Volume III.

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iii: Chapter I.


AND presently, the Captain, half dressed, working away at his hair with two very stiff brushes, betook himself to Major Buckley's room, whom he found shaving. “I'll wait till you're done,” said he; “I don't want you to cut yourself.”

And then he resumed: “Buckley, your son wants to marry my daughter.”

“Shows his good taste,” said the Major. “What do you think of it?”

“I am very much delighted,” said the Captain.

“And what does she say to it?”

“She is very much delighted.”

  ― 2 ―

“And I am very much delighted, and I suppose Sam is too. So there you are, you see: all agreed.”

And that was the way the marriage negotiations proceeded; indeed, it was nearly all that was ever said on the subject. But one day the Major brought two papers over to the Captain (who signed them), which were supposed to refer to settlements, and after that all the arrangements were left to Alice and Mrs. Buckley.

They started for Cape Chatham about nine o'clock in the day; Halbert and Jim first, then Sam and Alice, and lastly the three elders. This arrangement did not last long, however; for very soon Sam and Alice called aloud to Halbert and Jim to come and ride with them, for that they were boring one another to death. This they did, and now the discreet and sober conversation of the oldsters was much disturbed by loud laughter of the younger folks, in which, however, they could not help joining. It was a glorious crystal clear day in autumn; all nature, aroused from her summer's rest, had put off her suit of hodden grey, and was flaunting in gaudiest green. The atmosphere was so amazingly pure that miles away across the plains the travellers could distinguish the herds of turkeys (bustards) stalking to and fro, while before them, that noble maritime mountain Cape Chatham towered up, sharply defined above the gleaming haze which marked the distant sea.

  ― 3 ―

For a time their way lay straight across the broad well‐grassed plains, marked with ripples as though the retiring sea had but just left it. Then a green swamp; through the tall reeds the native companion, king of cranes, waded majestic; the brilliant porphyry water hen, with scarlet bill and legs, flashed like a sapphire among the emerald green water‐sedge. A shallow lake, dotted with wild ducks; here and there a group of wild swan, black with red bills, floating calmly on its bosom. A long stretch of grass as smooth as a bowling‐green. A sudden rocky rise, clothed with native cypress (Exocarpus — Oh my botanical readers!), honeysuckle (Banksia), she‐oak (Casuarina), and here and there a stunted gum. Cape Chatham began to show grander and nearer, topping all; and soon they saw the broad belt of brown sandy heath that lay along the shore.

“Here,” said the Doctor, riding up, “we leave the last limit of the lava streams from Mirngish and the Organ‐hill. Now, immediately you shall see how we pass from the richly‐grassed volcanic plains, into the barren sandstone heaths; from a productive pasture land into a useless flower‐garden. Nature here is economical, as she always is: she makes her choicest ornamental efforts on spots otherwise useless. You will see a greater variety of vegetation on one acre of your sandy heath than on two square miles of the thicklygrassed country we have been passing over.”

  ― 4 ―

It was as he said. They came soon on to the heath; a dark dreary expanse, dull to look upon after so long a journey upon the bright green grass. It stretched away right and left interminably, only broken here and there with islands of dull‐coloured trees; as melancholy a piece of country as one could conceive: yet far more thickly peopled with animal as well as vegetable life, than the rich pastoral downs further inland. Now they began to see the little red brush kangaroo, and the grey forester, skipping away in all directions; and had it been summer they would have been startled more than once by the brown snake, and the copper snake, deadliest of their tribe. The painted quail, and the brush quail (the largest of Australian game birds I believe), whirred away from beneath their horses' feet; and the ground parrot, green with mottlings of gold and black, rose like a partridge from the heather, and flew low. Here, too, the Doctor flushed a “White's thrush,” close to an outlying belt of forest, and got into a great state of excitement about it. “The only known bird,” he said, “which is found in Europe, America, and Australia alike.” Then he pointed out the emu wren, a little tiny brown fellow, with long hairy tail‐feathers, flitting from bush to bush; and then, leaving ornithology, called their attention to the wonderful variety of low vegetation that they were riding through; Hakeas, Acacias, Grevilleas, and what not. In spring this brown heath would have been a brilliant mass of flowers; but

  ― 5 ―
now, nothing was to be seen save a few tall crimson spikes of Epacris, and here and there a bunch of lemoncoloured Correas. Altogether, he kept them so well amused, that they were astonished to come so quickly upon the station, placed in a snug cove of the forest, where it bordered on the heath beside a sluggish creek. Then, seeing the mountain towering up close to them, and hearing, as they stayed at the door, a low continuous thunder behind a high roll in the heath which lay before them, they knew that the old ocean was close at hand, and their journey was done.

The people at the station were very glad to see them, of course. Barker, the paterfamilias, was an old friend of both the Major and the Captain, and they found so much to talk about, that after a heavy middaymeal, excellent in kind, though that kind was coarse, and certain libations of pale ale and cold claret and water, the older of the party, with the exception of Dr. Mulhaus, refused to go any farther; so the young people started forth to the Cape, under the guidance of George Barker, the fourth or fifth son, who happened to be at home.

“Doctor,” said Alice as they were starting, “do you remark what beautiful smooth grass covers the cape itself, while here we have nothing but this scrubby heath? The mountain is, I suppose, some different formation?”

“Granite, my dear young lady,” said the Doctor. “A

  ― 6 ―
cap of granite rising through and partly overlying this sandstone.”

“You can always tell one exactly what one wants to know,” said Alice; and, as they walked forwards, somehow got talking to Halbert, which I believe most firmly had been arranged beforehand with Sam. For he, falling back, ranged alongside of the Doctor, and, managing to draw him behind the others, turned to him and said suddenly, —

“My dear old friend! my good old tutor!”

The Doctor stopped short, pulled out a pair of spectacles, wiped them, put them on, and looked at Sam through them for nearly a minute, and then said:

“My dear boy, you don't mean to say——”

“I do, Doctor. — Last night. — And, oh! if you could only tell, how happy I am at this moment! If you could guess at it!——”

“Pooh, pooh!” said the Doctor; “I am not so old as that, my dear boy. Why, I am a marrying man myself. Sam, I am so very, very glad! You have won her, and now wear her, like a pearl beyond all price. I think that she is worthy of you: more than that she could not be.”

They shook hands, and soon Sam was at her side again, toiling up the steep ascent. They soon distanced the others, and went forwards by themselves.

There was such a rise in the ground seawards,

  ― 7 ―
that the broad ocean was invisible till they were half way up the grassy down. Then right and left they began to see the nether firmament, stretching away infinitely. But the happy lovers paused not till they stood upon the loftiest breezy knoll, and seemed alone together between the blue cloudless heaven and another azure‐sphere which lay beneath their feet.

A cloudless sky and a sailless sea. Far beneath them they heard but saw not the eternal surges gnawing at the mountain. A few white albatrosses skimmed and sailed below, and before, seaward, the sheets of turf, falling away, stretched into a shoreless headland, fringed with black rock and snow‐white surf.

She stood there, flushed and excited with the exercise, her bright hair dishevelled, waving in the free seabreeze, the most beautiful object in that glorious landscape, her noble mate beside her. Awe, wonder, and admiration kept both of them silent for a few moments, and then she spoke.

“Do you know any of the choruses in the ‘Messiah’?” asked she.

“No, I do not,” said Sam.

“I am rather sorry for it,” she said, “because this is so very like some of them.”

“I can quite imagine that,” said Sam. “I can quite imagine music which expresses what we see now. Something infinitely broad I should say. Is that nonsense now?”

  ― 8 ―

“Not to me,” said Alice.

“I imagined,” said Sam, “that the sea would be much rougher than this. In spite of the ceaseless thunder below there, it is very calm.”

“Calm, eh?” said the Doctor's voice behind them. “God help the ship that should touch that reef this day, though a nautilus might float in safety! See, how the groundswell is tearing away at those rocks; you can just distinguish the long heave of the water, before it breaks. There is the most dangerous groundswell in the world off this coast. Should this country ever have a large coast‐trade, they will find it out, in calm weather with no anchorage.”

A great coasting trade has arisen; and the Doctor's remark has proved terribly true. Let the Monumental City and the Schomberg, the Duncan Dunbar and the Catherine Adamson bear witness to it. Let the drowning cries of hundreds of good sailors, who have been missed and never more heard of, bear witness that this is the most pitiless and unprotected, and, even in calm weather, the most dangerous coast in the world.

