


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“Noise! here's a nasty sailor spitting into people's houses, and he says he's got a letter for you.”

“Yes, Sir,” said I, “I've got a letter for you—that is, if you're the gentleman it's meant for; and if you are, of course you know it's right for me to be cautious who I give it to.”

“Shut the door,” said he, quickly, to the old woman; “lock it; draw the bolts. There, now (to me), come in, come in.”

I found myself in a small decently-furnished room, with nothing particular in its appearance. There was another door opposite to that by which I had entered, but it did not strike me as being unusual or suspicious.

“Now," said my host, in a rough way, "where's the letter?”

I glanced at him to see what sort of a looking person he was, and I must say that his appearance was not at all in his fayour. He was about forty years of age, dressed in a rusty black coat and waistcoat, with a red handkerchief round his neck; I noted that he had on drab-coloured trousers, with black gaiters; altogether his dress struck me as if it was a disguise, for there was


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something incongruous between a certain air that he had and the clothes that he wore; they seemed to sit on him as if he was not used to them. I fancied also that the roughness of his manner was assumed, and I remarked that the hand which he held forward to receive the letter he expected from me was white and delicate. His countenance was not the countenance of an ordinary man, and it reminded me obscurely of some face that I had seen before, but I could not bring to my recollection where or when; I should have thought it rather handsome than otherwise, if it had not been for a peculiar expression which I can describe no better than by saying it gave one the idea that he was always plotting something, and was fearful of detection.He repeated his demand, sharply:

“Give me the letter.”

“Excuse me, Sir,” said I, “if I appear disrespectful, but I should like to be sure that you are the gentleman for whom the letter is intended. Perhaps you would tell me your name (he looked at me searchingly), to see,” I added boldly, “if it corresponds with the name on the letter.”

He turned his eye to the door on the other side


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of the room, and seemed to be considering for a second or two, whether he should do something that he had a mind to; but he altered his intention, and turning to me: —

“Well,” said he, “my name—to be sure, why shouldn't I tell you my name? You know my name, of course?”

“You may guess,” said I, “that I shouldn't have been trusted with this letter if I wasn't in the secret. But the risk is too great,” I added, “as you know,” looking hard at him, “for any one of us to trifle with the consequences. Before I give up the letter,” said I, in a determined way, “I must be sure that you are the right person .”

“And pray,” said he, “what is yours?”

Here was a puzzler! I was all of a sudden, as the sailors say, "taken aback," and I almost lost my presence of mind; at the moment I did not know what name to take, but as I was obliged to give some one without delay, for I felt that any hesitation on that point would excite suspicion, I gave my right one.

“William Thornley.”

“Is that a purser's name, or the true one?”


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“The true one,” said I; “and I give it you at once, to show that as we are all bound up together, the best way is to trust one another.”

“Indeed!” said he; “and so it's come to this; but we—yes, we are all alike now, I suppose. We—we must all trust one another! Come, we can't be all night about this matter. I am known by the name of John Wolsey; Will that do for you?”

Thought I to myself, “it must, for I can't make anything more of it.” I gave him the letter.

He looked at the place where he expected to find the address, but there was none.

“How is this,” said he, coming a step forward, “there is no name on the letter, and you have made me give you mine?”

“Look at the seal,” said I, at a loss to escape from the difficulty.

He held it to the candle.

“That is right,” said he, “but there is something about you, my friend, that I do not understand. Sit down while I read the letter.”

He opened and read it; and its contents seemed to give him satisfaction, which was presently succeeded by an expression of doubt and anxiety.


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“You know the contents of this letter ?” said he.

“Of course,” said I.

“And the letter says that you are acquainted with the interior of the country.”

“Pretty well for that,” said I; not knowing what was meant by the question.

“Do you think you could guide me this night to the spot where they have taken her?”

“Easily,” said I, at a venture, and my flesh quivered on my bones to learn what would come next, for I guessed I had got hold of the clue to the Gypsey's daughter.

“At the ruined hut, near Seven-mile Beach,” said he, musingly.—“Can you ride on horse-back?”

“I have done nothing else all my life,” said I, thrown off my guard by the suddenness of the question. The moment after I was conscious of my error, but it was too late.

“All your life on horseback!” exclaimed my host. “How is this? Let me look at your hands. Hah—you are no sailor! You have deceived me—there is treachery here. Who and what are you, man?Speak! I have the means


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of forcing from you the truth. What is your object? Why do you come here?—and from whom did you receive this letter?”

He opened the door behind him as he spoke, and called out. I felt that the decisive moment was come, and that all that remained for me to do was to get possession of the letter, which was lying open on the table. I made a clutch at it, and seized it before this Mr. Wolsey could prevent me, but at the same moment two men appeared in answer to his call. I rushed to the door leading to the passage, and opening it, I gained the street door; but it was dark, and I could not readily find the way of undoing the bolts by which it was fastened. In the meantime the two men grappled with me. I caught hold of the door-chain and struggled hard, kicking at the door, and shouting with all my might for assistance.

“Knock him on the head,” said a voice, which I recognized as that of the host of the red-house. In this extremity I drew out one of the pistols with which I was provided, but before I could use it, I felt a violent blow on my head, given, I fancy, by some elastic instrument, like one of those powerful and destructive weapons


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called a “life-preserver.” I immediately fell down stunned.

When I recovered, I found myself in the dark, I did not know where. I felt an aching pain in my head, and I was very cold and sick. I endeavoured to raise myself up, but, in attempting to rise, I struck my head against the brickwork above, which nearly stunned me again. When I recovered myself, I reached about as I lay, and conjectured that I was in a sort of vault or cellar, for I felt nothing but bricks, which were cold and damp, and arched over my head.

I confess I was in great terror, fearing the worst, as I could not doubt that those who had me in their power would not hesitate to take away my life without scruple, if they thought it necessary for their own safety. This dismal thought made me repent having so rashly encountered such an adventure in the night-time, and under circumstances so suspicious.

The buoyancy of my spirits, however, sustained me even in this perilous position, and as soon as I could gather my senses together, I began to cast about me how to escape from my confinement. I thought of my friend who had helped me to my


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sailor's dress, and who had been so facetious in disguising me, and wondered whether curiosity or any other feeling would prompt him to seek after me, if I did not return in reasonable time. But that seemed an unlikely thing to happen, and at any rate he would not learn till the morning, when he might make inquiries after me at my inn, perhaps; and what was to become of me the meanwhile? for I calculated that my swoon could not have lasted more than half an hour at most; so that it wanted five or six hours to morning, and when the morning came, it would bring no day-light to me in my cavern.

This thought disturbed me sadly, but I did not lose heart. There was a great bump on my head, which pained me a good deal, but there was no blood, and my hands were free. Thought I to myself, “while there is life there is hope.” I felt about, and found that I was confined, as I at first conjectured, in a sort of vault or cellar, about four feet high, and as well as I could measure as I crawled about, ten or twelve feet long, and five or six broad. I examined with my hands the bottom, and sides, and top of my prison all over, but I could discover no place of outlet, which


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surprised me exceedingly. I examined it again with great minuteness, but it seemed to me nothing but rough brickwork, as well as I could make out. I was puzzled at this, for I could not make out how I had got in.

My examination of the vault tired me very much, and I felt myself getting more sick and faint, which I attributed to the closeness of the vault. I was at a loss what to do. I feared that if I called out I might be murdered at once; but I feared also that if I remained long in that horrible den I should be suffocated. In this state, minutes seemed hours, and I felt myself falling into a sort of phrenzy of excitement.

Strengthened at last by my very despair, I determined to search again, and in passing my hands over the damp brickwork, some of the mortar at a particular place at the top felt softer than elsewhere. The horrible conviction now came over me, that my murderers had bricked up my prison-hole, and that I was buried alive!




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CHAPTER III.

NECESSITY THE MOTHER OF INVENTION—ADVANTAGE OF A GOOD MEMORY—AN ANATOMICAL EXPERIMENT—COURAGE AND PERSEVERANCE OVERCOME ALL DIFFICULTIES—AN UNEXPECTED MEETING—THE MYSTERIOUS LETTER GIVES A CLUE TO A HIDING-PLACE—SEARCH OF THE RED HOUSE.

I REMAINED stupified for some time at my helpless condition, and I suffered from pain in my head very much; but as it was too probable that no help would come from without in time to save me, I felt that I must find the resource from within myself. I roused up my faculties, and by dint of thinking and revolving over and over again all possible means of escape, I hit upon something at last. If, I reasoned, the ruffians who had me in their power, have bricked up so recently the opening through which they had thrust me, the mortar must be still unset and soft, and the bricks might, with a little labour on


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my part, be displaced. With that thought I felt in my pocket for my bush-knife, and in feeling for the knife I found the letter which had led to my present disaster.

I felt quite glad at this, even in my dismal dungeon, for at any rate I had got the letter safe, though it was of no use to me in the dark, and whether I should ever live to take advantage of it was very doubtful. I put it as carefully by, though, as if it was a matter of personal importance to myself, for I had got interested about the girl that occasioned me such a mishap, and I believe there was something in the pertinacity of my disposition that supported my courage, for all through life I never began a thing without being determined to go through with it.

I did not like to be baulked or defeated in any thing that I undertook, and having gone through great perils before, and having escaped from danger, and from death so imminent and seemingly so certain that I had given myself up for lost, I thought that I might escape again, sore as was the strait in which I was then cast.

Fortunately my big knife was safe in my pocket, and, to my still greater surprise, one of


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my pistols with a small flask of powder, and some balls. This latter discovery convinced me that my enemies had some potent and pressing reason for concealing me without delay, supposing me dead, perhaps, and that, as their object was not plunder, but merely to secure me out of the way, they had not taken the trouble, or had not had time to search me; and that the bricking up of the vault was done in order to prevent my being discovered. However that might be, the finding of my knife, and especially the pistol, acted as a powerful encouragement to me, as in the case of any attack being made on me in my cavern, or on my getting out, I felt that I had the means of defending myself, for my knife was an effective weapon of itself. Having first ascertained that my pistol was loaded and that the charge was home, and having felt the priming with my finger, and found it right and dry, I set about the task of delivering myself from my prison.

I could not sit upright, so I was obliged to work on my knees in a very inconvenient position. I easily scraped away the mortar from between some of the bricks, but I found them so tightly wedged together, that I could not stir them, and


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to cut an opening with my knife seemed an endless job, for the bricks were as hard as flints.

I laid myself down to consider what I should do, and to rest myself, for the position was so fatiguing that I could not work for more than a minute or two together. My head was very painful, and I felt a suffocating sensation about the temples that almost determined me to make myself bleed somewhere to relieve the pressure of blood on the brain.

I was sorely perplexed what to do, and tried again with my knife on the bricks, but I could make nothing of it; all of a sudden it struck me that as the weight pressed downwards, and as the strength of the arch was in that direction, if I could apply a force upwards, it might raise up the weight of bricks which had not had time to become firmly cemented together by the setting of the mortar. But how to do it was the question? I could not stand upright to give the bricks a push, and I had no strength in my arms while bending on my knees.

As I was thinking with all my might how to manage it, I remembered to have read a story of some mutineers having confined the captain and


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officers below the deck on board ship, and that by exerting the force of the muscles of their backs all at the same time, with a simultaneous effort, they burst up the hatchway. Whether there was any truth in that story I do not know, but I resolved to try the same experiment. I put myself under the centre of the recent brickwork, and then, straightening my back, I made a powerful effort, and the superstructure gave way. A loosening once made, I soon cleared away sufficient bricks to admit of my exit.

It was quite dark, and I had no idea where I was, but I judged I could not be far from the spot where I had been struck down. I scrambled out of the vault, and stood upright. Feeling about me, I met a wall of brick, roughly plastered, apparently, which was higher than I could reach. I knew I was in some sort of room or storehouse, as, had it been in the open air, I could have seen the sky.

Groping my way cautiously along, and fearing to fall into some pit, I came to the end of the wall, and continuing my way at right angles, I came to a massive door, which was fastened. I soon found the lock, and ascertained that it was


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a huge lock of coarse manufacture, put on inside, to secure the door from without. It was too strong for my knife to force, and in the attempt I should only have broken the blade, which I wanted as a weapon, for I did not know what resistance sistance I might meet with; so I felt all over the floor, in the middle of which was the vault from which I had escaped, for some means of forcing the lock.

I found in the furthermost corner a whole heap of all sorts of things; bits of iron, pieces of wood, and odds and ends of nails, and staves of casks, and old iron hoops, which showed that this strange apartment had been used as a place to cast lumber in. I selected from the heap of materials what I thought suited to the purpose, and applying myself to the lock, I soon forced off the hasp, and opened the door. “Now,” thought I, “is the moment of danger, and I must be prepared.” Holding part of an iron crow-bar in my right hand, and having my pistol handy for use, I peered cautiously through the open door. It opened into the air. I extended my left hand, and advancing a step or two, I came upon a wall, which I conjectured to be the wall of the red-


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house. It was pitch dark, but the snow had fallen abundantly, and I could trace by its white mark the line of the opposite building.

The fresh air revived me wonderfully. All was still, and I could discover nothing by the eye or the ear to give me any information. I felt along the side of the house, and found a door opposite the one which I had forced open. I listened, but I could hear nothing. Being desirous of avoiding the house, I felt all round about, but could discover no other means of exit but that door.

I did not like the venture, so I went back into my old lumber-room, and sat down on the arch of the vault to consider what I had best do. I had no great fear of being surprised, or of being easily overcome where I was, being armed, and having the advantage of position to resist any attack.

Besides, I calculated that if I fired off my pistol it would most likely give an alarm, and bring assistance to me, though I did not depend much on that, for I might be murdered by numbers before help could reach me, and the detection and hanging of the rascals after my death,


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although it would be a great satisfaction to justice, would be no satisfaction to me. Under these circumstances I thought it would be best to remain quiet and leave well alone, and wait for daylight, for let the night be ever so long, the morning must come at last.

It seemed longer in coming that night than ever it was before, and I never suffered so much from cold and anxiety as on that wretched night; but the cold was the worst, for as there was not space enough to allow me to walk about to keep myself warm, I was obliged to sit still and bear it. I had a mind once or twice to creep into my vault again for warmth's sake, but the idea of it revolted me; I was too glad to be out to get in again voluntarily.

In this way I passed the night, longing for the morning; I looked out of my door now and then to listen. The night was bright, and the frost crisped the snow, which lay thickish and sparkling on the narrow ledge of ground between my fortress and the red-house. I looked up at the stars and tried to make out how long it would be till morning, but I was not astronomer enough to tell the time of the night from the small space


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that I could see from my confined yard; had I been able to see more of the heavens I could have told pretty well.

At last I fell into a sort of dose in my lumber-house, and waking up in a flight at catching myself asleep, and exposed to be surprised at a disadvantage, I observed to my great joy that I could distinguish the objects about me, and that the long-desired daylight was come. I can scarcely describe the pain that I suffered from the cold at this time of daybreak; it was so intense and so excessively painful as to amount almost to agony: it was the cold I dare say that waked me up.

It was not the first time that I had felt the biting sharpness of the cold of the early morning in Van Diemen's Land, but I never felt it before in a degree so painful. I banged myself about and stamped with my feet, but it was as much as I could do to recover myself sufficiently to be ready for action.

When I felt myself a little restored, I looked about me to see how things stood. I found that the vault into which I had been thrust was, as I thought in the dark, situated in the middle of the


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storehouse or lumber-room, to which there was no window or other outlet except the large door. What the vault was originally intended for I could not guess, and did not trouble myself with resolving, as I had a more pressing matter to think about. The wall of this building ran flush with the wall of the house, and was bounded on each end by a short wall about twelve feet high. There was no window at the back of the house; nothing but the door which I had felt in the dark, and which, on a cautious examination, I found secured on the inside.

I did not like to attempt the forcing of that door, for I feared being overpowered by numbers, before assistance could reach me, so I cast about to get out of the yard by some means or other. The wall was too high to scale, but I fancied if I could steady the door of my lumber-room, which opened outside, I could get on the top of the building and drop down into the street on the other side.

The light increased apace, and there was soon sufficient to enable me to distinguish the heap of odds and ends in the corner. I took some of the staves of old casks, and pieces of wood lying


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there, and silently jamming them between the two buildings and the door, I contrived to steady it between them.

It was no easy matter for me to get on the top of the door, particularly as I was fearful of making a noise, for it was more than six feet high, and I was weak with my night's watching, and from the blow on my head, and my limbs were benumbed with the cold; but by the aid of the great lock, which formed a convenient resting-place for the foot, I got on the edge of the door, and mounted on the roof of the storeroom, which was formed of strong planks, with an inclination inwards. It was very slippery, from the snow which lay on it nearly three inches thick.

I stood on the wall and prepared to drop down from it into the open space, beyond which was the bush, the ground being all covered with snow. As I had need of both hands to assist me in holding on by the wall, I laid my bit of crow-bar on the roof; but the weight of the iron caused it to roll over the smooth boards through the snow, and to fall heavily on my apparatus for steadying the door, on which it descended with


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a crash sufficient to be heard by the inmates within the house.

This accident made me hasten my movements, but as my hands were cold, and the boards were slippery, I could not immediately get into a position preparatory to my drop, and I was on my hands and knees when the door of the red-house opened, and the man in the yellow jacket, whom I had observed on the jetty, and whose conversation I had overheard the evening before, appeared at the entrance. He made a movement as if to come after me, but I pulled out my pistol, and presented it at him. He seemed scared at the sight of the pistol or of me, I don't know which, for he hastily disappeared, and shut the door.

In a few seconds after I dropped from the wall, and although I had a tumble, I got up unhurt, and instantly ran off into the heart of the town. I made my way straight to the inn, meeting no one on the road, and rang the bell lustily. The waiter was soon roused up, for I kept up a peal without stopping, and glad enough was I when I found myself safe inside.


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“What's o'clock?” was my first inquiry.

“Just five, Sir; we wondered you didn't come home last night. The magistrate from the Clyde has been asking for you. He came in about ten last night, and was very anxious to see you. He sat up for you a long time, and couldn't make out why it was you did not sleep here last night.”

“Show me to his room directly,” said I, “and don't talk of my having been out; make a fire as quick as you can, and get me a cup of hot tea, and something to eat. I have business that will take me out again directly.”

In another minute I was in my friend's room.

“Why, what on earth,” said he, “has been the matter? You look perished; what have you been doing all night?”

I told him in a few words what had happened to me.

“And where,” said he, “is this mysterious letter?”

“Here it is; I have not yet read it; do you read it for me; I can hardly see out of my eyes.”

He took the letter, and read the following:—


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“It's all done. The gal is hid in Jim Burke's hut at Seven-mile Beach. The schooner may easily take her off near there, but there's no time to be lost, for there's no trusting one another in this country.Mike can show you to the place. Yours, J. S.”

“It doesn't say much, but it says enough for our present purpose. Who is this Mike?”

“I don't know; perhaps it's the Yellow Jacket.”

“Or his companion who went off into the bush the other evening?”

“Perhaps so; he was to meet the Yellow Jacket again this evening about seven o'clock.”

“We'll provide for both of them; but first we must secure the inhabitants of the red-house. But we had better do things quietly. Are you strong enough to take a note to the police-station? if so, meet me with the constable who will accompany you, at the corner by the Post-office, and I will get ready in the meantime.”

Taking a drink of tea, and munching away at a hunch of bread, I immediately proceeded to the police-office, where, at the magistrate's requisition,


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I was aided at once by four constables without questions, and, accompanied by one of them, I went to the place of meeting, the other three straggling singly to avoid remark, but keeping me in sight. It was still early morning, and there were very few people about. Mount Wellington had a fine white mantle spread over him, and the morning was brilliant and frosty. I found the magistrate at the spot agreed on, and we immediately proceeded to the red-house.

“Go round to the back,” said the magistrate to two of the constables, “and secure any one who tries to escape; if they resist, fire without hesitation.”

One of the constables then knocked at the door.

“Do you think we have force enough?” said I.

“Oh! plenty for the daytime; besides we are in reach of assistance if we want it, and these constables are used to the trade.They don't answer; knock again.”

“Try if the door is fast.”

“The door seems fast enough, but we will soon prize it open, if your honour will give the word.”

“Knock and ring once more.—No answer!


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Lose no time, my men; we'll stand no nonsense; get open the door the shortest way.”

“Stay,” said one of the constables to the other, who was about to apply a sort of crow-bar to wrench open the door; “perhaps they have bolted themselves, and only locked the door; let me try with my quiet persuader.”

With this he produced a bunch of large skeleton keys, and selecting one with a sort of instinct, he applied it to the lock, which yielded readily, and the door stood open.

“I thought it was so,” said he, “they've bolted.”

“Now search the house carefully,” said the magistrate, “and lose no time about it.”

“We'll search,” said the constable, “but we shall find nobody, you may depend on it.”

The house was searched accordingly from top to bottom, and every cranny examined, and the flooring taken up, but no one was found. All this took up some time, and it was now past eight o'clock. There was a writing-desk in the parlour in which I had had the interview with the person who called himself John Wolsey, which was open and deranged, as if some papers had


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been hastily abstracted from it. The magistrate looked rapidly through it, and then sealed it up, and gave it into the charge of one of the constables. Various parts of dress were scattered about in the principal room, which seemed to have been left in a hurry, and among them the pair of drab trowsers and the black gaiters which I had observed the evening before. I pointed them out, and the constable, who had opened the door with his skeleton key, examined them closely.

“These are country-made,” said he, “I'll swear, by the stitches. Perhaps the maker has put his mark on them, as they do sometimes in the country at home.”

Turning-up the waistband, he showed us a bit of canvas, on which were the words “Thomas Sparks, York.”

“It's very thoughtless,” said the constable, proud of his cleverness, “for a gentleman that is engaged in this sort of fun to go about with breeches with a brand-mark on 'em. We have got a clue to where these clothes were made, at any rate.”

“York!” said the magistrate; “that corresponds


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with the information contained in the Gypsey's papers. Take care of all these clothes, and especially of these trowsers; make them into a bundle, and I will put my seal on them.”

“And now,” said I, “what's to be done next?”

“The rogues have got the start of us,” said the magistrate; “I should not wonder if they have gone to the place of rendezvous at Seven-mile Beach; we must go after them; but first I must provide for the Yellow Jacket and his friend at their meeting this evening, in case we should not be back in time. Go, said he to one of the constables, “and get the ferry-boat ready to cross over to Pitt-Water—the horse ferry-boat—we may want to ride. Two of you will go with me on a secret expedition.”

We then repairedto our inn, and having made a hasty breakfast, went down to the jetty, and accompanied by two of the constables, we leaped our horses into the ferry-boat, and pushed off from the shore.




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CHAPTER IV.

THE COLONIAL CONSTABLE—THE TRACK IN THE SNOW—SEVEN-MILE BEACH—THE DESOLATE HUT—THE DISCOVERY—BAULKED AGAIN.

WE urged the boatmen to make the best of their way over the river to the Pitt-Water side, and the constables assisting, we soon neared the opposite shore.

“The snow lies thick on the land,” observed the magistrate.

“It won't lie there long,” said one of the boat-men; “the wind has got into the north, with a little westing in it; when the sun comes out, the snow will disappear in no time; see how the light air draws down the river.”

“Many persons passed this morning?” asked my friend.

“Not many; may be half-a-dozen or so. There was one party in a precious hurry to get across a


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little before six o'clock; they took a wherry and sculled over to Kangaroo Point. It's a shame to let people go over that way when there's a regular ferry-boat! Keep her off the point a bit, Bill; mind the shoal. It's a shame; and the Governor ought to stop it. But they were no good, I'll warrant. There was one pale-faced chap in a black coat that looked as if the baillies were arter him.”

“Which way did they take when they landed?” said I.

“Oh! we couldn't see which way they took from the jetty; but they told me they went off in the direction of Knopwood's Farm; but I don't see what could take 'em that way; that's not the way to Pitt-Water. They're arter no good, I'm sure, or else they'd ha' gone by the reg'lar ferry what's provided for people on purpose.”

So saying, by a shift of the helm, he brought the broadside of the boat abreast of the landing-place; and we all got out of the boat, our horses, who were used to the work, jumping out with the same readiness as the bipeds.

Taking a hint from the boatman's communication, we immediately proceeded in the direction


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of Knopwood's Farm, and it was not long before we came to marks of footsteps in the snow. There were marks of two persons having passed that morning, the impression of the feet of one being large and broad, and of the other small and narrow.

“These are our game,” said one of the constables; “they have been in a hurry to get over the ground; see how they have digged their toes into the snow in their haste. You see when a person walks slow and leisurely, he puts his foot flat on the ground, and takes it up even; but when he runs or walks quick, he bends his foot, and digs his toe into the ground, leaving quite a different trace from the other.”

“Well—that's good,” said the magistrate; “I should never have thought of that. Why (to the constable), you can track like a native!”

“Better, I hope, a little,” replied the constable; “though those black chaps have a knack of tracking in the bush quite wonderful to see at times; but I know a trick more than they, I fancy. Look at this: here's a shoe that I found in the red-house. A native wouldn't have thought of that now. Look here; it fits exactly the small


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print in the snow. Now we're right on the scent, I reckon; but they're a good bit ahead of us, and we have no time to lose, if we are to spoil their fun.”

“Now we are sure of our track,” said the magistrate, “I think you and I, Thornley, had better ride on. The marks are so plain that we cannot miss them, and we will leave the constables to follow us.”

“That's the way,” said the constable, “try to get up with them, Sir, if you can; but, I don't think you'll be far before us, if I guess right.”

We trotted on accordingly, and easily tracked the footsteps till we came to one end of the Seven-mile Beach, when the marks were lost in the sea. We tied our horses to a tree, and searched narrowly about, but we could not recover the trace of the footsteps. The tide was still coming in, but it was nearly high-water. We directed our eyes along the beautiful margin of the crescent-shaped beach, on which the sea was breaking loudly. The white foam of the waves sparkled in the sun, giving an animated appearance to the scene, that inspired cheerfulness and activity, but we could see no sign of


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living thing; but a low-masted vessel was disappearing in the distance. We were quite at fault, and we rambled from the stony beach to the bush, and from the bush to the beach, quite at a loss how to recover the track, which seemed lost in the sea. While we were still searching for it, the constables came up at a trot, and Sanders, the one who had exhibited his knowledge of tracking in the snow, sat down on the shingles.

“Excuse me, Sir,” he said, “but I'm blown with this run. Here's a beautiful place! It's remarkable that the sea is always rough on this beach; it always breaks more or less as you see it now, and you may hear the roaring for miles and miles when there's a high wind setting in-shore. Well, Sir, your honour seems dead beat. Water leaves no track?”

“We have searched all-about for more than a mile round, and we can find nothing,” said the magistrate. “I fancy they must have been taken off by a boat, for it's plain they have gone to the water's edge, but here I lose them.”

“Let me think,” said Sanders. “Jim Burke's


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hut must be about midway between this and the other end of the beach, and about half a mile inland, behind that rise yonder that you see in the distance, with some scrub on it. I'll be bound they've kept on the sands, knowing the tide was coming in, and then cut over to the hut, but we'll soon find that out.”

We proceeded in a body along the margin of the shingle, the other constable searching inland, and continued our way without discovering the track for three or four miles, when the other man, who was a little in advance of us, made a sign with his hand.

“That's the way to do it,” said Sanders, “never shout out or make a noise when you're after game in the bush, whether it's man or beast.”

“He's found the track, I suppose?” said I.

“To be sure he has, and so have we; look here; let's try my shoe—fits exactly! Now we have 'em again, Sir.”

“Follow us as fast as you can,” said the magistrate, “we'll push on.”

“You'll see the hut directly you round the little hill,” said Sanders; “but if they show


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fight, better wait till we come up. Soft and easy does it.”

