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TALES OF THE COLONIES: Volume 2

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CHAPTER I.

HE SETS OUT FOR THE CLYDE, TRIES TO MAKE A SHORT CUT, AND MISSES HIS WAY—HE IS LOST IN THE BUSH.

IT was at the close of the month of May, the beginning of the winter season in Van Diemen's Land, that I quitted my companions on the borders of the Great Lake, and, full of sad and anxious thoughts, turned my course towards home. I took care before starting to examine my double-barrel fowling-piece minutely, as well as the holster pistols at the saddle; with these four barrels and my broad-sword, I considered myself a match for any casual attack, as my object was to make the


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best of my way home, and to avoid any encounter either with bushrangers or natives. Besides, as the distance from the Clyde was not much more than thirty miles, and my horse was good, I calculated, that although part of the country was hilly and difficult, and that I had lost some hours of the morning light before I set out, I could reach home before the end of the night.

Hector, who had watched me very closely all the morning, and had seemed particularly inquisitive as to what I was about, of course accompanied me, and Fly accompanied him. In this fashion I travelled on, nothing doubting that my journey, dull and solitary as it was, would come to its natural termination after the usual fatigue; but I little guessed what was in store for me.

I had gone about three or four miles, when I came to the foot of a sharp hill, part of an irregular tier of hills, stretching from the lake to the south-east. When I had come down this descent with my companions, in pursuit of the bushrangers, I had not particularly remarked its steepness, but as I stood at its base, and in a


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manner under it, I felt a strong desire to avoid the task of climbing up the height, and I cast my eyes about to see if there was any break in the tier that presented the prospect of a less difficult ascent.

I observed to the right a hollow which promised an easier passage, and as I had always strongly in my mind, that it was no farther to go round a hill, than to go over it, I turned my horse's head, without hesitation, in that direction. When I reached the hollow, however, it proved delusive, and I found myself in a sort of bay surrounded by hills, not very high, but very steep. Still, full of the desire to avoid climbing a hill at the beginning of a journey, and having a sort of lazy disinclination to dismount, I continued my way somewhat farther to the right, expecting to find the outlet that I wanted.

In this way I was led to try several tempting valleys, which all ended like the first, in disappointment. Vexed at the loss of distance and the loss of time which these attempts cost me, I determined to be baffled no longer, and dismounting at the foot of a high hill, I proceeded


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to climb to the top, leading my horse by the bridle. When I reached the summit, I flattered myself that I was rewarded for my labour by the discovery of a valley which stretched to some distance, and by which, it seemed, I should be able to escape the fatigue of the continual ascents and descents which I should have had to surmount by pursuing the original track to the left. I never doubted but I should be able to find my way to the Clyde by some way or other, for the thought of being lost in the bush, and on horseback too, never occurred to me.

I cantered pleasantly down this valley, which with occasional windings, and one or two gentle ascents, continued for five or six miles, when I was suddenly brought to a stand-still by finding myself in the same difficulty as before, the valley ending in a little deep bay surrounded by steep hills. “Well,” thought I, “as I have come so far, I am not going to be stopped by a hill now, though it is a tough one, and at any rate I have had an easy five miles through the valley.”

So without stopping to think more on it, I got off my horse, and leading him by the end of


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the bridle, I scrambled up the hill. It was a very sharp climb, and when I got to the top, the prospect was rather discouraging. A succession of hills was before me, like the waves of a troubled sea suddenly solidified. The hills looked like gigantic waves. “Hills or plains,” thought I, “I must get through you; I can't miss the 'lie' of the country; and so long as I pursue the right direction, I must come to the end of my journey at last.” So I worked my way on, sometimes riding, sometimes walking, but embedding myself more and more among the intricacies of the hills.

At last I got tired of this work, and my horse began to be tired too, so at the bottom of one of these punch-bowls, I sat down to rest myself; Hector and Fly lay down beside me, and my poor horse, with his head hanging down, looked very doleful. By this time the day had become overcast with a sort of mist, so that I could not see the sun, and the valley in which I was resting looked very gloomy indeed. “I don't like this,” said I; “but I must have another try at it.”

I took off my horse's saddle, and gave him a rub down and cooled his back a bit; then I set


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myself to consider the direction of the Clyde.—I was puzzled; and I began to feel that uneasy sensation which besets one who has lost his way. But my head was cool; and after calculating as well as I could the turnings and windings by which I had reached the present spot, I decided on making my way right across the tier to my left. Patting my horse, and speaking to Hector and Fly encouragingly, I set at the hill boldly.

I found this climb more difficult than any of the previous ascents; and when I had finished it, fagged as I was, it quite chilled me when I found that I was no better off than before; nothing but hills upon hills as far as the misty atmosphere would allow the eye to penetrate. This was very vexatious, and I began to feel a strange trouble come over me. But I never was one to stand still and despond; so plucking up heart, I plunged down the hill, and found myself in a valley similar to the last, but with the disagreeable accompaniment of a multitude of stones and pieces of rock impeding the path.

“Worse and worse,” said I; “but, rocks or no rocks, I must get home.”

I skirted this impassable way to the right for


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about a mile, till I came to a point which presented a favourable opening. I still kept, or thought I kept, the right direction; I followed it, therefore, leading my horse, and getting over the occasional rocky parts as well as I could. I had now another hill to cross, but free, to my great joy, from stones. I got on my horse, for I was sadly tired, vexation of mind increasing the fatigue of body.

I had not proceeded many steps when I found one of the horse's legs failing him, and presently setting his foot on the sharp top of a projecting stone, his leg bent under him, and he stumbled, and almost fell down. I was off in a moment, and with his foot in my hand. The mischief was plain; he had cast a shoe! I remember to this day the odd pang that shot through me as I contemplated this disaster. My difficulty was great enough with the aid of a horse, but without it, it was an awkward one indeed. Nay it was worse than being without one, for I now had to lead a lame horse up hill and down hill, to my great fatigue and incumbrance. I held his foot in my hand for some time, I do believe for more than a minute or two, gazing at it, as if by looking and looking I could remedy the loss.




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When I put down his leg, I stood for some time with my hand on his shoulder, and in a manner stupified by the disaster. He was dead lame. I tried to lead him on, but it was with great difficulty that I could pull him after me. It then struck me that I might find his shoe by searching for it, and that by some means I should be able to put it on again, so as to answer as a temporary shift. Leaving the poor horse standing still, with his near fore-leg bent listlessly, I tried to track the way by which we had come; but this I found no easy matter, and it consumed a great deal of time. I succeeded, however, in finding the shoe, which had been torn off among the rocks over which we had recently passed.

The recovery of the shoe quite lightened my heart, and I strode back to the horse with some glee with my treasure. It was in vain, however, that I tried every imaginable scheme to replace the shoe. I tried to bind it on with my handkerchief, but that was an idle attempt. So there I was with a lamed horse in a dead fix.

In the meantime the shades of evening began to close in upon me, and I felt weary and hungry. Having no fear of the horse's straying suddenly,


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I took off his saddle and bridle, and fastened the holster pistols round my waist with my handkerchief. He presently began to feed, and that pleased me. But what was I to do? To drag him after me in his lame state was an impossible task, and I could not at once make up my mind to leave him. “At any rate,” I thought, “I will try the chance of a night's rest; that may restore him sufficiently, perhaps, to take me home.”

So I set about establishing myself for the night, and as I was used to bush expeditions, I soon made myself tolerably comfortable. There was the kangaroo rug for my bed and covering, and the saddle for a pillow, and that was luxurious accommodation for the bush. I wished to go after a kangaroo, but I was too tired, and it was getting too dark for that sport.

I looked for water, and fortunately found a little spring running over a shelving rock at no great distance. I took a good drink of it, and then tried to get the horse to it, but it would have been too long a job; so I filled my hat, and by that means contrived to give him a drink too.


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I then kindled a fire, by flashing some loose powder in the pan of one of the pistols, and lighted a piece of charred punk, which is as good for the purpose as the German tinder which has been brought to the colony by some settlers. Sitting down by my fire, I proceeded to eat my supper in great state, the kangaroo rug forming a comfortable carpet, and the saddle, a resting place for my elbow.

The fire burned briskly and cheerfully, and I discussed a huge piece of damper with considerable relish. As I did not expect to be out in the bush another night, I was rather lavish with my provision, and Hector and Fly came in for a more than liberal share of the supper. I confess I felt as if I wanted something more, and I was vexed to lose a night, and to have to pass it in the bush unnecessarily, but there was no help for it, so I prepared myself for a sleep.

With my pistols in my belt, and my fowling-piece alongside of me, I rolled myself up in the kangaroo rug, my feet towards the fire, and my head resting on the saddle for a pillow. Hector nestled himself close to my head, and feeling


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secure against any sudden surprise with my faithful dog watching me, overpowered with fatigue, I soon fell asleep.

I slept for some hours, and was awakened by the cold air of the early morning. The sharpest time of the twenty-four hours in Van Diemen's Land is just before sun-rise, and as it was now the beginning of winter, I felt the frosty air very disagreeably. It was still dark, and the fire was quite out. Not liking to stumble about in the dark after fire-wood, and expecting that the morning would break in about an hour or so, I unrolled myself from my rug, and kept myself warm by walking, taking short seaman's turns backwards and forwards.

The time seemed very long before daylight came, but as the longest night must, at last, come to an end, so did this, and my sight was gladdened with the coming light, but the morning was very foggy. From this foggy state of the atmosphere I was inclined to suspect that I was in the vicinity of some lake, but how I could have wandered back to the Great Lake, if I had done so, it puzzled me to make out. The hazy state of the weather, however, was a serious evil,


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as it prevented me from seeing the sun, and deprived me of that guide to my course.

When it was light enough, I looked eagerly round for the horse, and saw him close to the spot where I had left him the previous night. I went up to him and examined him; he was in a pitiable condition indeed; his foot was swelled frightfully, and it was plain that it was quite out of the question to hope that he could carry me, for he could not even carry himself beyond a few steps on his three tottering legs.

Well, this was a bad job; but I had my own legs to carry me, and they had never failed me yet; it would take more time for me to get home certainly, but I had not the slightest apprehension of being able to reach it. So, as there was no help for it,I was obliged to abandon the poor horse to his fate; his saddle and bridle I placed under a shelving rock, and I marked the place in my mind by taking various bearings, so that I might know it again.

Having done this, and having patted the horse as a sort of farewell—the creature seemed to look beseechingly at me not to leave him—I set about considering the direction in which I should proceed.


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I felt rather sharp-set, the damper having become digested with provoking rapidity, but as I had nothing to eat, I was obliged to do (I used to say to my boys) as the King of Prussia did when he had no bread—I went without.

I decided on the direction at once, my mind being still clear, and I tramped on lustily up hill and down dale for about ten miles, when I found myself becoming tired, and still embosomed, to my great perplexity, in the midst of these eternal hills. At last I got angry at my situation—my head became confused—I grew distrustful of myself and of my judgment, and I felt myself rapidly losing all sense and power of deciding on any direction as the right one.

My head, however, did not yet give way; I had still sufficient self-possession to be aware of the danger of suffering my mind to lapse into the perilous state of fear and indecision in the bush, and I thought if I could get some food, the restoration of the body's strength might help to keep the mind in its equilibrium. I looked out, therefore, for something to shoot; but in that desolate place I could not spy a single bird of any description.




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I thought I would try what the dogs could do. I looked narrowly about for some distance around, but could see no trace of a kangaroo. I thought I would try, however,—so summoning up my spirits, and assuming a cheerful tone, I bid the dogs “go hunt!” To my great and most pleasurable surprise, they immediately began to hunt in circles around me, till the wideness of their range withdrew them from my sight. I flattered myself, by their not returning, that they had got scent, and I remained very anxiously at the spot where they had left me for more than two hours.

During this time, a fear came over me that the dogs might leave me, and that I should lose the help of their watchfulness and instinct in the bush; but this fear was an injustice to their fidelity, for at the end of the time, they returned, looking sorely jaded, but with the marks on their mouths of having killed their game.

My two hours' rest had refreshed me, and it was with a joyful and eager voice, partly prompted by an exceedingly sharp appetite, and partly by the instinctive delight of a huntsman at success, that I bid them “go show!” They trotted on and I after them, and a weary way they


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led me. Right over the steepest hills and down the sharpest precipices, without once stopping, or swerving from their line, they took me over seven or eight miles of the severest country that I ever travelled over before or since. Several times I thought I should have been obliged to give in, but hunger is a fierce prompter, and I knew there was killed game at the end, and at length I reached it.

Even the dogs were tired; I sat down for a while, for I was dead beat, and I felt faintish. The sight of the kangaroo, however, was a restorative. I soon cut him up and gave the dogs a meal; and then I kindled a fire, and was not very particular about the cookery, I assure you. I cut off slices from the loin, the tenderest part of the animal and the bushranger's tid-bit, and throwing them on the glowing embers, eat my venison stakes hot and hot without waiting for salt or seasoning.

I left off, because I could not eat any more, and then I began to think what was I to do? I had now got into a part, still among steep hills, where I had lost absolutely all idea of which way I had come, or which way I ought to go. I was


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besides very tired, and my feet and limbs were getting tender from scrambling over stony ground, and over rocks and precipices.

I felt too much fatigued to encounter more wandering that day, for the evening was coming on;—so I made the best of it. I missed my kangaroo rug and saddle for blanket and pillow, but I lighted up a good fire, and sometimes lying down, and sometimes walking about to prevent the night air from benumbing me, and occasionally having a peg at the kangaroo, making capital broils, I contrived to get through the night without losing my spirits.

When daylight came, I cut off from the kangaroo as much flesh as I could carry, and then looking out for the highest hill in my vicinity, I ascended it, and endeavoured to make out where I was, and which was my proper course. I could see nothing but hills, like the vast and tumultuous waves of a troubled sea. The atmosphere was still misty, and I could not, therefore, help myself by observing the position of the sun. I tried to put the instinct of the dogs into exercise, and I spoke angrily to Hector, and bid him “go HOME.”

The dog crouched, and obeyed reluctantly;


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when he had got fifty yards or so, I called him back, and then taking the bearings of different points, I pursued the line which Hector had taken, hoping it was in the direction towards home, or to some inhabited place to which the instinct of the animal had prompted him. Cherishing this hope, I proceeded in this course for many miles, but over a dreadfully fatiguing country, but still without extricating myself from my embarrassing entanglement in those perplexing and confusing hills.

It was now beyond mid-day, and I sat down to rest myself, and, kindling a fire, dined heartily on the flesh of the kangaroo which I carried with me, taking care to feed the dogs well, that hunger might not tempt them to stray from me. Having so refreshed myself, I earnestly bent all my faculties to discover whereabouts I could be, and which was the proper course to pursue. In my difficulty and anxiety, I thought the best thing to do was to try to discover my own track, which I hoped the tread of the horse's feet would leave sufficiently plain, and so find my way back to the point from which I had first


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deviated when I sought for an easier passage across the tier, on leaving the Great Lake.

This I knew would be a tedious journey, but it seemed my only resource. I set about it, therefore, with all the coolness and vigilance which I could summon up, and choosing a direction which I judged would lead me across my own track, I set diligently to work. But all my efforts were in vain. Each succeeding mile seemed only to plunge me deeper and deeper into the recesses and mysteries of the woods.

At the close of day, when the light began to fail me, I found myself at the foot of a rocky and scraggy mountain, at the base of which was a black and stagnant-looking pool. An eagle arose from the margin of the water as I approached, and slowly soared to the summit of the mountain. There were no trees near this spot, nothing but a few ragged and stunted bushes. It was the very picture of loneliness and desolation. Its gloomy and fearful aspect struck a chill into my very soul, and the coming darkness helped to fill my now weakened mind with all sorts of superstitious fears.




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I held my fowling-piece in my hand for a considerable time, with a vague sort of apprehension of danger from I knew not what. At last I roused myself up sufficiently to light a fire, which was a difficult matter, so scanty was the fuel in that barren place. I contrived to kindle one, however; but its faint light seemed to multiply my terrors, and to aggravate the feeling of loneliness and desolation around me.

I felt that I was rapidly falling into that state of mind of which I had heard, but which I had never experienced—the confusion of intellect, and the deprivation of the power of judging, causing the peculiar aberration of mind which seizes on those who feel the terrible conviction of being “lost in the bush!” I was now lost in the bush! That calamity however, frightful as it was—with my body enfeebled, and my mind wandering—was not the worst evil that was to befal me. But I must pause here, and recover myself before I attempt to describe the horrible fate that awaited me in the desolate wilds of the dismal bush.




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CHAPTER II.

ISTHREATENED BY EAGLES—HIS SUFFERINGS—THE MAGNETIC NEEDLE—THE DOGS GIVE NOTICE OF THE NATIVES—THEIR ATTACK—HIS FIGHT SINGLE-HANDED WITH THE SAVAGES.

I SHALL never forget my sufferings on that wretched night. It was piercingly cold, as the nights usually are in the month of June in Van Diemen's Land, and it was with the greatest difficulty that I could contrive, by incessant motion, to prevent my limbs from becoming benumbed.

The thoughts of my family, of my ruined farm, and of the disasters which seemed to thicken on me, with the dreadful feeling of my present state of helplessness, almost maddened me. At last, towards morning, I sat down by the fire, and from mere exhaustion fell asleep.

I was soon awakened by the nipping cold of the early morning. My sleep, however, short as it was, served to calm me. I began coolly to reflect


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on my position. “I certainly was lost in the bush; but was there no way out of the difficulty? If I continued in a straight line in any one direction, I must at last come to some stream, or perhaps to some stock-hut, or to some known point, which would be the means of recovering my way;—the great danger to be avoided was straying to the west, in which direction there were neither settlements nor stock-yard stations, and nothing but the wild and untrodden bush between me and the sea. If I could keep an eastward course, I must at last arrive at some broad track, and certainly at the high road across the island.”

Such were my thoughts. I tried, therefore, to observe the rising sun, but the fogginess of the morning was too great to allow me to do more than ascertain the point from which light seemed to come. That was some help, however; so, summoning up my strength, and endeavouring to preserve the coolness of mind necessary to enable me to keep a straight course, I set out.

But I had not proceeded many miles before the same doubt, and confusion, and indecision of mind, which I had experienced the day before, again seized on me. When I perceived this fit


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coming on, I immediately paused and lighted a fire. While I was lighting it, a kangaroo hopped into sight; the dogs pulled it down in less than a couple of minutes, not a hundred yards from the fire. This I looked on as a good omen, and it reassured me. I made a good bush meal, and felt my strength somewhat restored.

It was now past mid-day, and I again set myself earnestly to consider the right direction. There was a barren hill to my right, very steep, and without trees to obstruct the view. I determined to climb up it, in order to get a better prospect of the country around, and with that view I looked about for a stick to use as a walking-staff. I soon found a young sapling fit for my purpose, and having provided myself with this help, I buckled my gun behind me, that my hands might be at liberty. I then climbed, with a good deal of scrambling, to the top of the hill.

Having gained the top, I proceeded to examine the country around me very carefully, hoping that I might catch sight of some point, or high hill, or particular tree, by which I might learn my present position.

I was anxiously engaged in this manner, and


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quite absorbed by my anxious survey, when suddenly there was an obscuring of the light above my head. I raised up my eyes to ascertain the cause of it, when, to my exceeding terror, I beheld one of the largest of the eagles of those regions poising itself on its wings not twenty yards above my head, and in the attitude of pouncing down on me.

I had more than once witnessed the attack of an eagle on a sheep, which is by fixing its claws on the body of the animal, and digging out its eyes with its beak; the sheep then becomes an easy prey. The thought of this horrible fate made me instantly put my hands over my eyes, so imminent was the danger, and so great was my fright. I fancied I heard the flapping of the creature's wings, and in a sort of despair I whirled the stick which I held in my hand over my head to ward off the expected attack.

Looking up at the same moment, I perceived a second eagle who had joined the first, and they now flew in rapid circles just above me. I guessed at once that I had approached the spot where they were accustomed to build their nest, and that they were angry at the intrusion. I slipped


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my fowling-piece from my back, and fired both barrels, first at one and then at the other. They uttered a fierce scream, but did not leave me.

I did not wait any longer, but ran helter-skelter down the hill, making more than one summerset before I got to the bottom. Luckily, however, my gun escaped any damage in this scrambling tumble;and although I felt a good deal bruised, I lost no time in reloading it, and then I felt secure. The peril to which I had been exposed shook me a good deal, and I sat down at the foot of the hill in a very disconsolate mood, feeling that my nerve was giving way under the terrors of being lost in the bush, for at any other time I fancy I should have been glad of the opportunity of getting such a good shot at an eagle, and particularly of getting a sight of their haunts.

This thought made me very sad; but I still kept up my spirits, and my bodily strength was not yet subdued; I was well armed, and had my faithful dogs with me, and another effort might bring me to some known track. Again, therefore, I braced myself up to the task, and choosing a direction which, according to my judgment,


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led eastward, I determined to make a vigorous effort. My efforts, however, were all in vain, and the fourth night found me still an almost hopeless wanderer.

The fifth day passed in the same wearisome endeavours. My strength now began to fail me; not so much, I think, from bodily fatigue, as from the exhausting operation of anxiety of mind and uncertainty of direction. Towards the close of the evening I arrived, at dusk, at the foot of a rocky hill. The dogs were uneasy, and whined a good deal but I set it down to their sympathising with my own appearance of sorrow and dejection.

I had scarcely strength to raise a fire and broil some of the flesh of the kangaroo which I carried with me. I had no water, and in the dark I could not discover any. A sort of numbness of the mind had now come over me; a leaden feeling of cold despair. In my strange frenzy, I fancied I must have wandered towards the western coast, for I could not otherwise account for my not being able to discover some track or point known to me.

In this state I lay down by the side of the fire in a state of complete bodily and mental exhaustion.


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My dogs crouched close to me, and I fell asleep.I awoke once in the night with a feeling of cold; I replenished the fire with some large fuel, and slept again.

I must have slept soundly; for in spite of the cold, and of the thirst which was on me, I did not wake till the light roused me. It was a glorious morning; very cold, but the air was clear and bright. I tried to get up, but found my limbs so benumbed that I could hardly move. I contrived, as I lay on the ground, to push with my feet the loose pieces of dead timber about to the fire which was still faintly burning. Presently there was a good blaze, and the warmth restored me a little. I continued to heap dead wood on till I made a complete bonfire.

This exertion and the heat of the blaze revived me completely, and once more I endeavoured to rouse myself to the labour of fresh exploring in the bush. This was the morning of the sixth day.

Casting my eyes about me, I saw, not far off, a sort of natural basin hollowed out in a rock, about a foot deep, and as clear as crystal.


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Feverish with thirst, I took a good drink, but the water was very cold. I then sat down beside it to consider what I should do.

In my tumble down the hill I had torn off the strap of one of my leather gaiters, and its loosehess was an annoyance to me in the walking. As I always carried a housewife with me in my bush expeditions, I thought I would spend a few minutes in sewing on the strap again; so I undid the case, and placed it by the side of the rocky basin. I took out a needle, and with my arms resting on the side of the basin, proceeded to thread it, when it slipped through my fingers and fell into the water beneath; but instead of sinking, it floated on the top.

I was struck with this circumstance, and admired how the needle floated at the top of the water, when I observed it slowly to turn half-way round, and then remain stationary. It instantly occurred to me that the needle had become magnetized, and I remembered that, some weeks ago, my youngest daughter had been amusing herself with a magnet and the needles in this case. I tried it again; taking the needle from the water, I rubbed it dry and clean, and


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then holding it parallel to the surface of the water, I let it drop; it floated, and turned itself slowly to the same point as before.

I was full of joy at this discovery, as I now had the means of ascertaining the points of the compass, and my confidence in myself returned. Without losing any time, I prepared for another start. I breakfasted gaily on some of the kangaroo stake that remained, and talking to my dogs, proceeded on my way. I had not gone far, however, when I perceived by the dogs' significant signs that there was something in the wind. It was not a kangaroo, that was certain; but I flattered myself that we were approaching some human habitation, and that the sagacity of the hound had detected its vicinity. I spoke to him, therefore, and encouraged him to look about him, but the dog exhibited a strange reluctance to leave me, and presently began to whine in the manner which I knew indicated his scent of the natives!

Broken down as I was with excessive fatigue and anxiety, I confess that this apprehension almost overpowered me; a tremulous fear possessed me; my limbs for a while refused to


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move; my sight became clouded, and a cold sweat came over me. This was my sixth day of wandering and privation in the bush, and where I was, or how far from home, was unknown to me. I sat down on the log of a tree, and tried to rally my fleeting spirits. I thought of my wife, of my children—of my home, or rather the spot where my home once was—and made a powerful effort to recover my coolness of mind and to summon up my courage. “After all, it might not be the natives; the dog might be mistaken, or they might have passed away.”

I tried to delude myself with these hopes, but a glance at the dog was sufficient to convince me that the natives were near. Hector was very uneasy; he whined, and licked my face, and exhibited signs of fear too expressive to be mistaken.

With this horrible conviction on my mind that a deadly struggle for life must soon take place, the very extremity of my danger and the force of my fear caused a reaction in my frame. I nerved myself up with a sort of terrible despair. I looked around, but as yet saw no signs of my dreaded enemies.

I examined the two barrels of my fowling-


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piece, and assured myself that the charges in them and in my pistols were unshaken. I carefully inspected the pans, probed all the touchholes, and felt that the flints were firmly fixed and clean, and dry at their edges. Then I looked at my powder-horn, and calculated how many charges it would supply to me. I had a little bag of bullets with me; these I placed loose in a convenient pocket.

All the while I was searching the bush with my eyes on every side. No signs of the natives! I began to indulge in the hope that after all it was a false alarm, and again I proceeded on my way, but slowly and warily. I had gone about two miles, when I came to a spot which I thought was familiar to me. Looking about, I recognised the place where I had stopped five nights before with my lame horse; the horse had disappeared—perhaps, strayed away—but I saw on the ground my old broadsword which I had left there as an encumbrance to my walking.

Full of fears of the natives, I greeted this weapon as an old friend, and seized on it eagerly. I felt more secure with this additional means of defence, and drawing it from its sheath, which I


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cast on the ground, I carried the sword in my hand. I had scarcely resumed my journey, when Hector began to growl and whine in a way which put me on my guard.

As my object is to record all the emotions of my mind during this time of my being lost in the bush, and exposed to the new peril which I am describing, I must not forget to tell that the unexpected recovery of my broadsword produced a strange revolution in my mind and feelings. I recovered from the extreme depression of spirits which had weighed me down and deprived me of all hope and courage, and I now felt a full confidence that I was a match for the natives, and that I should be able to keep them at bay.

Perhaps the restoration of mind, caused by the accidental discovery of the magnetic needle on the water, and the confidence of the right direction which that discovery produced, helped to restore my coolness and courage. However, without more philosophising on that point, I will proceed to describe my fight with the natives.

Fight or no fight, I thought that the best thing I could do was to make progress onwards to the east with all the speed that my strength would


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allow. I strode on, therefore, towards a gentle acclivity, beyond which there seemed to be some clear ground, as the light was strong beyond it.

I was in a valley about a quarter of a mile broad, clear of trees, with a rise on each side of me thickly wooded. I ascended the acclivity, and was cheered with the prospect of a more open country, and with a scenery which seemed not unknown to me.

Turning back to look at the ground which I had passed over, and to take the bearings for my straight progress, I thought I detected on my left hand through the trees, the glimmering of a faint light. I was quite cool, and fully prepared for a conflict, but, as may be supposed, I had no desire to seek it. Knowing the importance, however, of not being taken unawares, I stood still for a few minutes; but I saw no more of the light.

This light, I have no doubt, was caused by the two pieces of lighted stick which the natives carry about with them to light their fire. They have discovered, by some accident, that two pieces of lighted stick, or charcoal, crossed and in contact, will keep alight; whereas a single piece would


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soon become extinguished. The settlers have borrowed this hint from the natives.

I had turned round to proceed on my way, when my steps were arrested by a spear which passed by me to the right, and stuck in the ground. “Oh, oh!” thought I, “the fun is about to begin, is it? Well, I have four barrels for you, my beauties; two long shots and two close ones, besides my broadsword for a tussle.”

I am surprised, when I look back, at my extraordinary coolness, but it was so. I did not fire, for I did not like to lose a shot, but suspending my broadsword by its leather to my left wrist, I held my piece ready. I was in a tolerably favourable position, on the top of a low green hill, so that I could see all round me, and I kept a sharp look-out, I can assure you, for I did not know from which quarter the attack might come.

I again turned round and proceeded a few steps, when another spear came close to me. I did not care much for their spears so long as they were cast from a distance, as they do not inflict any dangerous damage unless they are within forty yards or so; but this second spear was an indication of a determination to attack me, and


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it shewed that I was watched, and that the natives were ready to take me at a disadvantage.

How many there might be I had no means of knowing, but I took it for granted it was one of their wandering mobs, consisting of about twenty persons, men, women, and children. I gazed earnestly in the direction whence the spear had come, but I could see nothing; the trees were about eighty or a hundred yards distant from me.

While I was looking, a native shewed himself, and running a little way towards the spot where I stood, cast a womera at me. I had never witnessed the casting of this curious native weapon in a hostile manner before, and having had that satisfaction, I certainly have no curiosity to see it cast in that manner again. The womera would have struck me if I had not skipped aside in time, and as it was, it was only by a hair's breadth that I avoided it.

Almost before I could take aim at the native, the womera, skimming through the air, returned to the spot from which the native had cast it. I was unwilling to fire without a positive necessity, and I refrained from drawing the trigger, though


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I still kept my piece in the position of taking aim.

The native picked up his womera, and without waiting, cast it at me again. I saw it whirling towards me with great velocity, and in an instant afterwards I felt myself struck with considerable violence on my left leg, which, at the moment, I thought it had broken. The shock brought me on one knee to the ground. The native gave a cry of exultation, and I immediately fired at him. The discharge of my piece was a signal for a rush from the whole body; about a dozen of them suddenly shot out from among the trees, and with wild and terrific shouts, rushed towards me.

Supposing that I was defenceless after the discharge of my gun, they came on swiftly, boldly brandishing their waddies in the air, with the intent of shortly exercising them on my unfortunate skull. I did not lose my presence of mind, but remaining on one knee, I fired off my second barrel, and hit the foremost man.

This second discharge puzzled them, and they halted, not knowing what to make of a gun that could fire twice without being loaded. Seeing


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them hesitating, I drew one of my horse-pistols, and treated them with another shot; this completed their dismay, and they all scampered off as fast as they came, behind the shelter of the trees.

I lost no time in reloading my three barrels, and stood on my guard again. Hector and Fly were of no use to me; they were afraid of the naked savages. After waiting in my posture of defence for some minutes, I thought I might venture to make a move away from them, as I had given them a taste of what I could do; but on attempting to walk, I found that the blow of the womera had been so severe, that it had almost deprived me of the use of my leg. I limped on, however, as well as I could, deeming any advance homewards a gain.

I picked up the womera and carried it away with me. It was in the shape of a half circle, with a peculiarity of make which must be seen to be understood, but of the efficiency of which I had received a sharp illustration.

The natives seeing me bear away the womera, which is a scarce weapon among them, and much prized, and observing by my limping that I was


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wounded, raised a loud cry of anger and triumph, which sounded in my ears very disagreeably, as it betokened an inclination on their part to continue a conflict which I should have been very glad to avoid, though still without fear as to the result if I could hold out long enough.

Had I been aware that the fierce and vindictive Sydney black, known by the name of Musqueeto, was among them, my confidence would have been considerably abated; but the worst was to come, and the fight presently began to assume a more serious air than I had calculated on.