But Jim came panting up, and, throwing himself on the short turf, said —

“So this is the great Southern Ocean; eh! How far can one see, now, Halbert?”

“About thirty miles.”

“And how far to India; eh?”

  ― 9 ―

“About seven thousand.”

“A long way,” said Jim. “However, not so far as to England.”

“Fancy,” said Halbert, “one of those old Dutch voyagers driving on this unknown coast on a dark night. What a sudden end to their voyage! Yet that must have happened to many ships which have never come home. Perhaps when they come to explore this coast a little more they may find some old ship's ribs jammed on a reef; the ribs of some ship whose name and memory has perished.”

“The very thing you mention is the case,” said the Doctor. “Down the coast here, under a hopeless, black basaltic cliff, is to be seen the wreck of a very, very old ship, now covered with coral and seaweed. I waited down there for a spring tide, to examine her, but could determine nothing, save that she was very old; whether Dutch or Spanish I know not. note You English should never sneer at those two nations: they were before you everywhere.”

“And the Chinese before any of us in Australia,” replied Halbert.

“If you will just come here,” said Alice, “where those black rocks are hid by the bend of the hill, you get only three colours in your landscape; blue sky, grey grass, and purple sea. But look, there is a man

  ― 10 ―
standing on the promontory. He makes quite an eyesore there. I wish he would go away.”

“I suppose he has as good a right there as any of us,” answered the Doctor. “But he certainly does not harmonise very well with the rest of the colouring. What a strange place he has chosen to stand in, looking out over the sea, as though he were a shipwrecked mariner — the last of the crew.”

“A shipwrecked mariner would hardly wear breeches and boots, my dear Doctor,” said Jim. “That man is a stockman.”

“Not one of ours, however,” said George Barker; “even at this distance I can see that. See, he's gone! Strange! I know of no way down the cliff thereabouts. Would you like to come down to the shore?”

So they began their descent to the shore by a winding path of turf, among tumbled heaps of granite, down towards the rock‐walled cove, a horseshoe of smooth white sand lying between two long black reefs, among whose isolated pinnacles the groundswell leapt and spouted ceaselessly.

Halbert remarked, “This granite coast is hardly so remarkable as our Cornish one. There are none of those queer pinnacles and tors one sees there, just ready to topple down into the sea. This granite is not half so fantastic.”

“Earthquakes, of which you have none in Cornwall,” said the Doctor, “will just account for the difference.

  ― 11 ―
I have felt one near here quite as strong as your famous lieutenant, who capsized the Logan stone.”

But now, getting on the level sands, they fell to gathering shells and sea‐weeds like children. Jim trying to see how near he could get to a wave without being caught, got washed up like jetsam. Alice took Sam's pocket‐handkerchief, and filled it indiscriminately with everything she could lay her hand on, principally Trochuses, as big as one's fist, and “Venus‐ears,” scarlet outside. And after an hour, wetfooted and happy, dragging a yard or so of sea‐tang behind her, she looked round for the Doctor, and saw him far out on the reef, lying flat on his stomach, and closely examining a large still pool of salt water, contained in the crevices of the rocks.

He held up his hand and beckoned. Sam and Alice advanced towards him over the slippery beds of seaweed, Sam bravely burying his feet in the wet clefts, and holding out his hand to help her along. Once there was a break in the reef, too broad to be jumped, and then for the first time he had her fairly in his arms and swung her across, which was undoubtedly very delightful, but unfortunately soon over. At length, however, they reached the Doctor, who was seated like a cormorant on a wet rock, lighting a pipe.

“What have you collected?” he asked. “Show me.”

  ― 12 ―

Alice proudly displayed the inestimable treasures contained in Sam's handkerchief.

“Rubbish! Rubbish!” said the Doctor, “Do you believe in mermaidens?”

“Of course I do, if you wish it,” said Alice. “Have you seen one?”

“No, but here is one of their flower‐gardens. Bend down and look into this pool.”

She bent and looked. The first thing she saw was her own exquisite face, and Sam's brown phiz peering over her shoulder. A golden tress of hair, loosened by the sea breeze, fell down into the water, and had to be looped up again. Then gazing down once more, she saw beneath the crystal water a bed of flowers; dahlias, ranunculuses, carnations, chrysanthemums, of every colour in the rainbow save blue. She gave a cry of pleasure: “What are they, Doctor? What do you call them?”

“Sea anemones, in English, I believe,” said the Doctor, “actinias, serpulas, and sabellas. You may see something like that on the European coasts, on a small scale, but there is nothing I ever have seen like that great crimson fellow with cream‐coloured tentacles. I do not know his name. I suspect he has never been described. The common European anemone they call ‘crassicornis’ is something like him, but not half as fine.”

“Is there any means of gathering and keeping them,

  ― 13 ―
Doctor?” asked Sam. “We have no flowers in the garden like them.”

“No possible means,” said the Doctor. “They are but lumps of jelly. Let us come away and get round the headland before the tide comes in.”

They wandered on from cove to cove, under the dark cliffs, till rounding a little headland the Doctor called out, —

“Here is something in your Cornish style, Halbert.”

A thin wall of granite, like a vast buttress, ran into the sea, pierced by a great arch, some sixty feet high. Aloft all sharp grey stone: below, wherever the salt water had reached, a mass of dark clinging weed: while beyond, as though set in a dark frame, was a soft glimpse of blue sky and snow‐white seabirds.

“There is nothing so grand as that in Cornwall, Doctor,” said Halbert.

“Can we pass under it, Mr. Barker?” said Alice. “I should like to go through; we have been into none of the caves yet.”

“Oh, yes!” said George Barker. “You may go through for the next two hours. The tide has not turned yet.”

“I'll volunteer first,” said the Doctor, “and if there's anything worth seeing beyond, I'll come for you.”

It was, as I said, a thin wall of granite, which ran out from the rest of the hill, seaward, and was pierced by a tall arch; the blocks which had formerly filled the

  ― 14 ―
void now lay weed‐grown, half buried in sand, forming a slippery threshold. Over these the Doctor climbed and looked beyond.

A little sandy cove, reef‐bound, like those they had seen before, lay under the dark cliffs; and on a waterwashed rock, not a hundred yards from him, stood the man they had seen on the downs above, looking steadily seaward.

The Doctor slipped over the rocks like an otter, and approached the man across the smooth sand, unheard in the thunder of the surf. When he was close upon him, the stranger turned, and the Doctor uttered a low cry of wonder and alarm.

It was George Hawker! The Doctor knew him in a moment: but whether the recognition was mutual, he never found out, for Hawker, stepping rapidly from stone to stone, disappeared round the headland, and the thunderstruck Doctor retraced his steps to the arch.

There were all the young people gathered, wondering and delighted. But Alice came to meet him, and said, —

“Who was that with you just now?”

“A mermaid!” replied he.

“That, indeed!” said Alice. “And what did she say?”

“She said, ‘Go home to your supper; you have seen quite enough; go home in good time.’ ”

“Doctor, there is something wrong!” said Alice. “I see it in your face. Can you trust me, and tell me what it is?”

  ― 15 ―

“I can trust you so far as to tell you that you are right. I don't like the look of things at all. I fear there are evil times coming for some of our friends! Further than this I can say nothing. Say your prayers, and trust God! Don't tell Sam anything about this: to‐morrow I shall speak to him. We won't spoil a pleasant holiday on mere suspicion.”

They rejoined the others, and the Doctor said, “Come away home now; we have seen enough. Some future time we will come here again: you might see this fifty times, and never get tired of it.”

After a good scramble they stood once more on the down above, and turned to take a last look at the broad blue sea before they descended inland; at the first glance seaward, Halbert exclaimed, —

“See there, Doctor! see there! A boat!”

“It's only a whale, I think,” said George Barker.

There was a black speck far out at sea, but no whale; it was too steady for that. All day the air had been calm; if anything, the breeze was from the north, but now a strong wind was coming up from the south‐east, freshening every moment, and bringing with it a pent bank of dark clouds; and, as they watched, the mysterious black speck was topped with white, and soon they saw that it was indeed a boat driving before the wind under a spritsail, which had just been set.

“That is very strange!” said George Barker. “Can it be a shipwrecked party?”

  ― 16 ―

“More likely a mob of escaped convicts from Van Diemen's Land,” said Jim. “If so, look out for squalls, you, George, and keep your guns loaded.”