We cantered on to the little hill before us, and in a few minutes we reached the hut. It was the very picture of desolation. The sides were constructed of that which is technically known in the colony by the name of "wattle-and-dab," formed of upright-stakes, with twigs interlacing them hurdle-fashion, and rudely plastered with mud. The roof, which was thatched with native grass, was rough and out of order, and some planks nailed together and fastened to a cleft log by hinges of bullock's-hide, composed the door. A curtain of kangaroo-skin, much the worse for wear, and looking as if it had the mange, was pegged over the opening which formed the window. Some big pebbles from the beach, with rough slabs of the stone which is abundant almost everywhere in Van Diemen's Land, were piled up with an intermingling of mud, to serve the purpose of a chimney. We saw in a moment that it was empty.

“Poor country house for an independent gentleman,” said Sanders, “but retired—very! Nobody would think of looking for this rural


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retreat, unless he knew where to pitch on it. Many a stolen sheep has been cut into mutton-chops in this hut, I'll be bound, without troubling the butcher to call at the Marine Villa for orders.

“Don't lose any time, Sanders,” said the magistrate, “we must go to work again; you're a clever fellow, so try if you can discover anything to give us information of the parties we are in pursuit of.”

“Let Scroggs try first, please Sir,” said Sanders, “and that will give me time to rest, for I'm almost knocked up.”

The other constable made a rigorous search, but he could find nothing in or near the hut but the remains of some scorched sheepskins, which had most likely been burnt to avoid detection.

“Now, Sanders,” said the magistrate, “try what you can do; but you must look sharp, for the sun is melting the snow fast, and we shall soon lose the tracks.”

“Ay, ay, Sir,” said Sanders, roused by this remark, “I did not think of that. Now let's have a look at the premises.”


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“Scroggs,” said he, “have you searched the thatch where it has been disturbed there?”

“It's only the wind,” said his less observant coadjutor; “the wind has blown the thatch about all round.”

“Yes,” said Sanders, “but that's to leeward of the wind; don't you see, by the bend that the trees have got, which way the wind blows in these parts? That thatch has been disturbed lately, I'll swear, and not by the wind, or I know nothing of my trade.”

Thus speaking, the acute and practised constable mounted on the shoulders of his fellow, and thrust his arm into the part of the thatch which had excited his suspicions.

“I thought so,” said he; “but what have we got here? A tinder-box! No great find this. Lots of tinder, with flint and steel, all complete! Handy to get a light with, but no great use at present.”

“Let me look at it,” said the magistrate. “Turn out the tinder, and see if there are marks about the box.”

“No marks about it, Sir,” said Sanders, “except the tinman's. Don't let the wind blow away


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the tinder, Sam; one never knows what one may want in the bush. I've known the time when its weight in gold would have been given for that bit of tinder at Oyster Bay. Let me put it back again..... Eh! what's this? Look here, Sir, here's a name on the unburnt part of the tinder! The rag has been the upper part of an old stocking, and here's the name of ‘John Shirley;’ who's this John Shirley now, I should like to know?”

The magistrate took the tinder-box, without making any remark, and, drawing me aside, we conversed for a few minutes apart.

“George Shirley is the real name of the Gypsey,” said the magistrate, “if his packet speaks truth. It seems that we have lighted on a near relation when we least expected it.”

“I see it all,” said I, a sudden flash of light breaking in upon me; “the person that called himself John Wolsey struck me that night as resembling some one whom I had seen before; it's the bushranger. He gave me a look, when he discovered my disguise, which reminded me of other features which I could not call to mind; it was the look of the Gypsey bushranger as he


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rolled over the precipice at the Clyde. That's it! I see it all! This is the brother who is next heir, if the girl was out of the way, Depend upon it, that's the clue to all this mystery.”

“I think as you do,” said the magistrate; “but there's a great deal to be explained still. In the meantime let us try to recover the poor child, for if our surmises are correct, the party who has gone so far will not stop short in effecting his object. I hope the poor girl may not be murdered before we come up with her. I don't like the appearance of that schooner that we saw in the distance when we came to the Seven-mile Beach. But we have no time to lose, let us be moving; the men are rested by this time, and we can push on.”

“There ought to be a third track here,” said Sanders, “but I don't see it. A child's foot is light, but it ought to leave its mark on snow. Here are the other two, and a new one, as if making off in the direction of the creek, where a boat could take them off, but I don't see the little one's. The large foot makes a deep mark in the snow, and deeper than before. How's that? I have it; the large foot has carried the child, to


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conceal the taking of it. Thoughtful that; but it's hard if I can't match any one in the colony at this game. There they go; and large-foot doesn't like his load, for you see he goes stumbling on, and here he has been down; but he's up again—and there they go; and by George here's the print of the little one's foot, when her bearer had the tumble. They trod it out, as they thought, but here it is as plain as can be on the top of this tuft of native grass, with the snow on it, like the sugar of a twelfth-cake; Hurrah! my lads, we have 'em! Three miles will bring us to the creek, and then we shall see what comes next.”

In little more than half an hour we came to the edge of the creek, which at high water is deep and navigable, but at the fall of the tide is a succession of shoals, through which it is difficult to direct even a small boat. The searching eye of Sanders soon espied an indentation which had recently been made by the prow of a boat striking against the bank, and we had the mortification to feel that the parties of whom we were in pursuit had by that means escaped for the present beyond our reach.




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CHAPTER V.

THE CONSULTATION—MIDDLE-AGED GENTLEMEN GET TIRED OF ADVENTURES AT LAST—THE TRACK REGAINED—AN EXTEMPORE DINNER AND FRESH OYSTERS—A NEW HORROR.

THE diligent constable examined with great care all the parts about, but there was no trace of footsteps. The snow was now disappearing fast, but there was enough on the ground to show the mark of the foot. The sun shone brilliantly and warm, and we stood round the spot for some minutes looking into the water, as if by some miracle we should see the track of the boat. The magistrate was the first to break silence.

“Where's the nearest boat to be got?”

“Nothing to be had nearer than Pitt-Water,” said Sanders, “and it's all a chance if there's one there; but if we had a boat, what could


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we do with it; how could we tell which way they have gone?”

“They might have made use of some boat to cross over to the land on the other side,” said the magistrate, “for the purpose of baffling our track; in that case, the track would be visible on the other side.”

“To be sure,” said Sanders; “how was it that I didn't think of that? If it was not for the shoals and the mud, we might swim it with one of the horses; but there's no help for it; we can't get on without a boat of some sort.”

“Then we must lose no time about it; can you show me the shortest cut to the township at Pitt-Water?”

“Let me alone for that,” said Sanders; “I should like to know the place in Van Diemen's Land that I couldn't show you the shortest cut to.”

“Then come with me, and perhaps Mr. Thornley will lend you his horse, that we may get over the ground the quicker.”

“One word with you,” said I, “before we go further. I don't quite like this new adventure,” I added, drawing the magistrate aside;


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“to tell the truth, I am tired of being dragged into new scrapes; as soon as one ends another begins. Besides, we are not prepared for a lengthened pursuit, and my head is not right; that knock on it from the life-preserver has left a sensation which is anything but agreeable; and we are not armed.”

“You have your double-barrel.”

“But you have no arms, and the constables have nothing but their sticks. Sanders, have you got any weapon about you?”

Sanders exhibited the huge stick which served as his walking staff.

“I don't mean that; have you got any fire-arms?”

“You don't see any, do you?”

“No; that's why we ask.”

“Do you think,” said Sanders, “that an old hand would ever engage in anything that looks like business without his tools?” and opening his waistcoat, he disclosed two small pistols in a concealed pocket on each side of his waist-coat.

“And your mate?”

“He has nothing but his staff. But Lord


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bless you, Sir! it seldom comes to that. I carry mine for caution's sake, but it's seldom necessary to show 'em, even. You see when a man's pounced upon by a constable, he's cowed like, because he thinks that an officer has a right to take him, and his mind is used to feel that he can't resist an officer; it's a habit like that loose characters get. So, while he is nonplused, we just take him gently, and clap the darbies on him, and then we have him like bricks.”

“That's all very well,” I continued, walking a few steps aside, “but really I don't see that I am called on to expose my life in this matter. Had we not better let the police magistrate take it up? He is clever, and used to these things. Besides, I don't see the necessity of taking the matter into our own hands; it is an affair for the authorities to interfere in; for if the girl is the daughter of the Yorkshire George Shirley, and the Gypsey's tale is true, she is an important personage, and it's a matter for the Government to take up.”

“All very true, my dear fellow,” said my friend, “but it's the time. While we are going back, and going about the business formally,


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these rascals may convey the girl away, or, God knows, murder her, perhaps.”

“I rather think,” said I, “they have some motive for not killing her, or they would have done it before, and not have incumbered themselves with her in this chase;—to marry her, maybe, to some one. But we have no time to indulge in surmises on that point, nor would it be of any use to us to resolve it at this moment. The matter in hand is to consider the propriety of our taking on ourselves the finding of the girl.”

“As to that,” said the magistrate, “my mind is made up; I can act in any part of the colony, my commission being made out for the whole of the island, though for convenience sake we are all appointed to particular districts, and we are expected, of course, not to meddle with matters beyond them unnecessarily. But I consider this a case of necessity, and a pressing one, and I think it my duty not to neglect it. I must in fairness allow that I like these excitements, but I am differently circumstanced to you, who have a family. But wait here, at all events, till we return to relieve you; this spot ought not to be left unwatched; and indeed I want your horse, if you have no objection,


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to mount the constable as a guide, as he is the only one among us who knows the road.”

“Well,” said I, “if it must be so, it must; but I must say frankly, I am tired of these expeditions. I'm wanted at home, and I've had enough of them.”

“I see,” said my friend, “you are not romantic.”

“Not I! I'm a plain Surrey farmer turned into a settler, and as to your romance, I leave that to young fellows like you. I would rather have half-a-dozen mutton-chops just now than any dish of romance that you could cook up for me.” And so saying, I sat myself down by the side of the water, with the other constable for my companion, and the magistrate and Sanders cantered off in the direction of Sorell-Town, the nascent metropolis of Pitt-Water.

I was almost tired out, when a shout from the opposite side of the inlet attracted our attention, and I sprung to my feet. I saw the magistrate on horseback, standing on the high bank. He took off his hat, and waved it, from which I concluded that he had some good news for us; but I could not tell what for, it was too far for


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his voice to reach us. My companion thought he could distinguish the word “boat,” but to me it seemed only the usual “cooee,” the colonial way of throwing the voice to a distance. But my companion was right, for presently afterwards we discovered a boat making its way to us through the intricate passages of the inlet, for it was now almost low water, and the numerous shoals made the navigation very difficult. As it was, we had to plunge into the mud before we could get into the boat, and we were obliged to make a long round before we could reach the shore. While we were making the passage, I asked the man in the boat, for there was only one, what the news was.

“No news,” said he, “except that I hear you are in pursuit of two men and a girl who passed over here in the morning. I was down here looking after some fish, when I saw them just about where I took you up, and they said they wanted to cross over, and they offered me, that is, the gentleman did, a couple of dollars if I would put them over. I thought it odd to see the girl with them, but it was no business of mine.”


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“What sort of a girl was she?” I asked eagerly, for this was the first person I had met with who had seen my troublesome charge.

“Oh! just like other girls, but I didn't see her face; but she seemed very tired and sick, poor thing! One of the men carried her in his arms, and I think she had been crying a good deal; but she didn't cry in the boat; she seemed afraid of the man in the black coat. She can't be more than six or seven years old, I take it; and what their game is I don't understand. However, it's no business of mine.”

“Much fish hereabouts?” said I.

“Fish! bless you, the waters hereabouts are as full of fish as they can cram; but they are poor things for eating, most of them. As you get farther up the inlet, the creeks and little ponds that the tide leaves are full of fish; and the ground-sharks are as thick as they can swim.”

“Ground-sharks! that's unpleasant. How big are they?”

“Not big enough to do much mischief; they're most of them as big as a large cod-fish—some bigger—weighing a matter of ten, or


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fifteen, or twenty pounds. The natives eat 'em, but they're rank things to my taste.”

“How do the natives catch them?”

“They don't catch them at all; they spear 'em with their long thin spears; and then they put them over the fire a bit, and eat 'em half raw; but they don't seem to like 'em much. It's only when they can't get other food. And now, masters, this is as near as I can bring you; the mud is awkward, but it isn't above leg-deep, and the bottom is hard enough when you get there. But if you are good climbers, I can run you right against the cliff yonder, and so you may get on shore dry-footed.”

Receiving my assent to this latter proposition, he ran his boat to the bank accordingly, and with a good deal of difficulty I and the constable scrambled to the top. We found the magistrate and Sanders waiting to receive us, with another man on horseback, and on the ground was a huge basket which they had brought with them. A bush-fire of dead wood which they had kindled was burning briskly.

The snow had almost disappeared, but there


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was still sufficient for a keen eye accustomed to the bush to distinguish the sunken traces of the party we were in pursuit of.

“You see,” said the magistrate, pointing to the almost obliterated footsteps, “we are on the scent, but they have got the start of us, and the snow is nearly melted, for it doesn't remain long on the ground in this country.”

“Upon my word,” said. I, “I think I must decline going any further. I am so weak and faint, that really I am not fit for a bush excursion; and I must confess I am so vulgar as to want something to eat.”

“We have thought of that,” said Sanders, “there's the prog; we wouldn't break into it, but waited till you could join us.”

“Now, my lad,” said the magistrate, “produce your provisions.”

The stranger, who had the appearance of a respectable servant, immediately spread on the log of the tree on which we were sitting a white table-cloth; and arranged plates, and knives and forks.

“I wish I could get a drink of something,”


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said I, “but I suppose there's no water here-abouts but what's brackish.”

“Water! who thinks of water?” said the magistrate, gaily; “here's a bottle of Barclay's own stout. Who has got a corkscrew? Here's a job! no corkscrew! It's strange how people will go about without a corkscrew, the only thing that is ever useful, and never to be had when wanted. Oh, you have got one, my lad, that's very clever of you. Here, Thornley, drink. There's nothing like porter in the bush, only it's not to be had everywhere. You see, I did not forget you.”

“What have you got to eat?” said I, considerably refreshed with my draught; “I had but a scanty breakfast.”

“Then you shall make the better dinner. Bring him out, lad! There's a splendid fellow! A goose is better hot, perhaps, but I think we can manage him as he is;—allow me,” helping me to a leg and a wing, and allotting the same portion to himself;—“and as to our friends the constables, they may solace themselves with that cold shoulder of mutton.”


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“I'll have a dig at the mutton in a minute,” said Sanders; “but I shall treat myself to a few oysters first.”

“Oysters! Is the man distraught with fasting? You're not near Billingsgate-market, friend. What puts oysters into your head?”

“I'll put the oysters somewhere else in five minutes,” said the constable; “you don't know whereabouts you are;—this little bay is full of oysters, as I'll soon show you. Scroggs, my boy,” said he, to his mate, “will you have some natives?”

“I don't mind if I do,” said the accommodating Scroggs; “a few dozens of oysters sharpen the appetite.”

Without more ado, the two constables took off their shoes and stockings, and stripping their trowsers high up their legs, they borrowed a large cloth from the lad with the basket, and waded into the water thirty or forty yards. Reaching down their arms, they soon filled the cloth with oysters, and brought them to us, rattling them down in a great heap, and went back to the water for a fresh supply.


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“Here, my lad,” said my friend, “chuck some armfuls of these into the fire to roast, while we pass away the time with the others. Who's got an oyster-knife? That's another thing that people never think of carrying about with them, though they never know when it may be wanted, as you see. —Oh! you've got a knife; handy knife this. There, lad, hook out the oysters directly you hear them crack, or they'll burn. No bad fare, my friend, for the bush—cold goose and oyster-sauce. I say, this knife puts odd ideas into my head. Suppose this most respectable gentleman, John Shirley, Esq., was to use the same sort of tool on the poor little girl—eh? There, don't lay down your knife and fork—I only hinted it. Take some more goose, a leg and a wing are nothing for a hungry man. Don't spare the oysters, plenty more where those came from. I'll join you in another glass of stout.”

“With all my heart" said I, feeling better and stronger for my meal; "and, after all, it would be a pity not to make an effort to recover the poor girl. I shall never forget the agony of the Gypsey when he talked of her before he


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was dashed to pieces over that horrible precipice.”

“Come, you feel in better heart now, and all ready for another start; eh? We must make our men despatch and get ready for our march; we have brought a couple of muskets with us, and lots of cartridges; and you see my Sorell-Town acquaintance has lent me this fowling-piece, shot-belt, and powder-horn, all complete. I found a party just sitting down to dinner with malice prepense against this late goose—peace to his remains! But I soon explained matters to them, and they despatched this lad on horseback with the provender. The lady of the house was so interested about your young heroine, that a little persuasion, I think, would have induced her to join us in the pursuit. Come, Sanders,” he continued, raising his voice, “another batch of oysters! Why, man, you'll grow shelly if you take in so many of those crustaceous delicacies! Holloa!—what's the matter with the men? They have thrown down their load on the beach, and are standing aghast at something. Look, Thornley.”


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I turned my head, and beheld the two constables anxiously and fearfully examining something that they saw on the beach. We hastened to the spot; and Sanders, pointing to the spot that had attracted his attention, said, to our dismay, in a more feeling tone than I had given him credit for: —

“I fear they have done for the poor child, Sir;—this is sadly suspicious.”

We looked—and in the shade near the base of the overhanging cliff, we saw the marks of trampling feet, and the white snow was crimsoned with large drops of blood.

The sight of the blood filled us all with the most anxious apprehensions; and even the phlegmatic Scroggs was moved at what appeared to denote the sad catastrophe of the little girl's murder.

“I've knocked many a bullock on the head,” said he, “and cut many a sheep's throat, and never cared for the sight of the blood—it was natural, and it's what animals are used to; but —— me! if I ever felt like this before—it's enough to turn one sick—after eating oysters,


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too! I couldn't have cut the throat of that little girl now—though I've never seen her—but a child's a child—no, not for a hundred dollars—no, nor a thousand neither. Poor little thing! how she must have scriggled!”




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CHAPTER VI.

WHO IS THE MURDERER AND THE VICTIM?—A SETTLER'S FARE—AN EXCUSE FOR A GLASS OF GROG—KANGAROOS IN MINIATURE—THE CHASE.

"THE blood looks bad," said the magistrate, after a pause, "but that might happen a thousand ways. It's the trampling of the earth round about that looks most suspicious. See! here has been a tuft of rushes pulled up in the struggle. These rushes are thick and strong—too strong for a child to pull up, I think, even in a death-struggle. No, this was not done by a child's hand! Let us make a closer examination."

Pursuing our investigation, we found the mark of the heel of a man's shoe, which had been digged violently into the ground, apparently in a struggle to rise, and beyond the circle where our own footsteps had trodden down the snow, and


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which for a moment had prevented our observing the space beyond it, we traced the appearance of some heavy body having been dragged for some distance to a spot where there was a deep hole, at the foot of some straggling rocks. By throwing in pebbles, we ascertained that the hole was of considerable depth. In looking about, the intelligent constable observed the mark of a stone of a large size having been removed, the earth in which it had been embedded exhibiting a surface which, from its freshness, it was plain had been but recently exposed to the air; and at short distances two more indications of the same sort were discovered.

“That pool holds the dead body of somebody, I'll be sworn," said Sanders, "but that's a secret that lies at the bottom, and I don't see the way to get at it just now; but time will show, for there never was a murder ever so secret that was not found out at last.”

After a diligent search, we could find no other marks of blood than those which had first attracted the attention of the constables; but it was clear that a desperate struggle had taken place on the spot, but who was the victim, or


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whether there was more than one, was involved in mystery.

By this time, having recovered from the effects of my previous night's suffering, I began to warm to the work; and being moved at the sight of the blood, and the thought of the peril that the poor girl was in, if she was still alive, I was eager to continue the pursuit. I proposed, therefore, that we should not lose time in discussing the probabilities of what had taken place, but mark the exact spot, so as to be able to find it again without difficulty, and move forward without delay to the rescue of the child, whose precarious fate had inspired me with an interest which I was surprised at myself;—but I thought of my own children, and could not but feel strongly for an orphan who had been cast on my care under circumstances so remarkable, and against whose life or welfare it was evident there was some nefarious design.

We sent back our Sorell-Town purveyor liberally recompensed, and started off on the track, now become very faint, at a rapid pace, Sanders taking the lead. It was now drawing towards the evening, and the sun was sinking fast, affording


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to us the not very agreeable prospect of passing the night in the bush under a winter's sky, with the likelihood of a heavy fall of snow for feather beds. We were glad, therefore, when we found that our course led us in the direction of the Coal-River, where we knew there were many settlers, some of them indeed verging towards the position of wealthy agriculturists. We skirted a succession of small farms, looking very cold and desolate at the decline of the day in the winter season, till we came to where a log fence had been broken down; we followed on, and presently came into view of the red-brick house of some thriving settler in a hollow beneath the hill. The marks of the footsteps in the snow became more and more indistinct, but after passing the centre of the enclosure, we observed the prints of the shoes of a horse.

“This looks like business,” said Sanders. “You see, Sir, these chaps are determined to go through with their work. They have taken some poor devil of a settler's horse, and depend upon it, Sir, they have made up their minds for a run.”

“I have no doubt,” said the magistrate, “that their object is to get away from the island;


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and having been stopped at Hobart-Town, I shouldn't wonder if they were to make an attempt at Launceston.”

“That would be leading us a pretty dance,” said I. “It's a chase of a hundred and twenty miles at least; but we must hope to come up with them before then. If they keep their horse, they will leave a good track behind them; we must take care not to lose it. It would be well,” I added, “to measure the size and shape of the horse's shoes while we have light enough.”

Sanders took the hint, and found that the horse had a broad shoe on the left fore-foot and a narrow-shaped one on the other. He took down the exact size of each shoe, and noted them with a pencil in a pocket-book.

Some flakes of snow now began to fall, and the dusk came on, warning us that if we thought of seeking a shelter for the night, it was time to look about us; but we kept on our way as long as we could distinguish the track, but the snow falling faster and faster, and darkness coming on besides, we made a halt and deliberated on what was best to be done.

“With submission to you, Sir,” said Sanders


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to the magistrate, “it's of no use to follow a track at night; there's more lost than gained by it; for the fatigue makes one the less able to do the work next day. You see, we have 'em safe if this snow continues, which looks likely, for they cannot rub out their marks, and they must go between the river and the tier of hills; so that, by crossing the line between, we shall come on their track again. If I might venture to advise, Sir, you will be all the better tomorrow for a night's rest, and if we could borrow a couple of horses hereabouts, it would be all the better, and we could make more speed in the morning.”

We thought the experienced constable's advice good, and under his guidance we turned aside to the left, and after half an hour's march we came to the door of a settler's hut, where we asked permission to pass the night. It proved to be the dwelling of a man for whom the magistrate had procured a ticket-of-leave about two years before, for good conduct, and who had since rented a farm of three hundred acres, of which there were about fifteen under tillage, with the working-bullocks and farming conveniences


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usually let with the land on such occasions. This was a lucky hit. Our first business was to make inquiries after the parties we were in pursuit of, but our new acquaintances could give us no information.

We were made welcome with all the means which the humble dwelling afforded, and the united efforts of the farmer and his wife were cheerfully rendered to furnish out our entertainment. Fresh logs were thrown on the fire, and some very lean mutton-chops, cut from a lantern-looking sheep, which was suspended from the branch of a tree outside, were immediately put into the frying-pan by the man, while the woman busied herself with the tea-things; mutton-chops for eating, and tea for beverage, being the usual repast on almost all occasions in the houses of the poorer class of settlers.

While these preparations were being made inside, we looked to our horses out of doors. There was but poor accommodation for them, but a sort of shed protected them from the snow, and they were obliged to put up with a bran mash for supper, and a tolerable feed of barley. Hay and oats were for the most part unattainable


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luxuries in Van Diemen's Land at that time, and not often to be obtained now; barley and wheat, or barley in the straw, being their customary food, with the grass of the country as it grows in its natural state. We were quickly summoned by our host to the repast prepared for us.

“Rather poor mutton for you, Sir," said the man; "we have but a poor-run here for sheep, and it's not easy to get them through the winter with any thing on their bones, but you shall have our best.”

“Why, you're getting on, Richard,” said the magistrate, “if you have got a flock of sheep. How many have you?”

“There's near three hundred of 'em; but they are not my own; I wish they were. I have 'em on the thirds; they were part of the farming stock, and thanks to you, Sir, the owner has trusted me with them, with the rest of the farming things.”

“Can you manage a cow?”

“Not yet, Sir; we have four working-bullocks, pretty good ones; but we can't manage a cow yet. This is no place for stock. If we could contrive half a dozen cows, we could make our


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money of them, for wife's a good dairy-woman and we are within reach of Camp, where we could get half-a-crown a pound in money for every pound we could make. But won't you eat, Sir? the things are clean, though they're homely. Will you drink tea with your meat?”

“Have you nothing but tea, Dick, for the gentlemen,” said Sanders, making a wry face, which was reflected by Scroggs, “in these parts? There used to be better stuff to be had not long ago.”

Dick pointed with his hand to the magistrate, and shook his head.

I understood the meaning of these masonic signs very well; so, as I wished to pleasure the constables, whom it was important for us to keep in good humour, without compromising my friend's official dignity, I displayed two five-dollar notes to Sanders, who thereupon gave a significant nod, and disappeared with Scroggs.

“Good water, hereabouts?” said the magistrate.

“There's not much water for stock till you get to the river, but there's a spring handy by, that serves for our own use.”


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“It doesn't taste well out of a pannikin. Bah! it's like a mineral spring. You haven't got a glass tumbler, Richard?”

“We had one, Sir, but it's broke, and we can't be very nice at first; but there's a teacup if you like it better. It's done enough, now,” said he to his wife, who had been frying a cake in the pan, and her own face at the same time, while we were discussing our dish of mutton-chops and damper. “There's a real settler's cake for you, gentlemen, made nice and light, like a pancake, only it wants eggs and milk.”

“A glass of grog, now, would be no bad thing,” said my friend; “but I suppose that's not easy to be got here. How far are we from any public-house? Rum is better than nothing, at a pinch, though it's sad stuff generally—new and rank—the common rum from Bengal, one of the most unwholesome of all spirits; but, as a medicine, now and then —— ”

The worthy magistrate's dissertation on the qualities of Bengal rum was cut short by Sanders, who appeared with a bottle of that popular liquor, the same having been only half-watered, in deference to the distinguished company,


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for whose especial refection Sanders had enjoined the sly-shop, it was on this occasion particularly dedicated.

“Where does this come from?” asked the magistrate, in a little absence of mind, and pouring into a pannikin a decent portion of the liquid.

“Out of the bottle,” said I.

“I take it as a medicine,” rejoined my friend, taking the hint at the same time—“only as a medicine (Sanders and Scroggs shook their heads doubtfully); for, after all, it only spoils the water—but this water is brackish.”

With this my excellent friend imbibed, with considerable relish, as it seemed to me, a tolerable dose of the medicine, and knocking the table with the edge of the tin pannikin, which made a ring-ing sound, as if complaining of being empty, he laid his hand promiscuous-like on the neck of the bottle, and tilting it over, directed its muzzle in a sort of fit of abstraction, towards the capacious mouth of the pannikin.

“Any sugar, Richard?”

“Only brown, Sir; we never have anything but brown; white is too expensive for new settlers.”


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“True, Richard, true;—this is brown sugar, but it tempers the spirit. I think I'll try it this time with hot water. Bale out a little from the tripod with the other pannikin. In cold weather, it's well to keep up the vital heat, Dick.”

My friend sipped his boiling grog with a philosophic cheerfulness, and a readiness in accommodating himself to circumstances extremely gratifying to an intelligent mind, and when he had got half through his second pannikin, he condescended, with much complacency, to observe, that “after all, it was a tipple not to be despised, if taken now and then, and in moderation!”

Sanders and Scroggs, however, did not view the alarming deficit, which was increasing, in the solitary bottle with the same composure, their minds, I presume, not being so philosophically constituted; and it was with the most lively apprehensions, therefore, that they saw the magistrate raise his hand for the third time in a threatening way to the neck of the bottle, which stood handy to his reach. The intellects of the latter functionary being sharpened by the pressing nature of the danger, he forgot, in his agony,


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the deep respect due to the official dignity of his worship, and being unable to repress his feelings, he vociferated a tremendous “Oh!”