The terrible extremity, however, which I have to tell of is of a nature so horrible and appalling, that I cannot summon up spirits to enter on it to-day; my mind sickens and revolts at the recollection of its horrors. The description of that fearful trial must form the subject of a separate chapter of my eventful history.




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CHAPTER III.

TAKES REFUGE IN A DESERTED HUT—THE NATIVES BESIEGE HIM, AND SET FIRE TO THE ROOF—HIS ESCAPE—HE CLIMBS INTO A TREE—THE NATIVES SET FIRE TO IT—DEATH SEEMS CERTAIN—HIS RESCUE.

THE day was clear and bright, and though the early time of June is the beginning of winter in Van Diemen's Land, the beams of the sun, which shone splendidly at mid-day, had still power to spread a feeling of summer warmth over the park-like plains. I shall never forget that memorable day of my fight with the natives. Alone—buried in the wilderness of the vast woods—wearied by a six days' travel in the bush in which I had been lost—worn down from want, of sleep, and feeble from scanty fare, I was now exposed to a deadly struggle with a body of furious natives, led on by the fierce and malignant Musqueeto. I am amazed, when I look back on the events of that fearful day, that I did


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not sink under its difficulties, and that I am still alive to relate the story. But to proceed.

I hastened on my way in the direction of the east, trusting that by such a course I should come upon some settlement, or stock-keeper's hut, which would afford me a place of defence, or at least on some track of man or beast on which I could rely to lead me to human habitations.

The natives ceased to molest me for some miles, nor could I detect any signs of their vicinity, but it will be seen by the sequel that they did not lose sight of me. I was in some pain, and limped a good deal at first from the effects of the womera which had struck me on the leg, but as I got warm the pain left me, and I ceased for a time to feel much inconvenience from the wound.

In this manner I proceeded some miles, when my sight was gladdened by the appearance of a stock-keeper's hut, to which I eagerly hastened. I looked round when I approached it, but I saw no signs of the natives. When I got to the door I called out —

“Hulloa! anybody here?”


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No answer.

“Is there any one inside? I have been lost in the bush, and the natives have been attacking me. Don't be afraid of me; I am William Thornley, of the Clyde.”

No reply.

I then knocked loudly at the door, thinking that some one might be asleep inside, and not liking to burst in suddenly, lest I should be mistaken for a bushranger, and fired at, for the equivocal appearance which my person had presented a week since to the soldiers had not been improved, I felt aware, by a six days' scramble in the bush; but as no reply was made to my repeated knocking, I concluded that the hut was empty.

I tried the latch, therefore, of the upper half of the door: it was not fastened; I opened it easily, and looked in, first taking a look behind me, for fear of a surprise. I saw no signs of an inhabitant; so I opened the lower half of the door, and stepped in. A view of the interior satisfied me at once that the hut had not been occupied for some time. I was sorry for this, as I had hoped that I should meet with some one to direct me


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on my way, and who might assist me in my defence against the natives. But on the whole, I was pleased with the discovery of this hut, tenantless as it was, as it afforded me, I thought, a temporary place of refuge.

I examined its capabilities of defence, and found that it consisted, as usual, of two rooms or divisions, in the inner of which was a window, and a shutter at the back; there was another window and shutter in front by the side of the door; when I say a “window,” I mean an opening to let in light without glass or window-frame; when the door and shutters were shut, it was dark, with the exception of the light which penetrated through the crevices of the logs of which the hut was rudely built.

Without losing any time, I set to work to render the hut as secure as possible against the natives, should they have the mind to follow up their first attack. The upright logs seemed all to be pretty tight set, and strong enough to resist any ordinary violence. The window at the back was awkward, as it afforded the facility of a back entrance while I was engaged in front.

To render this point secure, I pulled down the


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partition of split logs that divided the two rooms, and contrived to barricade the back window with them, so as to insure me from any sudden inbreak on that side. I then barricaded the front window in the same manner, and I put a split log against the lower part of the door, with one end jammed firmly in the earthern floor of the hut; the top part of the door I left to the security of the bolt, intending to open it occasionally for the convenience of firing through its opening.

These preparations occupied me for about an hour, and, having concluded them, I felt that I was very hungry, and what was worse, that I was suffering from thirst. There was an iron tripod on the hearth, the usual piece of kitchen furniture in a stock-keeper's hut, and being heavy and bulky, it had not been removed. It occurred to me that the spot chosen to build a hut on was sure to be near to water.

As the extremity was pressing, I thought I might venture to get a drink, so I clambered over the lower part of the door, followed by Hector and Fly, who stuck close to me to look for the spring. The dogs were panting for water, so I left them to their instinct, and presently Fly,


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after a little snuffing about, went straight to a pool formed by a spring, not twenty yards from the back of the house.

I first took a good drink, which refreshed me greatly, and then I cast about how to get a supply of water inside the hut. The tripod was too clumsy and too heavy to be taken to the pool, so I got over the half-door, and lifted it close to the entrance; then I went back to the pool, and, filling my hat with water, ran back with it, and poured it over the door into the tripod.

While I was repeating this operation, I was terribly startled by Hector suddenly darting off in the direction of the bush. I thought, to be sure, that the natives were on me, and, dropping my hat full of water, I scrambled over the door into the hut again. But it was a false alarm, for in a few seconds after, Hector came to the door wagging his tail, with a kangaroo-rat in his mouth, which he had killed, and which was the cause of his run into the bush.

I was not a little rejoiced at this unexpected supply, for I was sadly at a loss for food. I was not long in kindling a fire, and skinning my


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prize, which was rather a large one of the sort, nearly as big as a rabbit, and excellent eating, and made a broil of it, which afforded me a delicious repast.

My spirits revived after this refection, and I began to consider that I was perhaps only losing time by remaining in the hut. It was now, as nearly as I could judge, about two hours past mid-day, and I had plenty of daylight before me to make considerable progress before night. I had recourse to my needle again, and I dropped it into the tripod; it sunk to the bottom immediately, being affected by the iron; so I filled my hat with water, and removing it to a distance from the iron tripod, had the satisfaction of ascertaining the points of the compass.

I prepared, therefore, to leave the hut, and put myself in order accordingly. I was in the very act of throwing my leg over the half-door, when I was stopped in my exit by a growl from Hector, who immediately gallopped towards a thicket of trees about a hundred yards or more in the front of the hut. He quickly returned, and by his crouching attitude and peculiar whine I at once knew that he had scented the natives.


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It was too true; in less than a minute afterwards, a body of about twenty men and women, headed by Musqueeto, moved rapidly towards the hut.

Being invigorated by food, refreshed with partial rest, and confident in the power of my firearms—appalling as this attack appears to me when I look back on it—I felt at the time no fear. I was confident in the security of my little fortress, and for a moment I felt a sort of reluctance to fire into the mob of naked natives—savage as they were—to the certain destruction of some of them; but this disinclination lasted only for a moment, for the natives, with the grim Musqueeto, whom I now recognized at their head, were fast approaching, and the feeling of self-preservation regained its predominant influence.

My left-hand barrel contained a single ball; I fired; a native fell, but the others continued to advance, and sent a shower of spears at the open part of the door; one of them went through the lower part of the back of my left hand, where it stuck, while some went past me into the hut, narrowly missing me, and some stuck in the wall on each side.




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I fired off my second barrel loaded with shot, and slamming the door close, bolted it. This second discharge, I judge, checked their rush; and fortunately; for so determined were they, that I feel convinced, on looking back, they would otherwise have succeeded in their intention of forcing open the door.

They now commenced a furious yelling round the hut, and some of them tried the back window, but they found it secure. In the meantime I reloaded my fowling-piece, putting a couple of balls in each barrel, for I felt that the natives were in earnest, and that it would require my utmost efforts to save my life from their furious assault. I was standing by the door uncertain what to do next, when suddenly a spear was thrust between the crevice of the lower and the upper door; fortunately it encountered my shot-belt, which it perforated, and gave me time to jump back.

It seems that my movements were watched from the outside through some crevice, for immediately on my retreat, a rush was made at the door; had it been made on the upper part, the savages would have effected an entrance, but the


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lower part, having been secured by a log, resisted the attempt, and placing the muzzle of my piece at the same crevice through which the spear had been thrust at me, I fired first one barrel and then the other at the assailants. A horrid yell that made the woods re-echo proclaimed that my fire was successful, and I could hear the tramping of their feet as they retreated to a distance.

There was now a pause for some time, and a dead silence. I reloaded my piece and stood on my guard. I was afraid of placing my eye close to a crevice, lest a spear should be thrust into it by some devil watching me. I remained in this state of suspense for some minutes, which seemed to me as many hours, wondering what was to come next. While I thus stood, my ears were assailed again with the horrid shouts and yells of the natives, whose rage seemed to have redoubled at the sight, probably, of their dead companions.

Fearing that the strength of the upper part of the door, was not sufficient to stand against a rush, I lifted up a heavy log that had formed one of the door-posts of the partition which I had broken down, and placing one end of it against


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the door-flap, I added my own weight to it, pushing it down on the door as firmly as I could.

But this sort of precaution was unnecessary. The devils had hit on a surer and safer means of accomplishing my destruction. I was soon made sensible of their operations by a smell of smoke, which, to my terrible dismay, became rapidly stronger and stronger. They had set fire to the thatch of the hut! The smoke increased, and presently the light of the flame was visible. I now perceived that the thatch had been set on fire on all sides, and as the smoke and flames increased, the rejoicing natives yelled and screamed with frantic delight!

My presence of mind almost forsook me at this crisis. Escape seemed impossible; and I felt that I was doomed to the most horrible of deaths—that of being burnt alive!

The light of the flames increased, and the smoke inside the hut became almost insufferable! Feeling that if I remained where I was, death was certain, I determined to make a desperate effort to escape. There was a little wind which blew the smoke in the direction of the back of the


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hut; the natives, as I knew by their cries, were assembled in the front.

I determined to attempt my escape by the back window, hoping that the smoke in that direction would serve to conceal my exit at the moment of getting out of the window, when my position would be defenceless. I hastily tore down my barricade of logs, and jumped through the opening into the smoke. I was almost suffocated, but with my gun in my hand I dashed through it.

For the moment I was not perceived; but the natives soon got sight of me, and a volley of spears around me, one of which struck me in the back, but dropped out again, proclaimed that they were in chase. I kept on running as long as I could towards a tree that was in the middle of the little plain over which I was passing, intending to make that my fighting-place, by setting my back to it, and so to protect myself in the rear.

The spears flew around me and near me, but I reached the tree, and instantly turning round, I fired among the advancing natives. This checked them, for they were now becoming


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afraid of my formidable weapon, and seeing that I stood resolute and prepared for them, they retreated to some distance; but they continued to throw some spears, most of which fell short, and kept up a shouting and yelling in a frightful manner, capering and dancing about in a sort of frenzy,—ferocious to get at me, but kept at bay by my terrible gun.

My blood was now up! I was excited to a pitch of joyful exultation by my escape from the burning hut, and I felt that courage of excitement which almost prompted me to rush on my enemies, and to bring the matter to an issue by a bodily conflict with my broadsword! But prudence prevailed; and I placed my hope and my dependence on my trusty gun, which had already done me such good service.

Taking advantage of the temporary inaction of the natives, I felt for my powder-horn to reload the barrel which I had discharged. To my unspeakable horror and disappointment, it was missing! I searched every pocket in vain! I had laid it on the table in the hut, and there I had left it! To recover it was impossible, as the hut was all in flames, and while I gazed on the


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burning mass, a dull report and a burst of sparks from the building made known to me that the powder had become ignited, and was lost to me for ever!

In my agony of mind at this discovery, my hair seemed to bristle up; and the sweat ran down my forehead and obscured my sight! I now felt that nothing but a miracle could save me; but the love of life increasing in proportion to the danger of losing it, I once more summoned up my failing energies for a last effort. I had three barrels loaded; one in my fowling-piece and two in my pistols; I had also my broadsword, but that would not avail me against their spears.

If I could hold out till night, I thought I might be able then to elude my savage enemies, as the natives have a fear of moving about at night, believing that in the darkness an evil spirit roams about seeking to do them mischief, and who then has power over them. Casting my eyes upwards to the branches of the tree under which I was standing, I observed that it was easy to climb, and there appeared to me indications of a hollow in the trunk between the principal branches, which might serve me for a place of


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shelter till the night should enable me, under the cover of its darkness, to escape from my pursuers.

I formed my plan on the instant, and without losing a moment I shrug my gun behind me, and, catching hold of a branch within reach, I clambered up. The natives, who were watching my motions, renewed their shouts and yells at this manoeuvre, and rushed towards the tree in a body.

I scrambled as fast as I could to the fork of the tree, and found, to my infinite relief, that my anticipation was right; there was a hollow large enough to admit my whole body, and effectually to shield me from the spears of the savages. As my foot reached the bottom, it encountered some soft body which I quickly learnt was an opossum, the owner of the habitation, which asserted its rights by a sharp attack on the calf of my leg with teeth and claws: I was not in a humour to argue the matter with my new assailant, so with my thick bush shoes I trampled the creature down into a jelly, though it left its remembrances on my torn flesh, which smarted not a little. When I recovered my breath, I listened to ascertain the motions of my enemies outside.




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They had ceased their yells, and there was a dead silence, so that I could hear my own quick breathing within the trunk of the tree. “What are they about?” thought I. While I mentally ejaculated this thought, I felt an agitation of the tree, from which I guessed that some venturous savage was climbing up to attack me in my retreat. I cautiously raised myself up to look around me, but the appearance of my hat above the hole was the signal for half-a-dozen spears, three which passed through it, one of them grazing the scalp of my head. “That plan will not do,” thought I; “I must keep close.”

As I crouched myself down, I thought I heard a breathing above me; I looked up and beheld the hideous visage of one of the savages glaring on me with his white eyeballs, which exhibited a ferocious sort of exultation. He had a waddie in his hand, which he slowly raised to give me a pat on the head, thinking that he had me quite safe, like an opossum in its hole. “You're mistaken, my beauty,” thought I; “I'm not done for yet.” Drawing one of my pistols from my pocket, which was rather a matter of difficulty in my confined position, I fired.—The


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ball crashed through his face and skull, and I heard his dead body fall heavily to the ground!

A yell of fear and rage arose from his black companions. I took advantage of the opportunity, and raised myself up so as to look about me, but their threatening spears soon drove me back to my retreat. There was now another pause and a dead silence; and I flattered myself with the hope that the savages, having been so frequently baffled, and having suffered so much in their attacks, would now retire. But the death and the wounds of their comrades, it appears, only whetted their rage and stimulated them to fresh endeavours; and the cunning devices of that devilish savage Musqueeto were turned in a new and more fatal direction.

As I lay in my retreat, I heard a sound as if heavy materials were being dragged towards the tree. I ventured to peep out, and beheld the savages busy in piling dead wood round the trunk, with the intention, as I immediately surmised, of setting fire to it, and of burning me in my hole.

My conjectures were presently verified. I saw emerging from the wood one of their females


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bearing the lighted fire-sticks which the natives always carry with them in their journeys. I looked on these agreeable preparations as a neglected but not indifferent spectator, the natives disregarding my appearance above the opening, and waiting with a sort of savage patience for the sure destruction which they were preparing for me.

The native woman approached with the fire, and the natives forming a circle round the tree, performed a dance of death as a prelude to my sacrifice. I was tempted to fire on them; but I did not like to part with my last two shots, except in an extremity even greater than this.

In the meantime the natives continued their dance, seeming to enjoy the interval between me and death, like the epicure who delays his attack on the delicious feast before him, that he may the longer enjoy the exciting pleasure of anticipation. Presently, however, their death-song broke out into loud cries of fury; they applied the fire to the fagots, and as the blaze increased, they danced and yelled round the tree in a complete delirium of rage and exultation.

The fire burned up!—the smoke ascended! I


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already felt the horrid sensation of being stifled by the thick atmosphere of smoke before the flames encompassed me. In this extremity I determined at least to inflict some vengeance on my savage persecutors.

I scrambled up from my hiding-place, and crawled as far as I could on one of the branches, which was most free from the suffocating smoke and heat, and fired the remaining barrel of my fowling-piece at the yelling wretches, which I then hurled at their heads. I did the same with my remaining pistol, when, to my amazement, I heard the reports of other guns; but whether they were the echoes of my own, or that my failing senses deceived me, I knew not, for the smoke and flame now mastered me. Stifled and scorched, I remember only falling from the branch of the tree, which was not high, to the ground, when my senses left me.

I was roused from my trance of death by copious deluges of water, and I heard a voice, which was familiar to me, exclaiming, —

“Well, if this is not enough to disgust a man with this horrid country, I don't know what he would have more! For years and years have I


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been preaching to him that nothing good could come of this wretched den of bushrangers and natives, and now you see the evil is come at last.”

I opened my eyes at these words. It was the voice of Crab, whom heaven had directed with a party of friends to this spot to deliver me! Overcome with the intensity of my emotions, racked with pain, and sick from the very fulness of joy at my escape from death, I uttered a piercing and agonizing cry of mingled pain and delight, and fainted! ——




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CHAPTER IV.

HE RECOVERS HIS SENSES AND FINDS HIMSELF AMONG FRIENDS—ACCOUNT OF THE BUSHRANGERS AT THE GREAT LAKE—MOSS'S EXTRAORDINARY ESCAPE.

IT was some time before I recovered from this fainting fit, as the surgeon called it, “of physical exhaustion and mental emotion.” When consciousness returned, I heard around me the subdued hum of human voices, and for a moment I thought that I was in the power of the natives, and that I was under preparation for being roasted at the fire of the blazing tree from which I had fallen scorched and stifled. I kept my eyes closed for a short space;—presently I distinguished the voice of the magistrate of the Clyde.

“He seems in a bad way, poor fellow! Have the devils touched any vital part with their spears?”

“No,” said another voice, which seemed to me


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that of my old friend the surgeon, “he has not received any mortal hurt that I can see, but he has had a sharp rap on his left leg from some blunt instrument that has cut and bruised it at the same time; but there's no bone broken.”

“He'll never come to any more,” said some one, which seemed strangely to me like Crab's voice, but I could not imagine how it could be his: “never! that's my opinion! Why, he has been lost in the bush for a week, without anything to eat, I'll be bound, and without a drop of water, for there's never a drop to be had in this country when you want it—in summer, especially. No! poor gentleman! I've stood by him for many a year, trying to persuade him all I could to leave this horrid place. I always told him that something would happen at last; but I never thought it would be so bad as this. He used to say, poor fellow, while he was alive, that I was always roasting him; he little thought he would be roasted in real earnest! And there's that new sample of Cape wheat that he was to try this season: all lost! What could induce him to get up that tree, I can't conceive.”




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“The tumble from the tree can't have done him any good,” said the magistrate.

“No; but the branch was not high, and it was a nice soft bed of turf for him to fall on; it was good luck that he was not hit by our shots when we banged at the natives.”

“He is a long time coming to.”

“No! he's all right. This is more exhaustion than anything else. His pulse is coming back now. You see, he has been in the bush for six days, suffering under the sensation of being lost, and that wearing of the mind is enough to exhaust the strongest energies. But he's coming to fast now.”

“Will you bleed him?”

“Oh, no! A glass of brandy would do him more good than bleeding, in his present state.”

“Here's a flask of brandy!”

At the suggestion of bleeding me I opened my eyes, not wishing to give the worthy surgeon the trouble of performing that operation.

“By George!” said Worrall, the constable, “do you see how he opened his eyes, and roused up, when he heard the talk about the brandy!


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I do think that a glass all round would do us good!”

“Well, my boy,” said the magistrate, “how do you find yourself after your tumble?”

“How do you find yourself, master?” said the rough and honest voice of Crab; “how do you find yourself, now you're come to life again? I always told you how it would be; but you never would believe me! and there's the farm burnt down, and all the home-flock of merinos the Lord knows where; and there's Miss Betsy taken ill, and Missus is but poorly, and they are in a pretty confusion with one thing and another; and the blood-foal's dead, and the tame herd has taken to the bush, and I don't know what else to say to revive you, except that they say the smallpox is about, and ruination is going on everywhere; and” —

“Hold your tongue, you villanous old grumbler,” said the magistrate; “you have croaked enough to make a sound man sick. Let him alone.”

My head was still confused, and I was perplexed to account for what I heard and saw around me. My thoughts reverted to the day


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when we had our skirmish with the bushrangers at the lake, and for a few moments it seemed to me that I was awaking from a long sleep, and had been suffering under the influence of a hideous dream. But the sight of the blazing tree quickly recalled to my memory the terrible scenes which I had passed through; a feeling of sickness came over me, and I closed my eyes again.

“Give me your brandy-flask,” said the surgeon; “here, Thornley, take a little sip.”

He put the bottle to my lips, and I drank a few tea-spoonfuls.

“Is brandy a good thing for faintness, doctor?” said Worrall.

“Nothing better; it's a capital medicine when you know how to use it.”

“I feel very faint, myself,” said Worrall; “poor Mr. Thornley's condition has quite overcome me. Could you oblige me with the brandy-flask? I know how to use it.”

“From long practice, I dare say.”

“Go and mind your business, Worrall,” said the magistrate. “You shall have brandy enough when you get home, for you have behaved well,


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and deserve it, but now let us be moving;—that is, if the doctor thinks our friend can travel.”

“See if you can find a spring hereabouts, Worrall,” said the doctor, “and we will give our friend a refresher.”

A pannikin of water was presently brought to me, into which the excellent doctor put a fair proportion of brandy.

“We must get him home somehow,” said he, “and set him to rights when we get there. We can't treat him as if he was comfortable in a nice sick-bed.”

I took the drink with eagerness, and looking up, beheld the face of our lost neighhour, Moss.

“How did you get away from the bushrangers?” were the first words that I uttered.

“Oh!” said Moss, “we'll tell you all about that by-and-by; I have to thank my friends here for my recovery, and you among the rest, not forgetting our young friend Beresford; but that story will keep; we'll tell you all about it in good time.”

I now saw that Beresford was near, but a little behind me, with his left arm in a sling. I reached out my hand to him, and, handing his gun to


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Mr. Moss, he extended his right arm to me, and raised me up.

“That's right,” said Worrall, who now came up to us,“never say die. We are all ready,” he said to the magistrate, touching his hat, “and we can get home before morning; the night will be fine, and we have daylight enough to cross the Big River, and then it will not be more than twenty miles or so to the Shannon.”

“I am ready,” said I; “but”—and I tried to move a few steps—“I can't walk! I feel as stiff as if I actually had been roasted at the fire yonder.”

“Well,” said the surgeon, “I'm inclined to think you would not have taken long to roast at that same fire, if we had not come up in time to stop the cooking of you; but there's a horse for you, and we must contrive to carry you with us." "What has become of the natives?” said I.

“There are some of them lying dead not far from us; ” said the magistrate;“the rest did not stay to make a fight of it with our number. They are off in the bush somewhere.—But as to following them there, you might as well look for a needle in a stack of hay. Besides, we have had enough


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of it, and I think the natives, for this once, have had enough of it too. But we must not waste time in talking; we have the Big River to cross before dark, so let us make a start.”

I was helped on to a horse, and we proceeded as fast as we could to the banks of the Big River. We reached it before dark, but we could not find a ford. We consumed the remaining daylight in searching for one without success, and it was resolved at last that we should bivouac on its banks, and resume our search at daylight. We lighted up several fires, and by the aid of some loose branches, and the bark of trees, by means of which was made a breakwind, I shortly began to feel tolerably comfortable, to which some kangaroo steaks and brandy-and-water not a little contributed. As we lay by the fire, I was curious to learn some account of the bushrangers who had escaped, when I left my companions, to a small island in the lake, at no great distance from the main land.

“Will it do him any harm,” said the magistrate, “to keep him awake with the story?”

“Oh! no,” said the surgeon; “it's early yet. Go on, and then you will sooner have done.”




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“Do you describe it, Moss,” said the magistrate; “you saw it best, and you can praise us, and so relieve our modesty from the painful necessity of praising ourselves.”

“Very well,” said Mr. Moss,—“as I was only a spectator of the fight, perhaps I can best describe it.”

“How did Crab come among you?” said I.

“Oh! that's easily told,” said Crab. “After the soldiers left us, Missus's mind misgave her that they would never find you, and I entirely agreed with her on that point; so seeing what a taking she was in, I offered to go for you and bring you back, that is, if the natives left any of you, for I told Missus they were terrible, voracious cannibals. It seems, however, that the soldiers did find you, or rather that you found them, and by all accounts you had no reason to be over-pleased with their treatment of you.”

“Say nothing about it,” said I, rubbing myself behind; “there was a mistake.”

“Was there? And is it true that they touched you up, and made you dance?—Lord! how they did laugh when they told me of it! they said”—




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“Say nothing more about it; I don't want to be reminded about that.”

“Well—a corporal's party came up from camp next morning to stay at the Clyde as a post of observation, so I left Missus quite safe and comfortable, only that everything she had was burned, and the whole family was in distress and confusion, and I promised her, if you were killed by the bushrangers, which I told her I had no doubt you was, for it's always best to know the worst, that I would bring home your dead body for her to bury, which would be a great consolation to her, poor lady! I dare say.—So I and Bob set out on your tracks, and we reached the lake the very morning you left it for the Clyde. And how it was that we missed you I can't understand, except that nobody can ever find his way in this wild country when he's once lost.”

“I see,” said I—“I thought to take a short cut to the right, and so I missed you.”

“That's always the case,” said Crab, “in this miserable place; nothing ever did go right in it, nor ever will! But I'm getting old now—the more fool I for stopping in it so long! But it


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won't be long before I'm out of it; this last business has been a sickener!”

“You're one of Job's comforters, Crab,” said I; “but now pray don't interrupt Mr. Moss in his story.”

THE CAPTURE OF THE BUSHRANGERS.

When the fight in which you were engaged (said Mr. Moss) was ended, the bushrangers retired behind the green bank by the margin of the lake. They lay close all night, but they sent out scouts to see what you were about, and when one of them came back to warn them of the arrival of the soldiers, they were in a great fright, not knowing what to do. Some of them proposed to make a dash through your party, but that was thought too rash; one or two who were wounded hinted the prudence of surrender, but the Gypsey, as they called him, who acted as their leader, threatened to blow out any man's brains who proposed a surrender.

“Better be shot,” he said, “like men, than be hanged like dogs.”

Two of the bushrangers had been seafaring


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men, and they proposed that we should swim over to the little island that was not more than some few hundred yards from the shore.

“And what's to become of our arms and of the wounded?” said the Gypsey.

“Oh!” said they, “make a little raft, and put our arms and clothes on the top of it, and then swim and push it over; there's no tide, and the lake is as smooth as glass.”

“A capital plan,” said the Gypsey; “we'll do it,—and then we can defy the murdering villains that are after us; for if they attempt to get at us, we shall have all the advantage of firing at them under cover.”

The bushrangers were not long in putting this scheme in execution. All the time, you were watched by two scouts, and they saw you sitting by your fire and enjoying yourselves; but it was not their game to excite your attention. The rogues worked hard, and by launching some dry logs into the lake, which they lashed together with bullock-hide, they soon made a sufficient raft for that purpose.

“Now,” said the Gypsey, “are you all ready? But I forgot,—can you all swim?”




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Three of them, who had been mechanics of some sort, declared they could not swim a stroke.

“Here's a mess! Well, I tell you what you must do, my fine fellows; you must hold on in the water by the raft—that will keep you from sinking. But what shall we do with our prisoner?”

“Oh, let him go,—he'll only be in the way!”

“No, no, we'll keep him, we may find a use for him yet. Now, Sir, can you swim?”

“No,” said I—for the thought struck me of a stratagem to escape—“and I hope you will not expose me to the risk of being drowned.”

“Oh, you must take your chance; it's no worse to be drowned than be hanged; so strip, mister, and bundle into the water.”

I took off my clothes, and the scouts having been withdrawn, and the whole party collected, we advanced towards the water.

“Stop,” said one of the sailors; “how much line can we make by putting it all together?”

By a general contribution of neckcloths, garters, cords, and bullock-hide, they made a line of about a hundred and fifty yards in length.




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“What's this for?” said the Gypsey.

“You'll see the use of it presently,” said the sailor.“Now for it;” and we all got into the water.

“Where's the prisoner?” said the Gypsey.

“Alongside me,” said the other sailor,“he's all safe.”

In this manner the swimmers slowly and with great difficulty pushed forward the raft, those who could not swim, and I, pretending not to be able to swim, holding on. They had reached the middle of the passage, or a little more, when the sailor to the right said to the one by me,

“Mate, take the end of the line and swim to the shore, I think it will reach it now, and then haul on gently, and that will quicken our work and lighten it too, for it's getting more than we can do. Be alive, for this is too hard work to last long.”

My near companion quitted me with much alacrity, glad to be relieved from his share of the toil of propelling the clumsy wood-work, and shortly afterwards I felt that the raft was being hauled in from the shore.

The attention of the bushrangers around being


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distracted from me by this circumstance, I took advantage of the opportunity, and quietly dropped under water, for I had been taught to swim, as a necessary part of my education, in early youth; and I was as confident in the water, so long as my strength lasted, as on dry land.

On this occasion, I had need of all my skill. My limbs were torpid and benumbed from inaction in the water and by the exposure of my hands and arms to the cold night air. I may add, that all the bushrangers complained of the piercing coldness of the lake-water, and there was a terrible chattering of teeth among the holders-on before I left them.

Well—I dropped quietly under water, taking care to keep my head, as I thought, towards the shore of the main land; and although my limbs were almost paralysed by the cold, I contrived by a vigorous effort to strike out for nearly half-a-minute under water,—there's no knowing what a man can do till his life is at stake,—and when I came to the surface, I had the satisfaction to find that I was at a fair distance from the raft.


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I swam on lustily, but in my hurry, and, I suppose, anxiety and confusion of mind, instead of swimming towards the main land, I swam towards another island, which in the darkness I mistook for it. This island was nearly a mile from the spot that I quitted, and being deceived as to its distance, I expected to reach it without much effort, and I nearly exhausted myself by quick swimming, before I was much more than half-way over.

Fortunately, there was not a breath of air stiring, and the water was quite smooth, but bitterly cold. I rested in the water for some seconds, but the cold was so piercing that I was afraid of cramp; so I struck out again, and worked hard. I reached the shore of the island at last, but I was so completely exhausted, that I could scarcely stand. The morning now began to break, and I perceived that I was about half a mile from a low point of land which ran out from the main shore into the lake.

I was too tired to venture into the water again, and I assure you that my situation was a very awkward one indeed. I kept running up and down for some time to keep myself warm, and at


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last I thought I might as well be drowned as die of cold where I was, so I plunged into the water again, and made an effort to reach the opposite shore.

I had got a little more than half-way across, when my strength failed me, and I began to sink slowly into the water. I gave myself up for lost, and I began to utter that which I considered my last prayer, when I felt my foot strike against the ground; the water reached to my chin, and I was just saved! I cautiously waded on, fearing to fall into some hole every moment; but the water grew shallower and shallower, and the sand beneath my feet was firm and even, and I arrived at the dry land.

Without losing a moment, I set off to the point where I expected to find my friends; I met them on their way to the concealed boat. They were much astonished, as you may suppose, at the sight of a creature that evidently was not a kangaroo, but that was similarly unencumbered by any article of dress. But matters were soon explained, and they had a fine laugh at the joke, when I told them how I had escaped. There was a friendly subscription of articles of apparel,


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to which the slain bushrangers were made to contribute more efficiently.

“Well—and did you find the boat?”