“I don't think it can be that, Jim,” said Sam. “What could bring them so far north? They would have landed, more likely, somewhere in the Straits, about the big lakes.”

“They may have been driven off shore by these westerly winds which have been blowing the last few days,” replied Jim, “and kept their boat's head northward, to get nearer the settlements. They will be terribly hungry when they do land, for certain. What's your opinion, Doctor?”

“I think that wise men should be always prepared. We should communicate with Captain Desborough, and set the police on the alert.”

“I wonder,” said Sam, “if that mysterious man we saw to‐day, watching on the cliff, could have had any connexion with this equally mysterious boat. Not likely, though. However, if they are going to land to‐night, they had better look sharp, for it is coming on to blow.”

The great bank of cloud which they had been watching, away to the south‐east, was growing and spreading rapidly, sending out little black avant‐couriers of scud, which were hurrying fanlike across the heavens, telling the news of the coming storm. Landward, in the west, the sun was going down in purple and scarlet splendours, but seaward, all looked dark and ominous.

  ― 17 ―

The young folks stood together in the verandah before they went into dinner, listening to the wind which was beginning to scream angrily round the corners of the house. The rain had not yet gathered strength to fall steadily, but was whisked hither and thither by the blast, in a few uncertain drops. They saw that a great gale was coming up, and knew that, in a few hours, earth and sky would be mingled in furious war!

“How comfortable it is to think that all the animals are under shelter to‐night!” said Sam. “Jim, my boy, I am glad you and I are not camped out with cattle this evening. We have been out on nights as bad as this though; eh? Oh, Lord! fancy sitting the saddle all to‐night, under the breaking boughs, wet through!”

“No more of that for me, old Sam. No more jolly gallops after cattle or horses for me. But I was always a good hand at anything of that sort, and I mean to be a good soldier now. You'll see.”

At dark, while they were sitting at dinner, the storm was raging round the house in full fury; but there, in the well‐lighted room, before a good fire, they cared little for it. When dinner was over, the Doctor called the Captain and the Major aside, and told them in what manner he had seen and recognised George Hawker on the beach that day; and raised their fears still more by telling them of that mysterious boat which the Doctor thought Hawker had been watching for. None of them could understand it, but all agreed that these things

  ― 18 ―
boded no good; and so, having called their host into their confidence, with regard to the boat, they quietly loaded all the fire‐arms in the place, and put them together in the hall. This done, they returned to the sitting‐room, and, having taken their grog, retired to bed.

It must be remembered that hitherto Major Buckley knew nothing of George Hawker's previous appearance, but the Doctor now let him into the secret. The Major's astonishment and wrath may be conceived, at finding that his old protegée Mary, instead of being a comfortable widow, was the persecuted wife of one of the greatest bushrangers known. At first he was stunned and confused, but, ere he slept, his clear straightforward mind had come to a determination that the first evil was the worst, and that, God give him grace, he would hand the scoundrel over to justice on the first opportunity, sure that he was serving Mary best by doing so.

That night Jim and Sam lay together in a little room to the windward of the house. They were soon fast asleep, but, in the middle of the night, Jim was woke by a shake on the shoulder, and, rousing himself, saw that Sam was sitting up in the bed.

“My God, Jim!” said he, — “I have had such an awful dream! I dreamed that those fellows in the boat were carrying off Alice, and I stood by and saw it, and could not move hand or foot. I am terribly frightened. That was something more than a dream, Jim.”

  ― 19 ―

“You ate too much of that pie at dinner,” said Jim, “and you've had the nightmare, — that's what is the matter with you. Lord bless you, I often have the nightmare when I have eaten too much at supper, and lie on my back. Why, I dreamed the other night that the devil had got me under the wool‐press, screwing me down as hard as he could, and singing the Hundredth Psalm all the time. That was a much worse dream than yours.”

Sam was obliged to confess that it was. “But still,” said he, “I think mine was something more than a dream. I'm frightened still.”

“Oh, nonsense; lie down again. You are pulling all the clothes off me.”

They lay down, and Jim was soon asleep, but not so Sam. His dream had taken such hold of his imagination, that he lay awake, listening to the storm howling around the house. Now and then he could hear the unearthly scream of some curlew piercing the din, and, above all, he could hear the continuous earth‐shaking thunder of the surf upon the beach. Soon after daylight, getting Halbert to accompany him, he went out to have a look at the shore, and, forcing their way against the driving, cutting rain, they looked over the low cliff at the furious waste of waters beneath them, and saw mountain after mountain of water hurl itself, in a cloud of spray, upon the shore.

“What terrible waves, now!” said Sam.

  ― 20 ―

“Yes,” replied Halbert; “there's no land to windward for six thousand miles or more. I never saw heavier seas than those. I enjoy this, Sam. It reminds me of a good roaring winter's day in old Cornwall.”

“I like it, too,” said Sam. “It freshens you up. How calm the water is to the leeward of the Cape!”

“Yes; a capital harbour of refuge that. Let us go home to breakfast.”

He turned to go, but was recalled by a wild shout from Sam.

“A ship! A ship!”

He ran back and looked over into the seething hell of waters helow. Was it only a thicker spot in the driving mist, or was it really a ship? If so, God help her.

Small time to deliberate. Ere he could think twice about it, a full‐rigged ship, about five hundred tons, with a close‐reefed topsail and a rag of a foresail upon her, came rushing, rolling, diving, and plunging on, apparently heading for the deadly white line of breakers which stretched into the sea at the end of the promontory.

“A Queen's ship, Sam! a Queen's ship! The Tartar, for a thousand pounds! Oh, what a pity; what a terrible pity!”

“Only a merchant ship, surely,” said Sam.

“Did you ever see a merchant ship with six such guns as those on her upper deck, and a hundred bluejackets at quarters? That is the Tartar, Sam, and in three minutes there will be no Tartar.”

  ― 21 ―

They had run in their excitement out to the very end of the Cape, and now the ship was almost under their feet, an awful sight to see. She was rolling fearfully, going dead before the wind. Now and then she would slop tons of water on her deck, and her mainyard would almost touch the water. But still the dark clusters of men along her bulwarks held steadfast, and the ship's head never veered half a point. Now it became apparent that she would clear the reef by a hundred yards or more, and Halbert, waving his hat, cried out, —

“Well done, Blockstrop! Bravely done, indeed! He is running under the lee of the Cape for shelter. Her Majesty has one more ship‐of‐war than I thought she would have had five minutes ago.”

As he spoke, she had passed the reef. The yards, as if by magic, swung round, and, for a moment, she was broadside on to the sea. One wave broke over her, and nought but her masts appeared above a sheet of white foam; but, ere the water had well done pouring from her open deck ports, she was in smooth water, her anchor was down, and the topsail yard was black with men.

“Let us come down, Sam,” said Halbert: “very likely they will send a boat ashore.”

As they were scrambling down the leeward side of the cliff, they saw a boat put off from the ship, and gained the beach in time to meet a midshipman coming towards them. He, seeing two well‐dressed gentlemen before him, bowed, and said, —

  ― 22 ―

“Good morning; very rough weather.”

“Very, indeed,” said Halbert. “Is that the Tartar, pray?”

“That is the Tartar; yes. We were caught in the gale last night, and we lay‐to. This morning, as soon as we recognised the Cape, we determined to run for this cove, where we have been before. We had an anxious night last night, I assure you. We have been terribly lucky. If the wind had veered a few more points to the east, we should have been done for. We never could have beaten off in such a sea as this.”

“Are you going to Sydney?”

“No; we are in chase of a boat full of escaped convicts from Launceston. Cunning dogs; they would not land in the Straits. We missed them and got across to Port Phillip, and put Captain D——and his black police on the alert; and they have got scent of it, and coasted up north. We have examined the coast all along, but I am afraid they have given us the slip; there is such a system of intelligence among them. However, if they had not landed before last night, they have saved us all trouble; and if they are ashore we wash our hands of them, and leave them to the police.”

Halbert and Sam looked at one another. Then the former said, —

“Last night, about an hour before it came on to blow, we saw a boat making for this very headland, which puzzled us exceedingly; and, what was stranger still,

  ― 23 ―
we saw a man on the Cape, who seemed to be on the look‐out.”

“That is quite possible,” replied the midshipman; “these fellows have a queer system of communication. The boat you saw must certainly have been them; and if they landed at all they must have landed here.”