“What's the matter?” said the magistrate; “have you done your supper? You had better have a glass of grog. Here, Sanders, take the bottle. And now for a turn in. Richard, how can you manage for us?”

“If it wasn't for my wife, Sir, you should have our little room, but we'll make you up a shake-down in this corner by the fire, and you'll lie soft enough on the wool.”

“Wool! No Boomahs! I hope—Eh! Dick?” beginning to scratch himself instinctively at the sight of the wool.

“Pretty well for that, Sir, but they will come wherever there's a house. It's the dogs, I suppose, that harbour them; but they don't meddle with us much; or else we are used to them.”

“Used to them! Bless ye!” said Sanders, “all the settlers' houses in this district are full of 'em; they're 'digenous to the place. You may see 'em in summer-time going down to the Coal-River to water quite regular, and hopping back again like Christians. Lively little creturs they are,


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and love company. They're a sort of kangaroo in miniature; and I dare say if you took the trouble to examine 'em, you would find 'em with tails and false bellies, all complete. There's one! and there's another! he's a regular boomah! Ah! my fine fellow! I can see you are grinning at me, and expecting an elegant supper on my unfortunate person, but (here we heard a peculiar sort of crack) I'll disappoint you, you black-guard! And you, too (another crack), and—confound them! here's a regular colony! Well, bite away, my hearties, it's of no use trying to get rid of you, I see! What must be, must! I'm a doomed victim!”

The night passed away in similar complaints from the whole party, each individual waging unsuccessful war against hosts of assailants, and seasoning his maledictions, according to his quality, with such oaths and curses as came most readily to hand. As soon as the first gleam of the morning light appeared, we were on our legs, and after the usual preliminaries of fried mutton-chops and hot tea, without milk, and damper without butter, we prepared for our march.

“Well, Richard,” said the magistrate, “much


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obliged to you for your night's lodging. But we must not eat you out of house and home. You will just give this to your wife (proffering a four-dollar bank-note) to make the pot boil.”

“Not I, Sir,” said our host; “you don't think I'd take money from you, Sir, after all your goodness to me. You are welcome to all I can offer you; but you don't think, Sir, I would be paid for seeing my”—friends he was about to say, but he checked himself—“for being hospitable.”

“Very well, Dick, just as you like.”

But as I did not like to consume the man's provisions without recompensing him for it, I pressed a two-dollar note on the lady of the mansion, and as my friend told me that he had contrived to convey the rejected four-dollar note to the same quarter, we had the satisfaction of feeling that our visit would not put the family to any inconvenience.

There had been a heavy fall of snow during the night, and it lay some inches thick on the ground. The clouds threatened more; and we resumed our pursuit with no very agreeable anticipations.


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“Now, Sanders,” said the magistrate, “let me see what you are worth in a difficulty. Which is our way? and how are we to find the track of the runaways? for this snow wi|l have covered up all traces of their footsteps—the horses' and all.”

“Never fear,” said the constable, “the same snow that has hid one track will show another. If a snow-track is bad for following, it's worse for hiding: they can't get away from us; and if I don't find 'em, as sure as ever Scroggs would nose a bottle of rum in a plant, I'll forfeit my ticket of leave.”

With this professional encouragement, we set ourselves diligently to work to discover the lost track.




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CHAPTER VII.

THE CHASE—SCROGGS' PATHOS—CONFIRMATION OF THE FUGITIVE—UNEXPECTED INFORMATION—A SAILOR ON HORSE-BACK—A NEW ARRIVAL.

WE were now in the most fertile part of Van Diemen's Land, the agricultural district in which the greatest part of the wheat grown in the colony was then raised, and which, from its fertility and its propinquity to water-carriage, is particularly adapted for tillage-farms. The soil in this district is above the average quality of the land in the island; some of the wheat lands having yielded good crops for more than fifteen years without manure or artificial irrigation; but it is not suited for sheep and cattle, the unlocated grazing-ground being too limited in extent. From the desirable nature of the locality—the facility of water-carriage being such a prodigious advantage for the transport of grain in a


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young colony—small farms soon became numerous in this neighbourhood, but from their close proximity, there can be, of course, but few opportunities for back runs.

Our direction lay on one side of these settlements, and as it was early morning, we did not meet with a single person on our route, nor did we think it worth while to go out of our way to seek for information, as it would have been a certain loss of time, which was very precious, for a very uncertain benefit; besides, we could not tell whether we might not do more mischief than good by entrusting our object to promiscuous persons. We kept steadily on, therefore, for five or six miles, and then we crossed the line on which we calculated the pursued party would pass, hoping to hit on their track, but without success, and it was not until we got near Brighton Plains, to the right, that we came on their footsteps.

“You see, Sir,” said Sanders, “we have 'em; they can't escape us now; but, by the sinking of the marks, they must have made good use of their time in the night.”

“The poor little girl must have suffered terribly from the cold of last night,” observed the


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magistrate; “it was brutal to expose a child of such tender years to the inclemency of a winter's frost and snow.”

“Poor little thing!” the passive Scroggs ventured to remark; “poor little thing! you don't think they cut her throat then, Sir, do you? The sight of that blood has been worrying me ever since! I remember once, before I came to this country, I had to slaughter a lamb for my master, and, by mistake, I killed the pet-lamb of my young Missis. She came up just as I was a-doing of it, and I never shall forget the look she gave me! I was standing with the lamb's head between my legs, and my knife —— ”

“Well-well, my man,” said I, for the picture that he had conjured up made me feel sick—“that will do. We can't be sure whether the child is alive or not, but it is likely that she is, by their taking the horse; I wish we could find some sign that would relieve us from our suspense! Keep your eyes open, and there's a bottle of rum for you, if you can discover anything to help us in our search.”

“Ay, ay, Sir, I'll keep a sharp look-out; not that I care about the rum; it's the child,


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poor little thing! I fancy I am always seeing her with her poor little head hanging down, and her throat.....”

“There-there, say no more about it, but get on ahead, and try if you can make any discovery. An hour—nay a few minutes—may make the difference of life or death.”

Thus urged, the obedient Scroggs moved forward in advance with some appearance of alacrity, and, stimulated partly by the present danger of the child, whose fate I believe he sincerely commiserated, and partly by the bottle of rum in prospective, he cast his eyes vigilantly about on all sides, and it was not long before he had the satisfaction of detecting a digression in the path of the pursued.

“There's been something new going on here,” said he; “the small-footed man has gone away to the left, and the other man and the horse have gone on.”

“It's the small foot,” said Sanders, “that's plain enough; and he has gone off to the left, and I don't see the sign of his having come back. What's to be done now? There is some dodge in this, that's certain.”


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“Do you three,” said the magistrate, “go on till you get to the rise with the big gum-tree on the top of it, and wait there till I join you. I will follow this track for a mile or so, and then we can consult on the best mode of proceeding, should it appear that the parties we are in pursuit of have separated.”

He cantered off, accordingly, and we presently lost sight of him behind a little hill, but before we reached the big gum-tree, he passed us at an angle, and waited for our coming up, when he communicated the result of his visit.

Behind the hill there was a stock-keeper's hut, which we could not see from the spot where we were, and there the magistrate learned that before dawn of day a new settler had called at the hut, and asked for refreshment, saying that he had a companion whom he had left at a little distance, and for whom, as well as for himself, he wanted a supply of provisions.

“It was easy to tell he was a new settler,” said the stock-keeper, “because he had on a black coat and waistcoat, and a new hat in the bush, and didn't mind showing his money to strangers!”


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The stock-keeper gave him what he had ready, which consisted of some cold mutton-chops, and nearly a whole damper, with about ten pounds of uncooked meat, for which the stranger gave him a four-dollar note. My friend asked to see the note, and pretending that he wanted a note of that particular signature, the stock-keeper readily exchanged it for other smaller notes.

“This note,” observed the magistrate, “may help to trace our man.”

My friend did not think it necessary to tell the inhabitant of the hut that we were in pursuit of this new settler, “as it was better,” he said, “not to be making confidants without necessity.” As the track of the small foot in the snow was easily seen on leaving the hut, he followed it up to the point where we rejoined him.

This was so far satisfactory; we were on the track of this John Wolsey, or John Shirley, and we could not be very far from him, but still there was no trace of the little girl; but the manner of his obtaining provisions in going alone to the hut seemed to show that he had left the child with his companion, from the fear of being


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traced the more easily if she was seen with him. This consideration gave us hope, so that we continued the pursuit with renewed spirit.

We were beginning to feel the want of food ourselves, however, and we were at a loss where to obtain it without considerable delay; and it was necessary that we should not neglect to procure a supply while we were within a reasonable distance of the settled part of the country, for our route was leading us more and more into the bush; the parties whom we were pursuing being obviously desirous of keeping away from the inhabited parts of the district through which they fled.

We did not allow these thoughts to slacken our pace, and leaving Bagdad on our left, we continued our way through a very difficult country, still with the track in view, till we came to a point which we calculated was abreast of the Green Ponds. It was now considerably past noon, and we were desperately hungry, but we did not like to relax in our pursuit, for we expected every minute to come up with the fugitives, when the track made a sudden bend to the left, and we observed the same divergence as before, but this


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time it was the broad-footed man. Not caring for him, we did not stop to examine into his movements, but the reason of his absence was presently explained, for about three miles farther we found the track of a second horse joining the track which we were pursuing; and from the appearance of the strides of the two horses and the marks of the snow that was kicked up, it was plain that they had contrived to get possession of a second horse, and that Wolsey, not being detained by his companion being on foot, was pushing forward with all speed.

On this the magistrate immediately decided what to do. He wrote on a leaf of his pocket-book, in pencil, a request addressed to any one who might read it, that, for the purpose of furthering the ends of justice, the constables might be supplied with horses, for the hire, or the purchase of which if necessary, he would be responsible.

“Now, Sanders,” said he, “there's not a moment to be lost; I and Mr. Thornley will follow them up on horseback, and take the chance of what comes; get up with them we must, or we may be too late. Try to procure horses and follow us with all speed, for we may want your


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assistance. And now do your best. You will not leave me at this push, I suppose, Thornley?” said he, “but if it does not suit you to stay away from your farm, I will go alone.”

“I will not leave you,” said I;—“if you have duty to prompt you, I have inclination.”

“I have both duty and inclination,” said he, and off we set at a smart canter. The party whom we pursued was evidently guided by some one who had an accurate knowledge of the country, for their track proceeded in a straight line across the island, so far as was consistent with their keeping clear of the various small settlements and farms in their route. In this way we passed through a country much less hilly than before, skirting on our left the fat flat of the “Cross Marsh,” and a few miles farther the beautiful district of “The Lovely Banks,” till we came to the base of the Tier over which the road had been cut by a steep hill to Jericho, which is about forty miles from Hobart-Town. Having got over Spring Hill Tier, which winded our horses a bit, we had a strong inclination to make a detour to our left, to Jericho, to get some refreshment; but the sight of the fresh track provoked


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and incited us, and we pushed on after them through Fourteen-Tree Plain, and past Lemon Springs, till we got to Oatlands, the neighbourhood in which the notorious bushranger, Howe, performed many of his exploits. It was in this part of the country that he made the remarkable escape which is still remembered in the colony, and related to new-comers over a bush fire and a kangaroo steamer. He had been taken, and his arms bound behind him; one soldier with a loaded musket went before him, and another behind. By some means never discovered he contrived to get possession of a knife, with which he quietly cut the bands that fastened him. Watching his opportunity, as they passed round the narrow base of a high hill, and before the soldier behind had come into sight, he sprung on the one before, and stabbing him in the back, laid him prostrate. Seizing his musket, he fired at the soldier behind, who was hastening up, and shot him dead. He then escaped into the bush.

But we met with no living thing, and we still kept on, angry at not being able to overtake the black-coated gentleman and his victim, and we passed, with longing eyes and ravenous appetites,


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Albany Vale and St. Peter's Pass. We had now a fine level country, but thinly covered with trees, to the neighbourhood of Antill's Ponds. By this time our horses were nearly exhausted, but the tracks now appeared fresher and fresher as we gained upon the fugitives; we were tempted to make another effort, and we presently reached Salt-Pan Plains. At any other time we should have taken time to admire the magnificent view of these extensive plains, where the eye can range for many miles without obstruction; for in a country where timber abounds, which forms one of the most serious obstacles to the increase of a settler's tillage, the sight of a large expanse of country clear of trees never fails to excite in a colonist of Van Diemen's Land the most pleasurable contemplations. We could not help pulling up our tired horses for one minute to admire the sinking of the setting sun behind the lofty mountains to our left, causing their cloud-capped tops to glow with a peculiar light of serene and placid brilliancy.

To the east of these plains are extensive ponds saturated with salt, from which the settlers within reach obtain their supplies in the summer season


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by evaporation, by means of the sun's heat. In front of us was the superb mountain of Ben Lomond, the outlines of which, though the dusk was coming on, were still distinct in the white line of snow which covered its towering summit.

“One effort more,” said the magistrate, “and we shall come up with them.”

But our horses were sadly fagged, and in want of food, as well as ourselves. We alighted, took off their saddles, and rubbed down their backs with our handkerchiefs.

“Don't let our horses get stiff,” said my friend; “as long as they're warm, they will keep on, but if they get stiffened in the cold, they will knock up. One effort more.”

But our horses, good as they were, and fitted, like most of the horses on the island, to bear long and continued fatigue with but scanty refreshment, soon showed unequivocal symptoms of exhaustion. We turned to the left, therefore, towards Blackman's Bridge, near which we knew we could obtain food and shelter.

With that sort of instinct which I have often observed in the animal, our wearied horses pricked up their ears as we turned them in the


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direction of the inn; and snorting with visible signs of gladness, their strength appeared to revive, and they bore us gaily to our place of rest. Our first care was to see them properly tended. We gave them a warm mash of siftings, and let them pick a little at some barley in the straw, till they had recovered from the excitement of their travel. In the meanwhile, we put some barley in soak in boiling water, for there were no oats to be had, which we mixed with a small portion of siftings, and fed them well, taking care not to give too much at a time. We took particular pains to have them well rubbed down, particularly their legs and heels, for a good dressing is as good as meat and drink to a tired horse.

“You've given them a warming,” said the ostler, who, from a weaver in England, had become the tender of horses in Van Diemen's Land; “they seem to be made of a good sort of stuff, these beasts, but they look a little mottled now with sweat, like shot silk by a side light. Where are you come from?”

“We have come some distance,” said we, “but we have ridden very fast, which has blown the


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horses a bit.” I did not choose to tell him that we had come nearly seventy miles without pulling up, although, for the honour of colonial horseflesh, I had a strong inclination to brag of it.

Having seen our horses' feet stopped with a cooling application, and our minds being at ease about their comfort, we entered the public room of the inn.

I need scarcely say, that while we were looking to our horses, the usual meal of the country, the eternal mutton-chops, were prepared for our entertainment by the people of the house, to which were added some kangaroo-tail soup, and the unusual luxury of pancakes made with eggs. Some capital bottled stout, Barclay's, of course, added a zest to our supper, and by the aid of some excellent brandy, we soon found ourselves restored to our usual spirits.

We were discussing the propriety of a second tumbler when the clattering of a horse's hoofs, which suddenly stopped at the door of our hostel, and the slight bustle usual on such occasions, announced the arrival of a new guest. As there was only one room for travellers in the inn, which


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had been hastily built of weather-boards on speculation, the landlord ushered in the new-comer to the apartment where we were sitting, and he entered the room without ceremony, shaking from his rough great coat a plentiful shower of snow.

“Servant, gentlemen, hope I don't intrude. Landlord —steward—landlord—d'—, that is, bless my eyes, get us something to eat. Here have I been riding on that rickety old craft; d' him—that is, bless him—he's as crank as a Norway timber-ship—for I don't know how long, and the cold has made me so sharp-set, I'm ready to eat the purser!”

The stranger, whom we had regarded with some curiosity as he gave vent to this nautical effusion, was a seafaring man, by his dress, which his language seemed to corroborate; but as I had recently attempted the personation of that character myself, I was not disposed to give him credit for the reality without further examination.

Thought I to myself, “It's all very well to call a horse a ‘craft,’ and to sport your ‘starboard’ and ‘larboard,’ but who knows that this is not another would-be sailor?”


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I gave a glance at the magistrate, as I revolved these thoughts, and I saw by the gleg of his eye that he had the same suspicion as myself; so by a sort of tacit confederacy, we began to sift our new acquaintance.

“You don't seem to have enjoyed your ride, Sir?” said my friend.

“Enjoy it! Lots of enjoyment in riding an old brute like that in a snow-storm! I thought it never snowed in this country?”

“Sometimes,” I said, “but not often, and the snow does not remain long on the ground. You seem, Sir, to have had a feathering?”

“Feathering, do you call it? It wasn't much like a feather bed, I can tell you. Three times have I been capsized coming from that last place—Antil Ponds, I think, they call it; they have the queerest names for places in this country! Oh! here's my supper: mutton-chops! of course—I'm d' —that is, I'm blessed if I've eat anything but mutton-chops since I've been in the country; the sheep in these parts are all chops! from head to starn, I think!”

“There's some capital kangaroo-tail soup,” suggested the landlord.


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“Kangaroo-tail soup! Ah! there it is again! I'm blessed if I've heard about anything but kangaroo-tail soup all the while I was at Launceston. They souped me there night and day. It was a regular caulking! If I'd gone on with it, I do believe I should have been quite transmogrified, for I felt a tail a-growing, and was beginning to hop already! But d'—”

“What's the matter?” said I, for our facetious friend suddenly stopped, and with knife and fork outstretched, seemed to be taken with a fit. I got up instantly, with visible signs of alarm, to assist him, but he held up the hand that had the fork in it.

“Avast there!” said he, “I was only counting twenty.”

“Counting twenty! what on earth do you count twenty for?”

“Oh, you see, my wife made me promise whenever I was going to swear, to count twenty, to stop it's coming out; so I always do it, 'cept in a gale of wind or so, when one can't be particular; and that's why I say 'bless me,' because, as my wife says, if I must say something to relieve myself, better say something good than the


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other! Ay, ay, she's the one to keep a good look-out ahead; there's nothing in the voyage of life like having a consort! She was like to lose me though, once, for my craft gave a tremendous lurch just before I got here. I held hard-on by the leather tackle, but it was of no use; down I came by the run!”

“You are not used to riding on horseback, I suppose?” said my friend.

“Used to it! no—nor never shall be. I started off to see the interior of the country, ten days ago, and managed very well while I trusted to my own legs, though it's not so pleasant walking on shore as at sea—there's no motion to steady you. But when I was at Jericho—there's a rum name for a place!—I got a letter from my skipper to tell me I must come back with all sail. So what did I do, but I hired that horse, that somebody wanted to send back to Launceston.”

“But that enabled you to get on quicker?”

“Slower, by four knots! for such a pitching about I never had before! It wasn't easy to get steerage-way at all, the thing was so slow and lumbersome; and when you did, it wasn't much


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better, for somehow the cantankerous brute never would answer the helm the right way, let alone the awkwardness of the tiller-ropes coming forward instead of aft, which kept confusing me; at last I clapped my hand to his tail, and then the brute stopped and gave a heave up with his starn legs, but I contrived, by twisting his tail hard to starboard or larboard, as I wanted it, to make him steer this side and that; for I tried to keep him in the middle of the road, to have the force of the tide, and he kept sheering to the side, as if he was in a hack eddy. It was a rare sight to see, I fancy! But here I am, safe at last!”

“Starboard and larboard!” said I to myself, “it's all very well, hut it won't do!” “And pray, Sir,” said I, aloud, “how was it that you happened to get aboard that clumsy craft that has occasioned these mishaps?”

“Eh?” said he, inquiringly, and suspending his draught of rum-and-water; “and pray, mate,” said he, with an incredulous grin, “what ship do you belong to?”

“Me!”

“Ay—look at your rig! Oh, oh! —I see!—Yes, yes,” putting his finger on his nose; “false


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colours! Want to steal off!—Blue jacket better than a yellow one—eh?”

“Why,” said I, “what do you take me for?”

“Not for a sailor! But, never fear, never tell tales! No business of mine! Wish you well out of it, and better luck another time, that's all I can say.”

Thought I, to myself, “the tables are turned drolly enough,” for I had on the sailor's dress in which I had disguised myself in Hobart-Town, with the exception of the little tarpaulin hat, which I had replaced by my own black beaver, and I was exposed to the very suspicion which I had rather too hastily formed of our new acquaintance. This was provoking, especially as the real sailor obstinately persisted in mistaking me for a prisoner in disguise, trying to escape from justice.

“And pray,” said I, “how do you know I am not a sailor?”

“How do I know! Lord love ye! D'ye think one sailor can't tell another, and know a landsman from a blue-jacket? Did you ever see a sailor sit with his back against a chair, and one


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leg crossed over another that fashion? what would become of his sea-legs? But never mind; I'm as mute as a stock-fish; a Yorkshireman, you know, can see through an inch-board, but he never tells what's behindit.”

“A Yorkshireman, are you?” said I eagerly; “from what part?”

“From Whitby; that is, I served my time at Whitby, but I was born on Squire Shirley's estate, near Limedale, close by Heron Abbey—everybody knows it in Yorkshire. My father was a tenant of Squire Shirley's, but I would go to sea, as boys will sometimes.”

“Then you know this Squire Shirley?”

“To be sure I did—William Shirley; but he's dead now.”

“How long ago?”

“It's about two years since.”

“Had he any children?”

“No children, but he had two brothers.”

“And what is become of them?”

“The eldest, George, went away somewhere, nobody knew whither. He was a wild chap in his youth, was George; but the youngest, John,


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is at the Abbey, because, as there was no account of George, of course John was next heir to the estates.”

“What are the estates worth?” asked I.

“I don't know that, but it is one of the prettiest estates in the county.”

“Did William leave any will?” asked the magistrate.

“There was a talk about some will, but I never knew the rights of it. It was said George died years ago, but some people thought there was some mystery about it.”

I exchanged looks with my friend the magistrate at this information, which had come on us thus unexpectedly, and in so strange a way, but we did not think it necessary to communicate to our new acquaintance the deep interest which we took in these inquiries; and, under the pretext of seeing our horses well littered down for the night, we left the room, and had a short private conversation together on our way to the stable.

“Can we make any use of our new acquaintance?” said I.


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“I don't see that he would be of any use at present,” said the magistrate; “he would be rather in the way than otherwise. But we shall see when we get to Launceston, and then we can act accordingly.”

The snow lay two or three inches deep on the ground, but the night was clear and bright, and we regretted the time that we were losing, but it was unavoidable; for the darkness of the night, which aids a man to escape, is an effectual bar to his pursuit in a country where he can be followed only by the foot-marks that he leaves behind him. We were obliged, therefore, to put up with the delay, and indeed, our horses would not have been in a condition to travel before the morning; so, bidding our new acquaintance good night, and leaving him to the enjoyment of a huge tumbler of grog, in which he had induced the landlord to join him, we retired to our beds, having made arrangements for resuming our journey at the first dawn of day on the morrow.

But the course of events did not allow us to enjoy our rest unbroken. A little after midnight


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we were waked up by a vigorous knocking at the door from the butt-end of a heavy whip, and we heard a voice outside demanding instant admittance.




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CHAPTER VIII.

THE VAN DIEMEN'S LAND JOCKEY—SWOPPING—THE CHASE RENEWED—RETRIBUTIVE JUSTICE—THE NATIVES—NEW DANGERS.

“YOU needn't knock the door in with your hammering,” called out a voice, which I recognized as that of the landlord of the Emu—“can't you wait till people put a bit of clothes on? Who are you? and what do you want at this time of night?”

“Who am I, and what do I want! Well, that's a good one! Don't you know Charley Chaffem?”

“The Sandy Bay Jockey! By George! here's a spree! Why, what has brought you to this side of the island?—and snow on the ground too.”

“Why, a horse has brought me; that is, two


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horses; one that I'm on, and one that I'm off; and there's a riddle for you, Master Jemmy.”

“And where have you come from?”

“I only left the Coal River this morning. What do you think? Some busy gentleman has walked off with my bay horse! He didn't come home last night for his corn, and I knew there was something wrong, but I could do nothing till daylight, and then I tracked him right across the country, with two other blackguards with him, for there were three horses in all, and afterwards a fourth—so there's a lot of them in for it—till the dark came, and then I cut across to the high road. But don't stand talking there; open the door, and be alive; I want to come in and get a snack of something.”

As I guessed that this visit from the owner of the stolen horse would render some explanation necessary, I thought it best to meet the difficulty at once, so I got up and dressed myself. By the time that I had entered the public room, which was next to my bedroom, the inquisitive Charley Chaffem had visited the stable, which I expected, where he had examined the magistrate's horse


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and mine, which were comfortably reposing themselves on luxurious beds of straw.

“He can't be far off,” said he to the landlord, alluding to the thief, in continuation of some comments in which he had been pleased to indulge in the stable, “for here are two of the blackguards safely housed with you. I know them by the shoeing of their horses; they're Nick Naylor's shoes, of Frog-street, in Camp. You may always swear to his shoes when they're new. I tracked them all the way, and I could pick 'em out among a hundred. A pretty pass the country is come to, when people take to stealing of horses! but I'll make the rascals swing for it, if there's law to be had in the colony.”

“A very pleasing compliment,” thought I, “to me and my friend. My good Sir,” I said, “I am the owner of one of those horses, and my friend is the owner of the other. I could not help overhearing what you said as you entered the room, but I assure you you are mistaken, as I could easily explain to you if I was at liberty to do so.”

“Hear him!” cried out our acquaintance of


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the night before, who had risen from his wooden sofa with the habitual readiness of a seaman—“hear him! he was a sailor last night, and now he's jawing away like a sea-lawyer! I say, my friend," said he to me, "no go! eh? grabbed! rather unlucky; but sailors shouldn't meddle with horses; always come to a mischief when they try to show off like the long-tails.”

“The devil's in it,” thought I, “I shall be in another mess if I don't take care!”

“The long and the short of it is,” said I aloud, “I know no more where your horse is than you do, except that I have been following it all day as well as yourself.”

“The long and the short of it is,” said the angry jockey, “that you must answer for this before a magistrate, and then, I think, my hearty, it won't be long before they make short work of you,” giving a significant chuck under his left ear.

“Why, what's all this about?” said the magistrate, who now entered the room, with a silk handkerchief round his head, and a blanket by way of dressing-gown. “What! Charley Chaffem! what brings you here?”


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“Hurrah!” cried Charley; “here's the Clyde magistrate. Now, my beauty, you're hooked, and no mistake! You needn't laugh—you'll laugh on the wrong side of your mouth presently. I charge this fellow with stealing my horse,” pointing to me viciously; “and I give him into custody.”

“What, my friend Thornley! why, what have you got in your head, Charley? Oh!—I see—I see—it was your horse that the rascals stole last night—or I suppose I must call it the night before last, for it's two o'clock in the morning now. We have had a rare hunt after him all day.”

“Indeed!” said the jockey, puzzled to understand the meaning of what he heard—“then what t'other chap—I beg his pardon, Mr. Thornley—said was true, and you and he have been in pursuit all day of the rascal who made off with my horse? Well! that beats every thing! But you might as well have run after the wind as after Roderick! if the rascal knew how to ride him. I think the magistrate knows there's not a faster horse nor sounder bottom in the colony!”

“The riddle's out!" said my friend; "I


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wondered we could not overtake the runaways; we have been hunting the Sandy Bay racer all day! But with your assistance, Charley, I think we may do it now. Do you know this part of the country?”

“Every inch—all over the country, wherever cattle have strayed, or wild horses run. I'll be bound I know every pass and every ford in the country wherever the foot of white man has been, and more too, for the matter of that. But what's to be done, Sir? Of course, now we are with you, it's all right; and if you're taking the matter in hand, we shall be sure to get well out of it.”

“Can we make any progress at night, Charley? What do you think?”

“No use in life, Sir, to try to follow tracks in the night; better go at it fresh in the morning.”

“That is my opinion. It is now half-past two; when will there be light enough to follow the track?”