We found the boat in pretty good condition, with a couple of sculls in her. We soon launched her, and then it was debated what should be our mode of attack. The old sergeant—what a grim old fellow he is!—proposed that we should attack them on three sides at once, and make two rafts to assist us.

“If we go all together in a huddle in this little boat,” said he, “they will fire at us in a heap, and we shall have no chance, at least not without great loss, and that we should endeavour to avoid; whereas, by firing from three points at once, we shall distract their attention, and those in the boat may dash in and charge them. Of course, we soldiers will go in the boat; it will just hold us and no more.”

“I don't like your lives to be risked even in this way,” said the magistrate. “I think the safer plan will be to starve them out. We gain nothing by exposing our lives unnecessarily in a conflict with hardened felons and murderers: they


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can do no harm where they are, and they must be starved out at last. We can keep a strict watch on them by the aid of our boat, and my opinion is, some of them will get tired of being starved, and will betray the rest.”

“Just as you please, Sir,” said the sergeant—“it's all one to us; but I should like to make a dash at'em, the cowardly scoundrels! to murder a soldier in cold blood! and fire at his back! But if these rascals were to put another dodge on us, and steal off while we are looking on, there would be a fine laugh against us when we got back to Camp! We don't mind doing it alone rather than not do it at all—what do you say, my men; shall we try the boat?”

“Ay, ay,” said the men; “we can fire close, and they can never stand it; besides, we can fire three times to their one, as they have to load from their powder-horns, while we have our cartridges. Better have it over at once, and rap at them while we can.”

“Well” said the magistrate, “I have my doubts; but it certainly is of importance to secure these desperate fellows, and it would not be


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pleasant to have the laugh against us if they escape; so let us set about it without losing time.”

We all set to work, and we were busy constructing our raft when Crab and your man appeared on horseback.

“Yes,” said Crab, “we tracked you to the place where you had the first fight, and then we easily tracked you on to the boat. And such a set of mad fellows I never saw before in all the days of my life; one would have thought you were going to have a frolic instead of a deadly fight with desperate men; but this horrid country makes all the people mad, and mad they must have been to come to it, and madder to stop in it—that's my opinion!”

“Mr. Crab entertains peculiar views,” said Moss, “and he has his own way of expressing himself: but to proceed with my story—that is, if I am not making it too long.”

“Not a bit,” said I; “we have nothing to do but to hear it; and, as I was at the beginning of the fray, I should like to hear the end of it.”

Well, then (said Moss), we worked hard all that day, but we could not construct anything


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to our minds as a fighting raft. Half of the soldiers were despatched to keep watch on the part of the shore which we had quitted, and which was nearest to the island. We passed the night as usual, but we had plenty of fires to keep the cold off. Next day we finished our raft, which we launched into the water. It was then towed by the boat towards the island. When we approached within range, a musket-shot was fired from the shore, which we observed fell short of the boat in the water, but we saw no one on the beach.

“This will never do,” said the magistrate; “we shall all be picked off this way.”

He then called out to the sergeant to go back, which was done, and we returned to the land to the point from which the bushrangers had started the morning before. We all went on shore again, and consulted on what should be done. We were engaged in this deliberation when we were agreeably surprised by the appearance of a corporal's party of soldiers, and presently afterwards by a bullock-cart drawn by four bullocks, and bearing another boat, which had been despatched from Hobart Town to the lake, as it was


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guessed such an assistance might be wanted. This boat was larger and stronger than the one we had found, and being thus provided and our strength being reinforced by the addition of the corporal's party, it was at once resolved that we should force the bushrangers in their retreat by a simultaneous attack on different points. The sergeant took the command of one boat and the magistrate of the other.




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CHAPTER V.

THE GOVERNOR'S PROCLAMATION—THE MAGISTRATE'S MISSION—THE SERGEANT'S DEVICE—THE BUSHRANGERS CAPTURED.

WE were just shoving off from the shore, when a messenger on horseback arrived from Hobart Town, bearing a letter from the Governor to the magistrate, which of course we stopped to read, as the despatch was marked “Important and Immediate.” The magistrate having read it over to himself, said that as its contents concerned us all, he would read it aloud, which he did to the following effect: —

“By ——, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of his Majesty's Settlements on Van Diemen's Land, &c. &c. &c.

“Whereas the convicts named in the margin, who have been sent to the new settlement of Macquarie Harbour, have effected their escape


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by passing the mountains, and are now at large; and whereas it has been represented to me by —— , Esq., at whose house the said convicts, or several of them, were on the 9th instant, that they or several of them were desirous of surrendering themselves to the Government; I do hereby declare that all or any of the convicts named in the margin, together with such others as may have made their escape from Macquarie Harbour at the same time, shall be pardoned for all offences committed by them, murder excepted, upon surrendering themselves, with their arms, to any of the under-named gentlemen, they being in the nomination for the magistracy of this island, or to any officer or non-commissioned officer commanding a party of the King's troops, provided that such surrender shall be made on or before the 21st instant.

“And I do hereby require and authorize ——, Esq., of the Clyde,——, Esq., of Jericho, and ——, Esq., of the Clyde, they being in the nomination of the magistracy, to receive all or any of the said convicts on their voluntary surrender, to convey to them a pledge on my part that no charge shall be exhibited against


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them for any offence committed by them in this island, murder excepted, provided they shall surrender themselves, with their arms, on or before the 21st instant.

“And I do hereby declare, that in the event of the said convicts not accepting the mercy herein offered, and of their continuing in a state of resistance to the laws after the time specified, I will cause the whole of the King's troops, together with the armed inhabitants, to be put in motion against them, and that I will put a price upon each of their heads, authorizing all his Majesty's subjects to bring them in, dead or alive.

“And I do hereby further declare that I do by this paper, under my hand and the seal of the colony, convey to you full power to pledge me to the several convicts for the performance of all herein expressed and declared on my part, and to receive their surrender.

“——, Lieutenant-Governor, “Government House, Hobart Town, “To ——,Esq., “River Clyde.”

“Now, my friends,” said the worthy justice, “it is all very well to show your courage and your


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determination in making an attack on these bushrangers, but we must not be too hasty in the matter. Bear in mind that our object should be to capture these dangerous men without unnecessarily exposing our own lives, or the lives of these brave soldiers who are so eager to get to close quarters with the murderers of their comrade. As the Government has empowered us to offer that their lives should be spared, with the exception of the actual murderers, on the condition of their surrendering themselves, it is my duty to make the clemency of the Government known to them, and to give them this chance of saving their lives.”

There was some murmuring at this, and it was contended that no terms ought to be kept with villains who had committed outrages and atrocities so horrible as these had done; but the magistrate was firm in his sense of his duty, and declared that he was determined to give effect to the merciful intentions of the Government.

“But how are we to acquaint them with it?” said the sergeant; “they will be sure to fire on us if we approach them in a body, and I don't


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suppose that any one of us is inclined to go alone into their den of wolves!”

“I will not ask any one to do my duty for me,” said the magistrate; “I shall take one of the constables with me to pull the boat, and go alone, and without arms; my mission will be a mission of peace and mercy, and I must take my chance of the rest. Come, Worrall,” said he, “step into the boat and pull me over.”

“I'm a bad hand at pulling,” said Worrall, “and besides, they have a particular spite against me, and would skin me alive if they could get me; not that I mind, only I would rather anybody else did the job this time.”

“You can pull a long face,” said the sergeant, “at any rate; but one of us can go, if his honour pleases.”

“No, no,” said the magistrate;“Worrall is the proper man; it is right that he should attend me in his official capacity.”

It was with the most ludicrous reluctance that Worrall proceeded to exercise his official functions on this disagreeable occasion; and as his face was turned towards us as he sat in the boat with the


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sculls in his hands, the dolorous countenance of that usually facetious individual raised a general shout of laughter.

“I know,” said Worrall, in most lugubrious accents, “I'm booked; I shall be riddied like a sieve! Ah! you may laugh, but how would you like it yourselves? And the bushrangers always put jagged balls in their guns, out of spite; as if smooth ones would not do as well!”

“Give me a stick—and tie something white—a handkerchief, or something to it, that we may not run any useless risk. That will do—now shove us off—and—Worrall what's the matter with the man? Give way! the sooner we are there the sooner it will be over.”

“Well,” said Mr. Crab, “if you don't like to be shot yourself, you needn't disgust other people with it! What made you stay in this horrid country? It's your own fault for stopping in it, where there's nothing but wild bushrangers and savage natives to murder and devour you—that's my opinion!”

“Oh!” groaned Worrall, “it will be all over soon enough!”

The boat proceeded languidly on its way, feebly


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propelled by exceedingly slow strokes, the scalls, as we observed, rising perpendicularly into the air, and descending again in a straight line into the water, thereby causing the least possible motion to the boat which bore the wretched Worrall to his miserable doom, who ever and anon looked over his shoulder towards the anticipated spot of his expected sacrifice, ducking his head occasionally with a quick and frantie motion, to avoid the shots which his fears suggested were being aimed at him. The magistrate, who was standing up in the boat with the white flag in his hand, at last seized hold of Worrall's almost paralysed hands, and forcing him to row, by a few vigorous strokes the boat was soon forced into the midchannel.

We now observed the bushrangers assembling on the beach of the island in order of fighting, and with their arms in their hands. As the boat approached the shore, we saw the magistrate wave his white flag in one hand, while in the other he held up the open letter which he had received from the Governor. The boat now neared the shore and became stationary, but we could not hear what passed.




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“I will supply that deficiency,” said the magistrate. “I confess I did not feel very comfortable as we approached the spot where the bushrangers were assembled, and when I felt that my life was in their power; but I lost no time in telling them of the merciful offer of the Governor. Worrall had laid himself down at the bottom of the boat, which I saw excited the bushrangers' suspicions; I made him get up, therefore, and when they caught sight of his face, there was a general shout of anger, and more than one piece was levelled at him. I put up my hand and appealed to their honour, and said that I had trusted myself among them in order to save life; that I was bound to do my duty, and that I could not better evince my desire to save them from the consequences of their holding out, than by my present act in confiding to their good feelings. I am inclined to think my eloquence would not have saved me from their murderous inclinations, if it had not been for their leader, who really is a fine fellow, and I should like to save him if I could. Some of the rascals called out ‘Treachery!’ and pointed their guns at me, but their leader (the Gypsey) stopped them, and he and I had a


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parley together. I should say that I observed evident signs in some of them of an inclination to submit themselves.

“ ‘Will all our lives be spared?’ said the Gypsey,‘if we surrender?’

“ ‘Not all,’ said I, ‘but all except those who actually committed the murders with which you are charged.’

“ ‘But we are all in for it,’ said he, ‘and we must stand or fall together; we won't agree to have some picked out from the rest to be hanged in Camp yonder!’

“ ‘I cannot engage,’ said I, ‘that all your lives shall be spared; but your immediate and quiet surrender would no doubt go far in your favour.’

“ ‘Let us hear that part of the Governor's letter read to us word for word,’ said the Gypsey.

“I read it to them from beginning to end, but they shook their heads at it.

“ ‘It won't do’ said the Gypsey; ‘we may as well be shot as hanged. But you see we are well armed and prepared for you. We don't wish to do you any harm; I believe you mean


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well to us; but if you attack us, you must take the consequence. We will fight it out to the death. What say you, my men, shall it be life or death with us?’

“ ‘Ay, ay,’ said the men; ‘no surrender, no surrender!’

“I thought my position was getting ticklish, for the bushrangers were working themselves up to a pitch of savage fury. I therefore thought of the best mode of retiring.

“ ‘I will give you,’ said I, ‘another hour to consider of the offer of the Governor; if before the end of that time you will consent to submit, hold up a bough by the water's edge, which we shall be able to see from the other side. I leave you now, hoping that you will consider the merciful offer of the Governor, and take advantage of this chance of saving your lives.’ So saying, and without waiting for a reply, I immediately took the sculls and pulled back; and glad enough was I to escape so well, I can assure you. And now, Moss, do you tell the rest.”

We waited till the expiration of the hour (said Moss), but we observed that the bushrangers were very busy with the dead wood, and


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with boughs of trees, which they cut down and dragged to the shore, to form, as it seemed, a shelter, behind which they might defend themselves, and at the end of the time we saw one of them holding the bough of a tree in his hand, which he waved about.

“They have agreed to surrender,” said the magistrate; “don't you see the signal which we agreed on?”

“Not a bit of it,” said the old sergeant; “those fortifications have not been run up for nothing: the treacherous devils, they show that branch as a feint, depend upon it, to put us off our guard. But I think we may take advantage of their own stratagem, and by pretending to be deceived, we shall be able to deceive them. Now, Sir,” said he to the magistrate, “will you be ruled by me for this once? I'm an old peninsular campaigner, and have had some experience in the bush with the Yankees, and I am up to their manoeuvres.”

“With all my heart,” said the magistrate; “what do you propose to do?”

“Why this is what I propose. First, do you get into the boat again with Worrall, as if you


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saw and understood their signal, and relied upon their meaning to surrender. When you are sure they have seen you do this, then come back, as if you had determined on some other plan of receiving their submission. Now look at the wind! You see it blows from us to them pretty smartish. Let all of us hoist white flags or boughs of trees; they will see us from the other side, and they will think we are sure of their surrendering quietly, and so being deceived, if they mean treachery, we shall be able to circumvent them. Now you see the wind, as I said, blows from us to them. We must make a large fire, as if for cooking, and to make it look as if we had abandoned all thoughts of fighting.”

“How will that help us?” said the magistrate.

“Why, you see when we make a good fire, we can make at the same time a good smoke, and smoke enough to hide us from the view of the bushrangers.”

“And what will you do then?”

“Let one boat go straight forward, making all the noise you can, to fix their attention, while the other steals round to the side of the island.


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We soldiers will go in that, and take them in flank, and then we shall have them nicely; and while they are engaged with us, you can push on and land, and so they will be between two fires.”

“Good!” said the magistrate; “a capital scheme; that is, if you can make smoke enough.”

“Oh, let me alone for that,” said the sergeant; “I learnt that trick long ago in America; I'll warrant I'll make a smoke that a man can't see a pot of beer through it.”

The sergeant's plan was immediately carried into execution. We collected a quantity of dead leaves, which at this season of the year are damp and difficult to inflame. We first made a fire as usual, and then we proceeded to light others along the shore, taking care to smother them with dead leaves, which raised plenty of smoke, which the wind carried over the water in the direction of the island. We then manned the boats, and pursuing the plan of the sergeant, made as much noise as possible in pulling over. In the meantime, under cover of the smoke, the second boat, with the sergeant and his party, made the best of


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its way to the side of the island. When we came within speaking distance, a voice hailed us:

“What the devil do you kick up such a smoke for?”

“The wood by the side of the lake is damp and will not burn. We saw your signal, and we are come to receive your surrender.”

“Surrender be ——! More fools you to suppose we were going to give ourselves up to be hanged like sheep in a slaughter-house. Take that for your folly.”

At these words a volley was fired at us, but we were prepared for it, and by falling down in the boat we escaped it altogether, the shots, in the obscurity of the smoke, going over our heads. Without returning the fire, we immediately pulled off, and when we had got to a safe distance, we began to fire, to distract the attention of the bushrangers from the second boat. We continued to fire for some minutes, till the smoke cleared away, and then we had the satisfaction to see that the boat with the soldiers had succeeded in getting round a point of land which concealed them from the sight of the bushrangers.

“The murderous and treacherous rascals!”


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muttered Worrall, “they deserve to be punished for this villanous treachery. Lucky we were to escape from them, but I suppose the Gypsey thought he should secure our destruction best by this trick.”

“Now,” said the magistrate, “we may calculate the soldiers have landed. Let us pull inshore and be ready to second them. Fire as fast as you can till we get close in, and then let half reserve their fire. There are the soldiers stealing round! The bushrangers don't see them yet! They little expect an attack from that quarter! Now, my friends! Fire away!—Keep it up—There go the soldiers! Give way!—pull—pull—reserve your fire! There go the soldiers again! The rascals are puzzled! They don't know what to make of it. Pull away!—Pull away!”

We were not long in reaching the shore, and the bushrangers being engaged with their unexpected enemy, seemed panic-struck. They fired at the soldiers, but without vigour and without aim. In the meantime we were upon them on the other side; and the soldiers, fixing their bayonets, without hesitating, charged in among them.




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We got up to them at nearly the same time, and stopped their retreat. They were so bewildered by the suddenness of the unexpected attack of the soldiers, that they made but little resistance, with the exception of the Gypsey and another man, who, seeing that their game was lost, darted into the wood. Thinking that we had them safe within the island, we first turned our attention to the securing of those we had got, whom we bound hand and foot before they had time to recover from their panic; three of them lay dead from the fire of the soldiers, and several were slightly wounded.

“Where's their leader?” cried the magistrate.

“He has escaped for the present, but we are sure to have him at last.”

“The boat,” said the sergeant; “the boat on the other side—look to it.”

It was too late. The Gypsey had been too quick for us. We saw him above a couple of miles from the shore, pulling with his companion with all their might to the main land.

“There they go,” said Crab—“and all that we have done is of no use, and I have got one of their buck-shot through my arm; more fool I for


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going after them. What have I to do with fighting bushrangers? And there go the two greatest rogues of the lot; they were the ringleaders and the stirrers up of all the mischief! and all our work is to do over again. I'll be bound, before night, they'll commit a dozen murders at least. Well, this is making a silly end of it—that's my opinion ! ”

“Corporal,” said the sergeant, “lose no time; you must put yourself on their tracks; you and your party will be enough for those two; I will take care of the prisoners.”

“Put the corporal's party on shore,” said the magistrate, to the two constables, “where the other boat lands. You can then return and tow it back with you.”

Worrall and his fellow-constables stepped into the boat, and the corporal, making the usual military salaam, departed with his men in pursuit of the terrible Gypsey. When they returned, we all crossed over to the main land, much to the joy of our friend Beresford, and the relief of the Government messenger. We immediately set off on our return to the Clyde, when to our surprise we learnt that you had not yet arrived. We


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feared that you had been killed by the natives, but Crab insisted on immediately going in search of you, as he said you might be lamed or lost in the bush.

Information was brought to us that the magistrate's horse, on which you had started from the lake, had returned home lame, and without saddle or bridle. This increased our fears for your safety, and we had no difficulty in mustering a sufficient party to aid you in case of danger.Thank God we found you when we did.

“It was just in time,” said I.

“It was, indeed; but that's over now; and when you get home to your family you will soon recover yourself, and get things to rights again.”

With this we turned ourselves to sleep, and I slept soundly. The morning light found me refreshed and restored, and I roused up the party to lose no time in crossing the river. We found a fording-place higher up, and crossed without accident. Beresford placed himself by my side, and we strode cheerfully on.

After a sharp march of some miles we passed the Shannon, and I began to feel myself again....




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“What has become of poor Lucy Moss?” said I. “It was you who saved her life on that awful night! When we left her on our expedition to the lake, she had not recovered consciousness.—Is she still alive?”

“Miss Moss has to thank your wife for her recovery,” said Beresford, “more than me. But look there! Did you ever see such a shot?—that cockatoo on the end of the branch of the tree there!”

“Never mind the cockatoo, man,” said I; “we have had shooting enough for one bout; let the cockatoo alone. Well, poor girl, I hope she is grateful to you for her life, when you carried her in your arms on that terrible night that we found her lying on the trunk of the tree over the Clyde! It is not every one that would have perilled his life by scrambling along that tree like an opossum, as you did; and I remember how very kind you were! and when we offered to help you, you said the poor girl was not in the least heavy, and I suppose—but bless the man, what is the matter with him? you are not going to faint, are you? And what makes you turn so red in that odd way?”




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“It's my arm,” said he, “that gives me a twinge now and then.”

“Oh!—is it? and who has done it up so nicely? Here's been a woman's hand in this, I'll swear. Was it my wife that sewed on all these little black ribands so prettily—eh?”

“It was not Mrs. Thornley who did it exactly.....” —

“Exactly! What, had anybody else a hand in it?”

“Not particularly—that is, not altogether; but Mrs. Thornley had the kindness to hold my arm while—while—I think it was Miss Moss who sewed on the ties.” —

“Oh! it was! and who” —

“There's the Clyde at last,” said Beresford. “Look,—cast your eyes just over that bare branch of the high gum tree—don't you see the water? It can't be more than four miles from us!”——

“You seem to be in a particular hurry to get back. Nothing wrong about your affairs, I hope?”

“O dear, no! The truth is, that—that—I want—that is—that I'm anxious—”


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“Anxious to do what?”

“To see how your men that is, my men—have got on with the hedging and ditching since I've been away.” —

“Indeed!” said I.—

I did not make any further observation to my young friend, who suddenly quitted my side, but I thought a good deal, and I said to myself—“I've seen many curious things in my time, but I never knew a young fellow in such a hurry to see a hedge and a ditch before!”

But I was now drawing nearer and nearer to home, and that feeling put out of my head all other thoughts. The loud and joyous shouts of our party proclaimed from a distance their approach and their success. In a moment I crossed the memorable tree across the river, and found myself once more in the embraces of my wife and children.




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CHAPTER VI.

HE RETURNS TO HIS HOME—SETS ABOUT REPAIRING HIS DISASTERS—HOW TO BUILD A HOUSE WITH PULVERIZED EARTH—MR. CRAB'S INCREASED IMPORTANCE, AND HOW SHEEP MAY INCREASE FROM ONE HUNDRED TO TWO THOUSAND—THE BUILDING OF A STONE HOUSE RESOLVED ON.

IT is now fourteen years since the events which I have related happened; but I remember them as if they were of yesterday. Taking my wife in one hand and my eldest daughter in the other, I led them silently to the humble hut, which now formed our only dwelling. Our hearts were too full to speak.—I looked round for William; my wife guessed my thoughts.

“William is out seeking for you over the hills towards Sorrell's Lake.”

I looked on my other children, and kissed them one by one.

“Let me be alone,” I said, “for a little while:—my head is giddy.”


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I sat down on a wooden bench, and tried to collect my thoughts; but the revulsion was too much for me! The terrible emotions which I had suffered had shaken me more than I was aware of; the events of a lifetime seemed to have been crowded into the ten days' space since I had left my happy home.

In that brief time how much had I suffered!—I had fought in some desperate conflicts!—I had been lost for six days in the dreary and dismal bush! I had been all but overcome in my death-struggle with the natives? Desolation now met my eyes where I had left abundance; and the blackened ruins of my once cheerful cottage lay in a melancholy heap as I passed them by!

Overcome by the sudden rush of all these thoughts which at once assailed me, and over-powered with the surpassing joy of beholding those whom so recently I had never expected to see again, I felt that choking at the throat which seizes on those who are torn by conflicting emotions: mine were joy and sadness. I think my bosom would have burst had not tears come to my relief; I tried to check them as unmanly, and unseemly at such a moment; but they came


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thicker and thicker, and in the fulness and thankfulness of my joy, I sobbed aloud.

My dear wife took my hands and pressed them tenderly; motioning her to kneel down with me, I raised my heart in gratitude and prayer to that Being, through whose help I had been sustained in my many perils. Then summoning my children, I caressed them again, and my dear William soon after coming in, with all the boisterous gladness of a young heart, shouted out his joyous greeting.

That evening was one of joy and thankfulness; we did not think of what we had lost, but of what we had gained. But a sort of brain fever was the consequence of the excitement to which I had been exposed, which confined me for many days to my bed.

When I recovered sufficiently to attend to my affairs, I found that I had in a great measure to begin again the work of a settler in the country; but industry and perseverance will conquer most difficulties; so I set about repairing my disasters with a stout heart, and as we all worked willingly, we worked cheerfully, stimulated by the feeling that we were working for ourselves, and that


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every improvement that we made—every stone that we laid—and every stick that we planted, was on our own land, and for the benefit of ourselves and our children.

My first care was to look after my sheep; for that was my main stock, and what I most depended on. I had the mortification to find that my home flock of merinoes had got dispersed in the bush, but my three other flocks at their different runs, consisting of about three thousand, were safe. It took some time to recover my merinoes, for they had strayed away, and had become mixed with the sheep of various neighbours, but I got them nearly all together again after a short time. As to the tame cattle, they were gathered in by degrees, but it cost my horses severe work to get in the wild herds, with which they were mixed.

The worst part of the business was the loss by fire at home, of furniture, bedding, books, and, indeed, of almost every thing that the old cottage and the adjacent buildings contained. But there were no lives lost, and that was a great consolation.

My friend Moss was re-established in his log-


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hut on the other side of the river, and I heard that young Beresford was particularly attentive in giving them the benefit of his assistance in putting their little farm to rights, and my daughter Betsey, then sixteen years of age, and inclined to be saucy occasionally, told me very demurely “that Mr. Beresford was so very kind! that he was there every day, showing Miss Moss how to plan her little flower-garden, which must be an exceedingly difficult thing to do,” Betsey remarked, “on the other side of the river, as the flower-garden did not seem to make much progress, although her instructor was always explaining to her from morning till night something or other about it.”

This was said in such a sly way, that I looked on Betsey with eyes which betokened some little surprise at her observations, and it suddenly struck me that eight years had passed away since I first came to the Clyde, and that my eldest daughter, now sixteen years of age, was assuming the airs of womanhood.

My son William, too, who had reached his eighteenth year, had lately been throwing out hints on the propriety of his making a visit


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to Hobart Town to purchase razors. I had put a stop to that sort of presumption some time before by gravely offering him a cart and four bullocks to bring up a razor for him, but I felt that these pretensions would at no distant time assume a character which required care and consideration, and that it was incumbent on me to provide for them in time. These thoughts acted as further stimulants to my exertions.

It was on a bright frosty morning in that same month of June, 1824, that I summoned Crab to a cabinet council on the subject of our projected new house. I was inclined to try a new mode of building which had lately been introduced in the colony, under the name of pisé building, and which seemed to answer very well, and in places where brick or stone building was expensive, formed a very good substitute. The way of raising a pisé house was this: —

The breadth and position of the wall being determined—we will suppose the projected house to be forty feet long by twenty feet wide—two upright poles, of the height of the walls, are firmly fixed in the ground at each end of the line, having a space between them of about two


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feet, more or less, according to the contemplated thickness of the wall; more poles are fixed in the middle of the line, if wanted, according to the length of the proposed building. Flat boards, of about a foot in width, and an inch and a half or two inches thick, are fastened to the upright poles from end to end of the forty feet, forming a framework—the mould of the future wall.

For the material of the wall ordinary loam is taken in the state in which it is usually found, but it is necessary that it should be dry enough to be sifted through a fine sieve, as on the absence of all stones and extraneous matter larger than will pass through a fine sieve, the strength and durability of the wall mainly depend. The pulverized and sifted earth is now thrown into the framework forming its mould, at first to the depth of about four to six inches, and afterwards not more than will form a depth of about two inches. I should say that the foundation of this house may be of stone or thick plank, and that the foundation ought to be raised sufficiently above the surface to avoid wet; it may be the ground itself properly levelled; but such a house so built is not so durable.




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The next operation is the ramming, and it is by the peculiar sort of rammer used that the solidity of the walls is produced. The rammer should be any rough pole, about ten feet long, and two or three inches in diameter; the ramming end of this pole is to be shaped to a sharp point, and in this shaping some skill is required. If the sloping to the point is begun too near the end, the instrument will be too blunt, and will disturb too large a surface of the pulverized earth, so that the fine particles will not be brought into the proper close contact, and the wall will not be sufficiently solid; and if the sloping is begun too high up, the ramming part will be too pointed, and will only make holes, instead of pressing the particles of earth closely together. The proper medium must be ascertained by a few trials, and experience will soon teach the right shape.

Two or more men, according to the extent of the wall, stand within the framework of boards, and as the earth is thrown in by assistants, they keep continually ramming in the earth under their feet lightly with their pointed poles. Care should be taken not to ram hard, and not to attempt to do the work too fast.




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In this way, in a very short time, a capital house may be raised by very simple means, and with cheap materials to be found everywhere, and not requiring the skill of a bricklayer or stone-mason; and in a short time the wall becomes as hard as stone, and of the same apparent solidity, so that a pickaxe will not make much more impression on a wall so built than on a block of stone. This was the sort of house that I contemplated building for our new dwelling.

“This is a bad job, Crab,” I began, “but it might have been worse; there have been no lives lost from this sad fire, that is one great consolation; but we can't live without a house; the point to be settled is, what sort of one we shall build. You have seen a good deal of this new sort of houses at Pitt Water, what do you think of them?”

Now it must be premised, that Mr. Crab had become a very important personage in the district of the Clyde. At the beginning of 1817, seven years before, I had prevailed on him to purchase with his small capital a hundred ewes heavy with lamb, and to put them out “on thirds;” which he did with an honest settler


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on the other side, the Launceston side, of the island.

As the keeper of the sheep was to have one-third of their produce to re-imburse him for his care and expense, two-thirds remained for the owner; and as Crab consumed none, and sold little of the increase, excepting for the purpose of replacing the wethers with breeding ewes, in the course of seven years Crab's original one hundred ewes had increased, notwithstanding theft and all sorts of losses, to two flocks of sheep of above one thousand each, which he had established on separate runs, to the eastward of Salt Pan Plains. He had continued to live with me in my house, and was considered, as he considered himself, a part of the family, and maintained his authority as the autocrat of the ploughs and corn-fields.

I must add, that having now attained the age of sixty-eight, he had become more obstinate in his opinions than ever, and my recent calamities, which he declared he had all along foreseen and expected, confirmed him in his conviction of his superior penetration and sagacity.

“What do you think, Crab,” said I, “of


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running up a pisé house? It's easily done, and we can do it with the men we have got about us.”

Crab slowly raised himself from the log of a tree on which he was sitting, and placing on the rough table of gum tree boards his two hard and brown hands, he inclined his head a little forwards to me, and with much solemnity replied:

“And is it possible, Mr. Thornley, that you are thinking of building another house in this miserable place? Have you not had warning enough, by bushrangers, and by natives, and by fires, to show you the wrongness of all that you have done? And eight years ago, in this very place, did I not tell you what would happen? and hasn't it happened? And now you are thinking of beginning it all over again! Why, it's a mere tempting of Providence!”

“Oh, papa,” said Betsey, “do let us go back to England. Since all this work about the bushrangers and natives, I declare I'm quite frightened and besides, there's not a shop near us, one must send to Hobart Town for everything; and if one wants a new riband for a bonnet, a bullock cart must be sent fifty miles for it! The idea of bringing


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up a new bonnet in a cart drawn by four bullocks!”

“Nonsense! Betsey,” said William; “what do you want with new bonnets up here, where there are nothing but cows and sheep to see you? (‘ain't there, though?’ I thought Betsey muttered). To be sure, it is awkward not to have a boot-maker near, and if you want any trifle done to your gun, you must take it to town. That certainly is a nuisance.

“Miss Betsey is a very sensible young lady,” said Crab, “and I think the best thing to be done is for us all to go home again to England, and there we can have a nice little farm, and in Shropshire I know many that are to be got at a low rent.”

“Rent!” said I, “that word would be a settler, Crab, if there was no other argument against it. Thank Heaven! we have done with rent! Our land is our own; we are our own masters; depending on our own exertions for prosperity and fortune!”

“A pretty prosperity has come of it!” said the indomitable Crab. “It's a very prosperous state of affairs, isn't it, when a man is shot at day after day by bushrangers, and gets lost in the bush,


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and is hunted by natives—and—I ask you, now, master, whether, in your conscience, you can deny that you ought at this moment to be a roasted man?”

“A roasted man,” said my wife. “Good Heavens! Mr. Crab, what odd ideas you have!”