I must change the scene here, if you please, my dear reader, and get you to come with me on board his (I beg pardon, her) Majesty's ship Tartar for a few minutes, for on the quarter‐deck of that noble sloop there are at this moment two men worth rescuing from oblivion.

The first is a stoutish, upright, middle‐aged man, in a naval uniform, with a brickdust complexion, and very light scanty whiskers; the jolliest, cheeriest‐looking fellow you are likely to meet in a year's journey. Such a bright merry blue eye as he has, too! This is Captain Blockstrop, now, I am happy to say, C.B.; a right valiant officer, as the despatches of Lyons and Peel will testify.

The other is a very different sort of man; — a long, wiry, brown‐faced man, with a big forehead, and a comical expression about his eyes. This is no less a person than the Colonial Secretary of one of our three great colonies: of which I decline to mention. Those who know the Honourable Abiram Pollifex do not need to be told; and those who do not must find out for themselves. I may mention that he has been known to retain office seven years in succession, and yet he seldom threatens

  ― 24 ―
to resign his office and throw himself upon the country fewer than three times, and sometimes four, per annum. Latterly, I am sorry to say, a miserable faction, taking advantage of one of his numerous resignations, have assumed the reins of government, and, in spite of three votes of want of confidence, persist in retaining the seals of office. Let me add to this, that he is considered the best hand at quiet “chaff” in the House, and is allowed, both by his supporters and opponents, to be an honourable man, and a right good fellow.

Such were the two men who now stood side by side on the quarter‐deck, looking eagerly at Sam and Halbert through a pair of telescopes.

“Pollifex,” said the Captain, “what do you make of these?”

“Gentlemen,” said the Secretary, curtly.

“So I make out,” said the Captain; “and apparently in good condition, too. A very well fed man that biggest, I should say.”

“Ye‐es; well, ye‐es,” said the Secretary; “he does look well‐fed enough. He must be a stranger to these parts; probably from the Maneroo note plains, or thereabout.”

“What makes you think so?”

“Dear me,” said the Secretary; “have you been stationed nearly three years on this coast, and ask how a man could possibly be in good condition living in those scrubby heaths?”

  ― 25 ―

“Bad‐looking country; eh?” said the Captain.

“Small cattle‐stations, sir,” said the Secretary, “I can see at a glance. Salt beef, very tough, and very little of it. I shall run a bill through the House for the abolition of small cattle‐stations next session.”

“Better get your estimates through first, old fellow. The bagpipes will play quite loud enough over them to last for some time.”

“I know it, but tremble not,” replied the undaunted Secretary; “I have got used to it. I fancy I hear Callaghan beginning now: ‘The unbridled prodigality, sir, and the reckless profligacy, sir, of those individuals who have so long, under the name of government——’ ”

“That'll do, now,” said the Captain; “you are worse than the reality. I shall go ashore, and take my chance of getting breakfast. Will you come?”

“Not if I know it, sir, with pork chops for breakfast in the cabin. Blockstrop, have you duly reflected what you are about to do? You are about to land alone, unarmed, unprovisioned, among the offscourings of white society, scarcely superior in their habits of life to the nomadic savages they have unjustly displaced. Pause and reflect, my dear fellow. What guarantee have you that they will not propose to feed you on damper, or some other nameless abomination of the same sort?”

“It was only the other day, in the House,” said the Captain, “that you said the small squatters and freehold

  ― 26 ―
farmers represented the greater part of the intelligence and education of the colony, and now——”

“Sir! sir!” said the Secretary, “you don't know what you are talking about. Sir, we are not in the House now. Are you determined, then?”

The Captain was quite determined, and they went down to the waist. They were raising a bag of potatoes from somewhere, and the Colonial Secretary, seizing two handfuls of them, presented them to the Captain.

“If you will go,” he said, “take these with you, and teach the poor benighted white savages to plant them. So if you fall a victim to indigestion, we will vote a monument to you on the summit of the Cape, and write: — ‘He did not live in vain. He introduced the potato among the small cattle stations around Cape Chatham.’ ”

He held out his potatoes towards the retiring Captain with the air of Burke producing the dagger. His humour, I perceive, reads poor enough when written down, but when assisted by his comical impassible face, and solemn drawling delivery, I never heard anything much better.

Good old Pollifex! my heart warms towards him now. When I think what the men were whose clamour put him out of office in 184 — , I have the conviction forced upon me, that the best among them was not worth his little finger. He left the colony in a most prosperous state, and, retiring honourably to one

  ― 27 ―
of his stations, set to work, as he said, to begin life again on a new principle. He is wealthy, honoured, and happy, as he deserves to be.

I cannot help, although somewhat in the wrong place, telling the reader under what circumstances I saw him last. Only two years ago, fifteen after he had left office, I happened to be standing with him, at the door of a certain club, in a certain capital, just after lunch time, when we saw the then Colonial Secretary, the man who had succeeded Pollifex, come scurrying round the corner of the street, fresh from his office. His face was flushed and perspiring, his hat was on wrong‐side before, with his veil hanging down his back. In the one hand he held papers, in the other he supported over his fevered brow his white cotton umbrella; altogether he looked harassed beyond the bounds of human endurance, but when he caught sight of the open club‐doors, he freshened a bit, and mended his pace. His troubles were not over, for ere he reached his haven, two Irishmen, with two different requests, rose as if from the earth, and confronted him. We saw him make two promises, contradictory to each other, and impossible of fulfilment, and as he came up the steps, I looked into the face of Ex‐Secretary Pollifex, and saw there an expression which is beyond description. Say that of the ghost of a man who has been hanged, attending an execution. Or say the expression of a Catholic, converted by torture, watching

  ― 28 ―
the action of the thumb‐screws upon another heretic. The air, in short, of a man who had been through it all before. And as the then Secretary came madly rushing up the steps, Pollifex confronted him, and said, —

“Don't you wish you were me, T——?”

“Sir!” said the Secretary, “dipping” his umbrella and dropping his papers, for the purpose of rhetorically pointing with his left hand at nothing; “Sir! flesh and blood can't stand it. I resign to‐morrow.” And so he went in to his lunch, and is in office at this present moment.

I must apologize most heartily for this long digression. The Captain's gig, impelled by the “might of England's pride,” was cleverly beached alongside of the other boat, and the Captain stepped out and confronted the midshipman.

“Got any news, Mr. Vang?”

“Yes, sir!” said the midshipman. “These gentlemen saw the boat yesterday afternoon.”

Sam and Halbert, who were standing behind him, came forward. The Captain bowed, and looked with admiration at the two highbred‐looking men, that this unpromising desert had produced. They told him what they had told the midshipman, and the Captain said, — “It will be a very serious thing for this country side, if these dogs have succeeded in landing. Let us hope that the sea has done good service in swallowing fourteen of the vilest wretches that ever disgraced

  ― 29 ―
humanity. Pray, are either of you gentlemen magistrates?”

“My father, Major Buckley, is a magistrate,” said Sam. “This gentleman is Lieutenant Halbert, of the Bengal Artillery.”

The Captain bowed to Halbert, and turning to Sam, said, — “So you are the son of my old friend Major Buckley! I was midshipman in the ‘Phlegethon’ when she took him and part of his regiment to Portugal, in 1811. I met him at dinner in Sydney, the other day. Is he in the neighbourhood?”

“He is waiting breakfast for us not a quarter of a mile off,” said Sam. “Will you join us?”

“I shall be delighted; but duty first. If these fellows have succeeded in landing, you will have to arm and prepare for the worst. Now, unless they were caught by the gale and drowned, which I believe to be the case, they must have come ashore in this very bay, about five o'clock last night. There is no other place where they could have beached their boat for many miles. Consequently, the thing lies in a nutshell: if we find the boat, prepare yourselves, — if not, make yourselves easy. Let us use our wits a little. They would round the headland as soon as possible, and probably run ashore in that furthest cove to our right, just inside the reef. I have examined the bay through a telescope, and could make out nothing of her. Let us come and

  ― 30 ―
examine carefully. Downhaul!” (to his Coxswain). “Come with me.”

They passed three or four indentations in the bay examining as they went, finding nothing, but when they scrambled over the rocks which bounded the cover the Captain had indicated, he waved his hat, and laughing said, —

“Ha, ha! just as I thought. There she is.”

“Where, Captain Blockstrop?” said Halbert. “I don't see her.”