“Not before six o'clock, after breakfast,” said the landlord; “but it's hardly worth while for you to go to bed again. Shall I get some supper for you all round?There's capital brandy, and


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rum, and bottled stout—so that you may pass an hour pleasantly before you start.”

“Do so,” said the magistrate; “and we can talk over the matter leisurely. It will take us half an hour to trot to the point of the track from which we broke off, so that we must start at five, to be ready to take advantage of the first light.”

Upon this, we formed a social party round the table, and discussed the likelihood of the fugitives crossing the Macquarie River by the bridge, or by a ford, which was passable, about twelve miles up the stream.

“Bless your heart,” said the jockey, “that horse—Roderick—that's his name, Sir (to me), Roderick would as easy swim the Macquarie as walk from here to that stable—his rider may go with him anywhere and over anything in nature!”

“I have reasons to think that they would not attempt to swim the Macquarie,” said the magistrate, “so that we must make for the ford, if we don't find the trace of him towards the bridge. But I think he can't escape us now, with you, Charley, to help us.”


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“You know him, then?” said the jockey.

“We think we do, but we are not sure; but there is reason to believe that his object is to get over the country to Launceston as quickly as possible.”

“Then his mark is to go by the Jupiter,” said the sailor; “she is to sail to-morrow morning, my skipper writes me, and that's why I'm wanted back in such a hurry. I say, master,” said he to the jockey, “as you are so knowing about horses, couldn't you do something to my brute? for I'm blessed if I can make anything of him; he steers so wild, I defy the best hand that ever held a tiller to keep him on a wind—one tack or t'other—and when you let him go free, he stands with his head between his legs, and backs all sail, so that he gets starn-way; how I'm to get to Launceston on him is more than I can tell!”

“I'll tell you how to manage him,” said the jockey; “I know him well; he's a Sydney horse, and near twenty years old, and as cunning as a fox. He was bred out of a mare that McCarthy reared at Parramatta; Captain Firebrace brought him over to Hobart-Town, and


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then Parker bought him, and Weston had him afterwards, and Bullfield kept him as a stock-horse, but nobody could make anything of him, and Bullfield swopped him with Spring for thirty ewes heavy with lamb; and he thought he had done Spring nicely; but the biter was bit, for the ewes were all old uns, and past their time, and the devil a lamb did they ever have again, for they hadn't got a tooth in the heads of 'em all; and then Spring exchanged him for a pair of working-bullocks, and of course they ran into the bush next day, for they were young ones, only put into the yoke for the swop, and it's supposed they are somewhere beyond the lakes towards the Western Coast; and how many hands old Slyboots has been in since then is more than I can say, but I'll tell you how to be up with him.”

The recipe for a vicious horse was for that time lost to posterity, for the rapid clattering of hoofs suddenly called off the attention of the jockey, and in half a minute after two horsemen rode up to the door of the inn, whom we immediately recognized as the ingenious Sanders and the phlegmatic Scroggs.


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“Hah! Sanders, my buck!” said the jockey, “are you come to join us? And Scroggs!—why, what brings you so far from home, old boy?”

“We are on a secret expedition,” said Sanders, with as much dignity as he could assume on a sudden, with a very red face and a very blue nose. “And I see I am come to the right place,” taking off his hat to the magistrate, and entering the house. “I have been lucky enough, Sir,” he added, “to get horses, as you see, and right good ones they are.”

“So they are,” chimed in the jockey; “that roan is as good a horse as ever put one leg before the other. Mr. Fallowfield, of the Green Ponds, gave sixty guineas for him, and cheap too. That white horse, that Scroggs was on, has been a racer in his time; and I've seen a hundred and twenty guineas, dollars down, given for him within these eight years; he is getting aged now. Young Oakley gave two pair of working-bullocks and a cow heavy with calf for him—and that's as good as forty pound—the autumn before last; and he's worth all the money, for there's half a dozen years' work in him yet. I'll go and look after them for you. Better give 'em a mash of siftings,


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for horses are apt to feed greedy at first, and corn does 'em no good, if they arn't cool when they eat it.”

“You must make haste with your preparations," said the magistrate, "for it is past three o'clock, and at five we must start.”

“It's pushing the horses rather too hard,” said the jockey, “but what's the use of them if they can't help you at a pinch? Ah! if I only had Roderick under me, I should like to see the heels of the horse that I couldn't pass in no time!”

At five o'clock we set off, the jockey leading the way. The sailor thought it best to make a start at the same time, but as his destination was the high road, which he called “keeping in the stream,” we did not wait for him to accomplish the difficult feat of getting aboard his "craft," and we left him, therefore, with one foot in the stirrup and the other hopping on the ground in chase of his cranky steed, which performed an unceasing gyration in resistance to the attempt to mount him. The last words that we heard of the enraged sailor were “D'—that is, bless—no, I won't be balked this time—I say, damn him!”

“You followed 'em to the valley between the


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two banks of mimosas, by a sugar-loaf hill, didn't you say?” said the jockey, after we had gone about four miles. “Then this must be near the spot where you turned off. Let us walk leisurely, if you please, Sir; no need to go over more ground than necessary. About here, was it? You are right; here are your tracks; see! There's the track of Mr. Thornley's horse—he throws out the right fore-leg as he trots, a leetle more than the left; and there's the track of Roderick! Look at his stride! any one may tell that stride from a hundred; and there's the print of the jackass-shoe that I was obliged to put on him, poor fellow, for I had no other at hand; but I little thought anybody could be such a brute as to make him gallop in it. You see he don't like it, for he just favours that leg the least bit in the world. No one else would observe it, but I know his ways. Now, gentlemen, if you are of a mind to push on, I'll engage to keep on Roderick's track. Pretty country this for a pack of hounds! What a glorious run you may give a horse on Salt-pan Plains! There's nothing to stop you one way for twenty miles!”

The track now led us over Blackman's Bridge.


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“Oh, ho!” said the jockey,“I see the rascal shies the water; he prefers the bridge; now, I think, we shall have him.”

But, contrary to our expectation, the track led us some miles to the left, to a ruined hut, where it seemed the fugitives had passed the night; for there were marks of a fire having been kindled the night before, and the hearth still retained some heat.

“Stole away!” said Chaffem; “but the form is still warm, and puss can't be far off. The rascal has got the start, though, and Roderick is not the horse to lose his ground.”

We left the hut, and followed the track in the direction of Ross Bridge, on the Macquarie River; but here it seemed the fugitives had misgivings of the prudence of proceeding on the highway, for within half a mile of the bridge they crossed the road, and made a circuit to the right.

“They don't like to chance the bridge,” said the constable. “Now, if their point is Launceston, they must either swim the river or make for the ford." There is one higher up the stream, but it's a long round; do you know it, Charley?”


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“Know it! ay, and many's the time I've crossed it; and Roderick knows it, too; but they'll never go all that way round; they'll take to the water, you'll see, when we come to the bend.”

But in this the jockey was mistaken, for we passed the bend, and the tracks continued to a spot about half a mile from the ford, near which there was a clump of mimosas standing apart on the plain, and at a short distance from a forest of thickly-growing trees. At this place they had evidently made a halt; for the ground was trampled down within a small circumscribed space, as if they had been hiding there for a time. We did not wait to examine it further, but pushed on in the direction of the ford. But here a sight met our eyes, that explained the cause of the halt and the hiding of the fugitives. The quick-eyed Sanders was the first to detect the traces of numerous naked feet.

“Pull up!” he cried out—“pull up for a minute. Look, Sir, the natives have been prowling about here. Look to the right there. Don't press the marks—let us see how many of the black fellows have been together.”


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We drew up on the margin of the tracks of the natives, which were in the direction of the ford, and it seemed as if there had been about twenty of them, to judge from the confused prints of their naked feet.

“I'll bet a guinea,” Said Sanders, “this is what made 'em hide up for awhile among those mimosas. They saw the natives between them and the ford, and they feared to face them.”

“Keep on,” said the magistrate, “their tracks lead to the ford and I think I see some object on the bank of the river.”

He was right; a few minutes' trot brought us to the ford, and by the side of the stream was lying a man in a fustian dress, whose countenance I thought I remembered. On examining him more closely, I recognized the face of the man in the yellow jacket whom I had met on the jetty in Hobart-Town, and who was one of those who attacked and overpowered me in the red-house. In two words I told this to the magistrate.

The poor wretch was still alive, but his appearance told the tale of his miserable fate. His skull was pounded in by the waddies of the


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natives, and his body was pierced in many places by their thin and pointed spears.

“If we could only get him to speak now,” said the constable, “he might give us some useful information. Scroggs, where's your bottle?”

Upon this, the provident Scroggs produced a pint bottle of rum—a sovereign remedy, in his opinion, for all disorders.

“What's the use of giving him rum if he's dead?” remonstrated Scroggs; “it's only wasting it that way.”

“He's not dead,” said Sanders, “though it won't be long first, seemingly. Let us try to make him speak; he may be able to tell us of the other one. It's Bill Simmons, one of the biggest rascals in the whole colony, but that's no matter now. Give us the bottle.”

He raised up the expiring wretch, and Sanders poured down his throat a portion of the rum, while the magistrate dashed some cold water from the river over his head and face. For a considerable time, the man gave no other signs of life than a faint breathing, and it was not until after the lapse of two hours, which seemed to us two ages, that he was able to articulate.


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“We are losing time sadly,” exclaimed the impatient jockey, “and what has become of poor Roderick all this time? Entangled, perhaps, with the reins, and his head kept down, and drowned in the river! That's dreadful!”

“Hush!” said the magistrate, “the man is going to speak.”

“They have got the child,” murmured out the dying man.

“Who have got the child?”

“The natives—they—attacked—me in—the ford.”

“And your companion, where is he?”

“I saw him swimming in the river—but—in his haste—he abandoned —the child —to save himself—and the natives took the child—the Gypsey—the Gypsey—the Gypsey's child!”

“Did the natives kill the child?” asked I, full of anxious horror at the probable fate of the poor girl.

“They—have—killed—me.—Their waddies—my head—spears—child..... carried-off.....”

“How long ago is it,” asked the magistrate, “since they attacked you?”

“I don't know—it—was—just—at—daybreak.


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I—didn't—like to pass the bridge—so—I made for the ford—and the natives—attacked us—and they have taken the—child..... ”

“What's o'clock?” asked Sanders.

“Half-past ten,” said I.

“Then the natives have got the start of us by about four hours and a half,” resumed the constable; “and if they have taken to the hills, it will be a difficult job to follow them on horse-back.”

“We can easily track them in the snow,” observed the magistrate.

“While the snow lasts” replied the constable; “but, by the look of Ben Lomond, we shall have a change of weather, and there's a northerly wind this morning, and that, with the sun, will soon melt this snow. Following the natives in the bush is no easy matter. A white man might as well try to track a bird as a native in the bush!”

“I shall go after them,” said the magistrate; “what do you say, Thornley—shall we leave this little girl to the mercy of the savages?”

“I'm ready to go with you,” said I, “but let us go prepared; this is a bad time of the


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year for bushing it. Is there no place near here, Sanders, where we could borrow some kangaroo-rugs, and get a supply of provisions?”

“I have it!” said Sanders; “Mark's sheep-run is not more than two miles from the ford, and if he will let one of his shepherds, Black Tom, go with us—he's a Sydney native—we'll set a black fellow to hunt black fellows, and come over them that way.”

“Come on, then,” said the magistrate, “and lose no time. I will go with you to remove any objection. Stay! the dying man is going to speak again. I think he understood what we were saying. What is it, my man?” he added, in a soothing tone to the dying man; “what have you got to say?”

“Mus——quee——to!” said the man, with his last breath.

“Musquito!” said Sanders, “then there's no time to be lost; that's the cruellest savage that ever tormented a colony; he kills for killing sake, without reason.”

“I have had a taste of him,” said the magistrate.

“And so have I” said I.


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“There's no time to be lost, if we are to save the child.”

The magistrate, guided by Sanders, immediately galloped off; and in less time than we expected, they returned at a brisk pace, laden with kangaroo-rugs, and various necessaries for a bush expedition, and followed by Tom, a fine tall native of the continental island of Australia, dressed with much neatness, in a cloth jacket and trowsers of good texture; the civilized natives soon catching the colonial predilection for cloth of a superior quality.

“And what's to become of me?” said the disconsolate jockey; “and what has become of Roderick? I say, friend, didn't you say your rascally companion crossed the ford? He's as dead as a door nail! There's no getting any more out of him; and serve him right for making off with poor Roderick! I never knew a horsestealer to come to a good end! But I'll be after him! Good day, gentlemen; I wish you luck. Take care of your horses, and let them take their time up those terrible hills. I'll go after Roderick!”

And so saying, the jockey plunged his horse


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into the stream, and we turned our attention to the object of our expedition.

“Will not the native, being on foot, retard us?” inquired I; “he can never keep up with our horses.”

“Never fear,” said Sanders; “if our horses can keep up with him we shall do very well. Now, Tom, my boy, are you ready?”

Tom nodded his head.

“Which way are you going to take us?” Tom looked at the tracks, among which the prints of tiny feet were plainly discernible, and pointed to the hills.

“Now,” said the magistrate, “for another adventure. I never had a hunt after natives before. Not the best of weather for lying out at nights:—but it would never do to leave that little girl to be butchered by Musquito!”

We moved on at a good pace, Tom, with his long legs, keeping our horses just beyond a quick walk, and we were soon buried in the deep recesses of the woods.




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CHAPTER IX.

WINTER IN VAN DIEMEN'S LAND—THE PURSUIT OF THE BLACK FELLOWS—NATIVE HABITATIONS—NEWS OF THE CHILD.

THE dense mass of spreading branches, with their winter leaves of sombre green, which formed a canopy high above our heads, had allowed but little snow to fall on the forest ground; but there were ample signs of the natives to enable the sagacious Sydney black to guide us through the intricacies of the tall straight stems of the stringy-bark trees, with their ragged, shreddy coats, without hesitation. Ever and anon he would turn round to us, without discontinuing his course, and displaying, with a self-satisfied grin, his formidable rows of ivory teeth, he would point to the track, and seek, with his piercing and restless black eyes deep set in his woolly head, for our approbation of his sagacity.


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It occupied us nearly two hours to pass through the forest, and we then emerged into an ample plain nearly clear of trees, resembling a vast park. The noonday sun had melted nearly all the snow, and it was only here and there, under the shade of some gigantic gum-tree or umbrageous mimosa, that any signs of it were visible. We were glad to get rid of the snow, as, under the guidance of the black, we had no fear of losing the tracks of the natives, and we pushed on without stopping for nearly twenty miles, in a south-easterly direction, over a fine country of undulating hill and plain, till we came to the foot of a tier of low hills, on which were scattered a few trees of the she-oak. These trees present a scraggy appearance to the eye, but their wood is much prized as fuel, from its pleasing fragrance and good qualities for burning. It is not easy to get a plank from these trees of more than six or eight inches in width, but, when polished, it is admirably adapted for ornamental furniture. Here we made a pause to rest our horses, which we tethered out by the hide-ropes, which we carried with us on the front of our saddles, giving them the range of a circle of about eighty feet in


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diameter, to feed on the native grass; shifting them occasionally as their food grew scanty. The constables kindled a fire, and proceeded with the usual arrangements for a bush meal.

They put a handful of black tea into the kettle, which Scroggs bore in his portion of the luggage, and set it on to boil—tea forming the favourite beverage of settlers of every degree in their bush expeditions. The dexterous black, who carried a 1ong-shanked, narrow axe, quickly sliced from an adjacent gum-tree some pieces of bark, which formed extempore plates and dishes, and some steaks of young beef being duly broiled, aided by one of the dampers, which formed part of our provisions, we made, with the relish of hunger, a satisfactory repast. The constables then got up a second edition of the feast, with some additional supplies, for Black Tom, not liking to remain idle during our banquet, had contrived to catch three kangaroo-rats and a bandicoot, which he disembowelled with much delicacy, and threw them in their furry coats on some clear embers of the fire. Scroggs produced from the recesses of a mysterious garment a bottle of rum, but it was unanimously decided that this luxury should


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be reserved as a medicine for special occasions. Much to the disappointment of that thirsty individual, therefore, the cork remained undrawn, and the disconsolate Scroggs was obliged to solace himself with a pannikin of hot tea from the boiling kettle. Our rough repast ended, we proceeded on our way, till the sinking of the sun behind the snow-topped mountains to the west, warned us to turn our attention to the means of passing-the night; for the nights in the winter season in Van Diemen's Land are too cold to allow of their being passed with impunity in the open air. As we felt the fullest confidence of coming up with the natives, we did not push our horses to the extreme, for we knew that Musqueeto and his mob would not travel many days without making a stop in some locality favourable for the collection of gum, and the resort of opossums. We had but one axe among us, but there were more than one who knew well how to use it, the cleverest of whom was the Sydney black; so that, in a short time, they managed to erect two bush-huts well covered in with heavy branches. The opening of the huts being next to the fire, which was kept up all night, we contrived,


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with the aid of our warm kangaroo-rugs, to pass the night without inconvenience.

Towards the early morning, the air became frosty, and the next day, under a clear sky and a brilliant sun, we continued our pursuit of the natives. At noon the air became mild and warm, and if it had not been for our apprehensions of the calamitous fate of the child to whose rescue we were hastening, we should have enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the almost unexplored country through which we travelled; but a second day and night having passed without coming up with the natives, our uneasiness increased to a pitch of painful anxiety. We could discover no trace of the little foot, nor indeed could our less acute sense of sight detect any marks of the retiring natives, although to the black's stronger and more sensitive organs, the marks were so plain as to cause him no apparent trouble to pursue. We consoled ourselves, however, with the reflection, that the absence of any mark of the child's foot which Tom could not trace, might be accounted for by her having been carried in the arms of the natives, though what could be their object, or the object of Musqueeto in bearing her


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away, we were at a loss to conjecture, and we feared the worst.

With these doubts and fears, we passed an uneasy night, the more so as our provisions being nearly exhausted, we could not keep up the animal strength to counteract the depression of the spirits. Under circumstances so favourable for the opening of the grog-bottle, the longing Scroggs made several insinuating attempts to get our assent to that measure, but it was steadily resisted, and with a stoicism on the part of his reflecting coadjutor which I particularly admired.

“Cold work this!” said Scroggs to Sanders; “and cold water is poor stuff to put heart into a man. A fire is very well to warm the outside, but the inside is the place to keep up the heat; then it spreads all over one in a glow! It's surprising how small a quantity of spirit—a single glass or so—I've often tried it—will warm a man's whole body, to the very tips of one's fingers!”

“To the tip of your nose, you ought to say, old buck,” rejoined his mate, “for you have put that sponge of yours into such a glow some time, that it has never got cool again.”

“None of your nonsense;—it's all owing to


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smoking out of a short pipe; I went to sleep with it one night in my mouth, and I slept so sound, though I had drunk nothing to speak of, that the end of my nose got briled on the bowl of the pipe before I woke up.”

“I wish you had thought to bring two bottles, instead of one,” said Sanders, “then you might have soaked your nose in one and kept the other. But you don't know what may happen in the bush, and a sup of rum may save a man's life. Better keep it till it's wanted.”

“But it is wanted,” persisted the persevering Scroggs; “I declare I feel so queer I don't know what to make of it; and that bit of opossum that I was fool enough to eat makes me smell all turpentine. What harm could it do,” he added, in a melancholy tone, “if I took only the least sip in the world—just a taste—only a smell at the bottle?”

But Sanders was firm, and as Scroggs stood too much in awe of the magistrate to venture on so flagrant a breach of duty as a burglary on the rum-bottle, he betook himself sadly to bed, and covering himself up in his kangaroo-rug, after a few dolorous moanings, the sounds which


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proceeded from his fiery nose proclaimed that he was sound asleep.

The next morning found us much less fresh than the preceding one, and no one seemed inclined for conversation, our spirits being damped by the unsuccessful pursuit, and by the contemplation of the uncertain distance to which we might be led in our chase, and of the uncertain time which might be consumed in it. We had bivouacked at the base of a tier of hills, and it was not without anxiety that we shared the remainder of our provisions, and prepared for the steep ascent before us.

We had not proceeded far, however, when, on some moist ground beneath a spring, which trickled down the hill, Black Tom pointed out to us the fresh mark of a native foot. We were leading our horses up the ascent, and it was with lively curiosity that we regarded the sign of the probable propinquity of the natives. We immediately looked to our arms, wiped our flints, renewed our primings, and examined our barrels, to see that the charges had not become loosened in the journey. The prospect of danger spread animation among the party, mixed with


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some anxiety, for we had by this time penetrated into a part of the country never, perhaps, trodden before by a white man's foot, and far removed from all assistance. We advanced, therefore, with great precaution till we got close to the summit of the hill, when the magistrate directed us to stand still, and motioned the black to reconnoitre.

Tom advanced cautiously and silently upwards, crawling on his belly, and winding his way like a snake over the tufts of grass, till he was enabled to project his black poll—hardly to be distinguished from the rough logs of charred timber that lay about over the ridge of the hill. For some seconds he remained motionless, and then withdrawing himself by imperceptible degrees from his place of observation, he communicated to us the result of his discovery.

“Black fellows in bottom,” said Tom, softly; “Musqueeto with 'em.”

“What are they doing?” asked the constable.

“Make fire—and eat.”

“Is the piccaninny with them?” said I.

“Can't see. Go behind trees, there,” continued


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Tom, pointing to the right, “then you see all.”

On the right was a clump of bushes, to which we bent our steps.

Leaving our horses under the charge of the constables, we edged round the declivity of the hill and crept up to the top, where we stationed ourselves behind the bushes. From this position we observed the natives in the hollow below. They had evidently arrived at a spot at which they proposed to sojourn for a while, for they had raised up in two or three places, and with more than usual care, break-winds formed of branches of trees, and lined with wide strips of bark. These rude protections from the wind were about four feet high, and we remarked that one apart from the rest had the distinction of an attempt at a roof, but of dimensions not more than sufficient to contain a single person. Large fires were lighted before the break-winds, at which some of the natives reclined; others were standing listlessly here and there, and some of the women were engaged in tending their children. Almost the whole party was naked;—


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but one man, whom by his stature and bearing we recognized as Musqueeto, was distinguished by a black hat, with waistcoat and trowsers, and one or two of the women had something which looked like old and dirty blankets thrown over their shoulders. We remained for some time watching them from our hiding-place, but we could observe no signs of the child whom we had come so far to rescue; and we had sad misgivings of her safety. Having made all the observations in our power, we retreated back to the brow of the hill, and consulted together as to the best course to pursue.

“If you would be pleased to take my advice, Sir,” said Sanders, “I would wait till night, when the natives are afraid to move about, and then, by advancing two together, we might take them by surprise, and the first thing would be to shoot down Musqueeto, and the men of the party, and then if they run away with the child—that is, if they haven't murdered it already, which I think most likely—we can pursue them with our horses, for they're terribly afraid of a horse; they think it bites, and fights with its fore-legs.”

“I confess,” said the magistrate, “I am very


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much disappointed not to see the little girl; our object is to release her, not to slaughter these naked savages. Did you ever know them to eat a white person? Let us find out from Tom; do you speak to him, Sanders; he knows you, and would tell you perhaps more freely than us.”

“Tom,” said Sanders, “black fellow eat white piccaninny?”

Tom looked suspiciously at the constable with his deep-set, restless eyes, one of the characteristics of the natives of Australia, and seemed unwilling to reply; for the Sydney blacks, as well as the few who have communication with the settlements of Van Diemen's Land, are well aware of the horror of the whites at the practice of eating human flesh.

“Tom never eat man,” said Sanders, coaxingly, “no never; but bad black fellow eat man, and eat piccaninny sometimes?”

“Bad black fellow eat man, sometimes,” replied Tom, “while he very angry, and fight;—me never eat man.”

“No, not you! but black man eat white man, sometimes?”

“Yees.”


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“And eat white piccaninny sometimes;—bad black fellow?”

“Yees—bad black fellow.”

“The nasty inhuman savages!" exclaimed Scroggs, who was within hearing, holding the horses. "To think of that poor little gal being eat by those black devils, just as if she was mutton or beef! Here, Sanders, come and put your hand in my pocket and take out the bottle of rum;—take it, I say ! I, for one, will give it up, and let the natives have it for the child. I should like just to have one sup of it before it goes; but never mind, I'll give it all, rather than the child should be eat up by those black rascals!”

“Well done, Scroggs,” said the magistrate; “depend upon it this generous instance of self-denial shall not be forgotten, for I know the effort which it must have cost you; but I think we can manage without putting your virtue to so severe a trial. Tom,” said he, to our guide, “will you go and try if you can see a little white piccaninny among the black fellows? Piccaninny so high,” describing the height of a child of six or seven years of age.


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Tom understood what was said to him in English much more easily than he could find words to reply. He comprehended the magistrate in a moment, and, looking on the ground for awhile in a thoughtful attitude,

“Me go,” said he.

Without further talk, for the natives are remarkably taciturn and sententious among themselves, as well as among the whites, Tom proceeded to strip himself of the encumbrance of his clothes, even to his shoes and stockings, and displayed himself in the natural undisguise of our great progenitor, Adam, about whose colour there is, among many of the nations of the earth, a difference of opinion; but as the subject is foreign to the nature of these humble memoirs, I shall not enter into that vexatious question. The disencumbered Tom formed his plan on the instant, and taking a wide circuit to the left, he was soon lost to view, leaving us in a state of anxious and nervous expectation.

After the lapse of an hour he returned, and in the cold apathetic manner of the natives, he communicated his information with his usual sententious brevity:—


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“White piccaninny with black fellows.”

“That's capital!” said the magistrate; “the poor little thing is alive, at any rate. How does she look, Tom?”

But Tom did not understand this question, but seeing that an answer was expected, he replied —

“Piccaninny in little house,”—describing by gesture the single break-wind which we had observed from behind the bushes.

“What are they going to do with the piccaninny?” said I.

“Eat her, I'll be bound,” said Scroggs,“that's what they're going to do with her; and they are fattening her up in that pen as we do a lamb, till she's in good condition. The black villains! Let us march right at 'em and shoot 'em down, every one. I'm ready for it!”

“There is something in this,” observed the magistrate, “which I cannot understand. It is difficult sometimes to penetrate into the motives of savages; but as they seem at present to be in a peaceful humour, I think our best plan is to send on Tom a little in advance to parley with them, and to assure them that we have no hostile intentions. We can follow immediately behind


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him on horseback, with our arms ready, in case of their showing fight; but as we shall take them by surprise, I think it very likely that they will not attempt any resistance. You all know that it is the particular desire of the Colonial Government, which is conformable, indeed, with sound policy and with humanity, never to commit an aggression on the natives uselessly and without the most pressing necessity; but on all occasions to treat them with benevolence and tenderness, and to endeavour to win them over by acts of kindness, instead of alienating them by the wanton or thoughtless exercise of superior power.”

“If you please, Sir,” said Sanders, “Musqueeto has committed more than one murder, and he's a Sydney black and ought to know better. We have orders from Camp to endeavour to take him if we should have the opportunity.”

“We shall act according to circumstances,” replied the magistrate. “At present, our object is to rescue the child from the clutches of the savages; and in doing that we must endeavour to avoid shedding blood.”

I agreed with the magistrate in the propriety


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of his mode of action, and although I had a strong presentiment that there would be a murderous conflict, I relied on the superiority of our arms and our horses, and had little doubt of the result.

We descended the hill, therefore, and forming ourselves into the order laid down by our leader, we moved round the hill to the right, that we might reach the level ground before we should be perceived by the natives, and advancing at a moderate pace, we soon found ourselves in front of their curious habitations.




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CHAPTER X.

ANATIVE ENCAMPMENT—CONFERENCE WITH MUSQUEETO—A SAVAGE HAS A SOUL—THE LOST CHILD RECOVERED—HOW TO CATCH AN OPOSSUM—A KANGAROO HUNT BY THE NATIVES—THE APPARITION OF SPEARS AND WADDIES EXCITES DISAGREEABLE SUSPICIONS.