“But I'm not roasted yet,” said I, “and, excepting that clip which the native's womera gave me on the leg, I'm not much the worse for it. And, by the bye, Crab, how do your sheep get on beyond the Salt Pan Plains? Why, you will have more sheep in a short time than you will know what to do with. What would you do with them in England? It would require a good bit of land to feed two thousand sheep; and then the rent! No rent to pay here—eh!”

“Eh!” said Crab—“ah! but it's better to pay rent and have your property safe, than pay it in the shape of bushrangers, sheep-stealing, and burning, and such like.”

“That's a drawback,” said I, “it must be confessed; but still, my friend Crab, with all these drawbacks, and in spite of all the inconveniences and disadvantages of this wretched country, as


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you call it, you have contrived to make two thousand sheep out of one hundred in seven years! I am inclined to think that you would not have got together a flock of two thousand sheep in England in that time, or in any time.”

“May be not,” said Crab—“may be not; but then in England you can sleep in your bed without getting up next morning and finding your throat cut, or your house burnt about your ears. Well, well—a wilful man must have his way! I suppose you must wait for another disaster worse than this before you'll hear reason; but the end will come at last, and then you'll regret you did not take my advice.”

“Come, give us your advice about a pisé house, as you have seen some of them and I have not; will they do?”

“Do! Lord bless you—never think of making a mud-pie and calling it a house. Who ever heard of patting mud up into a heap, and then setting a roof on it? Why, it must crumble to pieces, or be washed away by the first rain that comes. But why talk of a mud house when you have plenty of stone on your own land?”

“Yes: but stonemasons' work is so very expensive


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in this country, and such a house would take so long in building.”

“Of course it would; everything is very expensive in this country; but you should have thought of that before you came into it. But the stone house that I mean is one which you might build of the same sort of stone that the old chimney of the cottage was built of; only to be done in a more sightly manner. Why, you might build a house a hundred feet long for a few hundred pounds, that would really be a place fit for a gentleman to live in, and which some new fool of a settler, with plenty of money, would buy, perhaps, when you went back to England. And I'll tell you what I'll do,” continued Crab, in his enthusiasm: “I've too many sheep by a great deal for me to look after. I'll sell one of the flocks, and that shall build the new house for you, and I'll start to Salt Pan Plains about it this very day.”

“Indeed,” said I, “you will do no such thing.”

“And why not, pray; can't I do as I like with my own sheep?”

“You may do as you like with your own sheep, but you shall not sell them to build our house;


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there will be about fifteen hundred pounds due to me in another month, which I shall not lend again, so that I shall have plenty of money for house, furniture, and all.”

“Well,” said Crab, considering a little, “perhaps it's as well; it will be all the same in the end, and you would only lose your money by lending it. Very well; the sheep are sure to increase if you leave them alone. So now to find a good stone-quarry.”

“Let us all go,” said my wife, “the day is beautiful. I want to see Mrs. Moss on the other side of the river, and you can help us over Lucy's bridge, and leave us at Mrs. Moss's cottage.”

“Come, then,” said I; “where's my fowling-piece? and, Will, do you take yours.”

“Why, what on earth,” said Crab, “do you want with your guns? you are not going a mile from home.”

“Perhaps not; but there's no harm in taking them with us.”

“My fowling-piece is dirty,” said William; “but here's a musket clean, with the bayonet all ready fixed; and here's a cartouche-box of cartridges.”




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“A pretty place to live in!” said Crab; “to go a-seeking for a stone-quarry with muskets and fixed bayonets!”

“It's always best to be prepared,” said I; “and, to my thinking, precaution betokens courage, as it shows the calculation of danger, and the predetermination to face it.”

It will be seen that it was well, on this occasion, that we did not leave our arms behind us.




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CHAPTER VII.

STONE-QUARRIES—MANNER OF GARDENING BY YOUNG LADIES IN NEW COLONIES—A STRANGER—MISS BETSEY SUDDENLY BECOMES SCIENTIFIC RESPECTING STONE-QUARRIES AND OTHER MATTERS—THE LARGE ANTS RESENT THE INTRUSION ON THEIR TERRITORIES—WILD CATTLE HUNTING—A YOUNG BULL GETS MADDENED, AND GALLOPING INTO THE BUSH MEETS WITH BETSEY—THORNLEY SEES HER PERIL AND GIVES HER OVER FOR LOST.

VAN DIEMEN'S LAND abounds in stone of all sorts, and especially in a sort of stone which easily splits into flakes; it is commonly used to build the chimney of a log-house, where bricks and lime are not easily to be had. It is not so sightly as bricks, but it answers the purpose very well, and almost anything in the shape of mud serves for a cement. There was plenty of this sort of stone on my land; indeed, too much of it, enough to build a town, and on one rise there were so many fine flat slabs of stones lying


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on the surface, that it made one long to find a use for them.

The object of our search was to find a quarry of stone easy to be worked, near the intended site of the house, so as to avoid the expense and trouble of carting. But first we proceeded in a body to the other side of the river, passing in single file over the trunk of the tree which had now obtained the name of “Lucy's bridge;” Crab brought up the rear, with a crow-bar over his shoulder, which it pleased him to carry on this occasion, for the purpose of raising specimens of the stone.

We found our friends busy about their cottage, which, at Mrs. Moss's request, our diligent neighbour was carefully fortifying. The inside was hardly large enough to contain us all, so we proceeded in a body to the new garden, which Miss Moss, with great taste, had planned near the river.

“Bless me!” said Betsey, “why, I declare Miss Moss has two gardeners to assist her; there's Mr. Beresford sitting on the log of a tree, working dreadfully hard indeed, and explaining, I suppose, something or other; and there's


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another helping him, only he's too far off to join in the conversation, with a gun over his shoulder.That's a stranger; I wonder who he can be!”

Our approach interrupted young Beresford's dissertation on horticulture, and he came forward with a very red face to greet us, while Miss Moss immediately began to rake about the earth desperately. “Rather cold work,” said I, “to be idle! The month of June is not the season to sit still in the open air. A good fire and the inside of a house would be more comfortable.”

“I thought it was very pleasant,” said Beresford.

“So it appeared,” said I; “but I can't stop to talk this morning. We are going to look for stone to build our new house. Who is that young stranger? He is very like you.”

“That's my brother. You know I have been expecting him for some months. He came up here a week ago.”

“What is his age? He is younger than you.”

“He is nineteen—four years younger than I am. He has got terrible notions in his head


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about natives and bushrangers, and nothing on earth will induce him to part with his gun: he eats, drinks, and sleeps with it.”

As my friend thus spoke, the stranger advanced and saluted us with a very good air, and I was prepossessed in his favour at once by his modest and unassuming manner. I am inclined to think that there was another of the party who regarded him with favourable eyes; but of this I shall have to speak in its proper place.

“Who's for a walk?” said I. “Come, Beresford, man, don't sit on that log all day; a brisk walk will do you good.”

“I would go with you with all my heart; but the truth is, I have promised Miss Moss to show her how to trench the ground for Indian corn.”

“Trench ground for Indian corn in June! Well, that's a new idea, at any rate. You don't mean to say that you are going to sow Indian corn in the middle of winter?”

“Sow it! No—not to sow it, but there's nothing like being prepared in time.”

“Right there,” said I; “and as you like to


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prepare in time, had you not better come with us and look out for a convenient stone quarry, for it seems to me you'll soon be wanting a larger house than your present one?”

Miss Moss, at this recommendation, worked away with her rake again with great energy; but she had the courage to say,

“The surgeon, Mr. Beresford, desired you not to use your arm; and you know he said that any exertion would be dangerous. But pray don't let me keep you from joining your friends. I have plenty to do inside the cottage.”

So saying, she bid us a hasty adieu, and we proceeded on our walk. Beresford said he had to speak to Mr. Moss about some sheep; but his brother, he added, would be glad to accompany us to see the country.

“Well, then,” said I, “you can stay with your mother, Betsey, and we will go on with our search.”

“I should like to go with you,” said Betsey; “the day is so fine, and I am so fond of seeing stone quarries.”

“Fond of seeing stone quarries!” thought I; “what has come to the hussy; she never was so


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interested about stone quarries before. Come, then,” I said, “and don't complain of being tired, for we shall make a long walk of it, perhaps.”

We re-crossed the river and struck into the bush, William going on before, and I and Crab following sedately behind, while Betsey and the stranger came after us. We soon came on some stone quarries, but we saw none that pleased us. There were so many, that we were fastidious about them.

“I know of a capital lot of stone just on the other side of that little green hill,” said Crab, “if it would not be too far for carting; but it all lies on the surface, so the distance of cartage would be saved by the ease of getting at the stone.”

“It can do no harm for us to see it,” said I, “so let us push on. Betsey! where the deuce is the girl? Don't loiter behind so, or you'll be lost in the bush, and your new acquaintance would not be able to help you in such a strait, I think, eh?”

“Oh, no fear, papa, of being lost in the bush, close at home. I have more fear of the wild cattle that the men are bringing in to-day.”




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“Wild cattle!” said George Beresford, “are the cattle then so wild here? are they savage when molested?”

“Savage!” said Crab, “there's nothing savage about the poor things; but they are angry at times, and so would you be if you had half-a-dozen men on horseback riding after you for some hours, and cracking their whips at you enough to deafen a gum-tree! They are wildish a bit now and then, and when there's a mob of them rampaging along, they can't stand on ceremony. You must get out of their way, that's all. A little more to the left, master, if you please;—no need to go over a hill when you can go round it. There's no end to hills in this country!”

We walked on till we had gone about two miles from home, when we came upon a splendid lot of stones of all shapes and sizes, and Crab, in his zeal, began to use his crow-bar to heave up a slab here and there, to see what was under it. Our new acquaintance, to manifest his desire to render assistance in our search, took the crow-bar, and worked away with great vigour in an irregular pit of stones, which looked of an inviting quality. He had not proceeded far in


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his task, before he uttered a sharp cry, and began to dance about.

“What's the matter?” said William; “has the crow-bar fallen on your toe?”

“Toe! it's not my toe! I've been bit by a snake!”

“A snake! It's strange that we did not observe it! But I see; it's no snake, it's the red ants that you have disturbed, and one has given you a nip. I'll soon bring some more of them out.”

So saying, he took the crow-bar, and, peering about, struck it lightly at the entrance of the passage several times. Immediately a swarm of these prodigious ants sallied out, elevating their nippers, and showing signs of anger and irritation. These red ants are about an inch and a half long, very bold and fierce in their nature, and they do not hesitate to attack any intruder on their domains. About four years before this time, one of my men, who was employed in raising stone about half a mile from the house, was obliged to abandon the quarry from the numbers and determined hostility of these courageous and daring creatures.




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We, who knew what was coming, got out of the way, but our friend, with the curiosity of a new comer, waited in the pit, to examine the appearance and motions of this curious army of ants. He did not stay there long, however, for the angry ants attacked him in a moment, and, biting his shins and crawling under his clothes, set him a-dancing in a manner that did infinite credit to his agility. The pleasure of this novel sensation was not increased by the loud laughter which accompanied his capers from all—all excepting my daughter Betsey, whose usual love of mirth had become subdued, from politeness and in courtesy to a stranger.

“For heaven's sake, William,” she called out, “do help Mr. Beresford; those horrid ants will bite him to death.”

“I'll fire at 'em,” said William, “if he will only stand still and let me pick 'em off one by one. But, never mind, they only bite, and they are not venomous—at least much—and I never knew any harm come from their bites. Our Bob has been bitten by them all over, and he's used to them now, he says, and, upon my word, I


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think the ants learned to know him, for they left off attacking him after a bit.”

“This will do, Crab,” said I; “this is capital stone and plenty of it, and it's all down-hill, or nearly so, to the new house. So here we will fix for our quarry. And now we will go home.”

“Not home yet, papa; Mr. Beresford wants to see the falls of the Clyde.”

“Well, do you and William go with him, and show him the falls; but they are little worth seeing in June; the spring-time, in September or October, is the time for the falls, after the rains; then they are a sight worth seeing.”

Leaving the young party to continue their walk, I and Crab turned our steps homewards, as I expected a herd of wild cattle to be driven into the stock-yard during the day. When we got home, I found that my wife had returned. She blamed me for letting Betsey go so far from home, in these troublous times, as she called them; but I told her there was no fear of bushrangers or natives in the daytime so near a settlement, and we followed such occupations as demanded our attention. When the time had elapsed, however, for Betsey's return home, my wife began to be


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uneasy at her absence, and urged me to go in search of her.

“She is gone into some friend's house on the way," said I; "there's no cause for being uneasy; William is with her, and the falls are not a quarter of a mile from a settler's house.”

But all I could say could not calm my wife's uneasiness, for her late troubles had made her timid and nervous, till I began to be uneasy myself. I took my double-barrelled fowling-piece, and bidding two of my men, whom I could trust, to come with me, I set out in the direction of the falls.

I had not proceeded a hundred yards before I thought I heard the distant lowing of cattle, and presently after the cracking of the hunters' whips apprised me that the herd which I had been expecting all day was approaching the stock-yard.

Judging that an additional rider would be of use in forcing them into the yard, I returned to the hut, near which temporary stables had been erected, and putting a saddle on the horse that was there—the two others were out after the cattle—I was soon in the midst of the sport.

The forcing the cattle into the stock-yard is


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the most difficult part of the task, as they are apt to break away when they scent the enclosure, and to divide into separate mobs, which it is exceedingly difficult to get together again, as they fly off in all directions, and become savage and furious as they are hard pressed by the shouts and whips of the huntsmen.

In collecting them from their various runs, it is the practice for three to five or six horsemen to set out together at the earliest break of day. The horsemen are provided with a roughly-made whip, with a leather thong, and a peculiar sort of lash at the end of it, made from an old silk handkerchief, which is the best material for producing a loud crack.

To make this lash, two strips of an old silk handkerchief, about six inches long, are wetted, and twisted tight separately, and then twisted tightly together. It is surprising to those who have never tried this peculiar lash, to hear the astonishing loud crack that it will make. It is the noise of these cracking whips that frightens the cattle into the required direction; and without these whips it would be useless to attempt to drive them.




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Thus provided, the hunters proceed to the spots where they divine that cattle have rested the preceding night, observing especially the brows of hills sheltered from the wind. When they see a mob of cattle, a dozen, more or less, they note the spot, and pass on, taking care not to disturb them, and continue their search after more.

In this way they proceed, spreading themselves over the country, and going twenty miles, perhaps, from home, noting the different little mobs here and there on their passage. They then gently urge the mob farthest off towards the mob nearer home, and then urge the mob so joined to the next one, and so on.

After a little while, the cattle begin to suspect mischief, and then the furious riding begins, and the smaller the number, the more difficult it is to drive them. A horseman takes each flank of the mob, and the rest of the hunters take charge of the cattle from behind. Every now and then the cattle break off to the right or left, and then the horseman, with loud shouts, pursues them, and with the cracking of his whip drives them back to the main body. Sometimes


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the whole body of cattle will make a rush to escape, and then the utmost efforts of the hunters are necessary to prevent them from dispersing.

The country being in a state of nature, and for the most part covered with dead timber, the sort of riding may be imagined. Copses are dashed through, dead trunks of trees are continually to be leaped, for the herd must be followed and kept in the right direction at all hazards to man and horse; and whatever the country, it must be taken, up hill or down hill, up precipice or down precipice.

Sometimes the cattle take a direction round the brow of a steep mountain, with a wall of turf on your left hand, and a precipice of a hundred feet or two on your right! No matter; on you must go; hooting, shouting, and cracking the never-resting whip, and never thinking of the danger till you have passed it.

Talk of fox-hunting! It is nothing compared with wild cattle hunting! and as to the excitement, cattle-hunting is ten times more exciting, but, it must be added, incomparably more dangerous! Besides, in cattle-hunting you see your game, and a multitude of wild cattle in a state


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of fury from hard driving is a grand and imposing spectacle! I say nothing of the additional enlivenment of becoming the pursued instead of the pursuer, from some devil of a bull taking it into his head to resent the affront put upon his independence. Then the chase assumes a very different complexion, and cool must be the man and steady must be the rider to escape when the wild bull is determined and inclined to be vicious.

I remember one of my men was chased between the Shannon and the Clyde for ten miles on end by a furious bullock, who kept his horse at the stretch of his speed the whole way, till the rider came to a deep part of the Clyde, when he dashed in, glad to escape from his tormentor any way. When a pretty good number are collected in this way, they are more easily driven, as they are in each other's way, and impede each other's motions; but they are the more dangerous when they make a rush at you. The only thing to be done then is to ride with all your speed to the right or left, and keep up with them in a parallel line till their speed is spent; then the work has to be done again.




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On the present occasion, my men had collected a mob of above a hundred, some of which belonged to other parties, and as it was wintertime, and the cattle were not exhausted by the heat, as they sometimes are in summer—for I have known a fat bullock to lie down when thus driven from exhaustion, and I have not been able to make him get up even by whipping him—they were in fine condition for a run, and I soon saw that there would be more than ordinary difficulty in getting them into the stock-yard, which was less than a quarter of a mile from the building where I was temporarily residing.

We were five horsemen in all; three of my own horses, and two of my neighbour's, who, from love of the sport, had joined in the hunt. We had just got them to the entrance of the yard, where they stood hesitating and obstinate, when a fine young bull uttered a savage cry, and, darting between me and another rider, galloped into the plain, followed by the whole herd.

It was quite a narrow escape for both of us, and we were only just in time in avoiding the rush of the infuriated animals. But we were too


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well used to the work to be baffled, and in a short time we had them all under command, though it required all the shouting and whip-cracking that we could raise to urge them to the entrance again. As it was, I think we should have lost them, had it not been for two cows belonging to our tame herd, which, fortunately, this time, were in front, and they being used to the yard, cantered in to avoid the pressure from behind, and then another simultaneous shout on our parts and a renewed cracking of whips forced them all in; then up bars, and we had them safe.

The young bull, however, did not approve of the trick, and he bellowed and galloped about the yard in a state of perfect fury, lashing his tail about, and plunging his horns into the ground till he got quite mad. In his anger he made a dash at the heavy logs of which the yard was built, and butting his head against them, he made the whole stockade vibrate with the concussion. Finding it too strong to break through, he bellowed and plunged about with increased rage, when suddenly he made a run at the logs, and with one desperate bound he


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leaped right over them, although they were nearly eight feet high, and dashed into the bush.

I admired the rigour and determination of the animal, and as we did not want him, I let him go his way, when it suddenly struck me that the course which he had taken was the same which my daughter would be pursuing on her way home. I communicated my fears to my two men, who were standing by me, and, instantly seeing the danger, they mounted their horses without delay, and we proceeded after the furious animal, intending to head him, so as to turn him away from the path where he might do mischief.

The short time that elapsed between his escape and my thought of its danger was sufficient to enable him to get considerably ahead of us. I took the way to the right, being best mounted, and my horse being fresh, I put him to the top of his speed, riding over every thing in my way in my terrible anxiety.

A couple of miles were passed in almost less time than I have taken to relate it, when my worst fears were realized! I beheld the infuriated


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animal, rendered more furious by our pursuit and our cries, with its horns near the ground, in the act of rushing towards my daughter Betsey, who, with my son and the young stranger, seemed for the moment stupified with horror at the suddenness and the imminence of the danger !

The red ribands of the unfortunate bonnet about which poor Betsey had been so facetious a few days before, as being honoured with a cart and four bullocks for its special conveyance from Hobart Town, were streaming in the wind, and whether or not that colour is really hateful to cattle, I do not know, but in the present instance the raging bull seemed to me to disregard her two companions, and with an appalling bellowing that made the woods re-echo, and filled me with a heart-rending fear, which I cannot describe in words, it rushed to the spot where my poor girl, in an agony of terror, with eyes fixed and hands uplifted, had fallen on her knees before him.

The furious brute rushed on, and I had already given up my dear child for lost, when I saw the young stranger with a bound leap forward


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between them;—instantly falling on one knee, and taking a rapid but cool aim, he fired! The ball with which his musket was loaded struck the animal between its horns, and the huge bull suddenly tumbled over and over on the grass, striking down, in its plunging course, our heroic preserver, and, as I afterwards found, breaking his musket to pieces.

Almost at the same moment I reached the spot, and at the report of the musket and the fall of the bull, my well-trained and intelligent horse immediately checked himself, and stood snorting with inquiring ears. For some seconds no one stirred; the bull lay on the ground dead; my daughter knelt with her hands clapsed, still in the attitude of fear, and George Beresford remained motionless by her side.




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CHAPTER VIII.

THESTRANGER SAVES HER LIFE—THE SURGEON APPEARS AGAIN—THORNLEY SETS OFF FOR HOBART TOWN.

THE two horsemen who had accompanied me from the stock-yard now dismounted, and their advance broke the spell of fear and doubt which for a moment entranced my faculties. I threw myself from my horse, and clasped my daughter in my arms. Grasping my hand convulsively, she rose from her knees, and turned to the spot where our young friend was lying insensible and pale. Betsey did not speak, but kneeling down by the body, clasped her hands, and looked up to us appealingly.

“Ride hard to the surgeon's; it's not half a mile off,” said William to one of the men. “Give him your horse to come back on.”

In less than five minutes the surgeon was with us. The young man still remained insensible.


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“We must bleed him instantly,” said the surgeon. “Raise him up.Hold his arm out—so. Cut open the sleeve of his coat; no time for ceremony. There, that will do; he is all right; you'll see he will come to presently. I hope there are no bones broken.”

“Good heavens!” said Betsey, “he will bleed to death.”

“No fear of that; do him good; very good blood; body in good state—so it ought to be at his age. There he is—coming to—beautifully. Now we'll bind his arm up. Who has got something to bind it with? Ah! this red riband will do very well. But you'll spoil your smart bonnet. That's it—and I declare here's young Thornley has got a pannikin of water for him. You're a thoughtful lad, and no doubt this young fellow will do as much for you another time.”

“Thank ye,” said Will; “I hope I shall not have to trouble him. I wish he had let me shoot the bull, though; but Betsey was right before me, and I was afraid of hitting her if I fired.”

“You needn't be sorry that you didn't kill the bull, Master William,” said one of the men;


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“there's Mr. Crab will be in a terrible taking about it; it was his favourite one of the herd, and a nice, tight, clean-made cretur he was, poor fellow.”

“That's right, Mr ——what's his name?” said the surgeon.

“Mr. George Beresford,” said Betsey; “he is Mr. Beresford's brother.”

“Oh! the brother that's going to be married to Lucy Moss:—well, then, Mr. Beresford, how do you find yourself? Pain anywhere?”

“I feel a little faint—where's the bull?”

“There he is; but I hope he is not only stunned too; perhaps he'll start up and give us a poke. Let us examine him a bit.—He's quite dead.—Struck between the horns! a lucky shot, by George! You have had a narrow escape, some of you.”

“A capital shot, Sir; but Mr. Crab will not like it. I really don't know what he will do! this bull was such a pet of his! He saved it, between four and five years ago, from being killed—like. I know I shouldn't like to be the one to tell him of it.”




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“Rather an odd animal to make a pet of; but every one to his taste. Now, my young friend, I recommend you to go home, and go to bed, and lie still for a day or so. There are no bones broken, but you may have received more injury than appears at first, and the best way is to guard against it, to avoid fever and so forth. But what's the matter with the young lady, eh? Oh! fright; well, it is allowable for young ladies to be frightened. Let me feel your pulse. There, shake hands with the gentleman—‘your preserver,’ as you call him. Proper to be grateful: very right feeling;—pulse not quite right, though! Odd sort of fluttering! There—that will do, young gentleman—you needn't be shaking hands all day! Get home and keep quiet.”

So saying, our excellent and kind-hearted surgeon took his leave, and I with Betsey and William returned home. On my arrival there, I found a letter for me which had been sent express from Hobart Town, requiring my presence as a witness on the approaching trial of the bushrangers who had been captured on our late expedition. As the matter admitted of no delay, I immediately prepared


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for my departure, intending to ride about eighteen miles before night, and sleep on the road. Giving such directions as were necessary in my absence, I slung my fowling-piece over my shoulder, and set off on my journey.




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CHAPTER IX.

THE FACETIOUS ATTORNEY—COLONIAL MODE OF GETTING RID OF A WIFE—THORNLEY ATTENDS AN EXECUTION WHICH MAKES HIM SICK—HE RETURNS HOMEWARDS—A CHASE AFTER SHEEP—ENCOUNTER WITH A BUSHRANGER.

I SLEPT that night at the Green Ponds, and met with nothing remarkable. I got into town about four o'clock next day, and ascertained that the trial of the bushrangers was to take place in a few days.

As I had nothing particular to do, I amused myself with walking about, and I looked at the bit of land that I had bought a month or two before, and it seemed to me that it would be better if I could have the hundred pounds which I had given for it in my own pocket again; but I could not find any one who would give the money for it down; there were plenty who would have bought it on credit at nearly double the price, but I did not like that way of dealing; so, after


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walking over it very discontentedly, I came back to my inn in no very good humour.

I found a friend of mine, the sheriff, waiting for me, who was terribly out of spirits at having to attend the execution of four men the next morning, one of them for sheep-stealing, and two for bushranging; the fourth man's case was a remarkable one, which, as I find it noted in my journal, I will relate as illustrative of the manners and customs of the colony at that period.

I dined with the sheriff that day, and the attorney, Mr. Kasay, who defended the murderer, happened to be present, and he was very merry with the story, the more so as the sheriff being out of sorts, the attorney good-naturedly wanted to raise his spirits with stories of murders and suicides, and such like.

I shall endeavour to give the story in the lawyer's own words, for I confess that, horrible as it was, I could not help feeling an inclination to laugh at the way in which it was told. But lawyers get callous to scenes of crime and misery from their professional habits, as surgeons come to disregard the cries of a patient during an operation.




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“It was a very bad case,” said the lawyer, “as I told my client from the first; but of course it was my duty to do what I could for him. He followed the trade of a pork-butcher, and one day, when he had a quarrel with some other fellow—he was a baker—he took his knife, with which he was accustomed to operate on his pigs, and, ‘more suo’ stuck it into his acquaintance, and ripped him up ‘secundum artem.’

“He must have been a clever fellow at his trade, for the stickee didn't need a second cut; he died, of course, and my gentleman was duly committed, and all that. I tried hard for him at the trial to get it turned into manslaughter, on the ground that the sticking was not done with ‘premeditation;’ for, as we argued, his knife being in his hand, which was a sort of implement of trade, he couldn't help, from habit (we are all creatures of habit), from sticking it into anything in his way that seemed to want it.

“But it wouldn't do. The judge was as crusty as if he had supped off pork chops the night before, and the jury were tired, and wanted to get their dinner.So they soon made up their minds


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about it, and we were found guilty, of course. So my man was marched off to the condemned cell to wait till they were ready to hang him; no pleasant contemplation: but it's nothing when you're used to it!

“It's curious what a revulsion it makes in a man's feelings when he is found guilty. I've had many a fine fellow through my hands, who has been as dashing a chap as you'd wish to see, up to that point, and with all the impudence of oppressed innocence; but when the foreman turns up the whites of his eyes—(you may always tell what's coming by their sanctified looks)—and whispers out that little word ‘Guilty!’ Lord! what a change comes over the brave fellow in the dock! but all this is nothing; I shall come to my story presently.

“You know Parson Jorawaigh? He's the man to stir 'em up! Only give him a little time, Sir, and he'll make a poor devil turn himself completely inside out—what the Scotch call ‘making a clean breast of it!’

“Well, Sir, my friend the pork-butcher grew very religious after he was condemned, as I have


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observed most people do when they are going to be hanged; and you know the motto among the convicts, ‘Never give away a chance!’

“The parson stuck to him, and, as the gaoler said, put the poor wretch into such a stew, that he declared privately to him that he would prefer being hanged—much, very much prefer it—to having any more of the parson's jaw! But the parson is not the man to neglect his duty, and he kept walking in to him day after day, till at last he got the ‘penitent,’ as he called him to me, to confess! and a pretty confession it was !

“This was his fourth murder! Yes, Sir, positively his fourth! And who do you think were the victims of the organ of destructiveness, so largely developed—for it all goes by bumps, you know, now-a-days—in the head of this modern Bluebeard? His three wives! that is, he confessed to three—how many more he killed one really can't say; but the parson was satisfied with his confessing to three, and ‘talked’ to him no more.

“But the most curious part of the story is the way in which he did it. Upon my life, I'm


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not sure that it's right to tell the secret!—there are so many ready to take advantage of it! But, however, as we are among friends, I'll trust to your discretion, never to repeat it to a married man. It was very ingenious! quite original. Well, we live and learn. It would make the fortune of a man in London for a tragedy—or a farce; only it is so very dreadful.

“His plan, Sir, was this. His wife got drunk, or he made her so—all the same thing; when she was in that happy state, what was more natural than that she should throw herself on the bed, face downwards? and if she neglected to place herself in that position, why it was very easy to turn her over, eh? My gentleman then clapped a pillow on her head, and sat upon it, ‘as long,’ as he expressed himself, ‘as he thought was necessary!’

“Horrible! isn't it? To think what some men will do to get rid of their wives! And the rascal confessed, that as he sat there, he used to smoke his pipe, ‘to take off the dulness,’ as he said. It's very dreadful to think of! But really there's something droll in the idea! Not but that I feel the atrocity of such an act—although


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the woman was his wife —but it was a cool trick—very cool!

“When the job was done, as he confessed, he went to the public-house hard by, and staid there drinking and smoking, till the news came that his poor wife was found dead! But all seemed fair and square. It seemed that the woman had got drunk!—natural enough—had fallen down on the bed with her face on the pillow—got smothered!—natural enough;—the husband did not express any particular sorrow at the event—natural enough. All seemed right, and while some pitied him on account of the melancholy occurrence, others congratulated him on having got rid of a drunken wife.

“So after a short time he married another. She went off the same way. He was a man of nerve, however, and he tried a third. Same as before. ‘The neighbours did talk,’ he said, about this last ‘melancholy occurrence;’ but he put on a suit of mourning bran-new, with black crape round his hat, and attended evening prayer in his neighbourhood, regularly, so he was considered a model of a husband, but peculiarly unfortunate.




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“How many more wives he might have murdered it is impossible to tell, had not this last misfortune stopped his fun. Parson Jorawaigh says he is the most penitent lamb he ever had the happiness to save! but for my part, I don't think much of the penitence of a rogue going to be hanged! And if the parson has not more luck with his miserable soul than I have had with his miserable body, I must say that my friend the pork-butcher will be in a worse mess after he is hanged than before. However, tomorrow he will have a sheriff's breakfast, eh! old boy, a hearty choke and a caper! and you will have the particular satisfaction of ridding the world of a vagabond! Smothering his wives was bad enough!—still there might have been some excuse for that—but killing a baker was going too far, particularly in this place, where bakers are wanted.”

The sheriff, who was a mild and gentlemanlike man, of great benevolence of character, and of rather a nervous temperament, did not relish the vivacious remarks of the facetious attorney. I should be sorry to be the means of exhibiting the latter personage in any light that might seem


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unfavourable, which would be contrary to my desire, and an injustice to him; for he was one of the best of his tribe; and it is only due to him to record, that he has often befriended a client in difficulties, by discounting his bill at sixty per cent, (on good security, of course), without charging his customary fee of six-and-eight-pence for attendance in the transaction; and so, for the present, I leave him.

The next morning, at the request of my friend the sheriff, I accompanied him to the place of execution. I had never witnessed this painful scene before, and I made a vow never to witness it again. I should not perhaps have made mention of the circumstance in my journal, if it had not been for the remarkable coolness of one of the sufferers. He was a fine man, and I could not help thinking it was a pity to deprive a human being of life for such an offence as sheep-stealing; but the practice had risen to such a mischievous height at that time, that it was thought imperatively necessary by the Government to make some severe examples.