“Nor I either,” said the Captain. “But I see the heap of seaweed that the cunning dogs have raked over her. — Downhaul; heave away at this weed, and show these gentlemen what is below it.”

The Coxswain began throwing away a pile of seatang heaped against a rock. Bit by bit was disclosed the clean run of a beautiful white whale‐boat, which when turned over discovered her oars laid neatly side by side, with a small spritsail. The Captain stood by with the air of a man who had made a hit, while Sam and Halbert stared at one another with looks of blank discomfiture and alarm.

  ― 31 ―

iii: Chapter II.


“THIS is a very serious matter for us, Captain Blockstrop,” said Sam, as they were walking back to the boats. “An exceedingly serious matter.”

“I have only one advice to give you, Mr. Buckley,” said the Captain; “which is unnecessary, as it is just what your father will do. Fight, sir! — hunt 'em down. Shoot 'em! They will give you no quarter: be sure you don't give them any.”

A wild discordant bellow was here heard from the ship, on which the Captain slapped his leg, and said, —

“Dash my buttons, if he hasn't got hold of my speaking‐trumpet.”

The midshipman came up with a solemn face, and, touching his cap, “reported,” —

“Colonial Secretary hailing, sir.”

“Bless my soul, Mr. Vang, I can hear that,” said the Captain. “I don't suppose any of my officer would dare to make such an inarticulate, no sailor‐like bellow as that on her Majesty's quarterdeck. Can you make out what he says? That would be more to the purpose.”

  ― 32 ―

Again the unearthly bellow came floating over the water, happily deadened by the wind, which was roaring a thousand feet over head. “Can you make out anything, Mr. Vang?” said the Captain.

“I make out ‘pork‐chops!’ sir,” said the midshipman.

“Take one of the boats on board, Mr. Vang. My compliments, and will be much obliged if he will come ashore immediately! On important business, say. Tell him the convicts have landed; will you? Also, tell the lieutenant of the watch that I want either Mr. Tacks, or Mr. Sheets: either will do.”

The boat was soon seen coming back with the Colonial Secretary in a statesman‐like attitude in the stern sheets, and beside him that important officer Mr. Tacks, a wee little dot of a naval cadet, apparently about ten years old.

“What were you bellowing about pork‐chops, Pollifex?” asked the Captain, the moment the boat touched the shore.

“A failure, sir,” said the Colonial Secretary; “burnt, sir; disgracefully burnt up to a cinder, sir. I have been consulting the honourable member for the Cross‐jack‐yard (I allude to Mr. Tack's N.C., my honourable friend, if he will allow me to call him so) as to the propriety of calling a court‐martial on the cook's mate. He informs me that such a course is not usual in naval jurisprudence. I am, however, of opinion

  ― 33 ―
that in one of the civil courts of the colony an action for damages would lie. Surely I have the pleasure of seeing Mr. Buckley of Baroona?”

Sam and he had met before, and the Secretary, finding himself on shore and where he was known, dropped his King Cambyses' vein, and appeared in his real character of a shrewd, experienced man. They walked up together, and when they arrived at the summit of the ridge, and saw the magnificent plains stretching away inland, beyond the narrow belt of heath along the shore, the Secretary whispered to the Captain, —

“I have been deceived. We shall get some breakfast, after all. As fine a country as I ever saw in my life!”

The party who were just sitting down to breakfast at the station were sufficiently astonished to see Captain Blockstrop come rolling up the garden walk, with that small ship‐of‐war Tacks sailing in his wake, convoying the three civilians; but on going in and explaining matters, and room having been made for them at the table, Sam was also astonished on looking round to see that a new arrival had taken place since that morning.

It was that of a handsome singular‐looking man. His hair was light, his whiskers a little darker, and his blonde moustache curled up towards his eyes like corkscrews or a ram's horns (congratulate me on my simile). A very merry laughing eye he had, too, blue of course, with that

  ― 34 ―
coloured hair; altogether a very pleasant‐looking man, and yet whose face gave one the idea that it was not at all times pleasant, but on occasions might look terribly tigerish and fierce. A man who won you at once, and yet one with whom one would hardly like to quarrel. Add to this, also, that when he opened his mouth to speak, he disclosed a splendid set of white teeth, and the moment he'd uttered a word, a stranger would remark to himself, “That is an Irishman.”

Sam, who had ensconced himself beside Alice, looked up the long table towards him with astonishment. “Why, good gracious, Captain Desborough,” he said, “can that be you?”

“I have been waiting,” said Desborough, “with the greatest patience to see how long you would have the audacity to ignore my presence. How do you do, my small child? Sam, my dear, if ever I get cashiered for being too handsome to remain in the Service, I'll carry you about and exhibit you, as the biggest and ugliest boy in the Australian colonies.”

Captain Desborough has been mentioned before in these pages. He was an officer in the army, at the present time holding the situation of Inspector of Police in this district. He was a very famous hunter‐down of bushrangers, and was heartily popular with every one he was thrown against, except the aforesaid bushrangers. Sam and he were very old friends, and were very fond of one another.

  ― 35 ―

Desborough was sitting now at the upper end of the table, with the Colonial Secretary, Major Buckley, Captain Blockstrop, Captain Brentwood, and Doctor Mulhaus. They looked very serious indeed.

“It was a very lucky thing, Desborough,” said the Major, “that you happened to meet Captain Blockstrop. He has now, you perceive, handed over the care of these rascals to you. It is rather strange that they should have landed here.”

“I believe that they were expected,” said the Doctor. “I believe that there is a desperate scheme of villany afloat, and that some of us are the objects of it.”

“If you mean,” said Desborough, “that that man you saw on the Cape last night was watching for the boat, I don't believe it possible. It was, possibly, some stockman or shepherd, having a look at the weather.”

The Doctor had it on the tip of his tongue to speak, and astound them by disclosing that the lonely watcher was none other than the ruffian Touan, alias George Hawker; but the Major pressed his foot beneath the table, and he was silent.

“Well,” said Desborough, “and that's about all that's to be said at present, except that the settlers must arm and watch, and if necessary fight.”

“If they will only do that,” said the Colonial Secretary; “if they will only act boldly in protecting their property and lives, the evil is reduced by one‐half; but when Brallagan was out, nothing that I or the Governor

  ― 36 ―
could do would induce the majority of them to behave like men.”

“Look here, now,” said Barker, the host, “I was over the water when Brallagan was out, and when Howe was out too. And what could a lonely squatter do against half‐a‐dozen of 'em? Answer me that?”

“I don't mean that,” said the Colonial Secretary; “what I refer to is the cowardly way in which the settlers allowed themselves to be prevented by threats from giving information. I speak the more boldly, Mr. Barker, because you were not one of those who did so.”

Barker was appeased. “There's five long guns in my hall, and there's five long lads can use 'em,” he said. “By‐the‐bye, Captain Desborough, let me congratulate you on the short work you made with that gang to the north, the other day. I am sorry to hear that the principal rascal of the lot, Captain Touan, gave you the slip.”

The Doctor had been pondering, and had made up his mind to a certain course; he bent over the table, and said, —

“I think, on the whole, that it is better to let you all know the worst. That man whom we saw on the cliff last night I met afterwards, alone, down on the shore, and that man is no other than the one you speak of, Captain Touan.”

Any one watching Desborough's face as the Doctor

  ― 37 ―
spoke would have seen his eyebrows contract heavily, and a fierce scowl settle on his face. The name the Doctor mentioned was a very unwelcome one. He had been taunted and laughed at, at Government‐house, for having allowed Hawker to outwit him. His hot Irish blood couldn't stand that, and he had vowed to have the fellow somehow. Here he had missed him again, and by so little, too! He renewed his vow to himself, and in an instant the cloud was gone, and the merry Irishman was there again.

“My dear Doctor,” he said, “I am aware that you never speak at random, or I should ask you, were you sure of the man? Are you not mistaken?”

“Mistaken in him, — eh?” said the Doctor. “No, I was not mistaken.”

“You seem to know too much of a very suspicious character, Doctor!” said Desborough. “I shall have to keep my eye on you, I see!”

Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, more agreeable subjects were being talked of. There sat our young coterie, laughing loudly, grouping themselves round some exceedingly minute object, which apparently was between Sam and Alice, and which, on close examination, turned out to be little Tacks, who was evidently making himself agreeable in a way hardly to be expected in one of his tender years. And this is the way he got there: —

  ― 38 ―

When Captain Blockstrop came in, Alice was duly impressed by the appearance of that warrior. But when she saw little Tacks slip in behind him, and sit meekly down by the door; and when she saw how his character was appreciated by the cattle‐dogs, one of whom had his head in the lad's lap, while the other was licking his face — when she saw, I say, the little blue and gold apparition, her heart grew pitiful, and, turning to Halbert, she said, —

“Why, good gracious me! You don't mean to tell me that they take such a child as that to sea; do you?”

“Oh dear, yes!” said Halbert, “and younger, too. Don't you remember the story about Collingwood offering his cake to the first lieutenant? He became, remember, a greater man than Nelson, in all except worldly honour.”

“Would you ask him to come and sit by me, if you please?” said Alice.

So Halbert went and fetched him in, and he sat and had his breakfast between Alice and Sam. They were all delighted with him; such a child, and yet so bold and self‐helpful, making himself quietly at home, and answering such questions as were put to him modestly and well. Would that all midshipmen were like him!

But it became time to go on board, and Captain Blockstrop, coming by where Alice sat, said, laughing, —

“I hope you are not giving my officer too much

  ― 39 ―
marmalade, Miss Brentwood? He is over‐young to be trusted with a jam‐pot, — eh, Tacks?”

“Too young to go to sea, I should say,” said Alice.

“Not too young to be a brave‐hearted boy, however!” said the Captain. “The other day, in Sydney harbour, one of my marines who couldn't swim went overboard and this boy soused in after him, and carried the life‐buoy to him, in spite of sharks. What do you think of that for a ten‐year‐old?”

The boy's face flushed scarlet as the Captain passed on, and he held out his hand to Alice to say good‐bye. She took it, looked at him, hesitated, and then bent down and kissed his cheek — a tender, sisterly kiss — something, as Jim said, to carry on board with him!

Poor little Tacks! He was a great friend of mine; so I have been tempted to dwell on him. He came to me with letters of introduction, and stayed at my place six weeks or more. He served brilliantly, and rose rapidly, and last year only I heard that Lieutenant Tacks had fallen in the dust, and never risen again, just at the moment that the gates of Delhi were burst down, and our fellows went swarming in to vengeance.

  ― 40 ―

iii: Chapter III.


SO the Captain, the Colonial Secretary, and the small midshipman left the station and went on board again, disappearing from this history for evermore. The others all went home and grew warlike, arming themselves against the threatened danger; but still weeks, nay months, rolled on, and winter was turning into spring, and yet the country side remained so profoundly tranquil that every one began to believe that the convicts must after all have been drowned, and that the boat found by sagacious Blockstrop had been capsized and thrown bottom upwards on the beach. So that, before the brown flocks began to be spotted with white lambs, all alarm had gone by.

Only four persons, besides Mary Hawker herself, were conversant of the fact that the Bushranger and George Hawker were the same man. Of these only three, the Doctor, Major Buckley, and Captain Brentwood, knew of his more recent appearance on the shore, and they, after due consultation, took honest Tom Troubridge into their confidence.

  ― 41 ―

But, as I said, all things went so quietly for two months, that at the end of that time no one thought any more of bushrangers than they would of tigers. And just about this time, I, Geoffry Hamlyn, having finished my last consignment of novels from England, and having nothing to do, determined to ride over, and spend a day or two with Major Buckley.

But when I rode up to the door at Baroona, having pulled my shirt collar up, and rapped at the door with my whip, out came the housekeeper to inform me there was not a soul at home. This was deeply provoking, for I had got on a new pair of riding trousers, which had cost money, and a new white hat with a blue net veil (rather a neat thing too), and I had ridden up to the house under the idea that fourteen or fifteen persons were looking at me out of window. I had also tickled my old horse, Chanticleer, to make him caper and show the excellency of my seat. But when I came to remember that the old horse had nearly bucked me over his head instead of capering, and to find that my hat was garnished with a large cobweb of what is called by courtesy native silk, with half‐a‐dozen dead leaves sticking in it, I felt consoled that no one had seen me approach, and asked the housekeeper, with tolerable equanimity, where they were all gone.

They were all gone, she said, over to Captain Brentwood's, and goodness gracious knew when they would be back again. Mrs. Hawker and Mr. Charles were gone

  ― 42 ―
with them. For her part, she should not be sorry when Mr. Sam brought Miss Brentwood over for good and all. The house was terrible lonesome when they were all away.

I remarked, “Oho!” and asked whether she knew if Mr. Troubridge was at Toonarbin.

No, she said; he was away again at Port Phillip with store cattle; making a deal of money, she understood, and laying out a deal for the Major in land. She wished he would marry Mrs. Hawker and settle down, for he was a pleasant gentleman, and fine company in a house. Wouldn't I get off and have a bit of cold wild duck and a glass of sherry?

Certainly I would. So I gave my horse to the groom and went in. I had hardly cut the first rich red slice from the breast of a fat teal, when I heard a light step in the passage, and in walked my man Dick. You remember him, reader. The man we saw five and twenty years ago on Dartmoor, combining with William Lee to urge the unhappy George Hawker on to ruin and forgery, which circumstance, remember, I knew nothing of at this time. The same man I had picked up footsore and penniless in the bush sixteen years ago, and who had since lived with me, a most excellent and clever servant — the best I ever had. This man now came into Major Buckley's parlour, hat in hand, looking a little foolish, and when I saw him my knife and fork were paralyzed with astonishment.

  ― 43 ―

“Why, what the Dickens” (I used that strong expression) “brings you here, my lad?”

“I went up to Hipsley's about the colt,” he said, “and when I got home I found you were gone off unexpectedly; so I thought it better to come after you and tell you all about it. He won't take less than thirty‐five.”

“Man! man!” I said, “do you mean to say that you have ridden fifty miles to tell me the price of a leggy beast like that, after I had told you that twentyfour was my highest offer?”

He looked very silly, and I saw very well he had some other reason for coming than that. But with a good servant I never ask too many questions, and when I went out a short time after, and found him leaning against a fence, and talking earnestly to our old acquaintance William Lee, I thought, “He wanted an excuse to come up and see his old friend Lee. That is quite just and proper, and fully accounts for it.”

Lee always paid me the high compliment of touching his hat to me, for old Devon' sake, I suppose. “How's all at Toonarbin, Lee?” I asked.

“Well and hearty, sir. How is yourself, sir?”

“Getting older, Lee. Nothing worse than that. Dick, I am going on to Captain Brentwood's. If you like to go back to Toonarbin and stay a day or two with Lee, you can do so.”

  ― 44 ―

“I would rather come on with you, sir,” he said eagerly.

“Are you sure?” I said.

“Quite sure, sir.” And Lee said, “You go on with Mr. Hamlyn, Dick, and do your duty, mind.”

I thought this odd; but, knowing it was useless to ask questions of an old hand, or try to get any information which was not volunteered, I held my tongue and departed, taking Dick with me.

I arrived at Captain Brentwood's about three o'clock in the afternoon. I flatter myself that I made a very successful approach, and created rather a sensation among the fourteen or fifteen people who were sitting in the verandah. They took me for a distinguished stranger. But when they saw who it was they all began calling out to me at once to know how I was, and to come in (as if I wasn't coming in), and when at last I got among them, I nearly had my hand shaken off; and the Doctor, putting on his spectacles and looking at me for a minute, asked what I had given for my hat?

Let me see, who was there that day? There was Mary Hawker, looking rather older, and a little worn; and there was her son Charles sitting beside pretty Ellen Mayford, and carrying on a terrible flirtation with that young lady, in spite of her fat jolly‐looking mother, who sat with folded hands beside her. Next to her sat her handsome brother Cecil, looking, poor lad!

  ― 45 ―
as miserable as he well could look, although I did not know the cause. Then came Sam, beside his mother, whose noble happy face was still worth riding fifty miles to see; and then, standing beside her chair, was Alice Brentwood.

I had never seen this exquisite creature before, and I immediately fell desperately and hopelessly in love with her, and told her so that same evening, in the presence of Sam. Finding that my affection was not likely to be returned, I enrolled myself as one of her knights, and remain so to this present time.

The Major sat beside his wife, and the Doctor and Captain Brentwood walked up and down, talking politics. There were also present, certain Hawbucks, leggy youths with brown faces and limp hair, in appearance and dress not unlike English steeplechaseriders who had been treated, on the face and hands, with walnut‐juice. They never spoke, and the number of them then present I am uncertain about, but one of them I recollect could spit a great deal farther than any of his brothers, and proved it beyond controversy about twice in every three minutes.