THE Sydney black preceded us about twenty yards in advance, and as soon as he arrived within easy speaking distance of the natives, we pulled up, and with much anxiety waited for the issue of his conference. He had previously resumed his clothes, but it was easy for the natives to perceive by his colour and his features that he was allied to their general race. To our extreme surprise—although the aborigines of Van Diemen's Land have a strong antipathy to the natives of the continental island—our messenger was allowed to approach their fires without exciting the slightest visible sensation. Their simulated unconcern might


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have been produced, perhaps, by the sight of our party on horseback; but the strangeness of this unexpected apathy on the part of Musqueeto and his companions made us fear some treachery, and we looked round to try if we could perceive any appearance of an ambuscade; but we could detect nothing to excite suspicion. I have often had occasion to observe the dull, listless, and almost idiotic appearance of the natives of Van Diemen's Land, when not excited by hunger or some passionate desire. It has struck me, that in this respect they much resemble the unthinking beasts of the field, so inanimate and log-like is their usual manner. The women will sometimes chatter a little, for it seems nature makes them all alike as to that matter, but the men have the most reserved and taciturn habit of any race of savages that I have known or read of. The strange contrast of their silence and immobility with the yells and wildness for which we were prepared, filled us with a vague sort of superstitious fear, which was heightened by the chilly stillness of the vast wilderness in which we were now enclosed.

In the meantime a monosyllabic “corrobara”


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had taken place between our guide and the chief of the sable community, the meaning of which Tom concentrated in the following brief communication.

“Musqueeto say, you come.”

“Why, what is the meaning of this?” said the magistrate. “They don't show any signs of fear, nor do they look as if they thought of fighting! Is there some stratagem in this? what do you think of it, Thornley?”

“Upon my word,” I replied, “this takes me so much by surprise, I don't know what to think of it. Sanders, you know their ways, do you see any of their waddies or spears about?”

“One can never tell, Sir,” said Sanders, “what those treacherous savages are at; they're always hatching some devilry or other. You see, Sir, I take it, we have come on one of their places for encamping, if you can call those bits of break-winds camps. But Musqueeto can be civil enough, sometimes. Scroggs, you've often come across Musqueeto, what is he after now?”

“He's always after some wickedness,” responded Scroggs; “but I think the natives are going to have a feast. Don't you see that string


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of opossums yonder, by the blue gum-tree? and there's something hanging up inside the bushes;—the Lord have mercy on us, it must be the child! and the black devils are going to cook it for their dinner!”

“The child!” exclaimed the magistrate, “no! impossible! Tom saw the child alive a quarter of an hour ago! Go, Tom, ask Musqueeto if he has got the white man's piccaninny.”

Tom made the inquiry accordingly, and presently returned with a reply.

“Musqueeto say, white man kill piccaninny; Musqueeto kill white man. Piccaninny in piccaninny house—there.”

“This is very extraordinary,” said the magistrate; “the most extraordinary thing that has occurred to me in all my adventures in the colony. What can be Musqueeto's object in this? However, as they seem quietly disposed, let us advance close to them, and try to get possession of the poor child by peaceable means.”

“Better let two of us stand on guard, in case of any attack,” suggested the constable; “no need, Sir, for us all to be sacrificed.”

“That is a very prudent precaution, Sanders;


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do you and Scroggs remain here in charge of the horses, and I and Mr. Thornley will go to them on foot—that is, if Mr. Thornley has no objection.”

“None in the least,” said I; “the best way with savages, and all animals in general, is to show that you have no fear of them.”

“Better take my bottle of rum,” suggested Scroggs, in the exuberance of his generosity; “let Musqueeto have a sup at it, and perhaps that will put him in good humour.”

“No, no,” said the magistrate, “keep the rum till we want it. A savage is awkward enough to deal with when he is sober, but with a little rum in him he is worse than a madman. Now, Thornley, let us go among them boldly.”

Accordingly, we went up to Musqueeto, who was standing by one of the fires in front of the little wigwam in which we had been given to understand the little girl of whom we were in search was secreted. He had, I thought, the same stupid and sullen look which I had remarked on other occasions, as he stood in the listless and dozing attitude which was usual with him when not engaged in any hunting or predatory expedition. A close investigation, however,


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might detect in his half-shut but ever restless eyes, a watchfulness that allowed nothing to escape his observation. I confess it was not without a little nervous apprehension, and some slight bumping in the region of my left side, that I approached the formidable savage in his lair. He raised up his eyes and glanced at us, but gave no sign of recognition, or of being affected by our presence.

We remained for a brief space in this unpleasant position, with the awkward feeling of having intruded on a gentleman's privacy without an invitation. Neither of us spoke—my friend being under the same difficulty as myself to hit upon an appropriate topic by which to commence a conversation with this chief of a band of savages, and the usual salutation of a "very fine day" seeming to me, under the circumstances, inappropriate to the individual and the occasion; but I was relieved by the magistrate breaking silence.

“Much kangaroo, Musqueeto, in this part of the country?”

“Boomah—there,” replied Musqueeto, pointing out an immense kangaroo in the bushes,


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which had attracted the attention of the horrified Scroggs.

My excellent friend presuming, I suppose, that eating and drinking among friends facilitated conversation, and being stimulated besides by certain internal promptings that his fast had continued for more than a reasonable time, immediately intimated to his new acquaintance his inclination for a steak.

Musqueeto uttered a few words to one of his retinue, and without further ceremony, some pieces of the kangaroo were brought to us; we motioned to them to put the venison on the fire, which they did with a readiness to oblige which inspired us with some confidence in their present sincerity.

When the meat was cooked, we sat down on the ground, on which Musqueeto also squatted down opposite. Some of his companions stood at a little distance, eyeing us with much curiosity, but without rudeness; and in this way, with a charming absence of all ceremony, we partook of a sociable meal with our new acquaintance, but in perfect silence.

Thinking the occasion favourable, I suggested


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to my friend the expediency of propitiating our host by a glass of rum, as an appropriate introduction to the object of our journey. The magistrate agreed with me, and called quietly to Scroggs to bring the bottle and a pannikin.

I observed that Musqueeto gave a flash with his eye at the magistrate's call, and gathered up his legs under him ready for a spring, upon which I instantly called to Scroggs,

“Show the bottle of rum!”

Scroggs raised on high his long-cherished bottle, at the view of which, I saw that Musqueeto's eyes resumed their usual expression, and he quietly returned to his former position of repose. Meanwhile the disappointed Scroggs, with his mouth watering at the sight of a repast in which he did not share, and his eyes becoming tearful at the prospect of the total consumption of his beloved rum, approached with slow and reluctant steps to resign his treasure.

“These savages, Sir,” said he, in an insinuating way, to the magistrate, “are very suspicious—very. If you like, Sir, I will taste a little of the rum first that—he may see it is all right, and


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that we mean no harm to him. Allow me to take out the cork?”

“Make haste back,” said the magistrate, “and mount your horse, that you may be ready to act in case of need. This rum may be of service to us, and we don't want it for our own drinking; we can get plenty more when we go home.”

So saying, my friend took summary possession of the bottle, which the disconsolate Scroggs relinquished with a pitiable sigh, and the salt and savour of life having now departed from him, he resumed his seat lugubriously on the back of his horse with his hapless body, leaving his soul behind him in the bottle.

The magistrate poured into the pannikin a portion of the rum with the same seriousness with which it might be supposed he would have offered a libation to the infernal gods, and proffering it to the presiding deity of the spot, that condescending personage turned it down with an off-handed dexterity which would have done honour to an inhabitant of the far-famed St. Giles in the mother country, and with a gusto


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which overcame the habitual reserve of a native. He evinced his delectation at the imbibing of the liquor by a grim smile, which made me involuntarily grasp my fowling-piece a little closer, and slapping his breast he held out the pannikin for a fresh supply. But we thought this a fit opportunity to enter into some sort of treaty for the restoration of the child.

“Musqueeto kill white man?” said the magistrate; “why Musqueeto kill white man?”

“White man great rascal,” replied Musqueeto, “try kill piccaninny—Musqueeto kill him.”

“Why Musqueeto take piccaninny?” pursued my friend; “Musqueeto want to keep piccaninny and make her gin to black man?”

Musqueeto shook his head, and it seemed to me if he had known how he would have laughed at this inquiry.

“Piccaninny white!” said he; “not good for black man.”

“Why take piccaninny?” persisted my friend; “why save her from bad white man?”

It seemed that Musqueeto suddenly understood what the magistrate was driving at, for his


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countenance assumed an appearance almost of intelligence, and he immediately replied: —

“Gypsey's piccaninny; Gypsey die; Gypsey good to Musqueeto—he Musqueeto's brother; Musqueeto not let bad white man kill Gypsey's piccaninny.”

My friend and I gazed at each other with astonishment at these words, and reading each other's thoughts, we could not but admire the strange concatenation of events which had preserved the life of the bushranger's daughter from such imminent perils! But as I had been constituted guardian of that deceased character's child, I considered that there was a means of easy understanding if I could make the native comprehend the nature of my legal and social position in respect to his temporary ward.

“Gypsey,” said I, “Musqueeto's brother.”

“Gypsey, Musqueeto's brother,” repeated the black chief.

Thought I to myself, the Gypsey's family would not consider themselves very much flattered by this unexpected claim on their relationship by my black friend here, but at any rate


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he has done one good action to atone for his multitude of crimes, and so I will not flinch from claiming my right to be considered as a member of the family.

“Musqueeto,” said I, “you know me?” He had been more than once at my house with his mob, and had been regaled with damper and boiling hot tea plentifully sweetened with brown sugar, not forgetting an occasional glass of rum.

“You, Mister Thornley?” said Musqueeto.

“Yes,” said I; “and I Gypsey's brother!”

Musqueeto gave me a quick look, which none but a savage could give, in which was expressed the blended wonder and suspicion which my assumption of relationship with the Gypsey had excited, and I continued —

“Gypsey Musqueeto's brother; Gypsey Thornley's brother; Thornley Musqueeto's brother.”

I wished to lead the savage by this ingenious process of ratiocination, as my friend the magistrate called it in his jocose way, to consider me as an intimate friend and relation, for my object was to get possession of the child, with his concurrence, so as to avoid bloodshed. Musqueeto


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mused, I observed, for a while, on these words, and then, with the caution of the savage, he asked —

“Why you Gypsey's brother?”

“The Gypsey,” said I, “when bad white man kill him, say to me—‘Give bread and meat to my piccaninny—little—so big’—said I, describing the size of a child of six or seven years of age. I say to Gypsey, Thornley Gypsey's brother.”

Musqueeto rose from his sitting position when I had said this, and spoke to one of his people, who disappeared, and presently returned with a tall and slender young lady of a bright black colour, who, from her air and pretensions we immediately concluded was the favourite gin of the grim Musqueeto. A soldier's old jacket, without buttons, and which, with a graceful negligence remained open in front, formed an airy spencer suitable for summer or for winter wear, and a red cotton handkerchief tied round her woolly black poll gave her a superior air, which distinguished her from her less favoured associates of the seraglio. No other article of dress than that of which we have made modest mention, prevented


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the free exercise of her supple and well-formed limbs. As an honest historian I am obliged to record that her nose was very broad and very flat, but her eyes were large and bright. Various coquettish devices depicted in a mixture of resinous gum and red ochre formed a striking relief to the monotonous hue of her sable skin, and a fish-bone stuck through her nose added a finish to the splendour of her personal appearance.

To this amiable divinity Musqueeto gave some brief directions, and the lady retiring, quickly re-appeared, leading by the hand the timid and shrinking form of the Gypsey's daughter. I have often thought that when her fancy recalls in after life the romantic scenes of her early youth, the recollection of this memorable day must form a curious contrast with her present fortunes. She raised up her large black eyes, which instantly reminded me of the last wild look of the Gypsey bushranger, and sought among us for some familiar face; but meeting only with the countenances of strangers, she cast them down again in disappointment and sadness, as if doubtful whether to regard the white strangers as friends or foes.


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“Georgiana,” said I, softly.

The little thing started at the secret name, and clasping her tiny hands, she stood with one foot advanced, trembling and irresolute, while she searched me with her lustrous eyes, to discover in me some trace of a former friend.

I think I never saw so beautiful a child; she was the very picture of loveliness, and possessing that indefinable and irresistible charm with which infancy and innocence never fail to move the coldest human heart. Struck with the desolate condition of the child, and possessed with the sacred nature of the trust that I had taken on me, I held out my arms, and said to her in tones which touched her little heart —

“Come to me, my poor little orphan girl; you shall be a daughter among my children, and I will be a friend and a father to you.”

The child screamed with sudden joy: bursting into tears she bounded into my arms, and with passionate sobs hid her little face in my bosom.

The very savages were affected by the scene. The women gathered round us, gazing with earnest interest, and the harsher lineaments of


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the faces of the men became softened at the touch of nature, which makes the whole world kin.

“Look out, Sir!” cried Sanders, who with Scroggs had approached in this moment of excitement close to the mingled group; “take care, they don't take you at a disadvantage. You never know when to trust a native.”

“You've dropped the bottle,” whined Scroggs; “there it is under your legs, and in another moment it will be broken, and all the rum will be lost.”

“And now,” said the magistrate to me, “let us get back to some place of settlement without loss of time, while we are all in good humour. We can easily carry the child with us on horse-back. Now, my men,” he continued to the constables, “keep your eyes about you; home's the word!”

“I've had no dinner,” said Scroggs, with woeful face. “I declare I feel as if my two sides would come together, I'm so empty! I've taken in my handkerchief round my middle twice; the next tie I shall come quite in two!”

“It will not do,” said I, “to attempt going


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back without a supply of provisions; and we have no dogs with us to pull a kangaroo. That was a sad mistake; you should never go into the bush without kangaroo dogs; they are at once sentinels and purveyors.”

“Let us try the natives,” said the magistrate; “perhaps they can help us to some provisions.”

“Musqueeto, can you get some kangaroo for us?”

“Kangaroo? Yees.”

He gave some directions to his followers, who entered into the project with much alacrity, and they immediately commenced their preparations, sharpening up their spears and getting ready their waddies.

It is remarkable that the natives of Van Diemen's Land, like the natives of the Continental Island, have not invented the bow and arrow, although they have more than one sort of wood well adapted from its toughness and its straightness for both purposes. The long and tough sinews of the kangaroo are well fitted for bow-strings, and the Van Diemen's Land natives have contrived to fabricate from the fibres of the bark


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of a tree, to which the name of stringy-bark tree has been given by the settlers, a sort of rough net in which they deposit the edible gum which they collect in their journeys; but they have not applied the sinews of the kangaroo to the uses which might easily be made of them. Their only weapons are the spear and the waddy, and the crescent-shaped womera which they hurl at their enemies in battle, and at the kangaroo in hunting.

The women understanding that we wanted meat for the piccaninny, one of them approached us with a small axe made of sharpened stone in her hand, and laughing and smiling and using an abundance of words, which we could not understand, invited us by gestures to witness her operations. We accompanied her accordingly, the constables, to whom we had distributed the remainder of our kangaroo dinner, still remaining on guard, with the difference only, that we thought they might venture to tether out our horses in a nook where there was a tolerable show of native grass.

We followed the black woman to the margin of a forest of stringy-bark trees at a little distance.


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After snuffing about for a short time like a hungry spectator at the window of a savory cooks-shop, she fixed on a tree in which, her olfactory organs informed her, opossums dwelt. As she was unencumbered by any article of apparel, she had no occasion to take off her clothes to perform her dangerous exploit, which we presently understood was to ascend the naked stem of the tall tree after an opossum. The woman first made an incision on the bark of the tree not much more than sufficient to receive her great toe, at about two or three feet from the ground. Placing her toe in the gap, she raised herself up, sustaining her weight on that single member of her foot aided by a sort of clinging to the tree, which was far too thick to be embraced, with one hand and arm; with her other arm she made a second incision with her native axe, and repeating the operation at the necessary intervals, she rapidly ascended the tree to a height of at least fifty feet before she reached its spreading branches. In the fork of the trunk in a little hollow was an opossum, which she quickly pulled out and killed. Holding the animal in one of her hands, she descended


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the tree with an agility which excited our admiration, and with a rapidity and apparent carelessness that made us tremble. I had often heard talk of the natives performing this feat, but I had never witnessed it before, and it was with the most lively curiosity, therefore, that I watched the operation. I felt quite relieved when she placed her foot safe on the ground, although she did not seem aware that she had done anything extraordinary. Holding the dead opossum by one ear, she gave it laughing to my little charge, and with nods and laughter retired. I was at a loss how to reward this act of unaffected kindness, when luckily, recollecting that I had a purple silk handkerchief in my pocket, I presented it to our sable benefactor; and I had the satisfaction to observe from the deference, mixed I thought with a little female envy, which was paid to her by her less fortunate companions, and from their eager examination and lively admiration of the finery, that I had conferred on her a gift of no trifling importance. She immediately tied it round her waist, and casting a triumphant glance at the sultana with the red cotton handkerchief, much in the same way as a


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young lady in the old country, in the conscious superiority of a new bonnet of the latest fashion, regards an humiliated rival in an old one, she took a seat on the log of a fallen gum-tree in an attitude of easy dignity—not courting but submitting to the admiration which she excited.

In the meantime the preparations for the chase of the kangaroo, after the fashion of the natives, were completed, and Musqueeto summoning the united strength of his establishment, male and female, old and young, we sallied forth from the encampment, leaving the constables to guard the horses. Holding the little Georgiana by her hand, for she would not quit me for an instant, I and the magistrate accompanied the mob, which consisted of five and twenty persons, two or three of the females remaining behind to take care of the children, half a dozen of which had emerged from some back recesses on the occasion of this general activity.

I did not much like the distribution of a bundle of spears among the men who all had waddies, which they held in their hands with their spears.

“I hope,” said I to the magistrate, “that all will go on well; if these savages should become


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excited by the hunt, they might try a spear on us.”

“Especially,” replied my friend, “if Musqueeto, or one of his fellows, should recognise you as the hero who gave them those disagreeable doses of swan-shot from the hut among the hills some time since.”

“Oh!” said I, “I had a beard of ten days' growth then, and my dress was entirely different.”

“That may be; but these savages have sharp eyes, and they never betray their emotions till the opportunity arrives for action. Those spears and waddies make one feel very disagreeable. Heaven grant that this hunting may not prove as disastrous as the Chevy Chase in times of yore.”

With these doubts and fears we should have been glad to back out of this ticklish expedition, but it was too late.




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CHAPTER XI.

A KANGAROO HUNT BY THE NATIVES—THEY RECOGNISE AN OLD ENEMY—THE FLIGHT—THE SKIRMISH—THE ATTACK RENEWED—SCROGGS'S GENEROUS DEVOTION—RETURN TO THE CLYDE—CRAB RESOLVES TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY.

THE usual torpidity of the natives was now changed to the most lively activity, in which the women, and even the youngest children, joined. The men jabbered to one another, the women chattered altogether, and the children cut little savage capers, casting juvenile spears at one another in sport and frolic. I made our guide understand that we wished him to warn us of any appearance of treachery, but he had no apprehensions of any hostile intentions.

“No want to fight now," said he; "hunt kangaroo.”

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With the natives in their proceedings, but with a sort of instinct that he was safer in our immediate vicinity than among the “black fellows,” as he called them, he kept close to our side.

The naked group made their way to the rear of the encampment, and at the distance of about half a mile, Musqueeto assumed the management of the hunt. He directed half of his party to proceed, as Tom interpreted to us, to a distance of about four miles from the spot where we stood, and another party to extend themselves circularly to the right, while others made a similar circuit to the left. By these means it was intended to enclose a circle, and to drive all the game to the centre. In the dry season it is the practice of the natives to set fire to the woods and so dislodge the game, which they slaughter as it flies from the flames towards their ambuscades. But, on the present occasion, as the grass will not burn in the winter season, they were obliged to pursue a more laborious expedient.

Musqueeto now sat down on the grass, and we followed his example, stationing ourselves on the log of a tree, and Tom informed us that we should have to wait till the first detachment of


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natives reached their destination before it would be time for us to advance.

We endeavoured, in the meanwhile, to engage Musqueeto in conversation, but he was not inclined to talk, and seemed to be engaged in some mental calculation.

“This is a new scene,” observed the magistrate; “I little thought that you and I should be engaged in a hunting expedition with our equivocal acquaintance here.”

“I hope it may all end well,” said I. “Since you have hinted about their recognising me, I have had very disagreeable sensations. A fight with the savages would be an awkward affair, encumbered as we should be with our little charge impeding our motions.”

The girl crept closer to me at the expression of these fears, but said nothing.

“It was only a few days ago,” said the magistrate, “that I was reading a specious argument of a French writer in favour of natural over civilised life; I am inclined to think that if the eloquent sophist had possessed the experience which we have of these savages—whose condition may be considered as the very perfection and model of the primitive state of society which the


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Genevese philosopher extolled—he would have modified his opinion.”

“The natives of Van Diemen's Land,” said I, “seem to be but one degree removed from the animal creation—a sort of connecting link between man and the brute.

“Having only one idea above the brute, and that is—to eat him! But they have only one brute to eat—to wit, the kangaroo.—In my opinion, the degraded condition of the natives of this island may be ascribed in a great measure, to the nature of the country itself. There is no fruit, herb, or root indigenous to the soil which is fit for the sustenance of man, and no animal, like an ox, a sheep, or a goat, capable of being domesticated so as to furnish a regular supply of food. The only animal fit to eat, apart from the opossum and such nasty things, is the kangaroo, and to catch the kangaroo the natives must be continually shifting their ground; consequently they are prevented from acquiring any fixed habitation, and are deprived of the advantage of those domestic habits which seem to form the first step in the progress of civilization.


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“Could you ever find out,” said I, “whether they have any idea of a Divine being?”

“All that inquirers have been able to make out,” replied my friend, “is, that they have a belief in an evil spirit, which seeks to do them harm, but they cannot discover any notion among them of a good or creative spirit. Cook and Flinders have described long ago the religious, or rather the superstitious ceremonies of the Sydney natives; but the aborigines of this island either do not practise the same comicalities, or we have not been able to witness them.”

“Our ignorance of their language,” I observed, “must be an obstacle to our acquiring a correct knowledge of their religious belief, or of their customs.”

“No doubt; but their language, so far as we can understand it, seems capable of expressing only the most simple ideas; and indeed it is only the most simple ideas that they want to express.”

“They are good mimics,” said I.

“So are all savages; and many animals excel in the same way; birds imitate sounds, and monkeys imitate gestures.—But our host is


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getting up; I suppose the sport is about to begin.”

Musqueeto rose languidly from the ground, and ejaculated an order right and left to the natives within hearing, who repeated the word till it was lost in the distance. We then moved forward, Musqueeto taking, or seeming to take little notice of us, and retaining his usual sulky, stupid look. But as the shouts of his comrades grew louder and louder, and the distant view of the game occasionally met his eye, the passions of the savage were roused up, and his listless demeanor rapidly changed to that of intense animation, as he grew hot in the excitement of the hunt. The spirit of the savage now began to develope itself, and it was with hideous sounds and frantic gestures, which I should in vain attempt to describe, that he performed his part towards frightening the game into the centre of the circle which at wide intervals was formed around the scared and terrified animals. But these intervals, as we continued our advance, gradually grew less and less, till we came within hearing of those who formed the farthest verge of the enclosure. As the circle narrowed, and as


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we caught occasional glimpses of a terrified kangaroo, the cries and antics of Musqueeto and the other natives to the right and left, who were in sight, became more violent and furious, and the black naked savages, rattling their spears and brandishing their waddies, and screaming and dancing about in the most raging state of excitement, resembled a band of demons engaged in some infernal orgies. And now with immense strides a monstrous kangaroo standing six feet high, and with his gigantic tail heaving up and down behind him, hopped past us to the left. Musqueeto saluted him with a spear, which stuck in his shoulder, but broke off among the bushes; he was met by the natives at their post, who drove him back again by their shouts. Musqueeto darted out to meet him, and before the animal could stop itself in its career, he struck it sharply on the crown with his waddy. The creature shook its beautiful head and ears a little, stunned by the stroke, and Musqueeto taking advantage of its confusion repeated his blows, nimbly avoiding the dashes which the kangaroo made at him with the formidable claws of his hind feet, till he brought him to the ground. A yell of triumph


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proclaimed this first success, and Musqueeto no longer the apathetic native which he so lately appeared, now exhibited himself in all the ferocity of the savage. His blood was up from his struggle with the kangaroo, and his exertions had lashed him into a state of almost ungovernable fury. Seeing him in this state we repented having engaged in this perilous sport, but to withdraw at such a moment would have excited the suspicion, and perhaps the anger of the natives. We kept our fire-arms ready, therefore, and endeavoured to preserve our coolness and presence of mind in the midst of the general excitement.

The circle had now become narrowed as close as was desired, and we saw five kangaroos—foresters—in the middle, and one prodigious fellow, whom the natives greeted with the title of boomah! boomah! Three of the foresters were quickly despatched with spears and waddies, but the boomah! stood in the midst looking with a sort of defiance on his enemies, who pressed upon him. Several spears were soon fixed in his body. He gave a bound as each sharp missile pierced his skin; but he still stood erect seeking for a


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passage through the ranks of his assailants. At last, as a party of three or four rushed at him from the point opposite to us, and tried to reach his head with their waddies, he gave a sudden plunge, and bounding towards the spot where the magistrate, with me and the little girl, were standing in silence, he effected his escape beyond the circle. Musqueeto stamped on the ground with rage and passion at the loss, and at that moment the habit of the old sportsman taking possession of me, I raised up my piece and selecting the right-hand barrel, which always contained a ball, I fired; I was lucky enough to hit the back of its head, the ball passing through it. The animal made no cry, for the kangaroo never utters any sound, and giving one last tremendous bound into the air, fell dead. At the report of my fowling-piece the cries of the natives instantly ceased, and they became motionless as statues, casting rapid glances of suspicion and fear at me and at one another. This sudden silence succeeding the furious outcries of the preceding moment had a peculiar and startling effect. I immediately ran to the game, and first, with the precaution of an old settler in the bush, I reloaded


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my piece, the natives gazing at me in silence. I then beckoned to the nearest native to come to me, pointing to the kangaroo, and inviting him by gestures to take the animal; he hesitated, and looked at the others. Calling black Tom, I bade him explain to the natives, that I considered the game belonged to them, and as soon as they understood my meaning they came forward, but slowly and doubtingly. Musqueeto, however, came up without ceremony, and examining the venison with the precision of a connoisseur, he evinced unqualified delight at the prize. Four natives uniting their strength contrived to carry the kangaroo to their encampment, which was at no great distance; while the rest went forward to make preparations for a feast. Before we arrived at the fires we were met by the two constables who had been alarmed by the report of my piece. They had lost no time in throwing the saddles on the horses, and had started immediately to our assistance.

“We feared you were in for it," said Sanders; "and Scroggs was all ready for a scrimmage, for he's no flincher when it comes to business—and that's the use of him.”


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“It's no use,” said Scroggs, “to stand shilly— shallying; the best way is to shoot 'em down at once, and then you're sure they can't do you any harm. Never trust a native!”

“Better mount you, horse, Sir,” advised Sanders; “they've got their spears and their waddies ready in their hands, and there's no knowing when they may be inclined to use them. Look at those three blackguards yonder jabbering together and pointing to Mr. Thornley.”

“They are talking about his capital shot,” replied the magistrate, “and wondering, perhaps, how it was done.”

“May-be, Sir; but I don't like the way they left off, when we looked at them. Better be on our guard,Sir.”

We had no apprehension of any violence being attempted, but we thought it best to be ready, so we took our horses from the constables and led them by the bridle. I put the child on mine, telling her not to be frightened, but to hold on fast by the mane. In this order we proceeded back to the fires, and the natives distributed themselves about, the game being cast in the middle of the open space. I saw two snakes


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lying by the side of the kangaroos, and I asked Tom what they were going to do with them.

“Eat 'em,” said Tom; “snake good—eat many snake at Sydney.”