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ladder up which the condemned had to mount, and for more than a minute I stood side by side of this man, who was the last in the line, and who had to wait while some mistake about the ropes on the platform above was remedied. I exchanged some words with him, which very much prepossessed me in his favour, and he spoke with all the self-possession of a man going about some ordinary business instead of to be hanged. The under-sheriff had to draw his attention to the matter in hand—for the poor fellow was quietly talking with me—by hailing him from the platform: —

“Now, my good man, we are waiting for you.”

“I beg pardon, Sir, I was only talking to this gentleman; I'll be up in a moment!”

Lightly stepping up the ladder, he joined his associates above, and presently after, the falling of the platform warned us that all was over! I went back to my inn, sick at heart, and with a wretched headache. I threw myself on the sofa, and remained there the greater part of the day. The next morning, vexed with myself, I did not know why, and tired with the sight


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of the town, I set off home, without waiting for the trial of the bushrangers, as there was evidence enough without me, and glad to get rid of the business.

I had some money matters to arrange with a settler at New Norfolk, so I took that road, intending to cut across the country to the Clyde. I stopped at New Norfolk that night, and proceeded on my journey early the next morning. There was nothing to prevent my reaching home before night, though the country was hilly, as my horse was in good condition. I had no fear of bushrangers or natives, for all the bushrangers excepting two had been taken; and of natives I never had any fear when armed and on horseback.

I met with nothing worth noting till I got within about eight miles from home, when I saw a lot of sheep with my brand on them, which I knew at once were part of my home flock of merinoes. Impelled by that sort of acquired instinct which prompts a settler, I think, to go after his lost stock wherever he comes across them, I followed the sheep, which led me a pretty dance over the hills.


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There were not above twenty of them, but they scudded away like deer; for lost sheep soon become wild in Van Diemen's Land, and it surprises those who have not had experience of their habits, to find how fast and how long they can run; it is quite a chase. Without a dog and alone I had no chance with them. My hunt after these sheep, however, had drawn me near one of the steep hills overlooking the Clyde; and as my horse was rather ragged with the run over the hilly country of that district, I thought I would give him a little rest and a drink; so, dismounting, I led him by a circuitous path down to the water, where there was a small patch of rich grass, and tethered him there. I then reascended the hill to look about me, for it seemed to me that I had fallen on a little nook where there was good feed for five or six hundred sheep, or perhaps more, which no one had taken possession of.

I was scanning the place with a wistful eye, and had advanced to the edge of a precipice overlooking the river, and about a hundred feet above it, the better to take in the prospect, when I observed a man emerging from a thicket of


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bushes, at some little distance, with a gun in his hand. He had the appearance of a stock-keeper, and not thinking of bushrangers at the moment, I supposed him to be some one who had been beforehand with me in bespeaking a good run.

I felt a little disappointed at the sight, for I had already in my mind established a stock-hut near the spot, and was calculating how many sheep it would feed, while the supposed stock-keeper continued his advance towards me. My fowling-piece was lying on the grass, as I had taken it off to ease myself while I was taking a survey of the country; but in truth I was not thinking of the necessity of using it, being near the Clyde, and having no thought of the bushrangers.

In the meantime, the man approached me nearer and nearer, and an odd manner which he seemed to have of holding his musket excited my suspicions. I observed him more attentively, and to my exceeding surprise, and I must add consternation, I recognized the features of the Gypsey leader of the late gang of bushrangers. I had only time to snatch my fowling-piece from the grass, when, pointing his musket at me, at a distance of about fifty yards, he called out to me


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to lay down my arms! My gun was already pointed at him, and my only notice of his command was to cock it, and place my finger on the trigger, ready to fire.




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CHAPTER X.

AWKWARD PREDICAMENT—THE BUSHRANGER DECLARES HIMSELF—UNEXPECTED APPEAL.

WE remained in this position for nearly a minute, till I felt my arms ache with holding out my gun in the attitude of taking aim; I lowered it, with the muzzle, however, still pointed at the bushranger, and with my finger on the trigger. At this movement, I observed he hesitated a little; and then lowered his gun as I had done.

I was at a loss what to do at this extraordinary adventure. I did not like to be the first to fire, for he might have companions at hand; and I guessed he was unwilling to run the risk of firing at me, for if he missed he would be at my mercy.

As I anxiously examined my antagonist, it seemed to me that he had a wearied and subdued appearance. So far as his rough garments and his grisly beard went, he looked ferocious enough;


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but there was something in his eye which conveyed to me the feeling that he had no mind to make a fight of it if he could avoid it. Impressed with this idea, I threw my gun over my arm, and motioned him to do the same.

“Who are you,” said I, “and what do you want ?”

“Who are you?”

“One who does not wish to do you any harm, even if you are what I suspect you to be.”

“And what do you suspect me to be?”

“You look as if you had taken to the bush; but I don't want to meddle with you, if you don't meddle with me.”

At these words, he advanced towards me—within a dozen yards or so.

“I see,” he said, “you are not one of the soldiers—I think I can trust you.”

“Don't come any nearer,” said I, “you must excuse me, but the times are dangerous. You may trust me, but you can't expect me to trust you.”

“True,” he said.

He looked round, and hesitated for a few moments, and then gazed at me earnestly.


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“You are one of the old settlers?”

“I am; and my farm is on the banks of this river, about a dozen miles up. My name is William Thornley, and now you know all about me that is necessary for you to know. Who are you?”

I knew who he was well enough, but I did not think it prudent to let him know that I recognized him; so I let things take their course.

“Who am I!” said the bushranger. “Ah! that is not easy to say. But, however, I will show you that I can trust you. You will give me your word that you will take no advantage of me? Not that I fear it ——”

“Oh! I will give you my word not to attempt anything against you—but what is your object? What do you want with me?”

He made no reply, but laid his gun gently on the grass, and then passed round me, and sat down at a few yards' distance, so that I was between him and his weapon.

“Well, Mr. Thornley,” said he, “will that do? You see I am now unarmed. I don't ask you to do the same, because I cannot expect you to trust


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to me; but the truth is, I want to have a little talk with you. I have something on my mind which weighs heavy on me, and whom to speak to I do not know! I know your character, and that you have never been hard on your government men, as some are. At any rate, speak to some one I must! Are you inclined to listen to me?”

I was exceedingly moved at this unexpected appeal to me at such a time and in such a place. There was no sound and no object save ourselves to disturb the vast solitude of the wilderness. Below us flowed the Clyde, beneath an abrupt precipice; around were undulating hills, almost bare of trees; in the distance towered the snowy mountain which formed the boundary to the landscape. I looked at my companion doubtfully; for I had heard so many stories of the treachery of the bushrangers, that I feared for a moment that this acting might only be a trick to throw me off my guard. Besides, this was the very man whom I knew to have been at the head of the party of bushrangers who had been captured at the Great Lake.




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He observed the doubt and hesitation which were expressed in my looks, and pointed to his gun, which was on the other side of me:

“What more can I do,” said he, “to convince you that I meditate neither violence nor treachery against you? Indeed, when you know my purpose, you will see that they would defeat my own object.”

“What is your purpose, then? Tell me at once—are you one of the late party of bushrangers who have done such mischief in the island?”

“I am: and more than that, I am—or rather was—their leader. I planned the escape from Macquarie Harbour; and it was I who kept them together and made them understand their strength, and how to use it. But that's nothing now. I do not want to talk to you about that. But I tell you who and what I am, that you may see I have no disguise with you; because I have a great favour—a very great favour—to ask of you; and if I can obtain it from you on no other terms, I am almost inclined to say, take me to Camp as your prisoner, and let the capture of the Gypsey —— ah! I see you know that name, and the terror it has given, and still gives, to the merciless


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wretches who pursue me—I say, let the capture of the Gypsey, and his death, if you will—for it must come to that at last—be the price of the favour that I have to beg of you!”

“Speak on, my man,” I said; “you have done some ill deeds, but this is not the time to taunt you with them. What do you want of me? and if it is anything that an honest man can do, I promise you beforehand that I will do it.”

“You will!—but you do not know it yet. Now listen to me.”




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CHAPTER XI.

THE BUSHRANGER'S TALE—HIS CRIMES AND HIS SUFFERINGS—HIS ESCAPE FROM MACQUARIE HARBOUR.

“PERHAPS you do not know that I have been in the colony for ten years. I was a lifer. It's bad that; better hang a man at once than punish him for life; there ought to be a prospect of an end to suffering; then the man can look forward to something; he would have hope left. But never mind that; I only speak of it because I believe it was the feeling of despair that first led me wrong, and drove me from bad to worse. Shortly after my landing, I was assigned to a very good master. There were not many settlers then, and we did not know so much of the country as we do now. As I was handy in many things, and able to earn money, I soon got my liberty on the old condition; that is, of paying so much a week to my master. That trick is not played


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now, but it was then, and by some of the big ones too. However, all I cared for was my liberty, and I was glad enough to get that for seven shillings a week. But still I was a government prisoner, and that galled me, for I knew I was liable to lose my license at the caprice of my master, and to be called in to government employ. Besides, I got acquainted with a young woman and married her, and then I felt the bitterness of slavery worse than ever, for I was attached to her sincerely, and I could not contemplate the chance of parting from her without pain. So about three years after I had been in this way, I made an attempt to escape with her in a vessel that was sailing for England. It was a mad scheme, I know, but what will not a man risk for his liberty?”

“What led you to think of going back to England? What were you sent out for?”

“Why, now, Sir, if I tell you, you will not believe me, perhaps, for there is not a prisoner that is asked the question who will not say that he was innocent; and indeed I don't think it is a fair question to ask them, for how can you expect a man to condemn himself?”




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“I should not have asked you if you had not begun to tell me your story; but if you don't like to tell me, say nothing.”

“I have no reason to care for telling the truth. I was one of a gang of poachers in Herefordshire, and on a certain night we were surprised by the keepers, and somehow, I don't know how, we came to blows, and the long and the short of it is, one of the keepers was killed, and there's the truth of it.”

“And you were tried for the murder?”

“I and two others were; and one was hanged, and I and my mate were transported for life.”

“Well, the less that's said about that the better; now go on with your story, and let me know what it is you would have me do for you.”

“I'll come to that presently; but I must tell you something about my story, or you will not understand me. I was discovered in the vessel, concealed among the casks, by the searching party, and brought on shore with my wife, and you know, I suppose, that the punishment is death. But Colonel Davey—he was governor then—let me off; but I was condemned to


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work in chains in government employ; this was a horrid life, and I determined not to stand it. There were one or two others in the chain-gang all ready for a start into the bush, if they had any one to plan for them. I was always a good one at head-work, and it was not long before I contrived one night to get rid of our fetters. There were three others besides myself. We got on the top of the wall very cleverly, and first one dropped down (it was as dark as pitch, and we could not see what became of him); then another dropped, and then the third. Not a word was spoken. I was the last, and glad enough was I when I felt myself sliding down the rope outside the yard. But I had to grin on the other side of my mouth when I came to the bottom. One of the sneaks whom I had trusted had betrayed us, and I found myself in the arms of two constables, who grasped me tightly. I gave one of them a sickener, and could have easily managed the other, but he gave the alarm, and then lots of others sprang up, and lights and soldiers appeared. I was overpowered by so many. They bound my arms, and then I was tried for the attempt to escape and the assault


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on the constable, and condemned to Macquarie Harbour for life.”

“I don't want to stop you in your story,” said I, “but what has all this to do with the service that you want of me? The sun is going down behind that hill, and—”

“Wait a bit—wait a bit—you will see. I have not told you that my wife brought me a child. It is now seven years old. I loved that child, Mr. Thornley, more than a parent usually loves its child. It was all in all to me. It was the only bright thing that I had to look upon. When I was sentenced to Macquarie Harbour for life, it would have been a mercy to put me to death. I should have put myself to death if it had not been for the thought of that little girl. Well, Sir, I will not say more about that. When a man takes to the bush, and has done what I have done, he is thought to be a monster without feeling or affection. But people don't understand us. There is no man, Sir, depend upon it, so bad that he has not some good in him; and I have had some experience, for I have seen the worst of us—the very worst—in


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the most miserable of all conditions, for that Macquarie Harbour is a real hell upon earth! There is no time to tell you about the hardships and the miseries which the prisoners suffer in that horrible place—it soon kills them. But my greatest misery was being deprived of my little girl—my plaything—my darling—my life! I had not been at Macquarie Harbour a month before news came that my wife was dead. I'll tell you the truth, Sir; attached to her as I was, I was rather glad than sorry for it. I could not bear the thought of her falling into anybody else's hands, and as our separation was now absolutely and hopelessly for ever—it is the truth—I was rather glad than sorry when I heard of her death. But my poor little child! I thought of her night and day, wondering and thinking what would become of her! I could think of nothing else; at last my thoughts began to turn to the possibility of escaping from Macquarie Harbour, desperate as the attempt appeared; for, to cross the bush without arms and without provisions, exposed to the attacks of the natives, seemed all but an impossibility.


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But almost anything may be done, by resolution and patience, and watching your opportunity. I have learned to know that secret.”

I now became interested in the Gypsey's story, judging that some useful information might be got from it, and I rather eagerly asked him—“And how did you escape? how did you do it?”

“Ah! that's a trick worth knowing! but I want you to befriend me, and so I'll tell you all about it.”

“How many were there who escaped with you ?”

“We were fourteen in all. You know, perhaps, that the labour at Macquarie harbour is dreadfully severe, and the privations very great; and if the prisoners were not kept down by a most vigilant system of superintendence, there would be mutinies every day. But each prisoner is so watched and guarded, that, working in chains which are constantly examined, escape is almost impossible; and even if escape were possible, wandering in the bush without arms or provisions is hardly less dreadful. However, we did not think so; we were resolved to escape at


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all risks, and take our chance of the rest. It was a very difficult matter to communicate together, so as to agree on the plan of escape, and having been deceived once before, I was wary of trusting my secret intention to escape to any suspicious person. You must know that the different gangs that work in chains are watched by overseers, who have their eyes constantly on them, and guarded by sentinels with loaded muskets. It must happen, however, that at some times particular gangs are set to work at a little distance from the rest, on the outside of the general work. It was for one of these occasions that I waited. There were fourteen of us in all, and we went on working—cutting down timber, and dragging it to the sawpits, the usual work there—giving no cause for suspicion, till dusk, when we managed so that we proceeded homeward in a straggling line. There were two sentinels on the line, whom we had to pass, and there were two overseers who followed after us. At a given signal one of our confederates rushed on the sentinel farthest off, while, at the same time, I clasped the sentinel near me round the waist and arms. This prevented them from firing off their muskets, and


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giving the alarm. While that was doing, another party of us gagged and bound the two overseers. Thus we had them all in our power, and it was but the work of a moment, though it takes longer to tell. The muskets were wrenched from the soldiers, and these, with their cartouch-boxes, in each of which we found twenty rounds of ball-cartridge, furnished us with arms. We bound and gagged the soldiers as we had done the overseers, so that you see we accomplished our purpose without taking life; not that we should have hesitated to sacrifice them all, had it been necessary, but it was not, and it's always bad policy, to my mind, to take away life uselessly; it's only wantonness and cruelty to do so, and it prejudices a man on his trial. The next thing to be done was to get rid of our chains, for there was no time to be lost, as we knew that if we were not present at muster, the officer would send to look after us.”




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CHAPTER XII.

PASSAGE ACROSS THE COUNTRY OF THE ESCAPED CONVICTS—THE BUSHRANGER'S CONFESSION—NO MAN SO BAD BUT THERE IS SOMEGOOD IN HIM—HIS LAST REQUEST—HIS AWFUL DEATH.

“WE scrambled away as well as we could, till we got a little distance off, and out of hearing, and then we set to with a will, and rid ourselves of our fetters, all, except three, and those were too tightly fitted to be got off on a sudden without better tools. We got the three chained men along with us, however, as well as we could, for we would not leave them; so we helped them on by turns, and the next day, when we were more easy, we contrived to rid them of their incumbrances. We hastened on all night. I ought to tell you that we heard the bell rung, and the alarm given, but we had gained an hour good, and the ungagging of the sentinels and the overseers, and hearing their story, took up some


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time, no doubt. Besides, it is not easy to hit on a track in the dusk, and as there were fourteen of us, armed with two muskets, our pursuers would not proceed so briskly as they otherwise might, and would not scatter themselves to look after us. We were without provisions, but we did not care about that, and not being used to long walks, we were soon knocked up. But the desire of liberty kept us up, and we struck right across the country in as straight a line as we could guess. The second day we were all very sick and faint, and the night before was very cold, and we were cramped and unfit to travel. The second night we all crept into a cave, which was sandy inside, where we lay pretty warm, but we were ravenously hungry. We might have shot more than one kangaroo that day, but it was agreed that we should not fire, lest the report of our gun should betray our resting-place to our pursuers. As we lay huddled together, we heard the opossums squealing in the trees about, and two of us, who were least tired, tried to get some of them. When we climbed up the trees, they sprang away like squirrels, and we had no chance with them that way; besides, it


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was dark, and we could distinguish them only faintly and obscurely. We did contrive, however, to kill five by pelting them on a long over-hanging bough, but they remained suspended by their tails, and did not drop, although dead. To hungry men a dead opossum is something, so one of us contrived to climb to them, and get them down; and then we lighted a fire in the cave quite at the extremity inside, to prevent the flame from being seen, and roasted them as the natives do. They were horrid rank things to eat, and almost made us sick, hungry as we were; but I don't think a hair of them was left among us. The next day we shot a kangaroo, but we feared to light a fire because of the smoke, so we ate it raw. Well, Mr. Thornley, I will not take up your time by telling you every little thing we did in the bush. We came at last ——”

“Did you see any good land in your way?” said I. “The part that you crossed between the settlements and Macquarie Harbour has never been explored. Any good land for a run?”

“Not much; the most of the country we crossed was scrub; a great many stony hills. We saw very few kangaroos, and few signs of


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them. It's a poor country; but here and there was a nice bit.”

“Plenty of water?”

“No want of water; but it's not a good part of the country for a run, if that's what you're thinking of. The best part of Van Diemen's Land is to the eastward; all the western part of the island is far inferior to the east. I could tell you of some good land for a sheep run near the Eastern Coast.”

“Thank you,” said I; “but are you not wandering from the subject a little?”

“Oh! I was telling you that we first struck on the outskirts of New Norfolk, and we debated what we should do. Some were for attacking the settlement, and getting arms; but I persuaded them that it would be better for us to endeavour to seize some small vessel and escape altogether from the colony; and in the meantime to keep ourselves close, and not give any alarm. My companions agreed to this, and we struck across the country to Brighton Plains, and so to Pitt Water, where we expected to find some large boats, or, perhaps, some small vessel by means of which we might get away.”




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“And how was it that you did not follow that plan?”

“We did follow it; we got to Pitt Water, and lay snug there for a while; but we were obliged to rob a settler's house of provisions for food, and that first gave the alarm. We made a dash at a boat, but it was too late; precautions had been taken, and the soldiers were out after us. We were then obliged to retreat from Pitt Water, intending to get into the neighbourhood of the lakes, and go farther westward, if necessary, and retreat to the coast, where we judged we should be too far off to be molested.”

“You did a great deal of mischief at Pitt Water, before you left it, if all the stories are true?”

“We did, Mr. Thornley, I own it; but my men were determined to have arms, and the settlers of course resisted, and some of my men got wounded, and that made them savage.”

“And afterwards you attacked poor Moss's cottage?”

“My men had been told that he had a large sum in dollars at his hut;—I am surprised that


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settlers can be so foolish as to take valuables into the bush—that was all they wanted.”

“But why did you take poor Moss along with you?”

“I was obliged to do it to save his life; some of my men would have knocked him on the head if I had not prevented them. It's true, Mr. Thornley, it is indeed; I saved his life.”

“Well—that's something in your favour. And now as the sun is sinking fast, and as the dusk will come on us presently, tell me at once what you would have me do for you.”

“Mr. Thornley,” said the bushranger, “I have told you of my little girl. I have seen her since the dispersion of my party at the Great Lake. You know that I and another escaped. Since then, I have ventured, in disguise, into Hobart Town itself, and have there seen my child. The sight of her, and her embraces, have produced in me a strange feeling. I would willingly sacrifice my life to do her good; and I cannot conceal from myself that the chances are that I must be taken at last; and that if I do not perish miserably in the bush, I shall be betrayed, and shot, or hanged.”


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“And what can I do to prevent it?”

“You can do nothing to prevent that end, for I know that I am too deep in for it to be pardoned; if I were to give myself up, the governor would be obliged to hang me for example's sake.—No, no—I know my own condition, and I foresee my own fate. It is not of myself that I am thinking, but of my child.—Mr. Thornley, will you do this for me; will you do an act of kindness and charity to a wretched man, who has only one thing to care for in this world? I know it is much to ask, and that I ought not to be disappointed if you refuse it. Will you keep your eye on my poor child, and, so far as you can, protect it? I cannot ask you to provide for it; but be its protector, and let her little innocent heart know that there is some one in the wide world to whom she may look up for advice—for assistance, perhaps, in difficulty—at all events, for kindness and sympathy. That is my request; will you have so much compassion on the poor blasted and hunted bushranger as to promise to do for me this act of kindness?”

I gazed with astonishment, and I must add,


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not without visible concern, on the passionate appeal of this desperate man in behalf of his child. I saw he was in earnest; there is no mistaking a man under such circumstances. I rapidly contemplated all the inconveniences of such an awkward charge as a hanged bushranger's orphan. As these thoughts passed through my mind, I caught the eye of the father; there was an expression in it of such utter abandonment of everything but the fate of his little daughter, which seemed to depend on my answer, that I was fairly overcome, and could not refuse him. “I will look after her,” I said, “but there must be no more blood on your hands; you must promise me that. She shall be cared for, and now that I have said it, that's enough. I never break my word.”

“Enough!” said he, “and more than I expected! I thank you for this, Mr. Thornley, and could thank you on my knees. But what is that? Look there! a man on horseback—and more on foot. I must be on my guard.”

As he spoke, the horseman galloped swiftly towards us. The men on foot came on in a body,


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and I perceived they were a party of soldiers. The Gypsey regarded them earnestly for a moment, and then ran to his gun, but in his eagerness, he tripped and fell. The horseman, who was one of the constables from Hobart Town, was too quick for him. Before he could recover himself and seize his gun, the horseman was upon him.

“Surrender, you desperate villain, or I'll blow your brains out.”

The Gypsey clutched the horse's bridle, which reared and plunged, throwing the constable from his seat. He was a powerful and active man, and catching hold of the Gypsey in his descent, he grappled with him, and tried to pinion his arms. He failed in this, and a fearful struggle took place between them.

“Come on,” cried the constable to the soldiers, “let us take him alive.”

The soldiers came on at a run. In the meantime the constable had got the Gypsey down, and the soldiers were close at hand, when suddenly, and with a convulsive effort, the Gypsey got his arms round the body of his captor, and with desperate


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efforts rolled himself round and round with the constable interlaced in his arms, to the edge of the precipice.

“For God's sake,” cried the constable with a shriek of agony, “help—help—we shall be over!” But it was too late. The soldiers were in the act of grasping the wretched man's clothes, when the bushranger, with a last convulsive struggle, whirled the body of his antagonist over the dreadful precipice, himself accompanying him in his fall. We gazed over the edge, and beheld the bodies of the two clasped fast together, turning over and over in the air, till they came with a terrible shock to the ground, smashed and lifeless. As the precipice overhung the river, the bodies had not far to roll before they splashed into the water, and we saw them no more.




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CHAPTER XIII.

THE CORPORAL IS PLEASED TO MAKE SOME REMARKS ON THE RECENT TRAGEDY—HE SEARCHES THE POCKETS OF THE DECEASED—HISDISCOVERIES—THORNLEY PROCEEDS IN MUCH STATE TO THE MAGISTRATE'S HOUSE—HE IS RESTORED TO HIS FAMILY—MR. CRAB INDULGES IN SOME PECULIAR OBSERVATIONS ON THE OCCASION—RED RIBANDS PRODUCE CURIOUS EMOTIONS IN OTHERS BESIDES MAD BULLS.

FOR some time we stood gazing down the precipice in fearful silence.

“That was a desperate chap, that Gypsey!” said the corporal, who in right of his dignity thought it incumbent upon him to speak first; “who would have guessed that he would be up to that dodge?”

“It's a dodge that has done for him as well as the constable,” said one of the soldiers.

“It's well it's no worse,” rejoined the corporal. “It might have been one of us, if the constable had not been in such a d —— d hurry to make


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the capture; and you see what he has got by his greediness. However, it's only a constable, so it's no great matter. But pray, mister,” he continued, turning to me, “who the devil are you? You were talking to the Gypsey when we first saw you, and you were as thick as two thieves. Steadman, take charge of him. We must take you to camp with us, Sir; our orders are to secure the Gypsey and any companions that he may have with him.”

“Here's another mess,” thought I, “and I am in another pickle with the soldiers; the deuce is in my luck!—My friends” said I, “I fell in with the Gypsey by accident. You see there's my horse grazing in the hollow below; I was on my way home when I fell in with the bushranger.”

“That may be, Sir, but it is rather suspicious; and I must obey orders. Bowman, go and fetch up the gentleman's horse.”

“I suppose I may ride him?”

“No objection, Sir, only we must have hold of the reins. Beg pardon, Sir, you know we must do our duty and obey orders; very sorry, Sir, but it's always the custom to bind people's arms a little, just to keep them from doing mischief.


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Excuse me, Sir, but you must not move away. Steadman, you are loaded?”

Steadman gave a sign of assent.

“Very pleasant,” thought I; “however, they are not so bad as the old sergeant, after all.”

“You will have no objection to take me to the nearest magistrate?”

“Where is that?”

“At the Clyde, higher up about eleven or twelve miles.”

“We are going that way, to report ourselves to the sergeant's party there.”

“Then,” said I, “let us make all the haste we can, for it's getting late.A two hours' brisk march will take us there.”

“I think,” said the corporal, “that we ought to be sure that the Gypsey really is dead, as well as the constable.”

“Dead!” said Bowman, “he's dead enough I'll warrant; why the falling through the air would kill a man from such a height, without the crash when he came to the bottom.”

“Ay, ay,” said the corporal; “that's all very well; but one never knows what these bushrangers are up to. My orders are to take him,


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and we are to follow him wherever he goes, although I must say ——” and here the corporal looked over the precipice with a waggish air —— “I shouldn't like to follow him down this height, eh, Steadman?”

“That would be going beyond our orders, as the major says; but if we are to look for the bodies, we had better make haste, before the stream carries them too far down.”

We descended accordingly, by a circuitous path, and found that the ground where they had fallen was indented and marked with blood. Following the course of the stream, we presently came to a spot where some dead timber obstructed the current, and there we saw the two bodies, separated and mangled, and quite dead. The soldiers dragged them on shore, I remaining a passive spectator the while, and from the appearance of their remains there could be no doubt that the life of both was extinguished at the same moment that they fell to the earth from that fearful height. The corporal, with much formality, searched the pockets of the dead men, and, with a pencil, noted down their contents.




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“Let's take the constable first,” said the corporal. “What have we got here? a pair of handcuffs; ah! these come in handy; the bushranger won't want handcuffs any more, but they'll do for his mate.”

“My good fellow,” said I, “surely you are not going to put those handcuffs on me; I have told you who I am, and you will soon learn the truth of it.”

“It may be all very right, Sir, what you say; but the orders are to secure all the companions of the bushranger, and you can't deny that you were sitting cheek by jowl with him when we spied you out. But wait a bit, Steadman, perhaps the gentleman don't like to put on the darbies because they are wet. What have we got next? It's all smashed; rum! it smells though; it's a pity now that the constable didn't give us a suck out of his rum flask before he toddled over. I can't bear waste.”

“Don't you remember that parson-chap told him at New Norfolk to mix water with his rum? He's mixed it now with a vengeance, eh? Hah, hah!”

“Hah, hah! that's good. What's this? a


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pocket-book and a lot of papers, but they are all wet.”

“Any mopuses?”

“Not a rap!—yes there is, though—here's one, two, three, nine half-crown notes.Look in his other pockets, Steadman.”

“Nothing but his handkerchief.”

“Well, tie up all these things in the handkerchief and we'll take 'em with us.”

“What shall we do with his clothes? It's not a bad suit, only it's so daubed and spoiled from the smash he's had; but we'll take his shoes. And now for the bushranger; I suppose he's no great shakes. Clean him out, Steadman.”

“My eyes! here's a find! a bundle of one-pound notes!”

“One-pound notes! where the devil did he prig them from, I wonder ? whose notes are they? Kemp and Co.—as good as dollars! What has he got in the other pockets?”

“A pair of small pistols; but one's broken, from the fall, I suppose; three pieces of flint, a steel, a bit of punk;—capital stuff this to get a light;—a powder-horn squeezed flat, a bag of


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balls, a capital clasp-knife; by George! here's a tidy tool to stick into a man! Something in a bag; it's tea! We shall come to a teapot next, I suppose. Here's a jolly lump of tobacco, and a prime little wooden pipe! No more smoking for you, old boy;—and that's all I can find.”

“Turn him over; something jingles, I'm sure. Feel inside there,” said the corporal.

“He's in such a nasty condition—all smashed; stop, I'll slush him a bit with water. There, now let's see. By George! here's a gold watch, and chain and seals! And look here; sewed up in the breast of his coat there's something, but I'll have it out. Lend me his knife, and I'll rip it up. What's this? something curious, I suppose, by its being so carefully sewed up. There are papers inside by the feel.”

At this intimation, my thoughts recurred to the bushranger's child, and I judged that the parcel, which was carefully enclosed in canvas and neatly sewed up, might contain something to throw a light on the previous life and history of the man, for I knew it was a common practice with offenders in England to be tried in feigned


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names to avoid being traced to their former connections.

“I should recommend you,” said I, “not to meddle with that parcel, but to deliver it up to the proper authorities unopened. You may be called to account, perhaps, if anything should be lost or injured.”

The corporal surveyed me with a doubtful air, as if he half suspected that I had some object in keeping secret the contents of the packet. Fortunately this made him more careful in preserving it intact, in order that its secrets might be discovered on a more fitting occasion.

“Give me the parcel,” he said to Steadman; “we'll look at it another time. No need to let all people know what's in it,” giving a look at me;“and now what's to be done with the bodies? Our order is to bring in the body of the bushranger, dead or alive.”

“Had you not better consult the magistrate?” said I; “I should think, as the body is sufficiently verified, the best thing to do is to bury it with the constable where they lie.”

“Oh! you can verify the body, can you?” said the corporal. “Upon my word, Mister


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Gentleman Bushranger, I think that will go against you at the trial. However, it's not far to the magistrate's; so let us be moving, and get there with our prisoner as quick as we can; and if the magistrate thinks it right, we can come back again for the body.”

We set out accordingly, I sitting on horseback in great state, with my arms tied behind me, and the horse led by the bridle by a soldier on each side. The corporal followed behind, after slowly inserting, rather ostentatiously as it seemed to me, a ball cartridge into the muzzle of his firelock, and ramming it down leisurely. The click, click of the iron-ramrod on the ball, I took, as it was intended, as a quiet hint to me to be on my good behaviour.