I missed my old friend Jim Brentwood, and was informed that he had gone to Sydney, “on the spree,” as Sam expressed it, along with a certain Lieutenant Halbert, who was staying on a visit with Major Buckley.

First I sat down by Mary Hawker, and had a long

  ― 46 ―
talk with her about old times. She was in one of her gay moods, and laughed and joked continuously. Then I moved up, by invitation, to a chair between the Major and his wife, and had a long private and confidential conversation with them.

“How,” I began, “is Tom Troubridge?”

“Tom is perfectly well,” said the Major. “He still carries on his old chronic flirtation with Mary; and she is as ready to be flirted with as ever.”

“Why don't they marry?” I asked, peevishly. “Why on earth don't they marry one another? What is the good of carrying on that old folly so long? They surely must have made up their minds by now. She knows she is a widow, and has known it for years.”

“Good God! Hamlyn, are you so ignorant?” said the Major. And then he struck me dumb by telling me of all that had happened latterly: of George Hawker's reappearance, of his identity with the great bushranger, and, lastly, of his second appearance not two months before.

“I tell you this in strict confidence, Hamlyn, as one of my oldest and best friends. I know how deeply your happiness is affected by all this.”

I remained silent and thunderstruck for a time, and then I tried to turn the conversation: —

“Have you had any alarm from bushrangers lately? I heard a report of some convicts having landed on the coast.”

  ― 47 ―

“All a false alarm!” said the Major. “They were drowned, and the boat washed ashore, bottom upwards.”

Here the Doctor broke in: “Hamlyn, is not this very queer weather?”

When he called my attention to it, I remarked that the weather was really different from any I had seen before, and said so.

The sky was grey and dull, the distances were clear, and to the eye it appeared merely a soft grey autumnal day. But there was something very strange and odd in the deadly stillness of all nature. Not a leaf moved, not a bird sang, and the air seemed like lead. At once Mrs. Buckley remarked, —

“I can't work, and I can't talk. I am so wretchedly nervous that I don't know what to do with myself, and you know, my dear,” she said, appealing to her husband, “that I am not given to that sort of thing.”

Each man looked at his neighbour, for there was a sound in the air now — a weird and awful sound like nothing else in nature. To the south arose upon the ear a hollow quivering hum, which swelled rapidly into a roar beneath our feet; there was a sickening shake, a thump, a crash, and away went the earthquake, groaning off to the northward.

The women behaved very well, though some of them began to cry; and hearing a fearful row in the kitchen I dashed off there, followed by the Doctor. The interior was a chaos of pots and kettles, in the centre of which

  ― 48 ―
sat the cook, Eleanor, holding on by the floor. Every now and then she would give a scream which took all the breath out of her; so she had to stop and fetch breath before she could give another. The Doctor stepped through the saucepans and camp‐ovens, and trying to raise her said, —

“Come, get up, my good woman, and give over screaming. All the danger is over, and you will frighten the ladies.”

At this moment she had got her “second wind,” and as he tried to get her up she gave such a yell that he dropped her again, and bolted, stopping his ears; bolted over a teakettle which had been thrown down, and fell prostrate, resounding like an Homeric hero, on to a heap of kitchen utensils, at the feet of Alice, who had come in to come see what the noise was about.

“Good Lord!” said he, picking himself up, “what lungs she has got! I shall have a singing in my ears to my dying day. Yar! it went through my head like a knife.”

Sam picked up the cook, and she, after a time, picked up her pots, giving, however, an occasional squall, and holding on by the dresser, under the impression that another earthquake was coming. We left her, however, getting dinner under way, and went back to the others, whom we soon set laughing by telling poor Eleanor's misadventures.

We were all in good spirits now. A brisk cool wind had come up from the south, following the earthquake,

  ― 49 ―
making a pleasant rustle as it swept across the plain or tossed the forest boughs. The sky had got clear, and the nimble air was so inviting that we rose as one body to stroll in groups about the garden and wander down to the river.

The brave old river was rushing hoarsely along, clear and full, between his ruined temple‐columns of basalt, as of old. “What a grand salmon‐river this would be, Major!” said I; “what pools and stickles are here! Ah! if we only could get the salmon‐spawn through the tropics without its germinating. — Can you tell me, Doctor, why these rocks should take the form of columns? Is there any particular reason for it that you know?”

“You have asked a very puzzling question,” he replied, “and I hardly know how to answer it. Nine geologists out of ten will tell you that basalt is lava cooled under pressure. But I have seen it in places where that solution was quite inapplicable. However, I can tell you that the same cause which set these pillars here, to wall the river, piled up yon Organ‐hill, produced the caves of Widderin, the great crater‐hollow of Mirngish, and accommodated us with that brisk little earthquake which we felt just now. For you know that we mortals stand only on a thin crust of cooled matter, but beneath our feet is all molten metal.”

“I wish you could give us a lecture on these things, Doctor,” I said.

  ― 50 ―

“To‐morrow,” said he, “let us ride forth to Mirngish and have a picnic. There I will give you a little sketch of the origin of that hill.”

In front of the Brentwoods' house the plains stretched away for a dozen miles or so, a bare sheet of grass with no timber, grey in summer, green in winter. About five miles off it began to roll into great waves, and then heaved up into a high bald hill, a lofty down, capped with black rocks, bearing in its side a vast round hollow, at the bottom of which was a little swamp, perfectly circular, fringed with a ring of white gum‐trees, standing in such an exact circle that it was hard to persuade oneself that they were not planted by the hand of man. This was the crater of the old volcano. Had you stood in it, you would have remarked that one side was a shelving steep bank of short grass, while the other reared up some five hundred feet, a precipice of fire‐eaten rock. At one end the lip had broken down, pouring a torrent of lava, now fertile grass‐land, over the surrounding country, which little gap gave one a delicious bit of blue distance. All else, as I said, was a circular wall of grass, rock, and tumbled slag.

This was Mirngish. And the day after the earthquake there was a fresh eruption in the crater. An eruption of horsemen and horse‐women. An eruption of talk, laughter, pink‐bonnets, knives and forks, and champagne. Many a pleasant echo came ringing back from the old volcano‐walls overhead, only used for so many

  ― 51 ―
ages to hear the wild rattle of the thunder and the scream of the hungry eagle.

Was ever a poor old worn‐out grass‐grown volcano used so badly? Here into the very pit of Tophet had the audacious Captain that very morning sent on a spring‐cart of all eatables and drinkables, and then had followed himself with a dozen of his friends, to eat and drink, and talk and laugh, just in the very spot where of old roared and seethed the fire and brimstone of Erebus.

Yet the good old mountain was civil, for we were not blown into the air, to be a warning to all people picnicing in high places; but when we had eaten and drunk, and all the ladies had separately and collectively declared that they were so fond of the smell of tobacco in the open air, we followed the Doctor, who led the way to the summit of the hill.

I arrived last, having dragged dear fat old Mrs. Mayford up the slippery steep. The Doctor had perched himself on the highest flame‐worn crag, and when we all had grouped ourselves below him, and while the wind swept pleasantly through the grass, and rushed humming through the ancient rocks, he in a clear melodious voice thus began: —

“Of old the great sea heaved and foamed above the ground on which we stand; ay, above this, and above yon farthest snowy peak, which the westering sun begins to tinge with crimson.

“But in the lapse of ten thousand changing

  ― 52 ―
centuries, the lower deeps, acted on by some Plutonic agency, began to grow shallow; and the imprisoned tides began to foam and roar as they struggled to follow the moon, their leader, angry to find that the stillness of their ancient domain was year by year invaded by the ever‐rising land.

“At that time, had man been on the earth to see it, those towering Alps were a cluster of lofty islands, each mountain pass which divides them was a tide‐swept fiord, in and out of which, twice in the day, age after age, rushed the sea, bringing down those vast piles of water‐worn gravel which you see accumulated, and now covered with dense vegetation, at the mouth of each great valley.

“So twenty thousand years went on, and all this fair champagne country which we overlook became, first a sand‐bank, then a dreary stretch of salt saturated desert, and then, as the roar of the retiring ocean grew fainter and fainter, began to sustain such vegetation as the Lord thought fit.