As he spoke, a native took up the snakes, and, without skinning them, or performing any other operation of cleanliness, threw them on the fire; and after they had been done to his mind, he and one or two others, who seemed to have a right to partake, devoured them with much apparent satisfaction.

They now proceeded to dismember the largest of the kangaroos, and as the pieces of flint, which served as knives, were but clumsy tools to work with, I took out my bush-knife and presented it to Musqueeto. The knife contained one powerful blade and a smaller one, with a saw. I opened the saw and explained its use to the natives around, who were much struck with the contrivance; but the large blade pleased them most. Musqueeto condescended, on this occasion, to make use of his new acquisition, by cutting to pieces the kangaroo. He first cut off the head, which he threw on one side, and then separated the shoulders and body from the loins, and, with


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more politeness than I had given him credit for, he pushed towards us the hind quarters—the best part of the animal—inviting us to take it. Sanders, dismounting, threw it over the pommel of his saddle, and resuming his seat, urged us to lose no time in setting out, as we were now supplied with sufficient provision to last until we should reach some stock-hut or settler's farm. We mounted accordingly, but the magistrate and I tingered for a few moments to observe the curiosity with which the natives examined the head of the kangaroo, which had been pierced by the ball from my fowling-piece. From the examination of the hole through the head, they were led to an examination of the instrument that effected it, and three or four of them crowded round me, pointing eagerly to the ornamental stock which was studded with bright silver nails, and had a broad piece of silver plate on the bend of the stock, usually placed there to receive the engraving of the name. As I had held the stock of my piece under my right arm, the natives had not had the opportunity of observing it before, but now they gazed on it with an expression of eagerness and surprise as if they recognised it as an old acquaintance.


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“Look out, Sir,” said Sanders, “the same three savages that we remarked jabbering together before, have got their eyes on your fowling-piece.”

“Thornley,” said the magistrate, earnestly, “I am sure you are recognized; those natives remember your piece; we had better be off. Do you go first with the child, and I with the two constables will bring up the rear three abreast. Can Tom run at a pinch?”

“As fast as you can canter,” said Sanders.

“Move on then, and let us lose no time.”

I and the magistrate mounted our horses, when a yell broke out from the clustering savages, which made the woods ring again; a yell so loud and thrilling, that it made our horses start and champ their bits. Had any other stimulus been wanting to hasten our movements it now appeared in the shape of a spear thrown by a willing arm at me, but which missed and stuck in the flank of Scroggs's horse. The animal did not wait for a second spurring, nor Scroggs for a second hint, and the sight of this open declaration of war operated on us all. With one accord we galloped off round the


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base of the hill, Tom preceding us, who, however, was quickly left behind. Seeing this the magistrate called out to us to pull up, and he directed Sanders to let Tom mount behind him as the ground was level, till we got beyond the reach of the natives. The delay, however, enabled the natives to intercept us at the turn of the hill, and we encountered them standing on the bank on our right. We sheered our horses off beyond the reach of their spears, but a womera cast by some vigorous-native struck Scroggs's horse on the hind leg, and caused a temporary halt.

“Steady,” cried the magistrate, “we have a clear field and no trees.” A shower of spears interrupted his speech.

“Sanders, pick off that native to the right with the bundle of spears in his left hand.”

The constable fired, and the native fell. At this check, the rest retreated among the trees and bushes.

“Now, Scroggs, my man, you must make your horse go: man's life is worth more than horse's. Keep up for four and twenty hours and we are safe.”


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But we could make but slow progress with the crippled horse, and we would not leave the man behind. We jogged on therefore for another hour, skirting a thick wood to our right till we came to the base of a scrubby hill.

“Now, Sir,” said Sanders, “if the natives are determined to make a fight of it, this is the place where they'll do it. They have found out that Mr. Thornley is the same white man whom they fought with before, and no doubt he killed some of their relations at that time, and the survivors will have blood for blood: it's always the way with the natives.”

“How was it,” said I, “that Musqueeto was so quiet then? he must have known me!”

“You see, Sir, he's a Sydney native, and doesn't rightly belong to any tribe in this island; If you had hurt one of his gins that would have been another matter, for the natives are like the whites in that—they don't like other people to take their gins; and that's what gives rise to most of the quarrels between the natives and the stockkeepers. The stockkeepers entice their gins away by a tenpenny nail or a bit of broken glass bottle, or best of all, a red handkerchief—there's


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nothing like a bit of red rag to come over a gal with, let her be black or white—and then the natives don't like it, and so they have to fight it out.”

“And so must we fight it out,” said the magistrate, “for there are the natives coming forward in a body. I am sorry for it, but if we must defend our lives, the best way is to act decisively.”

By this time we had reached the top of the hill, and beneath us was a level plain of considerable extent, but the descent of the hill was very steep and rugged. We drew ourselves up on a clear space and waited for the attack. The natives also drew themselves up at a distance of about a hundred yards, and one of them advancing towards us, with a waddy in his right hand, and a bundle of spears in his left, began a speech in a loud, but calm voice, using abundant action, but without unseemly noise or passion.

“What does he say, Tom?” said the magistrate.

“He say, you all bad white men.”

“And what more? he must say more than that in that long speech.”


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“He say you come take his country, and eat his kangaroo, and take his gins. He say you very bad white men. And he say, this gentleman, Mitter Thornley, very bad white man indeed; he kill him brudder—brudder of black fellow dere—and he say he want Mitter Thornley to go stand there for him to throw spear at him.”

“He sends you a challenge to fight a duel, Thornley,” said the magistrate. “As a gentleman and a man of honour you can't refuse, or Blackee will post you.”

“Mitter Thornley go tand dere,” said Tom, “black fellow throw one, two, tree, many spear at him; then black fellow no want to fight: only kill Mitter Thornley; then very good friends.”

“Come, Thornley,” said my friend, laughing, “it is plain that you must perform the part of Quintus Curtius on this occasion.”

“Please, Sir,” said Scroggs, “I don't know how Squinting Curtis managed with the natives, but if we have only to do with that one jawing away there, we might buy him off, perhaps, with something that we have about us. There's the remains of the bottle of rum; offer him that.”


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Tom advanced accordingly, calling out “corrobara,” meaning thereby that he wished for a parley to talk the matter over a bit with the aggrieved native. Tom proposed that the half-bottle of rum should end the affair amicably, but the offer was indignantly rejected. Tom reported progress, and the native continued his harangue, enumerating over and over again the injuries which he had received, and the vengeance which he would take.

“Let us try him with something more,” said the magistrate, “it is something to get him to negotiate at all for the price of his revenge; if it is only a question of amount I think we may manage it. Let us consult Tom:—Tom, what shall we give him?”

“You give bottle of rum; Mitter Thornley's red handkerchief for his gin; and give him buttons from your coat.”

“My coat buttons!” said the magistrate. “Well, to save my friend's valuable life, and to prevent a breach of the peace—for I see Thornley is red hot to fight this duel—I suppose I must let him have them.”

Tom was accordingly despatched with these


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new presents; but the native now took a fancy to Tom's axe, and after some chaffering, Tom surrendered it. But there was still a hitch, and our ambassador returned again.

“Black fellow say, that, 'cause Mitter Thornley hab the piccaninny, he throw one little spear at that man there instead.”

“Throw a spear at me,” exclaimed Scroggs, “I won't have any spears thrown at me! Tell him to go and be hanged!”

“Black fellow say,” said Tom, “he must throw one little spear at somebody, 'cause, if he no throw spear, all the mob point finger at him. He say, he no hurt white man, only stick spear in him a little bit.”

“Stick a spear in me a little bit!” said Scroggs; “I'll stand no such thing! Let him stick his spears into the gum-trees, if he likes. What am I to have spears stuck in me for, more than anybody else?”

“My good fellow,” said the magistrate, “if the sacrifice of yourself will have the effect of preventing a fight, and of saving the effusion of blood, I should advise you to consent; but, of course, I cannot order you in such a matter; it


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is entirely for your own consideration and generosity to determine whether you will be the means, for a trifling smart perhaps, to save many human lives. Remember Quintus Curtius!”

“ —— Squinting Curtis! He never stood up to have spears shied at him I'll be bound.”

“If you go through this part well,” said the magistrate, “I shall certainly recommend you to the governor for reward and promotion.”

“It's very hard,” whined Scroggs, “but I am always to be the one to have the worst hand at the game. It was my bottle of rum that those black rascals swallowed, and now that it has got their pluck up, I am to be a cockshy for that rampaging devil there, that keeps brandishing his spears about.”

“I'll tell you what, my man,” said I, “I don't think any harm will come of it, or I would not consent to your going; but if you'll take the job off my hands, as I've got the child to take care of, I'll give you a hundred dollars!”

“Well,” said Scroggs, “I'll go, but I don't like it. You mean a hundred dollars in money, not property?”


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“Yes,” said I, “a hundred silver dollars down.”

“It's for the sake of the child I go, not the money. But nobody can say I haven't a right to something for making a target of myself for that black rascal to stick his spears in.”

“Why, he'll never hit you,” said Sanders. “You have a right to one spear to defend yourself with, according to the customs of the natives.”

The desire to get the dollars outweighing his fears, the doughty constable proceeded to the spot where this novel sort of monomachia was to take place, and standing about forty yards from the native, waited with a most rueful countenance for the commencement of the ceremony. The native treated him in the first place with an explanatory and expostulatory harangue, which the miserable Scroggs received much in the same way as a criminal listens to the congratulatory condolences of the executioner before he is turned off. The native then performed various mystic evolutions, which so protracted the proceedings, that the impatient Scroggs cried out —

“D—— you, if you're going to throw a spear at me, shy away, and don't keep me waiting in this manner!”


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The only word which the black man understood was the first, which almost all the natives had picked up from the frequent use of that expletive by the stockkeepers, with whom they mostly came in contact; but as he well knew it was an epithet of vituperation, he took it as a sign of heroic defiance from the magnanimous Scroggs, and suddenly stopping short in his fantastic antics, he cast a spear at the constable, which narrowly missed his arm, and whirred rapidly past him for more than twenty yards.

“Hulloa,” cried Scroggs, “that's too close to be pleasant. Take it easy, will you, you ugly blackguard!”

The next spear struck him on his right side, but meeting there with a tobacco-box, it was luckily stopped from doing further mischief than staving in the lid of it. But this was too much for Scroggs. Bestowing a hearty curse on all the natives in the island, and including him-self in his general execration for being such a fool as to stand there to be made a sieve of, he ignominiously turned tail, and the next missile projected by the savage took effect in his fleshy protuberance behind. Scroggs gave a


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roar that might have done credit to a wild bull, and without waiting for further compliments ran back to us, Sanders laughing heartily at his condition.

“I say, Scroggs, my boy, you'll never be able to show your wounds that way. Do you remember the sergeant of the 40th showing us his wounds in front? It will never do to leave them behind. Go and let the black fellow have another shy at your chest, that you may get honourably marked and look respectable.”

“A hundred dollars,” said Scroggs, “in dollars, not property!” pleased to find himself without more hurts. “Well I wouldn't mind standing another shy for the same money.”

The native who had given a yell of triumph when he saw his victim with the spear sticking in behind him, now gathered up his spoils, and returning to his companions, we saw no more of the natives for that time, and we proceeded on our way.

We had to sleep one night in the bush, which we managed as well as we could, and towards the night of the next day we reached a stock-hut to the east of Salt-Pan Plains. Here we


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parted with Tom, the magistrate giving' him an order on a storekeeper at Launceston, to supply him with anything he pleased to the amount of five pounds; and cutting across the country to Oatlands, we were glad to repose ourselves at a comfortable inn. At this place we learnt that the Jupiter had sailed two days before, and as I was anxious to get home with my charge, I begged the magistrate to proceed to Launceston and ascertain what had become of the uncle of Georgiana. I may as well say here, that my friend found that he had escaped from the island on board that vessel.

The subsequent difficulties which my charge had to encounter, I shall have to relate in their proper place. The constables, at my request, accompanied me to the Clyde, striking across the country by a short cut from Jericho. I rewarded them liberally for their activity and good conduct, giving Scroggs an order on the Bank at Hobart-Town for the hundred dollars according to my promise. My wife and children received the stranger with an affectionate kindness and sympathy, which soon reached her little heart, and in a short time she considered herself as a child of


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the family. After recounting my adventures, and my escape from the cavern of the red house, my wife scolding me, of course, for my rashness in running such a risk, I lost no time in turning my attention to the affairs of my farm, which had been for so long a time interrupted by the various accidents which had befallen me. On inquiring for Crab, I was informed that he had set out for his sheep-run an hour or two after I had started for Hobart-Town, and had not returned. His absence did not give me any uneasiness at the time, but another week having passed away without his appearance, I became alarmed, and began seriously to think of setting out in search of him. As we were discussing the matter towards the close of the day, we observed our old friend proceeding across the meadow in the direction of the house. He seemed faint and exhausted, and his clothes were dirtied and stained with travel. He had a bundle on his shoulder, the weight of which seemed to oppress him, and he trudged along, leaning on a stick in a manner unusual to his vigorous habits. I immediately went out to meet him and to assist him into the house. He sat himself down in the great chair with a deep


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sigh, casting his load on the floor, which rattled on the ground with a jingling crash.

“Thank God!" he said, "I'm at home again. I thought I should never have seen you any more. Such a country as this is! No stage-coach!—no nothing! But it sarves me right, I ought to have left it long ago; but now I have made up my mind. The next ship that goes takes me. There's nothing but wretchedness here; you'll all be ruined and murdered, every one—that's my opinion.”

“Why, what has happened?” said I—“what on earth is the matter with you?”

“What has happened? why, every thing has happened, that shouldn't happen! I'll tell ye if you'll give me time; but, first, I must have something to eat. Oh! there's the mutton chops. Only let me get a little life into my body, and then I'll tell ye.”

But the adventures of Mr. Crab on this memorable journey, must form the commencement of a new chapter.




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CHAPTER XII.

HOW CRAB SOLD HIS SHEEP—THE EMBARRASSMENT OF RICHES—CRABB'S MISADVENTURES—HE RESOLVES TO LEAVE THE COLONY.

“IT'S all owing to that bit of land at Cherry-tree Bottom," said Crab, striking the table with his horny hand, to give greater emphasis to his position, and causing all the tea-things to give a simultaneous jump at the concussion. "It's all owing to hankering after that land which I had no business with, and it sarves me right, and it's a judgment on me! What have I to do with land in this outlandish place? If I hadn't let 'em give me that land, I shouldn't have wanted to build a house on it; and if I hadn't wanted to build a house on it, I shouldn't have wanted to sell the sheep, and then I shouldn't have been plagued with those confounded dollars! But


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I'll go by the next ship! Betsey, my dear, write a letter for me, there's a good gal.”

“With pleasure,” said Betsey, who was the old man's favourite. “Who to?”

“To the storekeeper at Hobart-Town— Mr. Stikitinem.”

“What an odd name!”

“He's a sort of Dutchman, my dear, that supplies me with my things. I'd write myself, but living in this wretched country has hurt my eyes, and I never could see to read writing easy. I can make out big print very well, when I know what it's about, as a chapter in the Bible or so. But I never did write much, because my hand is hard with holding the plough, and a little thing like a pen comes unnatural to it.”

“What are you going to do with this handkerchief full of dollars?” interrupted my wife. “I hope, Mr. Crab, you are not going to keep them here; it's a dangerous temptation in the bush.”

“That's just what I don't know,” observed Crab, sorrowfully; “ever since I've had 'em, that's the very question that every body has asked me, and the very one I never could answer. But trouble enough have I had to get


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'em, and I do believe they're the last dollars left in the colony!”

“You have sold some sheep, I suppose,” said I; “what did you get for 'em?”

“Nothing but mortification—and those dollars. One chap wanted three years' credit, and he offered thirty shillings a head—and then he offered forty shillings a head; but I said, ‘Money down, that's my way of dealing; that's the way I bought 'em, and that's the way I'll sell 'em.’ Then another Launceston chap, he offered to give me I don't know how many head of cattle for 'em; and, says I, ‘What are they, wild cattle?’ ‘Of course,’ says he. ‘And where may they be?’ says I. ‘They're somewhere near Circular Head,’ says he. 'Then,' says I, 'they may stay at Circular Head till their heads grow where their tails are; I'll have nothing to do with wild cattle, that go scampering about all over the island, and you never know where to find 'em when you want 'em. At last a new settler that had heard mine were fine-woolled sheep, came and said he'd buy four hundred of 'em.”

“‘How do you mean to pay ?’ said I.”


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“‘Bank notes,’ said he, ‘of the Bank of Diemen's Land.’

“I don't know how it was—I was over-persuaded, for he was a terrible talking chap, and if ever any one had the gift of the gab, it was he. And so we went to my sheep-run at the back of Norfolk Plains, and then the dispute began. He wanted to pick the ewes, all the young 'uns, and the best, though, for the matter of that, they're all good; but I said ‘No! that's a thing I won't anyways permit. Take 'em as they run out of the yard.’ Then he talked at me I suppose for half an hour, to convince me that the buyer had a right to pick 'em; but I wasn't going to be convinced by the likes of him, and so I said, ‘Take 'em or leave 'em, a pound a head's my price, money down, as they run out of the yard.’ Then he proposed that we should each pick one till he had taken his four hundred. Well, I thought that was reasonable, and so we managed it that way. When he had pitch-marked 'em with his brand, and was going to drive 'em away, says I —

“‘Where's the money?’


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“‘Give me a pen and ink,’ said he, in an off-hand way, ‘and I'll give you a cheque.’

“‘A cheque,’ says I, ‘I want none of your cheques—it's the money I want.’

“‘Then,’ says he, ‘you must come with me to Launceston, for I'm not such a fool as to carry money about with me, and there I'll get you the cash.’

“‘That's all very well,’ said I, ‘but in this country we never let the sheep go without the money. So, if you please, the four hundred sheep that you've marked must stay here till I'm paid for 'em.’

“‘Very well,’ said he.

“And he gave you the money at Launceston, I suppose?” said I.

“You shall see. Give me another cup of tea. Let me tell my story my own way, or else I shall never ha' done. So I went with him to Launceston, and we had a quart of port out of the cask at the inn there—it wasn't bad stuff, but nothing like the beer one gets at a public-house at home; and then he wrote a cheque as he called it, and told the landlord to take it to a merchant of the town, and sure enough he brought back four hundred bank-notes of four dollars each, as he


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said, but I couldn't make out the writing on them, the letters were so flourished about, but I thought it must be all right as the landlord was there witnessing it. He wrote an order for the sheep to my shepherd and I signed it; he asked me what my christian name was, and I said Samuel, and he said he shouldn't have guessed it, but he dared say my shepherd would understand it, and so there I sat with the four hundred bits of paper before me.

“The landlord came in and sat down by me, and talked of the news, and says he, ‘Have you heard of the great failure in Hobart Town? That flashy cove that was flying his paper kites hasn't been able to raise the wind any longer ?’

“‘Flying paper kites!’ said I; ‘what on earth can a man want to fly kites for? I used to fly a kite when I was a boy.....’

“‘I see,’ said he, ‘you don't take. Flying kites means issuing these things,’ pointing to the dollar-notes, ‘and that when it comes to paying them, its ‘no effects!’”

“What the landlord said had a terrible effect on me, for all of a sudden it struck me I had


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parted with my four hundred prime ewes for four hundred bits of paper that wasn't good enough to light pipes with. I broke out into a cold sweat directly.

“‘Landlord,’ said I, ‘can you take me to the merchant that gave you these notes?’

“‘To be sure I can,’ said he, ‘it's only a step.’

“Says I to the merchant, ‘I have a particular reason for wanting silver instead of paper just now. Couldn't you give me dollars instead of these notes?’

“‘Certainly,’ said he, very polite-like; ‘but I should have thought,’ said he, ‘you would find dollars very inconvenient to carry about.’

“‘Not the least in the world,’ said I; so he counted 'em out and put 'em in an old gunny-bag, and then I put the gunny-bag in my handkerchief, so as to look like a change of clothes, and hoisting them on a stick over my shoulder I marched back to the inn.

“‘That's a large sum of money, said the landlord, to have in cash; and it's a great temptation to servants; I hope you're not a-going to


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keep it at my inn.’ This was the first of my troubles.

“‘No,’ said I, ‘I'm going to take myself off home—dollars and all.’

“‘I should advise you,’ said he, ‘not to let anybody know you have that sum of money about you; it might bring you to mischief.’

“‘Never fear,’ said I, ‘I know how to take care of myself.’

“After I had had some dinner, I set out, but I found the dollars a greater weight than I thought for, so I stopped at a settler's hut about ten miles from Launceston, and sat down, intending to stay the night there.

“‘What have you got here?’ said he, trying to lift up my load, and wondering at the weight of it. ‘Why, they can't be dollars? and yet they feel like 'em!’

“‘Dollars,’ said his wife, ‘Oh, Lord! we shall all be murdered in our beds. Pray, Mr. Crab, don't let them be here! You're sure to have been watched, and the prisoners will try to get 'em, and murder as all.How could you think of bringing 'em here?’


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“‘If I have brought 'em here,’ said I, a little hurt-like, ‘I can take them away again. I'll go on to Old Simon's, and he'll give me lodging for the night, I dare say.’

“The husband didn't want me to go, and said it was nonsense; but I saw his wife wished me to be off, so I shouldered up my dollars and went on to old Simon's, which wasn't above two miles off by the road side.

“‘ Can you give me a night's lodging ?’ said I.

“‘With all my heart’ said he; ‘Jem, put on some mutton-chops.’

“‘What have you got here?’ said he.

“‘I'll tell you at once,’ said I, ‘because I know I can trust you; I've been selling some sheep, and these are the dollars I got for 'em.’

“‘Dollars!’ said he; ‘how could you think of going about with such a heap of dollars? You'll be robbed and murdered before you get home. But let's put 'em out of sight.’

“With that he clapped an empty tripod over 'em, just in time, for his man came in a moment after with the meat.

“I had hardly finished eating a few chops, when who should come in but three strange men;


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one was a ticket-of-leave man and the other two were Government men just arrived, and they were going on to Launceston to the master that they had been assigned to. Simon gave me a look as much as to say ‘here's a mess!’ but there was no help for it; he couldn't well refuse shelter to travellers on a winter night; so they looked about to sit themselves down, and says one,

“‘Any harm in moving this tripod, master, to let this seat come nearer the fire?’

“Simon gave me another look, and I saw he didn't like it; so I got up and said, ‘Take my chair, I've been sitting by the fire all the evening, and I'm warm enough;’ so I sat myself down on the tripod. It wasn't an easy seat, for the three prongs stuck up very awkward, let alone its being so low; but I thought that was the best thing to do; so I sat there very uncomfortable, but trying to look easy.

“‘You seem to have rather a hard seat, master’ said one of the prisoners kind-like.

“‘Not a bit,’ said I, for a thought came across me that he had a suspicion of what I sat there for; ‘not a bit;—I had rather stay where I am.’


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“Then the others offered me their seats, but the more they wanted me to get up, the more I wouldn't. ‘No—no,’ thought I; ‘here I'll stick, my fine fellows, till I've seen you safe out of the house.’

“Old Simon was very fidgety; he had only one spare bed, which the prisoners offered to me, seeing that I was respectable-looking; but I wouldn't move from my tripod, although the ends grieved me sorely; and there I was obliged to stay all night, for I didn't dare to move, like a hen sitting on eggs, and a more miserable night I never passed.”

We all burst out a-laughing at this narrative, which made Crab very indignant.

“It's all very well to laugh," said he; "but how would you like to sit on a tripod all night yourself?”

“Well," said I, "and how did it end?”

“End! I thought it never would end! But every thing ends at last. In the morning the men went away; and then old Simon said directly,

“‘For heaven's sake, Mr. Crab, make haste home. I haven't had a wink of sleep all night.’

“Says I, ‘I won't trouble you long, you may


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depend on it;’ and I tried to get up, but I couldn't. I was so cramped with sitting, that I was quite stiff, and the tripod seemed to have grown to me.”

“No wonder," said I, "but how did you manage to get on?”

“Old Simon was so wishful to get rid of me and my load of dollars, that he lent me his bullock-cart to forward me on a bit, and we put the bag of dollars in the tripod, and covered it over with siftings, to make it look natural-like. He helped me to lift it into the cart, and his man drove the bullocks for about a dozen miles, and then he stopped and looked at me and then at the bullocks. I took that as a hint to get out, but I was sadly puzzled to know what to do with my money, and the tripod plagued me almost as bad. He took hold of one side of the tripod and I of the other, and we set it down by the road-side.

“‘Bless me,’ said he, ‘how heavy the old pot has got! It can't be the siftings; it's like a pot of dollars.’

“This made me quake, and I looked in his face; but I saw he said it quite innocent-like, and gave it no more thought, and so he drove back, and I stood there for some time, by the side


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of my money, musing a bit, for I didn't well know what to do.

“Presently I heard a precious noise of whips cracking, and I saw a lot of cattle a-scampering down the road, that the stock-keepers were driving to the Government Store at Launceston. There were thirty of 'em or more. On they came helter-skelter, the stock-keepers after them, cracking their whips and halloing to them to keep them on the road. My first thought was to sit on my tripod to guard my dollars, but before I could well know what to do, on they came, and as I sat crouched up, they didn't see me till they were close upon me, and the hindmost cattle pushing on the foremost, and the men urging them on behind with their whips and shouts, before I could avoid them they were on me, and one heifer, giving a snort at me with her nose, and a nuzzle with her head, tumbled me over and over, tripod and all, and the stock-keepers damned me as they dashed by for putting their cattle out of the road, and there I lay!”

“Upon my word,” said my wife, at this pause—all of us keeping very grave faces, for we did not dare to laugh at the mishaps which he told with


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so much seriousness—“you have been very unfortunate, Mr. Crab; but how could you think of carrying such a load of dollars across the country?”

“How could I help it?” said Crab, angrily; “I never had to do so at home; but in this wretched country there's no way to carry anything when you want it.”

“But why didn't you take the bank-notes? they would have been lighter to carry.”

“Catch me taking their bank-notes, as they call 'em,” replied Crab; “do you think I never saw a bank-note before? Why, they're no more like real bank-notes than chalk is like cheese! No, no, nothing like the silver dollars.”

“They seem to have been a sad inconvenience to you on this occasion,” said I, “these same dollars. But I am anxious to know how you managed at last.”

“I couldn't manage 'em any how. So I was obliged to take 'em out of the tripod and put 'em over my shoulder again, and then I didn't know what to do with the tripod. While I was thinking, I saw a gentleman and lady coming along the road in a gig, with a roof to it, and two horses, one before the other, the same as we used


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to put 'em in a cart in Shropshire; but they came spanking along at a precious rate. When I called out to them to stop, the gentleman pulled up Sharp at this, and says he,

“‘What's the matter, my man?’

“Says I, ‘May I make so bold as to ask you, as you've got two horses to your shay, and one to pull along the other, just to leave this tripod at old Simon's, about a dozen mile from here?’

“‘D —— n your tripod,’ says he, ‘and you too;’ he did, upon my word, although he was a gentleman; and the lady laughed and said,

“‘Upon my lap, I suppose!’ and then the gentleman laughed louder, and he gave the fore-horse a twitch with his whip, and the horse stood on his hind-legs just for a moment, turning round-like, and the lady gave a little scream, and off they went.

“‘Good luck to ye, and better manners,’ said I, and I took up the tripod with one hand, and with my bag of dollars on my other shoulder, I walked on, but it was a weary job, and before I had gone a couple of mile I was quite knocked up. I sat down again by the road-side, and I was so tired that I was almost tempted to leave


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the dollars where they were, or to bury them in the bush. While I was looking about for a convenient place, I saw a lot of people coming along the road, and I soon perceived it was a road-gang of yellow jackets, going to work. I was terribly troubled at this, for I thought they might be tempted to make an attack on me, so I clapped my bag into the tripod again, and sat down upon it careless-like, till they should pass by. But they stopped on the road just where I was; and the overseer set them to work round about me. They laughed and jeered at me for sitting that fashion on the iron pot, but I sat firm; and then the overseer came up and asked me if I was ill, but I didn't care to tell him my secret; when, luckily, there came up a bullock-cart, drawn by four bullocks, and in it was a fine buxom gal a-going to be married for a fancy in the church at Hobart-Town; and the young man was with her in the cart holding her, to keep her steady, because the road was rough; and fine and merry they were. There was her father and mother in another cart behind, and seeing me sitting on my tripod, they stopped to look at me, and the young gal laughed fit to split herself, though what there was to laugh at I can't make out, for I was miserable enough, not


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knowing what to do with those confounded dollars, and the convicts all round me, suspecting something, I'm sure. Well, seeing them so jolly-like, I called out to them to give me a lift.