In a little more than a couple of hours we reached the house of the magistrate, to whom I explained my adventure, and on his assurance the corporal released me, or rather handed me over to the custody of the civil power. All the papers and chattels which had been found on the persons of the deceased were placed in the safe-keeping of the magistrate; and I took care to point out particularly to his notice the curious packet discovered


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within the breast of the bushranger's coat. I then hastened home, but the news had already preceded me, that I was taken into custody by a party of soldiers for joining the bushrangers, and as Crab immediately surmised, was to be summarily shot. I found my wife and family in the utmost consternation, but I soon assured them of my safety and good condition, by demanding instantly a supply of mutton-chops, which were speedily served up. When I had satisfied my first hunger, I related my adventure with the Gypsey bushranger. My wife shook her head when I came to the part about his little girl, and Crab, who was sitting sulkily in the corner, and had been out of humour, as I was privately informed, ever since the death of his pet bull, gave a horrible grin when I mentioned my promise.

“Upon my word,” said he, “this is a nice country to live in, isn't it? If it can grow nothing else, it can grow bushrangers, however, and now honest people are engaged to look after the breed. It's lucky, though, master, that your friend the Gypsey did not give you a hug over the precipice. Upon my life, it's droll—very droll! Here are you, an old Surrey farmer, that one


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would think would have gone on in the regular jog-trot way all the days of your life, like other quiet folk, and if you haven't been engaging in more adventures than ever were told in a story-book! Dearee me—dearee me—the older one grows the more one learns. If anything more was wanted to determine me to leave this wretched country, it's this last affair. And then to have a bushranger's child to keep! My goodness! What!...well, never mind—some people are! never mind what!—And then there's nothing to be done, but another fool must be enticed into the country to shoot my poor bull—as if he ever did anybody any harm! He wasn't a bushranger, I suppose!”

“But he did do harm, Mr. Crab,” said Betsey, with some vivacity, “he bruised poor Mr. Beresford dreadfully, and he would have tossed me, if he had not been shot just in time; and as it was, the dust from his horns, as he plunged them about the ground, flew into my eyes!”

“Why didn't you run away then? or you might have slipped aside, and caught hold of him by his tail, and then he couldn't have hurt


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you; he couldn't have tossed you with his tail sure-ly!”

“Good gracious, Mr. Crab, do you suppose that I can hold bulls by their tails? A pretty sight, indeed, for your ugly bull to be rampaging about, and me holding on by his tail! I wonder what next!”

“Bless me!” said Crab, “to hear how some people will go on! But I'll go to bed. The quietest!—the gentlest—and the sweetest-tempered beast—when he was not provoked! And why,” he concluded, frowning at poor Betsey, and resembling in his ill-humour the angry animal that he lamented,—“why, in the name of all that's reasonable, could the girl think of wearing red ribands in her bonnet up here in the bush, when a strip of kangaroo-skin or bullock's-hide would have served just as well? And there's that young rascal that shot the bull; yes! he marches about with the red ribands at his breast, as if he wanted to anger all the cattle in the district!”

This last remark on the part of my old friend—unintentioned as was the hit—made Betsey


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blush in a manner that I thought was not caused by Crab's lamentation over his bull.

“Oh! oh!” thought I, “the young fellow has been making the best use of his time while I've been away. We must examine into this matter before it goes too far; young ladies, I see, are precocious in Van Diemen's Land. I shall look out for the red ribands to-morrow.” —— And now to bed.




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CHAPTER XIV.

A FAMILY BREAKFAST IN VAN DIEMEN'S LAND—A NEW SETTLER—DANGER OF EATING KANGAROO-TAIL SOUP—PEOPLE MAKE LOVE MUCH IN THE SAME WAY ON THE ONE SIDE OF THE GLOBE AS ON THE OTHER—THE SURGEON IN DANGER OF STARVING—MR. CRAB SYMPATHISES WITH HIM CORDIALLY—CRAB'S LAMENTATIONS ON THE WRETCHEDNESS OF THE COUNTRY.

IT was on a fine winter's morning in the month of July, that I rose betimes to forward the building of my new stone house. The cold was so sharp that I was obliged to button myself up close and trot up and down by the side of my men, who were laying the foundation, to keep myself warm. In the little hollow near the rivulet running into the Clyde, there was ice, and the hoar frost of the early morning had crisped up the long tufted native grass, so that it crackled under the foot. The sun was bright and splendid, and the contrast of the winter's cold


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and frost, with the dark-green tints of the evergreen trees and shrubs, struck me singularly, though I had witnessed it often enough before.

There was plenty of work to be done to repair the ravages of the fire, but I set about it with a good will, and I really doubt whether, on the whole, my losses grieved me very much, for the fire could not burn my land and sheep and cattle, and while these remained, I knew there could be no want among us; besides, I was always fond of planning and contriving, and now I had every thing to build anew. The exercise of walking briskly about made me cheerful, and I was in high good humour when I was called in to breakfast.

Just as I reached the door of our temporary habitation, a bullock-cart, containing a lady and two children, with a female servant, drove up to the door in very good style, with one or two government men, and an individual whom my practised eye at once detected as a new settler.

The cracking of a whip at some little distance, with the customary vociferations of the bullock-driver, apprised me that the baggage-cart of the party was in the rear, and I gave directions to


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my people to go forward and render them any assistance.

Such a visitation coming unexpectedly on a farmer in Surrey would have filled him and his female establishment with no little dismay, but in Van Diemen's Land the stranger is always made welcome, and I could not help a feeling of exultation as I contemplated the difference of my position here and in England. A whole sheep, more or less, was a matter of no consideration, and the fine, rough-looking home-made loaves, fermented by leaven—for there was no yeast to be had handy, and dampers had long since been discarded by us—were plentiful enough.

We welcomed the strangers with the usual cordiality. I saw they were way-worn and wanted encouragement, which was an additional reason for paying them attention. They had come that morning from the Cross Marsh, on their way to the River Shannon, and had started before daylight, so anxious were they to get on their land. I easily persuaded them to stop a day or two with us, while their men were despatched to prepare the rude log-hut which usually forms the first habitation of the new settler.




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We formed rather a large party at breakfast. I and my wife, with our family of six children and Crab, made nine, and the new party made four, so that we were thirteen in all.

I observed that Crab viewed the new-comers with a very grim expression of countenance, and from sundry contortions of his visage, which I had learnt to interpret as indications on his part of commiseration and sympathy for the strangers, whom he was pleased to regard as fresh victims to be sacrificed, I guessed that he would take the opportunity to impress on them the horrible nature of their new country. Once or twice he essayed to commence an expostulatory and admonitory harangue, but Betsey, who was fond of teasing him, which I rather think was the reason why the old man liked her better than the others—by his rule of contrary, as Betsey used to say—watched him assiduously, and continually stopped his mouth by some fresh invitation to eat or drink.

“Mr. Crab, you'll surely take some of this kangaroo-tail soup; it was heated on purpose for you.”

“No: my dear, enough's as good as a feast.


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You should always be moderate, Miss Betsey, in eating and drinking: waste makes want, Miss.”

(Mr. Crab had grown sententious, but this I say in a parenthesis.)

“But you don't mean to say you have done breakfast; you have eaten only six mutton chops; are you ill this morning?”

“I have had a few eggs besides, and I have picked some of that cold duck.”

“Which cold duck? I don't see any left: (this last remark was made ‘sotto voce,’ as the Magazines say), dear me, why you'll never be able to exist this way!”

“I'm no great eater, my dear:—I do think it's the chocolate that swells one out so! How ever, Mrs. Thornley, you can encourage this sort of drink astonishes me! The idea of having chocolate up here in the bush! To be sure one must drink something, and there's no beer to be had in this wretched place. Ah!” said he, heaving a deep sigh, and considerably relieving himself by its expiration, “I wish from my heart I was out of it, only I don't like to leave you all here alone in this wild country.”




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“Upon my word,” said the stranger, whose name was Marsh, “there does not seem much to complain of in the way of eating and drinking in this country. Tea, coffee, chocolate, bread, toast, butter, eggs in heaps; I never saw, or rather did see, such a quantity of mutton chops!—cold ducks, cold saddle of mutton, tongue, and—kangaroo-tail soup—why it's like a pot of glue!”

“You must take care how you venture on kangaroo-tail soup,” said William; “it's a very dangerous dish—”

“Dangerous! why?”

“Why, it's only the other day that a new settler....”

“Be quiet, William, and don't talk such nonsense,” said his mother.

“He put a spoonful into his mouth incautiously....”

“And burned himself?” said Crab.

“No it wasn't that:—not being aware how strong it was, but liking it very much, he tried to smack his lips, but he found he couldn't open his mouth, it was so glued together, and it was not till after his lips had been moistened for a quarter of an hour with warm water that he could separate


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them to express his extreme satisfaction at the comforting nature of the potage! but who comes here? The surgeon with Mr. Red-Ribands, I declare.”

My wife gave me a glance at this intimation, and I observed that the colour of the ribands had suddenly become transferred to the cheeks of Miss Betsey. I gave a little nod in return, to shew that I was wide awake, but I took no notice when the young lady complained of the closeness of the apartment! (it was a cold winter's morning in July) and said she would go and look at the cows! By some extraordinary process, which is only known to the initiated, young Beresford disappeared from the room, I could not tell how or when. However, as I liked the young man, and saw no reason against the intimacy, I let things take their course, only putting to it that watchful and heedful attention which parents should always have in matters of this nature.

“And what's the matter with you, my friend?” said I to the surgeon. “What makes you look so melancholy this bright morning? no more bushrangers or natives, Ihope?”


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“No:—they have not troubled me; but I am concerned that I am obliged to leave my friends at the Clyde: but I must, or I shall soon be in difficulties; this is not a country for me to get a living in, I fear.”

The strangers, with the natural anxiety of newcomers, caught at these words, and Mr. Marsh said,

“Indeed, Sir, I am sorry to hear you say that. I am only just arrived in this country, and it's bad news to learn that a man cannot get his living in it.”

Crab had already reached down his hat to return to his beloved plough; but at these words of complaint, so pleasing to his ear, he held it in his hand, and lingered with one hand on the latch of the door.

“Yes, Mr. Thornley,” said the surgeon, “I must leave you, that's certain, I have made up my mind to that:—but whether I shall do better anywhere else is a question with me.”

“Do better!” said Crab with unrestrained satisfaction, “do better! Never! as long as you live in this country! Who did you ever know to do well in it? or who did you ever know that


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was in it that didn't long to get out of it? Haven't I been going day after day and year after year, only there was always something to be done for my friend here? there was always a bit of ground that wanted breaking up, and nobody could do it but me; or there was a bit of fencing to be done, or something to be built, or the sheep to be sheared, or the crop to be got in, or something or other to be done, so that I've never been able somehow to get away!”

“Bless me,” said Marsh to his wife, “these are sad tidings; we were given to understand that this was a thriving colony; how we have been deceived!”

“It may be thriving enough,” said the surgeon, “for other people, but it is not thriving for me. I have been three years at the Clyde, and really, I may say, I have scarcely been able to earn a guinea.”

“To be sure not!” said Crab, rubbing his hands with great glee, and setting his hat into the bowl of kangaroo-tail soup in his excitement. “to be sure not! who ever did, or ever could, or ever will earn a guinea in this wretched! horrible! country? It's easy to get rid of 'em,” he added


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with a patronising air to the new-comers, “but ever to see one of 'em again, ah! you'll find a guinea a good sight for sore eyes! For my part, I haven't seen one for many a long day!”

“I know this,” rejoined the surgeon, “that if I don't contrive to catch hold of some of them, I shall soon lose sight of the mutton-chops and dampers, and then what my wife and child will do is more than I can tell.”

“But what is the reason, Sir, if I might take the liberty to inquire, of your ill success? it may be a warning to me.”

“Ill success, my good Sir,” replied the surgeon; “I don't know that I have had ill success where I have had the chance of doing anything; but there's nothing to do for my profession in this country.”

“How so?”

“Why, there's no illness.”

“No illness!” said Mr. Marsh; “what do you mean?”

“There has been no sickness at the Clyde,” said the surgeon, slowly and disconsolately, “ever since I have been here, and that's three years.”




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“What!” anxiously asked Mrs. Marsh, “no illness among the children; no measles, or hooping-cough, or scarlet-fever!”

“Bless you, ma'am, there are no such things here. The stock-diseases, as I may call them, don't exist in this country. The only chance of a job is when a stock-keeper gets a fall from his horse, or when we have a bit of a scrimmage with the natives, or the bushrangers. But in this country wounds heal so quick, that before we have time to make anything of them, a man's well!—Why, Sir, wounds that in the old country would have been a living for a man, and complaints that would have formed a provision for his family after him, are nothing here! Positively they don't pay for plasters!—It's starvation for a medical man!”

“It's shameful!” exclaimed Crab, led away by his enthusiasm. “It's shameful! but it's all the same in this country. It's —— ”

“It's a strange country this,” said our newcomer, laughingly. “I heard before I came into it, that every thing was topsy-turvy, but I never expected people to complain because


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there was no illness in it, like these gentlemen.”

“Complain!” said the surgeon; “bless your hearts, you must not suppose that I find fault with the country because nobody is ill in it! Oh! no; it isn't that! only I can't live in it. It's Mr. Crab that complains: he finds fault with every thing.”

I observed that Crab was pondering on the matter, as if a new light had broken in upon him, and I admired how his hard common sense seemed to struggle against his prejudices. To complain of a country because there was no illness in it, was almost too much, even for his habitual hallucinations; but his obstinacy prevailed. Striking his hard bony hand on the table to give the greater emphasis to the expression of his opinion, he said —

“I'll tell you what it is, people mayn't be ill like, in this country, the same as they are in the old one; but what I say is this, they're never well; and if they could afford it—but in this wretched place they can't get a dollar to keep themselves—I say if they could afford it, they


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would be ill, and then they would be got better in a proper way by the doctor, as they ought to be;—live and let live! I say; that's my opinion !”

And so saying, he put on his hat with an air of considerable determination, and was about to leave the house.

Having certain misgivings, however, in his mind, that the very decided opinions to which he was pleased to give expression were not conclusive on the matter, he endeavoured to back them up by a more forcible illustration, and turning round with one hand on the latch of the door and the other extended to that angle of inclination which he considered most effective for oratorical persuasion, he addressed the strangers with an impressive gravity:

“Now, gentleman and lady, don't you be guiled into sinking your money in this country: it's all bad, and every thing's bad. My friend here was only just saved the other day from being shot by the bushrangers and burnt by the natives. P'raps you don't know that there's a bushranger or a native behind every tree ready to pounce on you, and devour you! I tell you the


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whole country's nothing but convicts! No man can say his life's his own any day, nor his property neither! When you lie down to sleep, it's ten to one you'll get up next morning with your throat cut, and most likely find your whole flock driven away. One night my sheep.....”

“Oh! you've tried sheep, Sir,” said Mr. Marsh.“Have you many?”

“A matter o' two thousand, or thereabouts; but they're a desperate trouble, and I'm sure I wish I was well rid of 'em.”

“What made you buy them, then, as your opinion of the colony is so bad?”

“Heaven knows! The wisest may be wrong sometimes! It was my friend here that over-persuaded me, I can't tell how, to buy a hundred of 'em about seven year ago, and now they've increased to a couple of thousand to plague me! They worrit me to death do those sheep, and there's a lot of their wool lying up at the stock-yards there, on t'other side of the country, and how to cart it away I don't know, and where to put it I can't tell, for nobody will give me more than sixpence a pound for it on the spot! Such a place as this! No fairs or markets handy, and


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no roads where you want them, and every handful of wool must go all the way in a ship to England to be sold—that is, if the ship isn't wrecked, which it always is, or burnt—for the wool of this country catches fire of its own head when it's put in a ship,—'specially when there's oil along with it, for they catch whales, I'm told, just at the mouth of the river—more fools they for coming......”

“I beg pardon, Sir,” interrupted Mr. Marsh, “but it seems to me you are wandering from the subject. You were saying that you bought one hundred sheep seven years ago, and that they have now increased to two thousand. That appears rather encouraging. Surely that is a great gain from a small outlay?”

“Gain!” said Crab, “not a bit of it. I've lost this very year forty pound by 'em.”

“Indeed! how so?”

“How so! why I sold two-and-thirty wethers to a butcher for five-and-twenty shillings a head; they were two year old, and as fine mutton as ever you'd wish to see. I took his note of hand at two months, and now he says he can't pay me. No—of course he can't! So he's given me another


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note at two months, with interest at ten per cent.—that'll be another loss—and that's the way everybody is ruined in this country.”

“Upon my word,” said Mr. Marsh, “you puzzle me, Sir. You tell me of one hundred sheep increasing to two thousand in seven years, and of your selling wethers at five-and-twenty shillings a head, and of getting ten per cent for your money!—I confess it appears to me, that so far as you describe it, the country seems a capital country to make money in.”

“Puzzle you!” said Crab, who had listened with no little impatience and indignation to the stranger's interpretation of his descriptions—“puzzle you! I dare say it does puzzle you! It has puzzled me; but I tell you this, Mister, if you don't get home again pretty quick, it will puzzle you to get out of the country at all! And when you find that you can neither stop in it nor get out of it, that will be the greatest puzzle of all, as it has been to more than one poor settler in this country, Hah! Hah!”

And with this triumphant observation, as Mr. Crab evidently considered it, and with an extraordinary gruff chuckle, which he was wont to


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indulge in when he was unusually well pleased with himself, that worthy individual, like a skilful general, retreated from the contest; and in the society of Bob and the working bullocks, who were waiting with the plough, he soon forgot the temporary anger which had been excited by the tenor of the stranger's extremely unpalatable observations.

“That seems to be a very extraordinary man,” observed Mrs. Marsh, “if I might take the liberty to say so; his opinion of the country does not seem to be very favourable; but if he finds the country so bad, why has he staid in it so long?”

“Mr. Crab has his own little ways,” said my wife; “but you are not used to them as we are. I assure you you will find the country a very pleasant one, if you do not expect too much at first.”

“I am at a loss,” said Mr. Marsh, “to understand how you get on with a convict population; they must make queer servants, I should think. And then as to their wages and their food; how is that managed? I can't understand it at all.”

“It's a curious experience,” said I; “but you shall have the benefit of mine with pleasure.”


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Upon this, I had a long talk with my new guest, whom I found to be a gentleman of education and intelligence. But as the explanation of the system of convict labour led to details of some length, and as the matter is a most important one, I shall make it the subject of a separate chapter.




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CHAPTER XV.

THE CONVICT SYSTEM—ASSIGNMENT OF CONVICT LABOURERS TO SETTLERS—SYSTEM OF REFORMATION—TREATMENT OF THE CONVICTS.

“I SHOULD like to begin from the beginning,” said Mr. Marsh, “if it is not trespassing too much on your time. Let us trace the convict from the time of his conviction in England to his assignment to a settler, and see what becomes of him.”

“I will do mybest,” said I, “to oblige you; but I see one coming who is able to inform you on this matter much better than I can.”

As I said this, the magistrate rode up to the house whom I have before mentioned as having headed the expedition against the bushrangers, and getting off his horse, he opened the door, colonial fashion, and walked in.

“I have news for you,” said he to me, “about the Gypsey's daughter. That packet of papers


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which was found on him so carefully preserved tells some curious stories, and I think I have got a clue to something that may turn out very important to the little gypsey. Where is she to be found ?”

“I have not looked after her yet,” I replied; “but I do not mean to neglect her you may be sure, after my promise. But we were just beginning to talk about the system of convict labour, which this gentleman is anxious to know something about. You have had a good deal of experience with the convicts, and I was telling Mr. Marsh that you could give him better information than I could on some points.”

“What is it that you want to know?” said the magistrate, addressing the stranger; “what is the particular point?”

“I want to understand all the points. It is so difficult to get at the truth of these matters in England, that between what I heard there and what I have been told here, I am quite bewildered.”

“Well,” said the magistrate, “let my horse be put in the stable, and we'll have a talk about it. Is there room for him?”




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“Oh! never mind that,” said I,“I'll turn one of my horses out, and let him have a graze.”

“What!" do you let your horses run wild in the bush without fences?” asked the stranger.

“You can't do it with some horses,” said I; “but I let all mine feed about where they please, and they are sure to come back for their corn in the evening.”

“That's some information,” said Mr. Marsh; “but it's the convict system that I want to understand. Pray, what sort of servants do they make?”

“They make tolerable servants for the most part, when they are properly treated,” said the magistrate; “but that is a point that I will speak of presently. But first I must warn you, that we never speak of the convicts in this country by that term; we always call them ‘government men,’ or on some occasions, prisoners; but we never use the word ‘convict’ which is considered by them as an insulting term, and the expression therefore is, by all right-minded persons, carefully avoided.”

“You surprise me when you say that they make tolerable servants,” said Mr. Marsh; “I


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had been given to understand that their being such bad servants was a principal complaint against them.”

“No doubt many of them are bad servants,” replied the magistrate,“but I am speaking generally of the system, and not of individual cases. When it is considered that they work in a state of bondage, a condition the most unfavourable for mental or bodily exertion, and that in many cases the convicts are put to a sort of work in this country to which they were not previously accustomed; taking into account, also, that pickpockets, housebreakers, and thieves of all descriptions, form a large part of the ploughmen, shepherds, bullock-drivers, and others who work on the farms, and seeing that with such motley assistants farming is carried on thrivingly, I think I may fairly say that, under the circumstances, they make tolerable servants. But I will trace their progress from the beginning.

“When prisoners arrive in the colony they are placed in the barrack-yard appropriated to 'government men;' and after a selection is made from them of those artizans and others required for the government works, the remainder are


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considered to be at the disposal of the settlers; that is, of all the free inhabitants of the colony, whether carrying on the business of farming, or engaged in any other occupation.”

“And how is that managed?”

“The mode is this:—a farmer, or other settler, wanting a ploughman, or a shepherd, or any sort of labourer, as the case may be, applies by letter to the governor requesting to have one assigned to him. To this application he will receive a reply in a day or two, informing him when he may inspect those at the disposal of government, and choose one from among them.”

“Is this fayour granted to any one on application?”

“No: not to any one indiscriminately. If a settler has been proved to treat his assigned servants ill; or if he has not the means of properly employing them, or of providing for them, the application is refused; and no prisoner can have another prisoner assigned to him. On the appointed day, the applicant attends at the prisoners' barrack-yard, where the ‘government men’ are mustered in one or more lines according


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to their numbers. They are all clothed alike, in the government clothing, yellow jacket, waist-coats, and trowsers.”

“Your description of their dress,” said Mr. Marsh, “accounts for a jeering expression which I have heard, and could not understand. As I was coming up the country, we met a prisoner being taken to town by a constable. The prisoner looked very melancholy and chop-fallen, and my bullock-driver called out to him, ‘Going to be caged, my canary-bird? You seem to have got the pip!’ ”

“Just so. I will describe the process step by step for you. The applicant—we will suppose him to be a farming settler—walks down the lines, examines the countenances and bearings of the different prisoners.”

“How does he ascertain the offence for which the prisoner was transported, because that must be an important point in the selection?”

“He must find that out as he can; it is the rule of the Colonial Government not to make known the offence for which a prisoner has been transported, on the ground that a prisoner ought not to be branded with the name of his offence


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in the new country, but that he ought to be allowed a fair start to regain his character and become a new man. If the offence has been one of a deep dye, the convict is not allowed to be assigned to a settler, but is committed to the government works.”

“Then I suppose the applicant selects the sort of servant that he may want—a carpenter, a ploughman, or any other?”

“He selects him if he is there, but it is rare to find carpenters and ploughmen among the government men left for the settlers; they are generally common labourers or common thieves. From these he must make the best choice he can, and when he sees one that he thinks a likely fellow, he questions him, asks him what he has been used to do, and says something to the effect of ‘If I take you into my service, will you promise to serve me faithfully?’ which, of course, the prisoner readily does, as the settler's employ is considered by them as much pleasanter and better than the employ of the government; so much so, that it is a common punishment, on a complaint before a magistrate, to sentence the


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offender ‘To be returned to government employ.’ ”

“What is the difference between the two?” inquired Mr. Marsh.

“The difference,” replied the magistrate, “is this. In the employ of the government the prisoners are worse fed, clothed in the hated yellow, and their liberty entirely restricted; they are worked in gangs, under the superintendence of an overseer, and any misbehaviour is promptly and rigorously punished.”

“They are worked in chains, I suppose?”

“Not at all; that is an erroneous idea of the condition of the convicts in this country, which they have in England; but it is quite a mistake; they are never worked in chains except in some very rare cases, after repeated and obstinate ill-conduct. They are worked without chains, in gangs of twenty, or thirty, or forty; and they are employed principally in the making of roads. As the demand for servants is greater than the supply, these gangs, which you may see working about the country, are almost altogether composed of prisoners who have committed offences in the colony, and who are suffering in


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consequence that sort of punishment. After a probationary term, they are allowed to be reassigned to any applicant. This serves as an encouragement to them to reform, and leaves them hope, without which a man is apt to run into desperate excesses. For you must observe, that the whole system of convict labour in this colony is a system of reform and amendment; and the theory is well carried out in practice, for it is felt by the general body of convicts, that as ill-conduct will surely lead to punishment, so good conduct will as surely lead to reward.”

“What rewards have they for good conduct?”

“I may say, generally, that the prisoner finds his reward for good conduct in his master's estimation of him; in more kindly treatment, better wages, more trust, and more liberty. As a specific reward, the government has been in the habit of granting to a prisoner, on the recommendation of his master, and after a certain period of service, a ticket-of-leave.”

“A ticket-of-leave! what is that?”

“A ticket-of-leave is a licence, which is given in writing to a prisoner to go about the colony in search of work or in the exercise of his


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calling, wherever he may please; he becomes, indeed, to all intents and purposes, a free man. On complaint and proof of ill-conduct, he loses this ticket-of-leave; so that he has a very strong incentive to good conduct, and I think the policy of the system is proved by the fact, that those ticket-of-leave men who have earned their privilege by good conduct are very seldom brought up for offences. The system, I must say, has been abused; but that is not evidence against the system, only against the mal-administration of it.”

“I heard terrible complaints,” said Mr. Marsh, “before I left England, of the idleness and uselessness of convict servants, and I read with a good deal of interest some very specious arguments against any further transportation of felons to these colonies. But I confess, for my own part, I don't see how the colony could get on without them.”

“You are right; the question of transportation, its practice and its results, are very imperfectly understood in England. One thing is quite certain; that without the advantage of the forced labour of the convicts, and of the government


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expenditure which their transportation to these colonies, and the necessity of their maintenance have induced, Van Diemen's Land and Sydney, considering their great distance from the mother country and the expense of private emigration to such distant regions, never would have arrived with such extraordinary rapidity at the height of prosperity which they have attained. But that is a general question; let us confine ourselves at present to the practical details, and then we may sum up the amount of our experience, and deduce some general conclusions. I was speaking of the food of an assigned servant of a settler. That you may judge of the sufficiency of his fare, I will read to you the government regulations on that head: —

“ ‘An assigned servant to a settler is entitled to receive, per week:—Meat, 10 1/2 lbs.; flour, 10 1/2lbs.; sugar, 7 oz.; soap, 3 1/2 oz.; and salt, 2 oz.

‘Any further quantities of these articles, or any tea or tobacco, are to be supplied at the discretion of the master, in case he shall think them proper or necessary, as a stimulus to industry, or under special circumstances.’ ”




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“That seems a good allowance,” remarked Mr. Marsh; “if a prisoner under servitude is so well off, the condition of the free labourer must be tempting indeed!”

“Hear the whole of it,” said the magistrate; “I have enumerated the rations of food, now for the clothing: —

“ ‘It will also be the duty of the master to furnish each servant with woollen slop-clothing, two suits; stock-keepers' boots, three pairs; shirts, four; cap or hat, one, per annum. Bedding to consist of a palliass stuffed with wool, two blankets and a rug, to be considered the property of the master, and retained by him on the discharge of the servant; of a quality equal to those issued from the public stores.’ ”

“And besides all this, does he receive wages?”

“No: the regulation goes on to state that —

“ ‘The supply of food and clothing above specified, with comfortable lodging, and medicine in event of sickness, being deemed fully equivalent, no payment of wages is in future to be demanded by the convict, and it is strongly recommended that none should be allowed.’

“While we are upon this part of the subject,


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we may as well enumerate the rations of a female convict:

“ ‘The weekly rations to females to consist of 8 1/2 lbs. of flour, 8 1/2 lbs. of meat, 2oz. of tea, 1/2 lb. of sugar, 2 oz. of soap, and 1 1/2 oz of salt.

“ ‘The wearing apparel to consist of, per annum, one cotton gown, two bed-gowns or jackets, three shifts, two flannel petticoats, two stuff ditto, three pairs of shoes, three calico caps, three pairs of stockings, two neck-handkerchiefs, three check aprons, and one bonnet.

“ ‘The above articles of dress to be of a plain and neat description, not exceeding the cost of seven pounds per annum.

“ ‘Each assigned female servant is also to be furnished with bedding, to consist of a palliass stuffed with wool, two blankets and a rug, which are to be considered the property of the master, and retained by him on the discharge of the servant.’

“Thus, you see,” continued. the magistrate, “that supposing the rations and wages, or the substitutes for money wages, were no more than the amounts prescribed by the government regulations, the convict is well off, and that he is removed


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from that temptation to crime which in the mother country is often produced by actual privations. But I must add, that in the establishments of most settlers, the rations and clothing are not limited to the quantities which I have enumerated. Sugar is almost invariably allowed to the male servants, and various indulgences besides to the female; and it is not unusual to give money wages in addition to an assigned servant whose skill and conduct render his services valuable to his master.”

“It seems to me,” said Mr. Marsh, “that the condition of the transported felon is much better than that of the honest labourer in England; and that transportation, instead of being a punishment, is rather an encouragement to crime, holding out a sort of premium to felony.”

“That is a popular objection to the system, it must be allowed,” replied the magistrate, “but, in my opinion, it is an objection rather in theory than in practice. I don't think that such considerations have any serious effect on the minds of the working population in England. When a man thinks of committing a crime in England, I am inclined to think that the instance is very rare


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indeed for him to sit down to a cool calculation of its remote consequences. He commits crime from the pressure of want, or from the impulse of the moment, to gratify a passion, or to compass an object. To deter him from the commission of crime, there is the contemplation of disgrace, of the fall from the free to the convict state, the loss of friends, the confinement in a gaol, the miseries of the hulks, the privations, and horrors, and dangers of a convict ship, and the painful uncertainty of his fate in a strange land. The fear of all these evils is, in my opinion, very far stronger in its effect of deterring from crime, than the hope of enjoying the possible better condition of a convict in a penal settlement is to its commission. The first is real and positive, the second is possible and conjectural. I do not mean to say, that there has been no individual case of an offender having committed a crime with the expectation, and for the sake of being transported; but such rare cases are the exception, and not the rule, and by no means prove, to my mind at least, that a valid objection to the system of transportation is the supposed encouragement which it is alleged to


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hold forth to the commission of crime in the mother country. I think it is assuming too much to assert that ignorant, vulgar, and depraved minds, should, in this particular instance, depart from their usual habit of thought and action, and with a moral courage, and an heroic power of endurance, bear present pain, privation and suffering, for the sake of the remote contingency of some undefined future advantage.”

“I agree with you on this point,” said Mr. Marsh, “but there is another great objection which I have read of to the system of transportation; and that is, that by such means a colony is founded and a society is based on a convict population. It is described as wilfully scattering abroad the seeds of moral contagion, and inoculating the new country with diseases in their rifest state. That is a bad beginning for a new empire!”

“It is so; but, after all, it is a balance of evils. The great question seems to me to be this; is the system of transportation useful or not in the reformation of convicts? Until mankind become very different creatures from what they are now, their bad passions and the infirmities of their


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nature will continually lead them into the commission of crime; and in the majority of cases the criminals must be released after certain terms of imprisonment. Now, what is to become of them after the expiration of their confinement? How are they to obtain employment in England, where competition for employment is so great—that very competition, observe, in many cases, having driven them to the commission of crime—and where their conviction would be an additional difficulty to their obtaining employment? You could not keep them always confined in gaols; you must let them loose at some time. Now which is the greater evil, that there should be the mass of convicts now congregated in these colonies at large in England, where they could not be subjected to such efficient control as in the penal settlements—this mass of convicts being unable to obtain employment, and therefore unavoidably driven to the commission of fresh offences in order to obtain subsistence—or that they should be diffused over the surface of new and uninhabited countries, removed from their old companions and their old associations, and


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the opportunity afforded to them of redeeming their characters?”

“But what is the fact?” said Mr. Marsh; “do they redeem their characters, and in effect are the convicts made better by this system? Are they not made too much of, and ought not their condition to be made one of greater privation, and, indeed, of suffering, so as to assume more the character of punishment than it does? Besides, is it fair to inflict on the community of free colonists this system of transportation of felons, to the demoralization and social detriment of the country?”

“Your questions are important, and involve serious considerations,” replied the magistrate; “but you shall have the result of my thoughts and observations without reserve.”




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CHAPTER XVI.

CAUSES OF CRIME—THE IMPROVEMENT IN THE MORAL CONDITION OF THE CONVICT FROM THE AMELIORATION OF HIS PHYSICAL STATE.

“IN endeavouring to answer these questions," continued the magistrate, "I must premise that I have ever been strongly of opinion that, generally speaking, people are desirous to be honest, and would be honest, if society would afford to them the means of being so. As a general rule, it is not the rich who commit offences, but the needy; I speak of those offences which come within the cognizance of the laws—and in my own experience in a vast number of cases the first provocative to crime is the want, or the uncertainty of subsistence. Obviate the necessity, remove the provocative, take away the cause, and the effect will cease. Being impressed with this opinion, I cannot consider that society


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has any right to punish an offender against its laws, with any other view than to deter others from crime, and to reform the offender. So that if that reformation can be effected by a less punishment instead of a greater—it being borne in mind that punishment is enforced by society, not in revenge for the offence, but with the view of reforming the offender—every diminution of punishment is a gain, inasmuch as it lessens human suffering.

“To apply this reasoning to the state of the convict in this penal colony; if the object desired by society can be attained without subjecting him to more coercion and mental pain than he at present suffers, I do not see that it is a valid argument to adduce, that because the labourer in England is not so well fed as the convict in New South Wales, that therefore the food and the general condition of the convict ought to be made worse. For the convict, as I have observed before, is not to be punished for punishment's sake, but for the sake of his reformation: and every iota of punishment that is in excess of that object is, according to my view of the subject, an act of moral injustice and of social impolicy.




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“If I am right, it ought not to be a matter of complaint that the transported convict is in a better condition than the labourer in England, but a matter of congratulation that the circumstances of an underpopulated country afford that opportunity. For in this respect, it is to be observed, the convict does but share in the general advantages which his transportation to this side of the globe affords to all who resort hither. Where land is plentiful and labourers are scarce, the labour of the convict of necessity becomes more valuable, and he is enabled to get a larger remuneration for it; the free labourer removed from England enjoys this advantage in the colonies, to a still greater extent.

“This, in my opinion, is an advantage to be rejoiced at rather than an improved condition to be carped at. If this improved condition of better food, better clothing, and—considering the mildness and salubrity of the climate—of better lodging, with abundance of fuel, should fail in improving the moral character and the habits of the convict, then, I grant that the system is bad. But what is the general experience on this point?




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“I think I may safely say, that on the whole, the convict population of this country is in a decided state of progressive improvement; and, taking into consideration the concentration of bad characters in the colony, and the prejudicial effect of the infrequency of their opportunity to compare themselves with the more elevated position of the free labourer, their conduct is as good, under the circumstances, as could be expected. Looking at the proportions, I have no hesitation in saying that crime in Van Diemen's Land is not more frequent than in England and Ireland, and for my own part, my surprise is, not that crime is so much in this country, but that it is so little. Nor can I lose sight of the striking fact that the convict population is kept in subjection by so small a force as one hundred soldiers and not so many constables; a fact which is convincing to my mind, that the system which is in action, of certain reward following good conduct—the minds of the working classes not being continually fretted by the want and uncertainty of subsistence—works well for their present peaceable conduct and their progressive reformation.”




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“I thank you for your observations,” said Mr. Marsh, “and I must admit that your reasoning seems just; but taking your conclusion for granted in respect to the amelioration of the habits of the convict, what do you say to the remonstrances of some part of the free population of New South Wales, against the outpouring of the convict population in Great Britain into these prosperous and rising countries?”

“I do not mean to say,” replied the magistrate, “that the time will never arrive when the transportation of convicts to these colonies will inflict more evil on their communities than they will do good by the reformation of the transported. But I doubt if that time has yet arrived; and in order to clear the way for coming to a correct conclusion on that point, it may be well to take a glance at the early formation of these settlements, and to examine a little into the causes of their rapid prosperity, and of the late flow of emigration to New South Wales.”




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CHAPTER XVII.

THE EFFECT OF THE CONVICT SYSTEM ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE RESOURCES OF THE COLONY—MANAGEMENT OF THE CONVICTS—COMPLAINT OF A MASTER, BEFORE A MAGISTRATE, AGAINST HIS ASSIGNED SERVANT.

“IT must be borne in mind,” continued the magistrate, “that the settlement at Port Jackson in 1788 was formed, not for the object of colonization, but for the purpose of disposing of the convicted felons, whose numbers embarrassed the government in England. This island of Van Diemen's Land was not taken possession of till 1803, when a settlement was formed, with a view principally of forming a supplemental penal settlement for persons convicted at Port Jackson.

“Thus, you see, that in respect to the complaint of the evil of a convict population having been inflicted on these colonies, the case is this; that it was the colonists who came to the convict


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country, and not the convicts who were imposed on the country of the colonists. In legal language, it was the colonists who came to the nuisance, and not the nuisance to the colonists.

“I shall confine myself in my remarks to Van. Diemen's Land, as this is the particular colony under discussion, and as the general observations which I make on this island apply equally to the larger island, or rather continent, of which Sydney is the capital. Now it was not till 1813 that attention began to be paid to Van Diemen's Land as a country possessing capabilities for colonization, and I think I may date the year 1816 as the first year in which colonists began to arrive from England. Observe, then, the rapid advance in population, in cultivation, in the improvement in sheep and cattle, in public and in private buildings, and in the general aspect of the country which this colony has made in eight years!

“But to what cause is this extraordinary advance to be ascribed? Principally, I think, to the facility of cultivating land, and of engaging in the numerous employments of colonization which the forced labour of the convicts has


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afforded. In this respect the government may be said to have engaged, unknown to themselves, in a grand experiment of systematic colonization; and it may be inferred, that if success has attended a system of national colonization with convicted felons for its principal materials, how much greater success might be anticipated from a system, of which honest and unconvicted labourers formed the basis?

“And here I may be permitted to observe, that, looking at the working of the social system with a broad view, and taking it for granted, which I think is generally admitted, that a large proportion of the offences committed in the mother country is caused by the destitute state of its poor, it is surely a perverse practice to abandon the pauper to the almost irresistible temptations to which his extreme destitution exposes him, instead of putting in operation the preventive remedy which it is in the power of the state to apply.

“It would seem to be the wiser course to put the corrective in operation before the offence is committed, and to do that at first, while the inchoate offender is still honest, which must be


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done at last when he becomes convicted. It seems to me that if society would enable the unconvicted pauper to emigrate before the consummation of the offence, and the consequent degradation of the offender, and without waiting for the pauper to become a convict in order to qualify him to become a colonist, much crime might be avoided, and much human misery prevented.

“But the consideration of this part of the question,” continued the magistrate, “would lead us into too long a discussion, and it does not apply to the objection of the free colonists, which you have mentioned, to their country being made a receptacle for the refuse of the mother country. I have endeavoured to state briefly the reply which may be made to this complaint; for the colonists must admit that one of the inducements to their selection of this colony for emigration was the very prosperous condition to which it had suddenly arrived from the artificial expenditure of the convicts of whose intermixture they complain. For it is to this artificial expenditure of public money drawn from the revenues of the mother country for the support of the convicts, of the functionaries of the colonial government,


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of the military and the police, that the rapidity with which the resources of the colony have been developed is to be attributed. I call it an artificial expenditure, because it is not a natural or consequential expenditure in the formation of a colony; it is an accidental and factitious help to the development of its resources. For the body of unproductive consumers which the penal establishment supplied formed a convenient home market for the consumption of the produce of the colonists. Indeed the growth of the colony may be said to have been forced in a hot-bed.”

“I have heard it called a hot-bed of vice and immorality,” said Mr. Marsh.

“That is not fair,” rejoined the magistrate. “That there must be much vice is to be expected from the concentration of persons whose characters have been broken down by the degradation of conviction and imprisonment, and whose moral perceptions have been blunted by bad examples and associations; but the great question to my mind is, are the convicts made better by the system of transportation? I think no one will hesitate to answer that question in the affirmative;


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whether the colonists are made worse by their importation is another question; and I am quite prepared to admit that the time must arrive when the colony shall be so firmly established, and the number of its free inhabitants so great, as to render it impossible for the Government at home to resist the remonstrances of the colonists against their intrusion. But this conversation has occupied us longer than I anticipated. If you like to pursue it further, come over to my house and dine with me, and I will ask the Doctor to meet us as I go by. I have one or two visits to make on the other side of the river, and then I will join you.”

We separated accordingly; and a little while after, I and the stranger walked over to the magistrate's house. We had no sooner arrived there, than our attention was attracted by a posse of people in a state apparently of violent excitement, and we observed one better dressed man, whom I recognised as a settler, and who resided about twelve miles off, vociferating with great earnestness to the persons around him.

“If I am not mistaken,” said I to Mr. Marsh, “you will have the opportunity of seeing how


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the prisoners are kept in order. This looks like an application to the justice.”

As I said this, the magistrate arrived, and the angry complainant demanded his instant interference.

“I want this man punished. He's a great rascal, and I ought to have brought him up before; but I'll shew him that he can't do as he likes here! I've come over twelve miles to have him punished! And there's all the work neglected at home—but I'll have him punished. I'll” ——

“Well well,” said the magistrate, “keep quiet, and don't excite yourself; you shall have justice, but it must be done in a regular manner. I don't know what the man has done yet, nor whether he has committed an act to be punished.”

“Not be punished!” exclaimed his angry master; “why you're not going to believe him against my word. Don't I say that” ——

“Stop a bit,” said the magistrate, “not so fast; come in and sit down, and cool yourself a little, and then we will see into the matter. Things must be done in order.”




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We all went into the magistrate's house accordingly, who immediately proceeded to hear the complaint. As I think the proceedings which took place may be useful, as illustrating the manners and customs of that time, I shall give them a place in this narrative.




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CHAPTER XVIII.

THE TRIAL.

“Now,” said the magistrate, “what is the complaint?”

Complainant—“I want this man punished; he's the most"——

Magistrate—“Stay; I must take down your complaint in writing. You need not be in a hurry; I will sit here as long as may be necessary; and pray don't let any angry feelings excite you. Just tell me what your complaint is, calmly and quietly, and I will write it down. Now begin.”

“The complaint of Mr. Thomas Clover against his assigned servant, James Colman, for neglecting his duty in leaving his hut without leave during the night, some months ago, and for general neglect of duty,”

Magistrate—“Now, James Colman, what do you say to this?”




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Prisoner—“I left the hut, I know that, but I didn't mean any harm by it; but I'm sure I never neglected my duty any time. I've always worked as hard as I could, I'm sure.”

Magistrate—“I will write down your plea.”

PRISONER'S PLEA.

“Guilty of leaving the hut, but not guilty of general neglect of duty.”

“Now, Mr. Clover, please to go on; but pray be careful in what you say, as it will be written down, and remain on record.”

“Mr. Thomas Clover being first duly sworn, saith: —

“My overseer, in going his rounds to examine my sheep, has frequently found them alone and unprotected during the day. Upon having the sheep put in the yard to examine them more particularly on or about the 9th of May last, he found, I being present, a deficiency; and the deficient number of my own sheep was found to be made up by the same number of strange sheep. On further examination of my sheep on the 13th of June, or about that time,


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we found a still greater deficiency, and part of the number deficient we found to belong to an assigned servant of Dr. Bromley; and from the intimacy between the prisoner Colman and that person, whose name is Robert Bell, I have strong reason to suspect that the sheep deficient were made away with by the prisoner intentionally. On searching his hut, I found certain articles belonging to me which should not have been there. I have further to complain, that yesterday morning early, the prisoner left my premises without my leave and without a pass, and did not return till night, although he had been repeatedly cautioned not to do so. The prisoner was assigned to me in January, 1822. He was employed at first as a general farm servant; then as a shepherd; and, since June last, as a farm servant.”

“Have you any further complaint to make?” asked the magistrate.

“Yes. This morning, when I told him I would take him before a magistrate, he was very insolent.”

“What has been his general character? I see that you have kept him in your employ for some


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time; that argues that you had no great fault to find with him.”

“He has never been a good servant. I have had continually to find fault with him, but I don't like changing. This last affair, however, obliges me to bring him up. I particularly complain of his neglect of his work, and especially about this suspicious matter of my deficient number of sheep having been made up by the sheep of another assigned servant, so as to make the number of sheep correct, but the sheep themselves wrong. And his absenting himself at night is very suspicious, and that is conduct that I never can put up with. It would be all confusion if that was to be allowed.”

“You say that you have repeatedly warned him not to absent himself at night; how many times?”

“Oh—a dozen times —and more; and he was always insolent about it. I should have brought him up before, but it's a good distance to come over here, and it stops work for a day. I do think he fancied at last that I was afraid to bring him before you.”

Magistrate—“Now, prisoner, you hear what


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your master says against you. I will first read over his complaint to you, and then you can ask your master any question that you may think will tend to exculpate you. This is rather a serious complaint, and I advise you to pay attention while I read.”

The magistrate read the complaint over slowly, and then asked the prisoner if he had any questions to put to his master.

Prisoner—“I have no questions to ask.”

After a pause, the magistrate said —

“Now that you have heard the charge read, and that you say that you have no questions to ask, what defence or excuse have you to make?”

Prisoner—“I never left a sheep in the course of my life.”

Magistrate—“Have you any witnesses that you think could help you?”

Prisoner—“No, I don't want any witnesses. I never left a sheep in the course of my life—that's all I've got to say.”

There was another pause; and the magistrate read over to himself all that he had written down, and of which the above is a faithful and exact copy.




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Magistrate—“Prisoner, I am sorry to be obliged to say, that I must find you guilty of the charge of neglecting your master's sheep, and of quitting your master's premises without a pass and without leave. With respect to your neglect of your duty, that is an offence on which I would have listened to some arrangement in the way of apology, or a promise of future good behaviour; but the offence of quitting your master's premises without a pass and without leave is a breach of the Government Regulations, which, sitting here as a magistrate of the colony, I cannot pass over. I am compelled by my office to check such dangerous irregularities. It appears that you have been repeatedly warned by your master, who at last has felt obliged to put himself to the inconvenience and, I trust, pain, of appearing against you. I wish there was some other mode of punishment than that of flogging, to which I have the strongest objections; but I must act in obedience to the Government Regulations, and do my duty, however painful to my own feelings, in order to maintain that necessary discipline without which the prisoners of the Crown could not be allowed to enjoy the advantage of being in


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the service of settlers, but would be kept confined in government employ. My sentence is, that you receive fifty lashes.

“A. B., J.P., 1824.”

There was a little shudder among the spectators, as I have invariably remarked when the sentence of so many “LASHES” was pronounced—so repugnant is that sort of punishment to everybody's feelings. But in those times, that was the usual punishment inflicted for such offences.

“I have another complaint to make,” said Mr. Clover.

“I am sorry to hear that,” said the magistrate.

“What is it for? I am ready to hear it.”

“There's another of my men who has been in the habit of leaving myfarm.”

“Who is it?”

“James Rose.”

“Is he here?”

“Yes, here he is.”

“Stand forward, James Rose. Now listen. Your master makes the following complaint against you:”—


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“The complaint of Mr. Thomas Clover against James Rose, his assigned servant, for quitting his premises without leave yesterday morning.

“Now what have you to say to this?”

James Rose—“Why, I did go without leave, and that's the truth of it.”

Magistrate—“What is his general character, Mr. Clover?”

Mr. Clover—“I can't say but he's generally well-behaved, and a pretty good servant.”

Magistrate—“Do you wish to press the charge against him?”

Rose—“Come, master, you can't say that I do much amiss; don't be hard on me.”

Clover—“I shall leave it entirely in the magistrate's hands; I don't want to press the charge, but I must have a stop put to these goings on.”

Magistrate—“Now, James Rose, if your master will overlook this fault, will you promise him not to repeat it, and that you will endeavour by your future good behaviour and zeal in his service to make amends for it?”

Rose—“Yes, your worship, I will indeed. Master shall have no cause to complain of me: I'll do my best.”




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Magistrate—“Then I think the justice of the case will be met by my reprimanding you; and take care that you are not brought before me again. You heard the sentence on the last prisoner; let that be a warning to you.”

The Court, which was held in a large room in the magistrate's house, was now about to break up, when a voice proceeded from the crowd,

“Please your worship, I've a complaint to make against my master. Will you please to hear me?”

Magistrate—“Who are you, and who is your master?”

“My name's John Buttress, and my master is Mr. Clover.”

At this announcement there was a buzz of surprise in the room, and I observed that the countenances of the prisoners present exhibited signs of congratulation, and they looked at the magistrate with some curiosity, to see how he would take this complaint of the servant against his master. But Mr. Clover did not like this turning of the tables against him, and darting a look of anger at the complainant,




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“You insolent rascal,” said he, “how dare you complain of me? I'll have you punished too, if you don't mind what you are about.”

“Not so fast,” said the magistrate; “I must do justice, Mr. Clover, to the best of my abilities; a prisoner has a right to be heard as well as his master, and it is my duty to attend to the one as well as the other. Now, John Buttress, I will hear your complaint—go on.”

At this the prisoners present showed evident signs of gladness, and they recovered a little the dejection into which they had been cast by the recent decision on one of their associates. John Buttress, feeling that he was under the protection of the magistrate, stood forward manfully, and all was eager attention during the proceedings.




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CHAPTER XIX.

COMPLAINT OF AN ASSIGNED SERVANT AGAINST HIS MASTER—THE SERVANT HAS REDRESS AGAINST THE ILL-TREATMENT OF HIS MASTER IN THE SAME WAY AS THE MASTER AGAINST THE ILL-CONDUCT OF HIS SERVANT.

“I AM curious to see how our friend the magistrate will deal with this new case,” said Mr. Marsh to me, during a pause that took place; “it is rather awkward to have to decide a case of complaint against the master, after having, almost in the same breath, decided a case for him.”

“You will see,” said I. “I attribute the general quiet and good conduct of our district to the feeling which the prisoners have that they can always obtain justice. Our friend will do his duty for the poor man as well as for the rich, you may depend on it.”

“But he will get himself into disfavour with the farming gentry, will he not, if he exposes


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one of them to the rebuff of having a complaint of his assigned servant decided against his master?”

“He doesn't care a rush for that,” said I, “he will do what is right, or, at any rate, what he thinks right, without caring for gentle or simple. I am glad,” I continued, “that you have the opportunity of seeing these cases tried, because they will convey to you a better idea of the social state of the colony, and of the 'working of our social system,' as our friend the magistrate calls it, than days of talk about it. Hush: they are going to begin.”

“Please your worship,” said John Buttress, “master ill-used me, and struck me.”

Magistrate—“When?”

Buttress—“Last Saturday evening.”

Mr. Clover—“Let me speak. I'll tell you how it was.”

Magistrate—“Stay; first let me take down the complaint regularly, and then I will hear you.”

“District of Murray.

“Be it remembered, that on the second day of —— , in the year 1824, John Buttress,


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—— in the district aforesaid, servant to Mr. Clover, of She-Oak Hills, —— , cometh before me, —— —— , one of His Majesty's Justices of the Peace in and for the said district, and maketh complaint upon oath, that he is an assigned servant to him the said Mr. Clover, and that he the said Buttress hath continued, and still is, and doth continue, in the said service: and that he the said Mr. Clover hath, previous to the time of exhibiting this complaint, misused him the said John Buttress, and in particular did strike and misuse him the said John Buttress, on last evening, Saturday, July the First: whereupon he the said John Buttress prayeth justice of the said Justice in the premises; and that such proceedings may be therefore had as the laws of the colony direct.

“JOHNBUTTRESS.

“Sworn before me, “A. B., J.P., —— , 1824.”

Magistrate—“Now, Mr. Clover, I shall be happy to hear anything that you may have to say.”




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(The following is copied from the magistrate's papers.)

“District of Murray, July 8, 1824.

“Mr. Thomas Clover having appeared to answer to the complaint made this day, relating to ill-usage complained of by his assigned servant, John Buttress, saith:

“He admits that he did on Saturday evening turn him out of the kitchen, and that he did throw a stick at him, which missed him: but he denies that he struck him on that evening: admits that he has struck him previous to that time, in consequence of his not having returned home according to order, and thereby neglecting his duty, and in consequence of his excessive insolence on being reprimanded: he stuck his arms a-kimbo and dared him.

“On Saturday evening Mr. Clover was passing the hut door of the men, when John Buttress came out, and asked him if he was to have some particular kettle for their use; Mr. C. told him he was to have such saucepans as Mrs. Clover had pointed out. He then went into the hut grumbling: and I went into the hut to ask the


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reason of his grumbling: just as I was going in at the door, he made use of a low and insulting expression; I went up to him, and told him that I would not put up with such insolence, and turned him forcibly out of the hut: after he had gone out, I took up a stick and threw it at him.”

“Joseph Best, being first duly sworn, saith: —

“I am a free man: a sailor: I am in Mr. Clover's employ: I know John Buttress: I was at She-Oak Hills, where Mr. Clover lives, last Saturday evening: I was in the men's hut: I came into the hut about six or seven o'clock, and remained there until I went to the constable's: I saw the whole of the matters that passed between Mr. Clover and his servant John Buttress: it began about a tea-kettle. Mr. Clover came into the hut, the men's hut: Mr. Clover was asking what he was grumbling about: he made use of a low expression: Mr. Clover then ordered him out of the hut: John Buttress did not go on being ordered out: Mr. Clover then took him by the collar, and shoved him out of the hut: when John Buttress was out of the hut, Mr. Clover threw a stone and a stick at him: John


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Buttress then went away laughing. The overseer, James Lorson, told me to go to Mr. Dixon, to request him to come over immediately: I set off to Mr. Dixon's directly.”

QUESTIONED BY THE COMPLAINANT.

“Did not master threaten to put a ball cartridge through me, if I stirred a foot?”

Answer—“He did.”

“Did not Mrs. Clover take master by the collar, because that he should not strike me any more?”

Answer—“Mrs. Clover came up to master, and said ‘My dear, do leave off.’ This was said after John Buttress had been turned out of the hut, and that Mr. Clover had thrown the stick and stone at him, as I before said.”

“James Lorson, being first duly sworn, saith:

“I am Mr. Clover's overseer. I have lived with him two years. I came out with Mr. Clover; I was at She-Oak Hills, where my master lives, on Saturday evening last: I was there from four o'clock in the afternoon till night: I saw something of what took place


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between Mr. Clover and John Buttress: I was at the house: what took place passed at the men's hut: the house is about 30 or 40 yards from the hut: I heard first a noise between Mr. Clover and John Buttress: I looked out, and saw Mr. Clover returning to the hut: I heard Mr. Clover ask John Butress, ‘What is that you say, Sir?’ I did not hear what answer John Buttress gave him: I afterwards, a few minutes afterwards, saw Mr. Clover turning John Buttress out of the hut: I then went in doors: about five minutes afterwards, I saw John Buttress going away from the hut: as he was going, he turned round several times, and made a motion with his hand to his neck-handkerchief; it appeared to be made for Mr. Clover to see; immediately after this affair happened, I told him it was at his peril to quit the place before Mr. Dixon came up, without a pass: he made an attempt to get out; I tried to stop him, till he told me he was going out to fetch something: immediately when he got out, he walked a few yards, and then made a run in the direction to Spring Hill: I sent that evening, between six and seven o'clock, Joseph Best to Mr. Dixon, the constable, to tell


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Mr. Dixon to come over immediately to take Buttress into custody; Buttress was within hearing when I gave the order: my reason for sending to Mr. Dixon was not on account of what I had seen pass between Mr. Clover and John Buttress: it was on a different matter.”

QUESTIONED BY THE PRISONER.

“Did you come to the hut, James, before all was over?”

“I came up immediately after it was over.”

Joseph Best re-examined.

“The piece of wood which Mr. Clover threw at John Buttress was about three or four feet long, and about three inches thick: Mr. Clover was about six feet from John Buttress when he threw this piece of wood at him: the wood struck Buttress on the left side: it did not appear to hurt him.”

Magistrate—“Mr. Clover, have you anything more to say on this matter?”

Mr. Clover—“No; I have nothing more to say; but it seems to me very hard that prisoners


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may abuse their masters as they please, and that there's no redress for it.”

Magistrate—“Excuse me, Mr. Clover, but allow me to say, that there is sure redress for any offence committed by a prisoner; but the same laws which protect a master from insolence and ill conduct, protect also the prisoner from any violence or ill usage on the part of the master. It appears to me that in this case the complaint against Mr. Clover is proved, which is a clear infraction of the Government Regulations; and my decision is, that John Buttress be removed from the service of Mr. Clover, and returned to Government employ. Under the circumstances, I shall certify that there is no objection to John Buttress being immediately assigned to another master.”

This sentence gave great satisfaction to the majority present; but Mr. Clover was not at all pleased with the magistrate for having, as he said, “taken the part of a prisoner against his master,” and making a cold salutation to the magistrate, and refusing his offer of refreshment, he sulkily departed. It so happened that two more cases were brought before the magistrate


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that day, which, as they are descriptive of the manners and customs of the colony, and have special reference to the system of convict discipline, may prove interesting to those who may peruse these memoirs.




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CHAPTER XX.

THE WORKING OF THE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM.

I HAVE copied all these proceedings from the magistrate's papers, in order that there may be no mistake about them. In after years, when there shall be no more convicts sent to the colony, or assigned to settlers, it may be interesting, and, perhaps, useful to those who may be desirous of understanding the working of the transportation system, to peruse this narrative of the mode of enforcing discipline among the convicts. There are some very bad ones among them, but, on the whole, I think the system works well for the employers and the employed; and, indeed, I don't know what we should all do without them. We should do much better if we could get agricultural labourers fit for farming work; but, as we cannot get them,


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it is saying a great deal for the agricultural capabilities of the colony, that we can grow corn, and carry on the occupation of the breeding of sheep and cattle with the imperfect labourers that we are obliged to put up with.

In my own case, one of my shepherds was a London pickpocket, and another a weaver. My principal herdsman never was bred to any employment in England; my men's cook was a working silversmith, my stone-mason was a hedger and ditcher; and my bullock-driver was a shoemaker or cobbler. Most of my assigned servants were equally unfitted by any practice in the mother country for the vocations they now pursue; but somehow, amidst scolding, and teaching, and occasional mishaps, the work is done.

I have sometimes, in my philosophising humour, thought that Providence never intended that man's natural work—the obtainment of his subsistence by the tilling of the earth—should be a difficult or very scientific operation. And certainly it is neither difficult nor scientific here. Agriculture can hardly be said to be an art in this colony, seeing how easily it is carried on. I


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cannot but think that this facility is an invitation and a sort of encouragement, designed by the author of nature for the peopling of the earth.

The word “overpopulation” sounds very strangely to my ear, since I have been in this colony, when I read it in the English newspapers, and in learned treatises in books; and I cannot help laughing, I must confess, when I look round on the beautiful territory belonging to Great Britain which is comprised in this island only, and read the sad lamentations of writers in England about “overpopulation.”

Whether the globe will ever be overpopulated, I cannot pretend to say, although it seems to me that the Great Being who has created so many wonderful contrivances is not likely to have neglected so important a point in his system. But, at any rate, it strikes me that the inhabitants of the earth have no right to complain of over-population till the earth really is full of people; and while these wide wastes of fertile country in a healthy climate remain untenanted, I must say, that, to my mind, there is something more than absurd in the complaint of "overpopulation."

I write these thoughts as they occur to me,


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without pretending to know better than everybody else. I may make a remark here, however, on the new state of feeling which residing in a colony produces in a man. In England the mind is always full of the terrible evil of competition, and of one man taking the bread out of another man's mouth. But here there is no such apprehension; we feel there is room and scope for every one, and to spare; we regard one another as hearty fellow-labourers, not as jealous competitors; and as to “overpopulation,” the mind revolts at the idea in this colony.

What a pity it is that the government at home will not send some of the poor people who are kept in the workhouses out here! or if not to a convict colony, to some part of the coasts of the continental island. But while I am “philosophising,” as my wife calls it, I am neglecting to give the account of the proceedings before the magistrate, as illustrative of the habits of the population at this time—that is, the close of the year 1824.

Here is the next case:—


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The complaint of Mr. Philip Meadows against his assigned servant, John Jackson, for insolence and threatening to be revenged on his master.

“PRISONER'S PLEA: NOT GUILTY.

“Mr. Philip Meadows, being first duly sworn, saith:

“Last Sunday week, the prisoner, John Jackson, had been out in the morning with my permission on his own affairs; he returned about noon, or past noon: he came to Mrs. Meadows for his breakfast, and I don't exactly know what passed between them, but the prisoner seemed to be in a great hurry for it: he came to me afterwards, and asked me if he was to have his breakfast: I told him that I supposed he would have it as soon as it was ready, and I went into the interior of my hut, and I heard him and Mrs. Meadows talking together: Mrs. Meadows said that if she heard any more dissatisfaction and grumbling, he should be put on his rations: he immediately then said, that he wished to go on his rations; enumerating what he thought himself entitled to, viz.:—a pound and a-half of meat, a pound and a-half of flour, and tea and sugar: I


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heard this, and coming forward from the interior of the hut, I said to him, observing that he was well treated, that if he did go on his rations, I would put him on his government rations: he told me that I could not do it; that he would see whether I could or not; and at last, he found that I intended to do it, and he told me that he would be up to me—that he would mind me if I did. He said, that he supposed I should expect to get some work done: and that he could keep moving without doing anything all day:

“On this occasion Mrs. Meadows engaged me conditionally to forgive him, and that I should have no more trouble with him. I said nothing more of it, therefore, at that time:

“On Wednesday or Thursday last, I called him in the morning as usual to get up; he told me that it was not sunrise. The sun was up, but it was cloudy. I had been up half an hour. He got up:

“On Saturday morning I called him again: it was a cloudy morning: he did not get up: I called him again about half an hour afterwards: I asked him if he was going to get up: he told me that it was not sunrise: I did not dispute


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the matter with him, because I thought it unnecessary. He said that he knew what time to get up, and that he would get up when he liked.”

Prisoner—“On Sunday week, about noon, did I not say to you, ‘Will you give me a bit of bread and meat, because I am hungry?’ ”

Answer—“I told you that I supposed you would have your breakfast as soon as it was ready.”

Prisoner—“And did you not go in-doors and ask mistress if the breakfast was ready?”

Answer—“I rather think I might have done—but I am not certain.”