“‘I won't have that tripod in my cart,’ screamed the gal, and then she laughed louder than ever. ‘Whatever have you got in it?’ said she.

“‘Hush,’ said I, ‘I'll tell you by-and-by.’

“‘How heavy it is!’ said the bullock-driver.

“‘It's heavy with the damp,’ said I, not knowing what to say; ‘from being on the ground;’ and then there was more laughing; and the young man said I was a wag!”

“And how did you get on with your new party?” said Betsey, with her handkerchief over her mouth.

“I'll tell ye, but don't hurry me.”

“I didn't like that such good-natured folks should suppose I carried that tripod about for nothing; so after we had got about a dozen miles on our way, I told 'em that I had been selling some sheep, and that I was carrying home the dollars.

“‘ Dollars!’—shrieked the gal. ‘Oh—heavenly


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gracious! we shall all be murdered, and that road-gang of prisoners will be after us to get the money. Do, pray,’ said she, ‘get out of our cart, and get into the other one;’ but the old lady was as afeard as the young one, and so I was cast adrift again with my dollars and my tripod, and with a very heavy heart I saw the carts drive out of sight!

“At last I was obliged to leave old Simon's tripod behind, and I set out again till I reached a settler's house just before you come to Elizabeth River. I had much ado to prevail on 'em to let me and my dollars rest there for the night, and the man's wife was so frightened, that we all three sat up all night watching the money, she declaring every minute that she heard the sounds of men's feet coming to break into the house.

“They started me off in their bullock-cart next morning, glad to get rid of me, and that took me twenty miles, and I walked the remainder, and got into Jericho just at dark. There's a serjeant's party at that place, and I went into the guard-room, and asked 'em to let me sit there all night. And so there I sat, with my bag in my lap, just nodding, and afraid to sleep, and


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almost killed by the weight of the dollars all the long night. Next morning I started again at daybreak. I thought I never should get up the Den Hill; but here I am at last, and there are those confounded dollars. But they'll serve to pay my passage home, for in this abominable place I'll stay no longer. Now, Betsey, my dear, have you got your pen ready?”

“I've been waiting for you all the time,” replied Betsey, “what shall I say?”

“Do you write what I tell you,” said Crab.

“MR. STICKITINEM.

“SIR,

“This comes, hoping you are well, as I am at this present writing.”

“But you are not well,” said Betsey, “I never saw you look so ill in my life.”

“It's the way, my dear,” said Crab, waving his hand; “a letter must be begun some way, and that's the way I always begin mine:—it's like the coulter that's in front of the plough.—Now go on and say,

“This wretched country has been the death


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of me—and I mean to go home by the next ship. So please to take a place for me, and tell the captain to be sure to let it be somewhere near the axle-tree, where there's no motion.

“Because I remember I was qualmish coming over,” added Crab, “but you needn't put that in the letter.”

“And what else shall I say?” said Betsey.

“You've said it all thank'ee, my dear; but you may just say that the last bag of sugar was wetted out of all conscience, and as gritty as a gravel-cart. And tell him, that I'll give forty shillings a bushel for all the grass seed he's got left; and to try to get me some strawberry plants from the nursery garden at Pitt-Water; and to be sure to see that my bed-place on board the vessel is long enough, for I lost two inches in height coming over, cramped up in the steerage; and ask him to see if he can't get a couple of brick-makers lent from Government; I should like to see a tidy house put up in the bottom yonder; nothing looks neater than a nice red brick house, with a fish-pond in front, and an arbour at the bottom of the garden. And that reminds me that I shall want a shingle hammer


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and a cask of shingle nails; and (this rum-and-water makes one very sleepy)—and to see if the ship can take home my last year's wool, and what's the price of lamb's wool; and I want a couple of sawyers and a carpenter—to saw the ship into planks—that is, the logs—and—this journey has so knocked me up that I can't write any more—my dear, write the rest yourself—you know what I want to say—I'll just finish this tumbler and then I'll go to bed.”

“But what will you do with these dollars?” said my wife.

“The dollars,” said Crab, his intellects worn out by the fatigue of his journey, and confused with the three tumblers of rum-and-water which he had unconsciously indulged in,—“put 'em—put 'em —in the tripod.”

The next day Crab got up with the early light, and to get rid of the anxiety of having these unfortunate dollars in the house, he buried them with great care and secrecy in the bush; but the very same day, the prisoner whom I have before mentioned as having been sentenced to one hundred lashes and pardoned, pitched upon the plant, and observing that the ground had lately


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been disturbed in an out-of-the-way place, he dug up the loose earth with a stake, and finding the gunny-bag containing the dollars, he carried it, just as it was, to the magistrate's house. An inquiry having been made, which set the whole district a-talking, the news reached us, and the bag of dollars was duly restored to Crab, who found the number of the dollars correct.

For this act of honesty, the magistrate recommended the prisoner for a free pardon, which in due course he received, and he is now a flourishing settler. But the bag of dollars still remained to perplex the distracted Crab; and as the existence of this amount of silver bullion was now the talk of the whole district, we were obliged to send it to Hobart-Town, escorted by Crab and two constables.

“Silver dollars,” said Crab, “are a very fine thing to talk about, and to wish for, but they're very troublesome to carry about, and still more dangerous to keep by you. If one could only trust those fellows at the Bank," said he, "there's nothing like bank-notes after all.”

Things now went on as usual for some time, but I received a letter from an old friend in England,


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who had written to me to ask my advice as to the prudence of his emigrating to Van Diemen's Land with his family, which troubled me to reply to. I was sadly perplexed what to do in the matter, whether to advise him to come out or not, seeing that it is a very serious thing to be the means of causing a family to leave their old home and associates in England to traverse half the globe in search of a place of rest. After giving the matter my very serious thought for some days, I at last made up my mind that I ought not to refuse to do a serviceable act because it was a responsible one, and I determined to state my opinion without reserve, and to give him as good an idea of the colony, and of the advantages which it held forth for emigration, as my ability would enable me, and as could be contained in the compass of a letter. With these feelings I wrote to him as follows.




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CHAPTER XIII.

REASONS FOR EMIGRATING—BREEDING OF SHEEP—ADVICE TO EMIGRANTS.

“MY DEAR FRIEND,

“I REGRET to learn from your letter, that your affairs in England are not going on prosperously, and that you are obliged to turn your attention to some new method of obtaining an income, and, indeed, as you express it, of saving your remaining capital. As to your inquiries about the prudence of emigration, and of bringing your family to this colony, I will reply to them as well as I can, and at least you may be certain that I would not wilfully mislead you. But I may, perhaps, be imbued with the feeling which one acquires in this place, and I suppose it is the same in all colonies; I mean, the desire which one conceives of inducing others to come out. This feeling, I


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think, is often prompted by the consideration that all new-comers help to keep up the price of stock and to increase the value of land; for the more inhabitants there are in a country, the more valuable stock and land must neeessarily become. I don't know how far such a feeling may possess me in writing to you this letter; but I trust that I am actuated by a better motive; by the sincere desire of preventing you from gradually eating up your remaining capital in England, and of assisting you to realise an independence in this part of the globe for yourself and your family. Mind, I do not advise any one to quit an established country, in which all the arts of civilisation and refinement are in full operation, and to change an old country for a new one, if his means will allow him to remain on the soil where he was born, with a fair prospect of settling his children well in life; for that is the main point, after all. It seems to me, that, voluntarily to remove to a new colony is like putting yourself back in the age of the world for some hundreds of years, by relinquishing the point of civilisation and progress reached by the old country. I regard emigration merely as a question of necessity; and taking for


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granted that such a necessity has arisen in your case, according to the expressions in your letter, I will give you my reasons for advising you not to waste your time and money by useless delay. The great inducement for your leaving England for this colony is the certainty of gaining an independence here for your family, which it seems is a very uncertain matter at home. Perfect ease is out of the question in this, as well as in every other country; but a country life may be passed here very pleasantly, and every day society is getting better. You can easily imagine that there cannot be a very numerous society in a country where, of necessity, settlers must live widely apart, in order to have room for the breed of the sheep and cattle; but the colonists here are of a good class, and as they are all of an active and adventurous turn of mind—as their coming here proves—they are always pleasant companions, full of thoughts and inventions, to which their position incessantly incites them.

“A great point in selecting a part of the world for emigration is the climate; and for those who can afford the cost, I am decidedly of opinion, that, in this respect, Australia is incomparably


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superior to the United States or the Canadas. The Canadas have a prodigious advantage in locality over these remote countries, inasmuch as they are much nearer home; but, for my own part, I look on climate as so essential a point, that I think it more than counterbalances the comparative propinquity of the Canadas to the mother-country. The climate of all parts of Australia, so far as experience has tested it, is healthy; but I think the climate of Van Diemen's Land superior to all the other territories of Australia, if you except, perhaps, New Zealand. You will observe by the map, that Van Diemen's Land lies to the south of the large continental island of New South Wales, and consequently, the climate is of a lower temperature, more congenial to an English constitution. It is very variable, and the mornings and evenings for eight months of the year—I mean the early mornings, from four o'clock till eight—are cold enough to make a fire agreeable; but the variableness of the climate does not make it unhealthy; and in the middle of summer, although it is hot, I have never hesitated to do any out-door work the same as in England. As to illness, I really may say it is scarcely known


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in the colony. For seven years that I have been here, not one member of my family has had a day's illness. I don't know whether it is imagination or reality, but I fancy that the air of this country is singularly pure and exhilarating; this state of the atmosphere may be caused by its insular position, and from its being exposed to the gales and regular sea-breezes from the south, which, from the small size of the island, are able to sweep over it from end to end, and to clear it constantly from all atmospherical impurities. So much for the climate; now for the land.

“A critical examiner of the soil would pronounce the land in this colony to be, generally, far from first rate; and a very great deal of it very poor land indeed. But whatever may be the quality of the soil, everything that you put in it grows well. It is a truth, that all crops—wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, all sorts of vegetables, and all sorts of garden trees and fruits—are so positively sure of succeeding in this country, that most of the agricultural and horticultural anxieties, vexations, and disappointments, and it may be added, losses, so heart-breaking to a farmer or gardener in England, are here unknown. I cannot


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exactly vouch for the fact, that if you stick a crow-bar into the ground overnight, it will sprout out into tenpenny nails the next morning; but really, without exaggeration, vegetation in this country is most extraordinary. Whatever is put in the soil of Van Diemen's Land will grow, almost without distinction of seasons; for if you put your seed or your sprig in at the wrong time, if it can't grow as it ought, it will make a desperate try at it. When I first came here, I asked the proper season for sowing wheat, and I was told April; I remember I put some in, as an experiment, in the middle of November; by the middle of January it was in full ear; and though the soil in which it was put had never been ploughed before, and then only once in a rough manner, and the grass was growing all the time on the huge sods between which the seed was cast, it produced more than fifteen bushels an acre; the following year it produced forty bushels; so great is the fertility of this virgin soil, and so genial to growth is the climate.

“As to the garden, you may grow almost what you please in it, and how you please. Our raspberries are the finest I ever saw, and as to currants


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and gooseberries, particularly the currants, they revel in their luxuriance. We take no great pains in our transplanting and grafting. Stick in your cutting, and it is sure to grow. I have not done anything yet in the way of grapes; we have not the patience to wait for the slow growth of the vine; we are spoiled by the quick growth of our fruits and flowers; but I see no reason why the vine should not succeed here, particularly the more hardy sorts. But of all the things that grow, the most astonishing, certainly, are our pumpkins and vegetable marrows. It is hardly too much to say that you may see them grow; but we don't care much for them.

“I ought to mention that we export a good deal of wheat to Sydney. From some cause or other, that part of Australia is subject to droughts; and the wheat grown there is not so good as that grown in Van Diemen's Land; at least the dealers and millers prefer our wheat, and will give a higher price for it than for the Sydney-grown wheat. I think that the port of Sydney may always be depended on as a sure market for a large quantity of Van Diemen's Land wheat. I may say also, that, from the greater warmth of the


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climate at Sydney, they cannot grow good potatoes, and they are always glad to buy ours. While I am on this part of the subject, I may add, that we have a good market for hams in Calcutta at no great distance; and I need not tell a practical farmer like yourself, that the grain and vegetable produce of a farm may often be profitably turned into another substance in the shape of hams and bacon.

“As to the price of wheat, the average since I have been here has been about eight shillings a bushel; the present price while I write is seven shillings; it has been ten shillings within a year or two; but the price varies as in the old country according to the time of the year. Six shillings a bushel will pay, and if you can afford to keep your wheat for a year or two the chances are in your favour that you will get from eight to ten. Barley varies from five to six shillings a bushel; oats a little higher. But, for my own part, I don't think a tillage farm the best pursuit to engage in if you have capital enough to buy stock. Sheep and cattle increase of themselves with little trouble and with little expense; and, as the land they graze over costs nothing to bring into pasture, the profits


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are proportionably great. I grow as much wheat as I want for my own use, and I sell the rest to those round about, to new settlers and others who do not grow wheat or not enough for their own consumption. But cattle and sheep are the best things to invest your money in; both very profitable, but I think sheep the best of the two, because they are the easiest to manage, and their wool is sure to be a valuable and saleable commodity, in the event of the increase of the flocks and herds on the island causing meat to be too cheap to make it worth while to breed them for the carcase.

“I have made a calculation of the probable increase of a flock of five hundred ewes, which may be useful to you and perhaps to others who may think of emigrating to these colonies; but you must observe that this calculation of increase is made on the supposition that the sheep are allowed to increase; for if the emigrant is obliged to eat his breeding stock the result would be, of course, very different. In order to arrive at the largest possible increase, it is necessary that the emigrant should possess sufficient capital to support himself in the interim; for if he eats his


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flocks he will be in the same condition as the farmer who is obliged to eat his seed-wheat; he can have no crop; and every ewe, and, indeed, by every wether that the grazier eats he destroys the compound-interest profit which would otherwise accrue to him—for he might exchange his wether for a breeding ewe—from the increase in a geometrical ratio of the breeding animal. The sheep-farmer ought to be a sort of stoic for some years: he must be content to live in a humble cottage instead of a large house; and he must eat and drink frugally; carefully avoiding the seductive expenses of the town, and the many temptations to lead him from his grand object. I must confess that I have never seen such a resolution completely carried out; but my calculation of the possible increase of sheep is beyond a question an accurate statement of what might be done by any one determined to do it.

“As to diseases of sheep, we have no such things here; of course, if the sheep are neglected to be sheared at the proper season, their coats will hang about them in rags, presenting a very unseemly appearance, and they will shew the usual symptoms of disease; but a little tobacco quickly


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sets them to rights; and with ordinary care there is no fear of losing a single sheep from disease in a dozen years. Among the great advantages attendant on the breeding of sheep is this freedom of disease. They are not touched by the fly; they never have the foot-rot; and are not affected with the scab, so common in England, except from neglect. No extra care is requisite in the lambing season; and every ewe is certain to produce three lambs in two years; and their wool is always a saleable article either here or in England.

Calculation shewing the increase of 500 ewes in six years and a half, from July, 1824, to December, 1830.

“I shall take the cost price to be about the present price of a breeding ewe, namely, twenty shillings, currency, for a ewe heavy with lamb, and of the sort of sheep the carcase of which weighs about sixty pounds, and the fleece of which weighs about three pounds. The calculation of the produce of sheep in Van Diemen's Land is three lambs in two years; but I shall calculate only one lamb a year, to make up for the loss of time in selling the wethers and purchasing


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ewes to breed from instead, as the following calculation is made on the presumption that the wether lambs are replaced by ewe lambs at the proper time, which can easily be done, as for a considerable portion of the year the wether is worth much more to the butcher and for home consumption than the ewe.

         
First year to December, 1824. 
The first year the 500 ewes drop 500 lambs, namely, on September of the same year. 
Original ewes, A  500 
Their lambs, B  500 
Total  1,000 
         
Second year to December, 1825. 
Original ewes, A  500 
Their lambs, B  500 
Ewes A will drop 500 lambs, C  500 
Total  1,500 
       
Third year to December, 1826. 
Ewes A, B, C  1,500 
Ewes A and B will drop 1,000 lambs, D  1,000 
Total  2,500 
       
Fourth year to December, 1827. 
Ewes A, B, C, D  2,500 
A, B, C, D will drop 1,500 lambs, E  1,500 
Total  4,000 



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Fifth year to December, 1828. 
Ewes A, B, C, D, E  4,000 
A, B, C, D will drop 2,500 lambs, F  2,500 
Total  6,500 
       
Sixth year to December, 1829. 
Ewes A, B, C, D, E, F  6,500 
A, B, C, D, E will drop 4,000 lambs, G  4,000 
Total  10,500 
       
Seventh year to December, 1830. 
Ewes A, B, C, D, E, F, G  10,500 
A, B, C, D, E, F will drop 6,500 lambs, G  6,500 
Total  17,000 

“So that if the emigrant can keep his hands off his flock for six years and a half, he will have at the end of that time a flock, or rather many flocks, consisting of seventeen thousand sheep. There are points of detail into which I do not enter, such as fatting old ewes for the butcher, and replacing them by younger ones; but these are not necessary to enlarge on in the present statement. Observe, that I all along presume that the emigrant can sustain himself without eating or realizing one of his increasing sheep. If he must consume


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some of them the profits will be, of course, less in proportion.

“Now, as to the expenses attending this operation during six years and a half; I mean the expenses of keeping the flocks, not the personal expenses of the owner of them; those expenses may be much or little according to his habits, his tastes, and his prudence.

“A flock of sheep in this colony ought not to consist of more than six hundred; you may run a few more, but the weak sheep will suffer by it; in some few places, and at the best season of the year, you may run more together, but six hundred is a fair average.

“The first and second year your flock of five hundred sheep and five hundred lambs will require one shepherd at an expense of wages and food of forty pounds. So that the account will stand thus: —

               
First year  one shepherd  £40 
Second year  two ditto  80 
Third year  four ditto  160 
Fourth year  six ditto  240 
Fifth year  nine ditto  360 
Sixth year  thirteen ditto  520 
Seventh year  twenty-four ditto  960 
Carried forward  £2,360 



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Brought forward  £2,360 
Various incidental expenses, such as building stock-keepers' huts, and providing pots and pans, &c., averaging £100 a year  700 
£3,060 
To which add original cost of 500 ewes  500 
..  £3,560 
To these must be added the cost of merino or other fine-wool rams. In order to improve the quality of the wool I will allow a liberal sum for that supply; and I think the calculation of one hundred and twenty rams in the course of the six years and a half, at £15 per head will be sufficient. You must add, therefore, to the sum of  £3,560 
120 rams at £15 per head  1,800 
£5,360 

“In aid of these expenses you would have the proceeds of your wool. I will take the average weight of the fleece at only two pounds; and observe, that every year the value of your wool will increase from the improvement of the breed. It is impossible to say exactly what the value of wool may be in the market for the next six years, but the account according to experience will stand nearly thus:—


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First year  1,000 fleeces,  averaging 21bs. each,at 9d. per lb.  £75 
Second year  1,500  at 1s.  150 
Third year  2,500  at ls. 3d.  312 
Fourth year  4,000  at ls. 6d.  600 
Fifth year  6,500  at 2s.  1,300 
Sixth year  10,500  at 2s. 6d.  2,625 
Seventh year  17,000  at 2s. 6d.  4,250 
..  43,000  ..  £9,312 

“I shall deduct sixpence per fleece for all expenses of shearing and carting to town; and six-pence per fleece for expenses of packing, freight, and commission in London, which will amount to £2,150.

       
From the sum, therefore, the proceeds of the sales of the wool in London to the amount of  £9,312 
Are to be deducted the expenses  2,150 
Reducing the amount to  £7,162 
To set against the expenses and outlay of  £5,360. 

“With respect to the mode of selling your wool, there are two ways; you may sell it in the colony, or you may send it to England for sale on commission. By selling it in the colony you get your money quicker; by sending it to England you get a much higher price. By colonial sales,


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therefore, you must make great sacrifices; for in proportion as the value of money is great in the colony from the facility of putting it out to profitable uses, so is the discount large on the purchase of wool, the returns of which cannot be realized by the merchant for fiffteen or, perhaps, eighteen months. But something may always be got for wool in the colony; because it makes a good remittance to England. In the above estimate I have considered that the wool is to be sold in the colony; but I have calculated also that such wool would be much finer, cleaner, and better sorted, than the ordinary dirty stuff which is at present packed in heaps and sent home for sale; much of which does not realize more than nine-pence per lb., whereas the fine wools from the continental part of New South Wales, which is much in advance of Van Diemen's Land in respect to the quality of the wool and the manner of preparing it for the home market, will readily command, in the London sales, from two shillings and sixpence to three shillings and sixpence per pound.

“I will say one word here, as to the transport of wool from one side of the globe to the other. The


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weight of the fleeces of 17,000 sheep would be, at 2 lbs. to the fleece, 34,000 lbs., about 15 tons. The freight from Van Diemen's Land to London I will put so high as to be above all ordinary calculations; I will put it as high as £10 per ton; this would be about one penny per pound for the carriage of the wool. This cost of freight on the ship carriage of wool, saleable at two shillings and sixpence per pound, is so small as to make but a very trifling diminution of the receipts; showing that wool is a valuable commodity, which will well bear the expense of transport from one side of the globe to the other.

“You will perceive by this statement, that an emigrant, carrying on the occupation of a sheep-farmer as I have described, may fairly calculate on receiving for his wool, during six and a half years, the sum of £7,162; but I will make a deduction from this of twenty per cent—one-fifth—freely to cover all possible incidental expenses and losses; that reduces £7,162 to £5,730.

“This sum of £5,730, you will perceive, is sufficient to cover the original cost of his 500 ewes, the expenses of his shepherds, the incidental expenses of his sheep-walks, and of the purchase


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of his rams; that is, he will have £5,730 to put against £5,360.

“At the end of the six and a half years' course, therefore, the account will stand thus:

OUTLAY

         
500 ewes  £500 
Expense of shepherds  2,360 
Their incidental expenses  700 
Merino rams  1,800 
..  £5,360 

RECEIPTS.

     
Sales of wool, clear of all expenses  £5,730 
17,000 sheep, at 20s. per head  17,000 
..  £22,730 

“With respect to my valuation of the 17,000 sheep, at 20s. per head, at the end of six and a half years, I may as well take that estimate as any other, for if, on the one hand, their value may be less from the increase of flocks on the island, on the other hand, their value may be greater from the increased influx of emigrants to these colonies, and very likely to new colonies on the western coast of the continental island, who will buy sheep from this colony. But supposing the emigrant were to disregard the increase of his


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flocks beyond the 17,000 which I have enumerated; supposing he were to kill his lambs as soon as they were born; he would still have the wool of 17,000 sheep to depend on, producing at least about £5,000 a year.

“These prospects appear very flattering, but the calculations are strictly correct. I am showing what may be done with sufficient capital, and that capital not much; such a capital, indeed, as would not be sufficient to enable a man to enter into any extensive operations in farming or in merchandizing in the old country. The reason of these great advantages to be derived from sheep-farming in these colonies is obvious enough. You have the land for nothing; there is no house rent; no taxes; no rates; no pens wanted for the sheep, summer or winter, the genial nature of the climate allowing them to lie out in the open air during the whole year; there is no artificial food necessary for winter keep; the sheep are subject to no diseases, and any ordinary person, whether used to sheep and farming or not, makes a passable shepherd in Van Diemen's Land. I might say something here on the importance of the Home Government encouraging,


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by all possible means, the establishment of extensive sheep farms in these colonies, inasmuch as every pound of wool exported from this colony gives rise to an equivalent value of manufacture at home; for we are British to the back-bone in our tastes, our habits, and our allegiance, and are desirous of remaining so as long as you will let us, and not play tricks with us, as you did with the American colonies, which you have lost. But my letter would be too long if I dilated on such matters, so I will proceed now—supposing that you have determined to come out—to show you the best way to go about it.

“The first thing that I should advise you to do when you have determined to emigrate is to turn into money all the property that you do not intend to take out with you; and, in doing this, bear in mind that your great object is to change articles of luxury and finery, which are misplaced and often worse than useless in the bush, into sheep and cattle, which will go on increasing while you are sleeping. I advise you, therefore, not to keep any article of furniture nor any other article that cannot be immediately turned to profitable use in the colony, and especially not to


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bring out such articles as silver spoons and forks or silver plate of any description, nor articles of jewellery, nor watches valuable for their gold cases; for the money produced by the sale of such things laid out in sheep will in a short time enable you to repurchase them tenfold. With respect to watches, I advise you to procure one or two or three really good watches, not of a curiously exact sort, but of a very plain and unattractive nature and set in silver, or better in pinchbeck cases, so as to afford no temptation for theft. In selling off your superfluous articles, take care to reserve all articles of bedding, but the bedding-furniture is not wanted; if of a costly description sell it; if not bring it. Reserve also all articles of dress, as if not wanted they meet with a ready sale as second-hand clothes; and every scrap and rag of linen and cotton stuff that you may have about the house. Reserve also all your chests of drawers; they are the handiest things that you can have on board ship and in your first rough dwelling in the colony; and they make nearly as cheap packing-cases as you can buy. Keep also one or two small and strong common washing-stands for the ship and for use afterwards. And pack up all


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your crockery, and every pot and pan in the house. While you are at work about this you must be looking out for the articles that it will be necessary for you to take out with you; and lose no time about it, for after you have made up your mind, every day that you remain is a grievous loss of time, and every shilling that you spend is almost as grievous a loss of money. I will specify some things that it will be proper for you to bring with you; and your own judgment will suggest to you various other necessary articles and conveniences which I do not enumerate: —

                                   
4 American axes, with handles complete.  A large grindstone. 
2 Broad axes.  12 Socket chisels, assorted. 
Cask of shingle nails.  Strong stock and bits. 
2 Cwt. spike nails.  2 Spoke shaves. 
Cask of nails assorted.   2 Extra large jack-planes. 
6 American augers assorted.  1 Dozen whetstones. 
2 Cross-cut saws.  1 Dozen saw-edged reap-hooks. 
2 Ripping saws; one light.  12 Pair of shears. 
A carpenter's chest of strong tools.  Portable corn-mill. 
A bolting machine, desirable.  2 Fine sieves. 
Ditto, small thrashing machine.  2 Coarse ditto. 
Complete apparatus for a forge.  Copper-mill. 
Small plain medicine chest.   Pepper-mill. 
Two trowels.  Papin's digestor. 
Plastering trowels.  Hand-bill. 
Swan-shot.  Chopper. 
Fish-hooks. 
Candle-moulds. 



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Shot, No. 4.  Balls of candle wick. 
Gunpowder.  Small churn. 
3 Pewter basins and jugs.  Milk pans. 
4 Muskets and bayonets.  Window glass, 12 by 10. 
2 Dozen pannikins (tin).  A large filter. 
6 Tripods.  Gun-flints. 
Plastering brush.  Hinges for windows. 
Hinges for gates and various.  4 Pocket-compasses. 
Window-frames.  1 Watch-seal compass. 
Pipe-bowls.  6 Paint brushes. 
Tobacco.  Lots of pins and needles. 
Curtain-rings.  2 Brace of large pistols. 
Small assortment of screws; some very large.  A side-saddle or two. 
2 Sets of harrow tines. 
Axles and boxes for 2 carts; and 2 wheels each for ditto. 
2 Iron wheels for barrows. 