Prisoner—“And did not you say, ‘You will have your breakfast directly?’ ”

Answer—“The answer that I made to you then was, that you should have it as soon as it was ready.”

The prisoner has no more questions to ask.

DEFENCE.

“It's of no use to say anything, because master has sworn to it; and I suppose it would be of no use.”


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Found guilty of insolence to his master, and threatening to be revenged on him.

Sentenced to receive five-and-twenty lashes: to be returned to his master.




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CHAPTER XXI.

COMPLAINT OF A CONVICT AGAINST HIS FELLOW-SERVANT.

WE were now startled by a terrible hullabaloo, and it was easy to tell by the vehement oratory of one of the parties, that an Irishman had a hand in it. As the court was sitting, the parties came before the magistrate without waiting for an invitation, and the aggrieved individual at once commenced his complaint without ceremony.

“Please your worship, that man there wants to murder me, and he swears he will do it; and it's a mercy I'm alive to say so.”

“Sarve him right,” said the accused;“the malefactoring villain!”

“Sarve me right!” ——

“Hold your tongues, both of you,” said the magistrate. “Now which is the complainant?”


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“I'm the complainant,” please your worship, “'cause my head's smashed.”

“You! No, I'm the plainant; I've as much right to complain as you.”

“Can't you agree to make it up?” said the magistrate; “you both seem to be very foolish.”

“Agree!” said the disputants, both at once; “no, it's impossible to agree, and we wouldn't if we could.”

“Well, in that case,” said the magistrate, “I suppose I must go into the matter. Now, let us hear the smashed head first.”

“District of Murray.

“Information and Complaint of Charles Kirk, a servant of the Crown, holding a ticket-of-leave, against Arthur O'Neale, assigned servant of Mr. Kale, for Assault and Battery, on Saturday last, at dinner-time.

“PRISONER'S PLEA: NOT GUILTY.

“Charles Kirk, being first duly sworn, saith: —

“ ‘On Saturday last, the prisoner, Arthur O'Neale, caught me by the collar, and put me in the fire, and bruised my head and arm. My cap was burnt. Shaughnessey picked me up.


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The stonemason told me that O'Neale said that he would put me on the fire again, and jump on me. This happened about dinner-time on Saturday afternoon, at Mr. Kale's new men's hut. At the same time O'Neale threatened to put me in the creek.’

“William Pryor, being first duly sworn, saith: —

“ ‘I am a servant of the Crown. I am assigned to Mr. Kale. I know Charles Kirk and Arthur O'Neale. I was at Mr. Kale's on Saturday last all day. I was cook. I dined with the men at Mr. Kale's. Arthur O'Neale was there, and Michael Shaughnessey, and our mason. Charles Kirk came directly after dinner was over. Charles Kirk came into the hut. He cooked his victuals, and he ate them. Afterwards he went out to the mason, who was at work on master's building. Charles Kirk returned to the hut, and he mentioned to Arthur O'Neale what master had been telling him. It was something about some leather. After Charles Kirk had spoken to Arthur O'Neale, then Arthur O'Neale he said he would chuck him on the back of the fire and burn him alive.


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Charles Kirk made answer and said he might do whatever he thought proper. By that Arthur O'Neale flew in a great passion, and flung Charles Kirk just by the fire, on the fire-hearth. By that his head went close up to the wall, and his cap and his handkerchief went in the fire. By that Charles Kirk said he would have him before a magistrate. Arthur O'Neale says, ‘You damned, bricky rascal, I will take and chuck you in the creek, and you may take me before any magistrate you think proper, for damn and —— all the magistrates on the River Clyde, for I don't care a d —— n for one of them.’ On that Charles Kirk said he certainly would take him before a magistrate. By that Arthur O'Neale said he wished all the men were in the same mind as he was, he would soon make it a free country, the same as they would in Ireland. The damned King and the Royal Family sending their troops into Ireland, else that would have been a free country. Arthur O'Neale has been in the habit of using similar expressions respecting the King and the Royal Family, and I asked him many times what made him speak disrespectfully of any of our Royal


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Family? He said he had a good reason for so doing. I asked him for what? He said because he used to carry on, in Ireland, distilling. I have been a soldier in the Guards. I came into Mr. Kale's service on the 23rd January, this year, on the day when I landed. I have often had quarrels with the prisoner. The last quarrel I had with him was about a fortnight ago. The quarrel was about some victuals being cooked. I never heard the brickmaker, Charles Kirk, quarrel with Arthur O'Neale, nor with any other of Mr. Kale's men.'”

THE PRISONER'S DEFENCE.

“Pryor is swearing my life away. I never said anything against the Royal Family. Charles Kirk said I stole Mr. Kale's leather. I did not intend to do him any harm. I did not do him any harm. I am a passionate man.”

“Michael Shaughnessey, being first duly sworn, saith: ——

“ ‘I am an assigned servant of Mr Kale. I entered his service in July last. I was at Mr. Kale's on Saturday last. I dined on that day


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with the rest of the men. There were at dinner Arthur O'Neale, Pryor, and the mason. I saw the riot between Charles Kirk and O'Neale. The dispute arose between them about some leather and shoes. Kirk said he saw O'Neale take three parts of a skin of leather, and O'Neale said that Kirk took one shoe, or a pair, I am not sure which, from Mr. Kale's hut, from Thomas Ross: then Arthur O'Neale said he had a great mind to chuck him in the creek, or throw him behind the fire. On that, he just took hold of Kirk, and put him down by the fire-place. I heard Kirk say that he would take O'Neale before a magistrate. I did not hear O'Neale damn the magistrates. I did not hear him make use of any expressions against the King or Royal Family.’

“Charles Kirk re-examined—‘I heard O'Neal damn the magistrates on the river Clyde, and say that he did not care a damn for one of them. I did not hear him say anything against the Royal Family, nor that he wished the men were in the same mind as he was, and he would soon make it a free country.’

“Mr. Kale being first duly sworn, saith: —

“ ‘My servant, Arthur O'Neale, is very passionate:


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he does not drink: I have not seen him intoxicated since he has been with me: he has been always a very good servant to me: always ready and willing to do what he has been ordered: O'Neale and Pryor have very frequently quarrelled: I think William Pryor bears malice towards O'Neale: my reason for that opinion is from their generally quarrelling: I have found out William Pryor in many falsehoods: I place no reliance on his word: his general conduct since he has been with me has impressed me with the opinion that his word is not to be taken: Charles Kirk is a quiet, peaceable man: I have not known him to quarrel with O'Neale before, nor with any of my men.’

“MATTER SETTLED BY RECONCILIATION.

“Prisoner made amends, accepted by Charles Kirk.

“A.B., J.P.”

The complainant and defendant thereupon left the house very lovingly together, each congratulating himself that he was in the right, and the former having proffered his short wooden pipe to


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his companion, they immediately became mortal friends, and swore that the magistrate was a very good fellow.

“I don't know what to say about your mode of administering justice in this country,” said Mr. Marsh. “Your magistrates seem to act very independently.”

“Their proceedings are not very formal, sometimes,” said I, “but they are usually very effectual.”

“It grates unpleasantly on my ear,” said the new-comer,“to hear a man sentenced to be flogged. But I suppose in this convict colony there is no help for it; but I should think that sort of punishment of very doubtful efficacy; I should think it likely to make a good man bad, and a bad man worse.”

“A truce to philosophy,” said I; “let us go to dinner.”




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CHAPTER XXII.

THE FLOGGING SYSTEM—NECESSITY OF COERCION AND DECISION IN A CONVICT COLONY—HORRORS OF TRANSPORTATION TO MACQUARIE HARBOUR, THE PENAL SETTLEMENT OF THE COLONY—THORNLEY RETURNS HOME—A LETTER FROM THE GOVERNOR.

“YOU have had a fatiguing day,” said Mr. Marsh, to the magistrate, as we sat down to dinner. “Do these complaints often occur?”

“I have never had such a busy day before. I go about a good deal, and I generally settle ordinary complaints and disputes between the masters and their servants by some sort of reconciliation on the spot, at their own houses. The most painful part of one's duty is the sentencing a man to be flogged. In the present state of the colony, I confess I am at a loss to devise any other mode of punishment which could be administered so promptly and effectually, and it certainly does form a very powerful


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check to insubordination. But my objection to it is on principle; a man that has been flogged loses his self-esteem; the dignity of his manhood is destroyed; the effect of the lash is not confined to the marks on his back; it enters into his soul, and many never recover from the fallen state into which that indignity plunges them.”

“But what else can you do?” observed the surgeon; “here we are, in the midst of a population of convicts. It is a matter of absolute necessity to keep them down; and that can only be done by a prompt sort of punishment that inspires fear. It may be urged also, in defence of the system—not that I am in favour of flogging—I am only adducing these arguments in the way of discussion—that flogging has this advantage over imprisonment; it does not deprive the community of the labour of the offenders as imprisonment would do. A man is flogged, and there's an end of the matter.”

“If there was to be an end of the matter with the end of flogging,” said the magistrate, “part of my objection to the practice would be removed; but I fear that in a great many cases that is not an end of the matter; and that many a good


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man is made incorrigibly bad by the degradation of its infliction.

“I remember about two years ago, when, from some cause which I am not able to explain, a spirit of insubordination began to manifest itself among the prisoners in this neighbourhood which it was necessary to put down by some decided measures. I consulted with my brother magistrate as to the course which we should pursue, and we agreed that we would deal with the first case of a bad character that should be brought before us in a manner to prevent a repetition; for in these cases prompt severity is real mercy.

“I should tell Mr. Marsh that a single magistrate has not the power to sentence a man to more than fifty lashes at one time, the usual sentence being five-and-twenty, the intermediate number being never given, from a sort of disdain, I suppose, in this flourishing colony, of fractional parts. It was necessary, therefore, that I and my brother magistrate should sit together to carry our determination into effect; and it was not long before I had to summon my colleague to join me.


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“As senior magistrate, I was in the chair, and conducted the proceedings. A fine fellow was brought before us for insolence and insubordination, and we took care to have as numerous an audience as possible, in order the better to spread abroad the result of the case. The proof of the offence was clear and beyond question, so that the man could say nothing for himself, and would not beg for mercy.

“I turned the case over and over, but I could not find any fit opening to let the man escape with a comparatively trifling punishment, so I was obliged to go through with it. I made the sort of speech that you may suppose, about the necessity of enforcing discipline and subordination among the prisoners, and about my regret to have to sentence any man to so degrading a punishment as flogging; and that was true enough, as everybody knew, for I made no secret of my aversion to the system.

“I saw that my words worked on the man, and produced an effect on the people about; but when I came to the judgment, and in the name of my colleague and myself, sentenced him to receive ‘One Hundred Lashes,’ the poor fellow


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looked up as if he could not believe in the reality of it. I was terribly troubled, and in a way which must have been apparent to every one, and my manner, and my visible concern, cast a sadness over the people assembled that was very striking. However, I did not flinch from my duty, and when I repeated in a very positive manner that we would on no account relax our decision, and that we were determined to treat every such case that might be brought before us with the same severity, I plainly perceived that we had produced the desired effect.”

“And what became of the man afterwards?” asked Mr. Marsh; “did the punishment turn to good or ill with him?”

“I will tell you. My vexation and trouble at having to pronounce such a sentence on a man whose appearance I liked so affected me, that in my confusion I made a mistake in the warrant. We had no place here, nor have we now, where the punishment could be carried into effect; so I had to send him to Jericho —— ”

“Send him to Jericho ! you are not joking?” said the stranger inquiringly.

“Joking! oh no; the nearest place to which


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I could send him to be flogged was a place called Jericho, where there is a sort of gaol, and which is a station for a sergeant's party of soldiers. It is about sixteen miles from this place. Well, I was telling you that I made a mistake in the warrant; I forgot to put in the number of lashes, so that the warrant directed that blank number of lashes should be inflicted on the prisoner. The constable took my warrant, and put it in his pocket-book without reading it, and off they marched; one constable before, with a loaded musket, one behind armed in the same manner, and the prisoner handcuffed in the middle.

“I should tell you that this took place in the middle of summer, in the month of February, when the sun is hot enough to melt a man's brains. In this miserable plight the wretched culprit had to walk, under a burning sun, sixteen long miles, with the reflection, by way of comfort on the road, that he was going to be flogged at the end of his journey. When they reached Jericho it was too late to flog him, so that he had to pass the night in the gaol.

“You may imagine that he did not sleep much


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that night. He told me afterwards that it was the most horrible night that he had passed in his life, and I have no doubt that it was. Well, the morning came at last, too quick, perhaps, for him; and with it came the dreadful preparation for the flogging.

“When the poor man was tied up for punishment, the constables told me that he looked more dead than alive, and well he might, for a hundred lashes is indeed a terrible punishment. The military were drawn up; the authorities assembled; the executioner disentangled the ends of his cat-o'-nine tails, and there was an awful silence. The warrant was then read; and lo! there was no number specified! The constable said he was quite sure that the prisoner was to receive a hundred lashes, for he was present when the magistrates pronounced the sentence. But a verbal communication in such a matter was not sufficient; the warrant was clearly invalid from want of specification; and the constables were directed to take the man back to the Clyde to have the omission rectified.

“Accordingly they set out back again; the prisoner still having on his mind the flogging


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that was to take place at last; and well has it been said that the anticipation is greater than the pleasure, and the expectation greater than the suffering, for the unhappy wretch assured his associates that he suffered a hundred floggings in the fear of what was to come.

“I was sitting in this room in the afternoon, when I saw the melancholy trio trudging along up that road. They looked so woful that you would have supposed they had all been flogged since they had been away, but the constable presently explained how I had made a mistake in the warrant. I never felt so relieved in my life! I called them all in, and the man was placed before me. I desired the constables to leave him alone with me, and I had a serious conversation with him.

“The result was, that, considering the man had received a severe punishment from what he had already undergone, and judging that the effect was produced, I told him that if he would give me his positive assurance that he would appreciate properly the favour of letting him off, I would take upon myself the responsibility of pardoning the offence. The man spoke well, and


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as the event proved, sincerely, and so I tore the warrant, and told him to go home and make peace with his master.

“That man, gentlemen—you must remember him well, Thornley—turned out the pattern man of the district; and the good effect of the indulgence was not less than the good effect of the sentence, for it convinced the prisoners that while there was a determination to enforce discipline by a stern severity, there was the disposition to be indulgent and merciful whenever the occasion allowed; and the prisoners understand and like this mode of treatment; above all, they are most swayed by an appeal to their feelings; they like to be treated as human beings, and that you should seem to forget that they are in the degraded condition of convicted felons. I have invariably adopted that course in all my dealings with them, and I have seldom been deceived in trusting to the better parts of their nature. Indeed, I believe that the perversity must be very obstinate indeed that can resist a steady system of uniform and judicious kindness.”

“I thank you for your story,” said Mr. Marsh; “I think I should have acted precisely as you


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did. But when you say that you have no other punishment, you seem to forget that you have a place called Macquarie Harbour, to which I understand, you send your refractory or incorrigible convicts. What sort of a place is that?”

“It's a terrible place,” said the surgeon, “a sort of lower hell; it is really worse than death, and more than one instance has occurred of a Macquarie prisoner having actually committed murder, in order to be sent back to this place to be hanged. If the people in England only knew what sort of a place they ran the risk of being sent to after their arrival here, you would never hear of a man committing an offence in order to be transported to the thieves' paradise of New South Wales. The convicts soon die there. But I think it would be mercy to hang them at once.”

“I think I have by me,” said the magistrate, “a letter from a man who was transported to that ‘lower hell,’ as the surgeon calls it, and if I can readily lay my hand on it you shall have a description of the place from the best authority.—Here it is. I should tell you that this man had been a sort of jockey, and afterwards pickpocket


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and common thief at the race-courses in England. He was a bad fellow, and was ungrateful to a good master. This is his letter: —

“MacquarieHarber, Van Deiman's Land, August 28th, 1822.

“Hond. Sir,—Trusting, Sir, your goodness will pardon the liberty I am taking as induced me to intrude myself to your notice, and I beg leave, Sir, to assure you that it is impossible for my pen to describe my misirable situation, and the hardships I have undergone, since I have been confined at this place, and believe me, Sir, no poor wretch can possibly feel more contrition than I now do for having given you occasion to inflict my preasant punishment on me, but feel thoroughly convinced, was it possible for you to know the extent of my sufferings, your feeling heart would have compassion on the poor wretch who has now dared to address you; but I am fearfull that on reading this letter, and finding from whome it comes, you will through it on one side with that disgust I so richly merrit for having wrongd one of the best of masters: but should


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the humble efforts of my pen induce you to take my preasant wretched condition into your considiration, and intercede on my behalf to get me removed from this misirable place, the remainder of my life shall be devoted to your service, and you will be the means of rescuing a poor outcast from distruction. Trusting you may be induced to interceede on my behalf, I beg leave to remain, hond. Sir, your most obedient, humble servant,

“ —— ”

“I think it would do good if such a letter as this could be published in the newspapers in England,” said Mr. Marsh; “it would serve to undeceive some people as to the real state of the convicts in Van Diemen's Land.”

“The people in England,” said the magistrate, “don't understand the working of the convict system, and it is difficult to explain it by books; and no one can explain it unless he has practical experience to prompt him. The fact is, that the convicts in this country are much better and much worse off than is supposed at home; much better off when they behave well, and much worse when they behave ill.”


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We now took leave of our host, and returned to my house; Mr. Marsh intending the next morning to proceed to his land, and to leave his wife and children with us till his log-house was built to receive them.

We were roused up early next morning by a party of the colonial surveyor's men, who came to measure some land in our district; and we were exceedingly surprised to receive a letter of formidable dimensions, and bearing a prodigious seal, addressed to “Mr. Samuel Crab, River Clyde.” As soon as that worthy individual had emerged from his dormitory, I placed the letter in his hands, and being anxious to know what had given rise to a correspondenee between him and the Colonial Government, I urged him to break the seal. In the meantime the news of the arrival of this unusual missive had caused all the inmates to hasten from their rooms, and presently the whole family was assembled to witness the ceremony of opening the letter.




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CHAPTER XXIII.

SURVEYING A GRANT OF LAND—CRAB BECOMES A LANDED PROPRIETOR AGAINST THE GRAIN—HE DISCOURSES AUTHORITATIVELY ON PRACTICAL EMIGRATION—THE BUSHRANGER'S DAUGHTER.

I HAVE often regretted there was no artist present to take a sketch of the party assembled on this interesting occasion. It was still early morning; the shutters had been hastily and partially thrown open, and the grey light streaked through the windows, while the flames of the dry wood, which burnt and crackled on the capacious hearth, diversified the lights and shadows of the rude apartment. The women suspended their usual avocations, and grouped themselves round Crab with unrestrained curiosity. That interesting personage stood in the midst; in one hand he held a colonial hat, ingeniously fabricated from the skin of a kangaroo, with the hairy side outwards; and in the other he upheld the mysterious letter;


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peering into it with curious eye, and with an odd expression of countenance, as if he half doubted and half mistrusted the contents of the epistle.

“ ‘Mister Samuel Crab!’ that's me, sure enough; but what on earth the Governor can have to say to me is more than I can think. ‘Mister Samuel Crab!’—It must be me; but what it can be about is a wonder, sure-ly!”

“Suppose you were to open it,” said Betsey, a little pertly; “perhaps the inside would tell you.”

“Open it!—well—do you open it, Miss, as you're so curious; but don't break the seal—why, there must be red-ochre enough in that seal to ruddle a sheep! Just tear round it gently; that's the way; well, now, what does it say?”

“Good gracious! Mr. Crab, here's an order for a grant of land, for YOU!”

“A grant of land for ME! the thing's impossible! What do I want with land when I'm going to leave the colony, maybe, in another week, only what to do with those sheep worrits me—there's nothing but plagues in this country—it can't be for me; there's some mistake!”

“No mistake at all,” said I; “here's the order


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plain enough. Four hundred acres of land! Well, my friend, you have got your wish at last, and now you have land of your own. What will you do with it ?”

“Land of my own!—do with it?—why, what should I do with it? What's the use of land to me when I'm going to leave the colony directly? And where could I find four hundred acres of land worth looking at? There's scarcely an acre of good land in the colony; that's a fact—unless it's so covered with trees that you can't squeedge your way through 'em.”

As my excellent friend thus expressed himself, I fancied I observed in his manner a confusion and embarrassment, coupled with a secret inclination to possess himself of the land, that I could not but suspect indicated some fore-knowledge of this grant, which he was pleased to regard as totally unsuspected.

“You were down in Camp,” said I, “about two months ago, Crab, were you not?”

“To be sure I was.”

“And did you not see somebody in particular there?”

“I saw nobody but a pack of knavish store-


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keepers, who would cheat a man of the eyes out of his head, if he'd let 'em. I was talking to one of those chaps on the jetty, where I went to see if there were any ships sailing for England—he's one that I deal with for the slops and things that I want for my stock-keepers, which he cheats me in, of course—and he said that if I applied to the Governor, he had no doubt that I might get a small grant of land, as I had a couple of thousand sheep, and the government, he said, liked to encourage industrious farming men, that are really farmers, and not cockney creturs that don't know which end of a sheep to begin a-shearing at.”

“And so you asked the Governor?”

“Not I! But the store-keeper chap wrote a letter to the Governor, asking for a grant of land, and I signed it, for a joke-like, for I never expected anything would come of it; and a pretty passion the Governor will be in, I dare say, when he comes to know that I asked for a grant of land, and all the while was a-looking out for a ship to leave the colony!”

“But you have been going to leave the colony every day for the last seven years, and you have


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not gone yet. Perhaps you may stay seven years more, and then the land will be of use to you. Besides, at your years —— ”

“At my years! Well, to be sure!—and what's my years? I'm only sixty-eight; and I haven't had a day's illness once the whole seven year, except the time of the christening that you all drunk so much rum punch, when the climate had such an effect on me, and gave me a dizziness in the head—it's so changeable!”

“Exactly,” said I,;“the changeableness of the climate has certainly a peculiar effect on some people, and on occasions of christening it is apt to produce dizziness and other disorders; but that has nothing to do about your land. I know of a prime little bit, with a capital run for a small flock, not more than half-a-dozen miles from here.”

“Ah! Cherry-Tree Bottom. That is a niceish bit; I remember the letter said something about Cherry-Tree Bottom; the deuce of a bit of a cherry will you find there though; but there's no water-carriage.”

“Water-carriage!You don't want water carriage


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for sheep; they can carry themselves with their tails behind them, can't they?”

“Well—I can't say but that lot of land at Cherry-Tree Bottom is a fairish piece for this country. But it's only wasting it to give it to me, as I shan't be in the country long enough to make use of it.

“But you won't do any harm to it, I suppose; you can't take it away with you when you go.”

“No, sure-ly not; that's very true. Well—it is a niceish bit. Do you know I've a notion you might grow hops in that bottom. I put the spade in it one day, and, my eyes! if it isn't all loam as far as you can dig, as black as your hat, for I don't know how deep!”

“I see,” said I, “that you have an inkling for it; so we had better have it measured at once, as the surveyors are in the district.”

“Well, well, do as you like. Measure away; but if you think I'd stay in this country for all the land that is in it, you are much mistaken; that's all I can say about it.”

“Why, you can sell it if you don't like it,” said I, “and I'll buy it of you.”




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“Will you, though?” said Crab. “Well, that's very friendly of you, I must say; but it's worth nothing.”

“It's worth a dollar an acre, at any rate; but whatever it may be worth, I'll engage to buy it of you. I think it's worth two hundred pounds down as it is.”

“But what's the use of that? I can't sell it till I've had it three years, and used it as a farm. I declare,” he continued, looking through the window, “there's that young fellow coming that killed my bull, and he wants it, I know; but he shan't have it, I'll be hang'd if he shall. I'm first, and I've the first right to it, and I'll have it, or I'll know the reason why.”

And so it was settled; the pleasure of preventing young Beresford from having this particular bit of land having more weight with Crab than all the arguments we could make use of; so strong was his anger against the slayer of his pet bull. I shall have to show, however, hereafter, how Crab was disappointed in this vindictive determination.

The assistant-surveyor was polite, and his men were ready, so after breakfast we set off to Cherry-


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Tree Bottom, taking two of my men with axes to mark the trees.

“Now,” said Crab, when we arrived at the spot, “I'll have this bit just here, do you see; beginning at this gum-tree, and going over the point of that little rise just across the rivulet yonder.”

“I'll soon see,” said the surveyor, “how the lines run, and you can begin where you like.”

“How the lines run!” said Crab: “what's that to me? The lines may run which way they like; but I want this bit of land, and this is the bit I'll have measured.”

“Your side-lines,” replied the surveyor, “must be drawn according to the colonial regulations, parallel with the rest, or there would be nothing but a confusion of blocks and angles. Now for it; that is the direction of your side-line; where shall I begin?”

“You shall never begin for me,” said Crab, very angrily, “if I can't have the bottom. It's all scrub except just here.”

“Let us see,” said I, “if we can't manage it. Suppose you begin at this mimosa-tree to the left; then your base-line will extend to that little green


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hill, and so you would take in all the best part of the rivulet, and the whole of the bottom.”

“Well, measure away,” said Crab; “it doesn't matter; I shan't be here long to be worried with your side-lines and your angles, as you call 'em—though there's not much angling to be had in that puddle, I'm thinking—measure away, and let's have done with it, and not lose such a day as this for ploughing.”

The surveyor adjusted his instrument accordingly, and, his two men going before with their chain, we followed after, marking the trees as we went along by slicing off a piece of the bark, front and back, on each side of the trees that formed the boundary-line. The survey was soon concluded, and then Mr. Crab, regarding his landed possessions with a condescending eye,

“I say, Mister,” said he to the surveyor, “don't you tell the Governor that I'm going home again, by the very next ship maybe; let that come of itself; no need to anger people before the time; and governors, of all others, don't like to be made fools of.”

“Never fear,” said the good-natured surveyor; “I'll keep your secret, you may depend. I dare


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say I shall find you on your farm seven years hence.”

“If you do,” said Crab, “you shall eat me.”

“Eat YOU,” said the surveyor, making an impromptu survey of Crab's extraordinary person and habiliments; “my dear Sir, make yourself perfectly easy; I am quite satisfied with the survey without wishing to appropriate you in so exclusive a manner to myself; and now I must bid you good-day, and go to work in another direction.”

With that he quitted us, and we returned homewards.

Crab said but little by the way for some time, but seemed to be ruminating on his new condition as a landed proprietor. At last he drew up, turning himself in the direction of his newly-acquired estate, and pointing towards it with his hand,

“Four hundred acres,” said he, “would be thought a tidy farm in England; but how different things are here. In this country it's a scrap of land hardly worth the having; and if it wasn't for the free run at the back and about it, it wouldn't be worth occupying.


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Strange that, isn't it? If I had been given four hundred acres of land of my own in England! Lord! it would have made a squire of me! And I heard Mr. Marsh a-talking of people in England planning for emigrants to be sent to the Cape of Good Hope, I think it was—I've heard of living on hope, but that must be poor living, I take it—and to have fifty acres of land a-piece! Why, what can a man do with fifty acres of land in these outlandish places? It isn't like land in our own country, where the land is ready-made like for farming, and where there are hedges and ditches, and a market always handy.”

“People in England,” said I, “don't understand what settling in a new country is. They regard land in a new colony with the same feelings as they regard it at home; and seeing that four acres or so of land is a great help to a poor man, and as much, indeed, as he can manage, they think that a grant of fifty acres must be a magnificent donation.”

“So they do,” said Crab; “but they know no more about it than my hat! Those Parliament


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folks make precious long speeches about emigration, but they don't know how it's done. I should like to set one of 'em down hereabouts with his four acres of land, and an axe, and tell him to chop away.”

“There are some things,” rejoined I, “that can be learned only by experience; no stretch of the imagination can compass the knowledge of them; it must be got at by the actual experience of the facts. We—who have lived for some years in the colony—know, that it is absurd for a settler to attempt establishing himself as a farmer in this country without a certain quantity of land, sufficient for the feed of his stock; but in England, they can't comprehend the details of settling. They fancy that all that is necessary is to set an emigrant down on a little bit of land, and then, on the calculation that an acre of land will produce as much wheat as a man can consume in a year, they think that he has only to work to support himself. They don't take into account the difficulties of the details, because they have never experienced them, and they cannot—or at least very few of them can—


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abstract their minds from the circumstances before their eyes, and carry their views to a wilderness like this.”

“I heard Mr. Marsh say,” resumed Crab, “that in the Parliament House at home, somebody, whose name I forget, talked, for hours and hours, about settling, and colonial lands, and such like, and showed how happy a man might be with his little flock about him all a-baaing so pretty! A pretty mess he'd be in with a little flock. Why, a little flock won't pay to keep!”

“No,” said I; “and that mistake exemplifies well the errors that people in England fall into when they talk about the practical parts of emigrating. They don't know, as we do, that in a country where there are no fences, there must be a shepherd to take care of the sheep; and that there must be a certain number of sheep for the shepherd to tend, to pay his expenses.”

“But then they say that the emigrant ought to fence in his land, and then he would not want a shepherd.”

“And then they ought to know that to fence in his land would cost him ten, twenty times


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more than a shepherd. In this country it takes on an average about six acres to feed one sheep.”

“Six acres will never do it,” said Crab. “In the winter months stock require a wide range to keep any flesh at all on their bones—say eight acres.”

“Suppose we take six; then for the feeding of fifty sheep it would be necessary to fence in three hundred acres.”

“Fence in three hundred acres! Why, it's as much as a settler can do in twenty years.”

“It is,” said I; “and yet I have read very long speeches of very grave men, all grounded on such errors as this. One thing that amuses me very much is what I read of in the English newspapers about the importance of concentration.”

“Concentration! What's that?”

“Why, they mean that emigrants should be packed on land as closely together as possible, with fifty acres a-piece, or less; and they have a notion that by some mysterious process the concentrating them in that fashion will be a material help to their success.”




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“And where are their working bullocks to feed when they are concentrated, as you call it, that way?” said Crab.

“Ah! that's what they don't understand.”

“Why, for a man to break up new land, he must have at least four working bullocks, and that's little enough, for if one of them lames, there he's stopped; besides, he has his dead timber to drag away—that is, when he has chopped down the trees; and how are his four bullocks to get food from such a strip of land as fifty acres would give him, let alone his cows and sheep, if he has any?”

“All this, the book-people, who write books, and plan systems of colonization, know nothing about.”

“It's a pity that they don't come here, then,” said Crab, “and then we should not hear of such nonsense. In a new country, where sheep must form the main stock of a farming man, it's like the old times that I was reading of in the Bible last Sunday—there's a good many hints, by the bye, about sheep and farming in that book—when one settler said to another settler, said he, ‘which way will you lead your sheep?’ and the other


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settler said, ‘I'm going this way,’ and then t'other chap, he said, ‘then I'll go that way,’ and so they settled it without any more ado. And that's the way to agree in a country where there's plenty of land that nobody uses if you don't—that's my opinion.”

With the expression of this opinion we reached home, where I found my friend the magistrate, who communicated to me some information about the little girl, the child of the bushranger, whose wretched fate I have recorded, which determined me to lose no time in going to Hobart Town to make inquiries, and to take measures for establishing, beyond the possibility of future question, the identity of my new charge. It will be seen that my interference was just in time to save her from a deeply-laid plot to steal her away from the island. The curious story of the Gypsey's daughter, I am inclined to think, will be considered not one of the least interesting parts of the memoirs of my busy life.

END OF VOL. II. J. L. COX & SONS, PRINTERS TO THE HONOURABLE EAST-INDIA COMPANY, 74 & 75, Gt. Queen St, Lincoln's-Inn Fields.
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