“I put down the articles that are useful just as they occur to me, without care for the order in which I place them. The want of a piece of pack-thread at this moment suggests to me that you would do well to bring with you a small assortment of cordage. About 14 lbs. of carpenter's chalk-lines, and 14 lbs. of bricklayer's ditto, and about the same quantity of sash-lines would be a good assortment; any surplus of which you might readily sell; but I by no means advise you to attempt merchandizing. Generally speaking that cannot be done profitably, except in a large way, and you might have to


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wait for a market, which would not serve your turn. You must choose between keeping a shop, or a store as they call it in the town, and a farm in the bush. To my fancy farming is far better than shop-keeping; but that's a matter of taste and of habit.

“I must not forget seeds. There are plenty of seeds here of all sorts nearly; but it will be easier for you to bring them with you than to be running after them when you arrive and have many things to attend to.

“The following are the proportions that I should recommend, and perhaps the quantities are as much as you would want the first year:

                           
1 quart Early peas.  4 oz. Early round turnip. 
2 quarts Prussian ditto.  4 oz. Garlick. 
1 quart Sword and pod beans.  4 lb. Red clover. 
1 quart Windsor ditto.  4 lb. White ditto. 
1 pint China dwarf ditto.  1 peck Meadow-hay seed. 
1 oz. Red beet.  1 lb. White round turnip. 
2 oz. Thousand-headed cabbage.  1 lb. Yellow Swede ditto. 
1/2 oz. Red ditto.  2 lb., Mangel wurzel. 
8 oz. Carrot.  4 quarts Cocksfoot. 
1/2 oz. Leek.  2 oz. Sweet briar. 
2 oz. Deptford onion.  1 quart Spanish chesnuts. 
1 oz. White ditto.  2 oz. Larch. 
2 oz. Parsnip.  1 pint Hiccory nuts (2 sorts). 
1/2 lb. Radish. 



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“I don't pretend to give you an exact list of all the articles that it would be proper or advantageous for you to bring out with you; that must depend on your means and your particular views; but the articles which I have mentioned will give you a general idea of what is wanted, and will serve to suggest other things. For instance, if your means are sufficient to place you during the first year in a position, which other emigrants of less capital cannot attain for several or for many years; if you have capital to spare to build a good house at once, instead of waiting for some years before you can compass that desirable object, then, in such case, bring out with you all the furniture—the chairs, and tables, and sofas, and curtains, of a commodious and well-furnished house. By-the-bye, do not neglect to bring a couple of commodious tents which you may pick up cheap in London second hand. You may live delightfully in a tent for at least six months of the year; but take care they are double tents, to defend you from the rain. I read in the London newspapers of various projects of frame-houses; but I do not advise you to think of that expedient.


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The best house to build is a log house for a temporary habitation, and a stone house for a permanent one. Having said thus much about your preparations for emigrating, I will give you a little advice as to your passage on board ship; but first I must say a word about servants. Don't think of bringing out any servant either for domestic or for field purposes, in the expectation that they will remain with you unless you give them the same high wages which are obtained by good free servants in the colony. Some have brought out ploughmen and sawyers, blacksmiths and carpenters, in the hope of making a sort of profit by their labour, at the low rate of English wages, to compensate for the speculation of bringing them out; and to ensure their services they have bound them to their service by regular legal indentures. But what has been almost invariably the result? As soon as they have arrived in the colony, and have ascertained the rate of wages, so far above the rate for which they bound themselves, they have become discontented, and have refused to work. I remember in one case at which I was present, when the master brought an indentured servant before a


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bench of magistrates for breach of his covenant, the refractory servant was committed to prison for a month, for refusing to work. But how did that help his master? Putting the man in prison was all very well as a vindication of the law, but of what use was the imprisonment to the master, or to anybody else? The man would not work a bit the more for it; and as to the example, it was totally useless in preventing other such servants from being affected by the same discontent—a discontent, I should say, almost unavoidable under the circumstances. As to female servants, they are so much in request, that if they are at all marriageable, you must not expect to keep them long, and if they are pretty or young, they are snapped up in a moment. The best thing you can do is to select some old crone, not past work, who is very ugly, and even then you must not count on keeping her for certain; or else bring out a married couple on whom you can depend, and make it worth their while to stay with you, and look after your property. Now as to the ship: —

“In choosing your ship, prefer a large one to a small one, and a new one to an old one; and


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if it is the vessel of some old-established house with a character to lose, the better. There are two ways of taking your passage; in the cabin or in the steerage. The first is best for a single man; but for a family I should advise the steerage. The cabin you are aware is considered the most genteel, and there you are victualled without trouble by the captain; but in the steerage you can come out for half the money, and provide yourselves more abundantly and much better than in the cabin; and as to being looked down at either in the ship from being in the steerage, or in the colony, snap your fingers at that. Conduct, character, and dollars will assign you your due position here, without any one caring a fig whether you came out in the cabin or the steerage. I will give you just one word of advice as to your arrangements for a steerage-passage. Take care to agree for a particular part of the steerage boarded off to yourselves; provide yourself with a ten-gallon water-cask charred inside, and a moderate-sized filter. Lay in a liberal provision of the preserved meats which are sold in London in air-tight tin cannisters. Have abundance of rice and


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good biscuit in tin cases; the tin cases will sell for the cost of them in the colony. A respectable chemist—Allen, of Plough Court, Lombard Street, is the best that I know of—will advise you as to the quantity of carbonate of soda, and of citric or tartaric acid, to have by you to make effervescing draughts, which will help to keep your family in health during the hot period of your passage. You will not want much wine; very little; but don't be short of good French brandy. For children it is well to be provided with some good treacle—plenty of it—instead of butter, which you should entirely refrain from; treacle is a preventive of the scurvy in a long voyage. I must not forget the rice; have plenty of it; and I need not say that all sorts of jams form capital sea-stock—but pack them all in tin.

“You will expect me to say something about sea-sickness, as I have been a long voyage.

“The best preventive of sea-sickness is RESOLUTION, with exercise on deck, and temperance. I don't think there is any remedy for it when it once begins; but it may be checked, and its return prevented or lessened by resolution. By beginning


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in time, and carefully following a preventive system, I did not suffer a single minute's uneasiness from sea-sickness, I remember, during the whole voyage. Reading, writing, playing at chess, backgammon—almost any occupation in which the mind can be engaged, I have either experienced or observed, has the effect of preventing this troublesome malady. The best restorative after sickness is cold brandy and water. On board ship, fresh air should always be welcomed however cold; the deck is the place, and there you should wear a rough, coarse dress, which you are not afraid of having spoiled, and pull at all the ropes, and help in anything that will give you exercise; and wear thick-soled shoes. Never mind the wet of sea-water; I never knew it do anybody any harm.

“When you arrive in the colony, you will find me, I trust, ready to receive you, and to give you all sorts of information useful to you in taking your land and stocking your farm.”

I may as well say here, that my letter had the effect of determining my friend to emigrate with his family to Van Diemen's Land, and


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he is now one of our most flourishing settlers. He has often thanked me for having been the means of assisting him to a decision on the most important undertaking of his life, and he says that he owes his present prosperous condition to my letter. As this letter has done so much good, and as its general hints are applicable to all colonies, I have given it as I wrote it, without abridgement or alteration, in these colonial reminiscences.




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CHAPTER XIV.

FOURTEEN YEARS PASS BY—THE EMIGRANT'S WEALTH—A LETTER FROM THE GYPSEY'S DAUGHTER—DEATH OF CRAB.

IT was fourteen years after the occurrences which I have related in my preceding memoirs that I was sitting in my garden under a splendid mimosa tree which we had cherished for many years as a favourite spot—enjoying the calm of a peaceful evening.

I had for several years past resigned the active management of my farms, with my flocks and herds, to my eldest son, who, with his wife and family, resided with me in our large stone house, after the old patriarchal custom. My daughter Betsey, who had married George Beresford in 1827, had five children, and resided at Cherry-tree Bottom, in a comfortable cottage, of which Crab, now very far advanced in years, and who for some time past had grown very feeble, was the


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dissatisfied owner. Beresford, the elder, had married Lucy Moss in 1824, and they now resided on the banks of the Shannon River, surrounded by a numerous family.

It was the close of the summer season, in the month of March, and the face of the country had for some weeks assumed that brown autumnal tint which is the prevailing hue of the fields and foliage for the greater part of the year in Van Diemen's Land. Two tiny urchins, brother and sister, were playing, near me, on a plot of English grass whose lively green and thick close sward contrasted pleasingly with the brown coarse tufts of the native plains beyond. Rather too thickly clustered, in a space that was covered with fruits and flowers, were apple, pear, and peach trees; the former bearing the ruddy tint of the English fruit, and the latter in its full ripeness. A fine boy of eight years of age was coaxing a young kangaroo with sugar, and a white cockatoo, raising up his yellow-feathered tuft, screamed and chattered on the walk to attract the notice of his playfellows. In the park-like plain below were grazing some of the dairy cows,


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with two or three horses, and a small pet flock of merino sheep.

I was attentively reading a volume of a work which I had lately received from England, for being now able to indulge in my early taste for books, I had accumulated about twelve hundred volumes in a small library, which formed a room, looking on the river, especially devoted to my own serious contemplations;—but the gambols of the children interrupted me continually.

The perusal of my book had produced in me that feeling of melancholy which sometimes takes possession of one's mind without any definable cause. Indeed, of all men, I was one of those the least inclined to melancholy thoughts, and God had been pleased to bless me with such prosperity and increase, that if tears rose in my eyes it must have been from the very fulness of my satisfaction.

I laid down my book, and was revolving as I sat the many scenes of my busy and adventurous life, when my dear wife, the companion of my labours and the sharer of my prosperity, appeared at the end of the walk, with a letter in her hand


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and supporting on her arm her aged mother, who, with the assistance of a staff, was still able, though far advanced beyond the ordinary span of human life, to take her accustomed walks in the garden. My dear Mary was changed a little in her looks, but her heart was still as warm and as affectionate, as ever. She wore her own grey hair, disdaining the artifice of conventional disguise, and boasting that she was prouder of being the grandmother of such a family than of all the brown and clustering curls of her early youth. I could tell by her countenance that she had some agreeable news to communicate as she moved towards me. She gave me the letter with a smile; it bore the mark of England, and on its seal was the single word ”Georgiana.“

I ought to say here, that after the Gypsey's daughter had been received in my family, immediate steps were taken by me and the magistrate for securing her legal rights in England. Various letters passed, and at the end of four years an agent, duly empowered by her legal guardians, arrived in the colony to take charge of her on her passage home. Her uncle, John Shirley, he informed us, had obtained possession of the estates


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as next heir; but the elder brother, William, had made a will, by which he devised the whole of his estates and property to trustees for the benefit of George Shirley, should he ever return to England, or to his children. It was impossible to dispute the will, but the uncle denied the marriage and the identity of the child. These points were easily proved in the colony; but, as the trustees in England were desirous of her presence at home for their greater satisfaction and for the better prosecution of her cause, we took advantage of the opportunity of the return of a friend and his wife to the mother country to place her under female care, and, accompanied by the agent, she set sail in 1828. She was then eleven years of age, and one of the most beautiful little girls I ever saw, and beginning to be highly accomplished, for our governess had done her duty well, and the child had amply replied to the unmeasured attention which she bestowed on her.

I remember when I told my old friend, the magistrate, of her intended departure, and expressed my satisfaction that she would meet with no troubles in England, like those to which she had been exposed from the machinations of her


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uncle and from the caprice of the savages in this country, my worthy and facetious friend was pleased to observe that,

“Bad as that was she might be worse.”

“Why, what can they do worse with her?” said I.

“Why,” replied my friend, “they can put her in Chancery!”

My children, who had become attached to their affectionate playmate, were very sad, I remember, at this sort of evil prognostication on the part of my friend, thinking that to be put in Chancery was some terrible disaster; and they conjured up all sorts of horrid ideas about a prison and looking through the bars; but, when I explained to them that the Court of Chancery was a place of refuge curiously and ingeniously contrived for the redress of wrongs and for the protection of the orphan; and that in twenty or thirty years, or, at least, in the course of half a century, the rights of their young friend would be in fair progress of restoration, as, shortly after that time, some future Lord Chancellor would probably declare when her case might be mentioned at some future time, with a


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view to its being begun to be heard, they were silenced; although, I am inclined to think, not quite satisfied with my well-meant explanation.

We had received many letters from Miss Shirley since her arrival in England, and the first news that we had of her was that she was in Chancery, which spread a gloom over my family, that was cleared up however when we were informed that she did not suffer in her health in consequence, and that in the meantime her guardians supplied all her wants with a liberal hand; for her case was so plain that no human being had any doubt of the success of her cause, excepting of course the high functionary who had to decide on it. We were very anxious, therefore, to hear of the progress of our young friend, and it was with lively interest that I opened the letter, and read aloud its contents. It was addressed to my wife in the inside, and ran thus: —

"MY DEAREST MRS. THORNLEY,

“MY previous letters will have taught you to expect that the most important event of my life would soon take place, and that I should again change my name; but the change, I assure you,


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has produced no alteration in the heart, towards you and yours, of your grateful Georgiana.—I may now break through the reserve which I have hitherto maintained in respect to some points relating to my marriage.

“My first acquaintance with my husband began at Milan, whither my guardian had taken me two years ago in the course of our travels through Italy. We had gone to the opera on the evening of our arrival, without being aware of the piece that was to be performed, or not thinking of its application to myself. The opera passed off very well, but the next piece was ‘The Gypsey.’ The scene brought back to my recollection my early sorrows in Van Diemen's Land, and by one of those strange coincidences which sometimes take place to our wonder in real life, the dark Italian eyes of one of the performers brought back so vividly to my recollection the look of my poor father when he caressed me shortly before his melancholy fate, that I became troubled, and a tide of painful thoughts rushing in upon me, I fainted. A gentleman—young—and handsome of course, assisted my guardian to convey me to


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our carriage, and such assistance accepted was a sufficient introduction for the next day. Our intimacy increased, and although he was eight years older than I, he became attached to me: but I struggled hard to prevent my heart from becoming engaged, fearful that, from his rank and connections, he might despise me when he came to learn the secret of the Gypsey's daughter. This continued for the two years that we remained abroad, when having learnt to appreciate his generous character I determined to reveal to him my terrible secret. He declared that he did not love me less, and esteemed me more for my confidence and sincerity. Shortly after this he quitted our society under the plea of his affairs in England requiring his presence; and on our return home he presented to me a packet of papers, and immediately retired. I was alarmed at this conduct, and instantly opened the packet, when I found documents completely exculpating my dear father from any share in the death of the gamekeeper, for his supposed participation in which, he had been condemned to banishment. That obstacle—which indeed existed only on my


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part—being removed—with the consent of my guardians, I resigned my future destiny to his care, and I now write to you as his happy wife.

“When I reflect on my present happiness, my dearest second mother, I cannot but feel my large debt of gratitude for your fostering care of the forlorn gypsey's daughter; and how can I repay you for all your kindness, and for the kindness of your children to me? Pray remember me to them all; to the grave William, the merry Betsey, or rather I should call her Mrs. George Beresford; to the good-natured Edward, and is he still called 'Sporting Ned?' to Mary, and to Lucy, and though last not least, to my dearest Ellen who used to romp with me; nor must I forget my dear old governess, Mrs. Ramsay, who I hope continues in your family, and who was so kind and good to the orphan wanderer. I am almost tempted to wish that you were very poor that I might have the delight of sharing with you what we possess, for we are very rich; but your flocks and herds I hear almost cover the island, and with your large estates, your carriages, and your horses, and your baronial house, and all your patriarchal abundance, I am at a loss to know


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what to send out to you. I wish you could convey your fifteen thousand acres of land to England! And only think of that acre of land which Mr. Thornley bought in Hobart-Town some years ago turning out such a valuable property; but of course as land is wanted in a town for building houses on as the inhabitants increase, every square foot as my husband says becomes valuable.

“My dear husband has sent out two beautiful horses for Mr. Thornley, and some curious cattle and Saxon sheep for William; and I have sent a grand piano-forte with the latest improvements for Mary, which will stand very nicely at the end of your large room; and a harp for Ellen, with quantities of music. I have also to request Edward to accept the choicest double-barrel gun, with all sorts of apparatus which I don't understand, that can be purchased in London, and my husband has taken particular pains in selecting it. I was at a loss to know what remembrance to send to Lucy, but I have been fortunate enough to find a beautiful cabinet at a curiosity shop, made at Vienna for the empress Maria Louisa of France, with which I think she will be pleased, as it accords with the splendour of her romantic disposition.


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I have sent also a self-acting organ for Betsey, that she may have music, as she used to say she should like, without the trouble of playing. Don't you remember she used to say in her merry way, she would as soon grind the old portable corn-mill as a hand-organ? And now, what have I to say more? Oh! it is to ask you to send us another kangaroo, and some of the pretty Rosina parrots that we made such pets of. Mr. John Shirley is living abroad, and my affairs are still in Chancery; but as we are rich enough, we have the satisfaction, my husband says, of considering that the estates will some day come to our great-grandchildren. Mr. Shirley is inclined, I understand, to compromise the matter by his being allowed a small annuity for life of three thousand a year, which would be nothing for the property to pay, and our solicitors advise us to accept it; but my husband will not forgive him for endeavouring to steal me away as he did, and exposing me to the risk of being killed and eaten by the natives, in order to marry me to his son. My husband says he should have liked to know Musqueeto, for he was a fine fellow for saving my life, and he says it was a shame to


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hang him; but the atrocities and murders that he committed are certainly very shocking. And now, my dear Mrs. Thornley, and my dear friends, I bid you for the present adieu; wishing you a continuance of your present prosperity and happiness. And that you may long live to enjoy the many delights of children, friends, fortune, and independence, with which Providenee has blessed you, is the prayer of your ever affectionate and grateful

“GEORGIANA.

Postscript.—I declare I had forgotten to ask after my old friend Mr. Crab. He was very old, and getting infirm, I thought, when I left the country. Is he still alive? and does he still go on grumbling, and declaring that he will leave the ‘horrid, wretched’ country by the very next ship? Again,

“Yours,

“GEORGY.”

“Kind, good-hearted old man!” said I. “He will be glad to hear that the little girl, whom he was so fond of, has not forgotten her old friend; but I


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fear, from the account we received of him last night, that he will not be in this world long, to receive such remembrances.”

As I spoke, George Beresford arrived on horse-back, and in haste, to inform us that the symptons, which had exhibited themselves the evening before, had become more alarming, and that Betsey wished me to come over immediately. I desired a horse to be saddled instantly, and leaving my wife to follow in the carriage, I made the best of my way with my son-in-law to Cherry-tree Bottom.

On our way we called at the surgeon's, and mounting him on a led horse, which my groom had brought with him for the purpose, he accompanied us, to see if art could do anything to prolong the life of my old friend.

“I fear,” said the surgeon, “that all art is useless in this case; he is dying of sheer old age. How old really is he?”

“We don't exactly know,” said I: “he owns to eighty-two, but from his remembrance of past events in England, we think he must be much older.”

We soon arrived at Cherry-tree Bottom,


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which was situated in a little hollow, embosomed among the surrounding hills. Crab had made it the very model of an English farm, and the rick-yard contained in addition to several imposing stacks of wheat thatched to a nicety, and kept untouched, “because,” as he said, “they made a farm-house look warm and home-like,” a tolerable stack of hay made from native grass. The garden presented the autumnal maturity of luxuriance, which is so striking in this country, and an ample orchard of cherry-trees proclaimed that the name of the favoured spot was now deservedly bestowed.

On a stubble-field, enclosed within a hawthorn-hedge, two horses in a line were ploughing, with a Shropshire plough; Crab holding in abomination the colonial practice of employing oxen in ploughs and carts. Within sight of the house, a pond had with much labour been excavated to receive the waters of a little rivulet that took its source from a distant tier of hills. Indisputable English geese and ducks disported themselves in this capacious reservoir, gladdening the old man's eyes with the picture of his early youth. But those eyes were now about


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to close; and with a heaviness of heart which I did not attempt to suppress, I approached the door of my ancient friend's dwelling.

We found the old man seated in an easy chair, his silvery white hair hanging on his shoulders, by an open window, having a view at the same time of his wheat-stacks, his duck-pond, and his twelve-acre wheat-field, at which his servants were now at work. He had been complaining, Betsey told us, of the mistiness of the atmosphere, although the air was clear and pure—I well knew what this mistiness meant.

“Here's father, coming to see you,” said Betsey, raising her voice a little, for a little deafness had been for some time one of the old man's infirmities.

“Thornley, I'm glad to see you. Where are you? come closer; the air is very dim: I suppose it's the natives that have fired the country, and it's all smoke as it always is in this place!”

“There are no natives now,” said Betsey, “to fire the country; they have all been removed these many years.”


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“Have they? Ah! I remember something about those sweeping expeditions, and what fun it was! making a line across the country, and the natives behind us all the while wondering what we were after!”

“How do you feel, my dear friend?” said I, soothingly.

“Very weak—very weak indeed. You see, Thornley, this wretched country has killed me at last. I always said it would, but you never would believe me. But it serves me right—yes, quite right; I ought to have left it long ago. It was those hops that deluded me on.”

“You have shown the colonists how to grow hops,” said I, wishing to please him by a little praise which he well deserved.

“Ah! haven't I? And taught them how to make beer too! Betsey, my dear, tell them to get your father a jug of that last tap. Let me taste it.” They put the cup to his lips. “How's this? it tastes oddly! Get some more in another jug. Thornley musn't come to my house and not have a glass of ale! But I shall grow no more hops! and drink no more of my own home-brewed ale!”


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“My dear friend,” said I, “you have lived a longer life than is ordinarily the lot of man; and your latter years have been passed in a state of prosperity far beyond your early expectations. Let us hope that the Great Being who has blessed the latter part of your career with so much wealth and ease, will regard all your complainings in this life with an indulgent eye; and that your life hereafter may be such as he has promised to those who keep his word and trust in him .”

“I don't know,” said Crab—in a slow and feeble voice, his mind beginning to wander—“that I have done much amiss—except the coming to this wretched country, and the staying in it, which is worse; but I'll go home by the next ship. Not a drop of beer to be had in the country for love or money! What's the use of a public-house if there's no beer in it? Half-a-guinea for a bottle of stout! It's shameful! Did you ever see a chap plough a field that way before? Not know what lying fallow means! You're a cockney! I don't wish to be uncivil—but you're a cockney! I say you're a cockney!”

“His mind is wandering,” said the benevolent


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clergyman attached to the Clyde church; “but his life has been so innocent, and all his intentions so good, that if ever spirit ascended to the presence of its Maker with hope and trust, such may be the reliance of this single-hearted old man!”

My wife now arrived; but it was with difficulty that our dying friend could be made to recognize her; and when he did, his waning intellects referred to times and scenes foreign to the present.

“Mrs. Thornley,” said he, in slow and feeble accents, “your poor husband has been killed by the natives; but we must bear it—we must bear it. To roast him alive! The savages! But we'll all leave the country. I'm going to leave the country. Where's Betsey?”

Betsey took hold of the old man's hand, and spoke to him.

The clergyman now asked him if there was anything that he wished to say, anything that he wished to have done?

The questions of the divine roused the old man to a consciousness of his present state, and recalled his mind from its feeble wanderings. But


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his voice became weaker and weaker, and his pulse grew more feeble in its flutterings—and it was with difficulty that we could make out the meaning of what he uttered.

“I know,” he said, in a whisper scarcely articulate,—“that—we—must—all die!—but—I—wanted to see how that wheat turned out—in—the—new—field. George—never—plough with—oxen—and—don't—shoot—the bull, as you did—the—other one. I—am—going—I—am—going. Betsey—hold—my—hand. What do I feel? Betsey—am—stifling!—I—I—I—can't—breathe—my—breath—Thornley—I—am—going—at last—out—of this—wretch—wretch—wretch-ed—country—home—at—last.”

And so he died.

There was not a dry eye in the room. For my own part, I sobbed like a child; although my dear old friend had died full of years and prosperity, and in peace and hope. But he was my ancient friend, my earliest companion in the colony, and I loved him for the very whims and failings for which others laughed at him.

“That was one of the best hearts in one of the


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roughest husks that ever I had to deal with,” said the surgeon. And so thought we all, but for some time no one spoke, and I retired with a sad heart to the banks of the Clyde.

We buried our old friend in the churchyard which had been consecrated with the church by the Bishop of Australia. Over his grave I placed a modest tablet, with this simple inscription: —

HERE LIE THE MORTAL REMAINS OF SAMUEL CRAB, AN ENGLISH FARMER, AGED 86.


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CHAPTER XV.

CONCLUSION.

I HAVE but little more to add to these memoirs. The recent events in the colony are too well known to render it necessary for me to enter into a description of them. But I cannot refrain from contrasting the present condition of Van Diemen's Land with that which it presented in 1817, now more than two and twenty years ago.

At that time scarcely an emigrant had arrived, and the colony was a purely penal settlement; now the farms of the emigrants are spread over a large part of the island. In 1817, when I arrived in the colony, the population was not much more than two thousand, of whom very few were free inhabitants; the population is now not less than forty-five thousand, of whom more than twenty-three thousand are free. In 1817 there was not a


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single pound of wool exported from the colony; in ten years after, in 1827, 192,075 lbs. were exported; and, in 1838, 1,942,000 lbs. were exported, selling at ls. 6d. to 2s. 6d. per lb. Until 1824, there was no attempt at the establishment of a bank; now there are not less than six banks which may be considered as firmly established, with a paid-up capital of about £200,000. In twelve years the exports have been increased from £14,000 to £420,000 per annum. Churches have been built and ministers appointed in most of the populous districts of the island. There is a greater security for life and property all over the country. The natives have long since been removed, in 1830, to an island in Bass's Straits, and they are now known in the colony only by tradition. Bushranging, from the spread of free inhabitants, is now seldom attempted; and sheep-stealing never occurs in the wholesale way in which it was carried on, as many remember, some years ago.

In Hobart-Town, the changes and improvements are great and striking. Handsome country-houses have been erected in the neighbourhood of the town; and the streets and bridges have been increased and improved. Vessels of 400 tons


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burthen may now load and unload by the side of a commodious wharf; and a vast improvement has taken place in the general aspect of the town and in the state of its society.

With respect to my own individual case, I may fairly take it as an instance of what may be done by industry, frugality, and perseverance; and of the advantages to be derived from settling in a colony, in its early stage, when its lands are unoccupied and almost worthless, and easy, therefore, to be obtained; but which, in the progress of years, and by the increase of inhabitants, grow into valuable estates.

I am now declining in years, but my health is strong and firm, and I have never had a day's illness since I have been in the colony.

My old friend, the magistrate, who is now grown very rich and very fat, has been for some months past curiously inquiring into the nature of my occupations, seeing me always so busily employed in writing without any ostensible reason for such a labour. I shewed the pile of manuscript to him, the other day, which had accumulated to a formidable heap, and told him, in confidence, what I had been about.


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“And what are you going to do with it?” said he, “why there is more than enough to make three volumes in print.”

“If I thought the printing of it would be useful,” said I, “although I did not begin it with that intention, I would not object to its being published.” And, therefore, I offered to read to him the whole of the manuscript from the beginning to the end. I thought my worthy friend changed countenance at this offer, and not liking to give me so much trouble, I suppose, he replied,

“For Heaven's sake don't think of such a thing:—I'll take it all for granted. But what is it all about?Have you been writing a history of the island?”

“The island,” I replied, “or rather the colony, is too young as yet to have a history to write about.—I have been describing,” I continued, “minutely, and from my own experience, the individualprocess of emigration. And I have endeavoured,” I added, “to give such descriptions of the colony, from my own observation, as will enable those who may read them to form a tolerably correct idea of what Van Diemen's Land


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really is; and to teach those who have a mind to emigrate how to set about it.”

“Well,” my excellent friend was pleased to say, “you have shut yourself up for a long time; I hope you have finished your task now? You don't intend to write any more of your adventures?”

“No!”—said I;—“HERE ENDS THE SETTLER'S JOURNAL.”

THE END. J. L. COX & SONS, PRINTERS TO THE HONOURABLE EAST-INDIA COMPANY, 74 & 75, Gt. Queen St, Lincoln's-Inn Fields.
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