“A thousand years are but as yesterday to Him, and I can give you no notion as to how many hundred thousand years it took to do all this; or what productions covered the face of the country. It must have been a miserably poor region: nothing but the débris of granite, sandstone, and slate; perhaps here and there partially fertilized by rotting sea‐weed, dead fish and shells; things which would, we may assume,

  ― 53 ―
have appeared and flourished as the water grew shallower.

“New elements were wanting to make the country available for man, so soon to appear in his majesty; and new elements were forthcoming. The internal fires so long imprisoned beneath the weight of the incumbent earth, having done their duty in raising the continent, began to find vent in every weak spot caused by its elevation.

“Here where we stand, in this great crack between the granite and the sandstone, they broke out with all their wildest fury; hurling stones high in the air, making mid‐day dark with clouds of ashes, and pouring streams of lava far and wide.

“So the country was desolated by volcanoes, but only desolated that it might grow greener and richer than ever, with a new and hitherto unknown fertility; for, as the surface of the lava disintegrated, a new soil was found, containing all the elements of the old one, and many more. These are your black clay, and your red burnt soil, which, I take it, are some of the richest in the world.

“Then our old volcano, our familiar Mirngish, in whose crater we have been feasting, grew still for a time, for many ages probably; but after that I see the traces of another eruption; the worst, perhaps, that he ever accomplished.

“He had exhausted himself, and gradually subsided, leaving a perfect cup or crater, the accumulation of the

  ― 54 ―
ashes of a hundred eruptions; nay, even this may have been filled with water, as is Mount Gambier, which you have not seen, forming a lake without a visible outlet; the water draining off at that level where the looser scoriæ begin.

“But he burst out again, filling this great hollow with lava, till the accumulation of the molten matter broke through the weaker part of the wall, and rolled away there, out of that gap to the northward, and forming what you now call the ‘stony rises,’ — turning yon creek into steam, which by its explosive force formed that fantastic cap of rocks, and, swelling into great bubbles under the hot lava, made those long underground hollows which we now know as the caves of Bar‐ca‐nah.

“Is he asleep for ever? I know not. He may arise again in his wrath and fill the land with desolation; for that earthquake we felt yesterday was but a wild throe of the giant struggling to be free.

“Let us hope that he may not break his chains, for as I stand here gazing on those crimson Alps, the spirit of prophecy is upon me, and I can see far into the future, and all the desolate landscape becomes peopled with busy figures.

“I see the sunny slopes below me yellow with trellissed vines. They have gathered the vintage, and I hear them singing at the wine‐press. They sing that the exhausted vineyards of the old world yield no wine so

  ― 55 ―
rare, so rich, as the fresh volcanic slopes of the southern continent, and that the princes of the earth send their wealth, that their hearts may get glad from the juice of the Australian grapes.

“Beyond I see fat black ridges grow yellow with a thousand cornfields. I see a hundred happy homesteads, half‐hidden by clustering wheatstacks. What do they want with all that corn? say you; where is their market?

“There is their market! Away there on the barren forest ranges. See, the timber is gone, and a city stands there instead. What is that on the crest of the hill? A steam‐engine; nay, see, there are five of them, working night and day, fast and busy. Their cranks gleam and flash under the same moon that grew red and lurid when old Mirngish vomited fire and smoke twenty thousand years ago. As I listen I can hear the grinding of the busy quartz‐mill. What are they doing? you ask. They are gold‐mining.

“They have found gold here, and gold in abundance, and hither have come, by ship and steamship, all the unfortunate of the earth. The English factory labourer and the farmer‐ridden peasant; the Irish pauper; the starved Scotch Highlander. I hear a grand swelling chorus rising above the murmur of the evening breeze; that is sung by German peasants revelling in such plenty as they never knew before, yet still regretting fatherland, and then I hear a burst of Italian melody

  ― 56 ―
replying. Hungarians are not wanting, for all the oppressed of the earth have taken refuge here, glorying to live under the free government of Britain; for she, warned by American experience, has granted to all her colonies such rights as the British boast of possessing.”

I did not understand him then. But, since I have seen the living wonder of Ballarat, I understand him well enough.

He ceased. But the Major cried out, “Go on, Doctor, go on. Look farther yet, and tell us what you see. Give us a bit more poetry while your hand is in.”

He faced round, and I fancied I could detect a latent smile about his mouth.

“I see,” said he, “a vision of a nation, the colony of the greatest race on the earth, who began their career with more advantages than ever fell to the lot of a young nation yet. War never looked on them. Not theirs was the lot to fight, like the Americans, through bankruptcy and inexperience towards freedom and honour. No. Freedom came to them, Heavensent, red‐tape‐bound, straight from Downing‐street. Millions of fertile acres, gold in bushels were theirs, and yet——”

“Go on,” said the Major.

“I see a vision of broken railway arches and ruined farms. I see a vision of a people surfeited with pro

  ― 57 ―
sperity and freedom grown factious, so that now one party must command a strong majority ere they can pass a law the goodness of which no one denies. I see a bankrupt exchequer, a drunken Governor, an Irish ministry, a——”

“Come down out of that,” roared the Major, “before I pull you down. You're a pretty fellow to come out for a day's pleasure! Jeremiah was a saint to him,” he added, turning appealingly to the rest of us. “Hear my opinion, ‘per contra,’ Doctor. I'll be as near right as you.”

“Go on, then,” said the Doctor.

“I see,” began the Major, “the Anglo‐Saxon race — ”

“Don't forget the Irish, Jews, Germans, Chinese, and other barbarians,” interrupted the Doctor.

“Asserting,” continued the Major, scornfully, “as they always do, their right to all the unoccupied territories of the earth.”

(“Blackfellow's claims being ignored,” interpolated the Doctor.)

“And filling all the harbours of this magnificent country——”

(“Want to see them.”)

“With their steamships and their sailing vessels. Say there be gold here, as I believe there is, the time must come when the mines will be exhausted. What then? With our coals we shall supply——”

(“Newcastle,” said the Doctor, again.)

“The British fleets in the East Indies——”

  ― 58 ―

“And compete with Borneo,” said the Doctor, quietly, “which contains more coal than ever India will burn, at one‐tenth the distance from her that we are. If that is a specimen of your prophecies, Major, you are but a Micaiah after all.”

“Well,” said the Major, laughing, “I cannot reel it off quite so quick as you; but think we shall hardly have time for any more prophesying; the sun is getting very low.”

We turned and looked to westward. The lofty rolling snow‐downs had changed to dull lead colour, as the sun went down in a red haze behind them; only here and there some little elevated pinnacle would catch the light. Below the mountain lay vast black sheets of woodland, and nearer still was the river, marked distinctly by a dense and rapidly‐rising line of fog.

“We are going to have a fog and a frost,” said the Major. “We had better hurry home.”

Behind all the others rode Alice, Sam, and myself. I was fearful of being “de trop,” but when I tried to get forward to the laughing, chattering, crowd in front, these two young lovers raised such an outcry that I was fain to stay with them, which I was well pleased to do.

Behind us, however, rode three mounted servants, two of Captain Brentwood's, and my man Dick.

We were almost in sight of the river, nearly home in fact, when there arose a loud lamentation from Alice.

  ― 59 ―

“Oh, my bracelet! my dear bracelet! I have lost it.”

“Have you any idea where you dropped it?” I inquired.

“Oh, yes,” she said. “I am sure it must have been when I fell down, scrambling up the rocks, just before the Doctor began his lecture. Just as I reached the top, you know, I fell down, and I must have lost it there.”

“I will ride back and find it, then, in no time,” I said.

“No, indeed, Uncle Jeff,” said Sam. “I will go back.”

“I use an uncle's authority,” I replied, “and I forbid you. That miserable old pony of yours, which you have chosen to bring out to‐day, has had quite work enough, without ten miles extra. I condescend to no argument; here I go.”

I turned, with a kind look from both of them, but ere I had gone ten yards, my servant Dick was alongside of me.

“Where are you going, sir?” said he.

“I am going back to Mirngish,” I replied. “Miss Alice has dropped her bracelet, and I am going back for it.”

“I will come with you, sir,” he said.

“Indeed no, Dick; there is no need. Go back to your supper, lad. I shan't be long away,”

“I am coming with you, sir,” he replied. “Company is a good thing sometimes.”

  ― 60 ―

“Well, boy,” I said, “if you will come, I shall be glad of your company; so come along.”

I had noticed lately that Dick never let me go far alone, but would always be with me. It gave rise to no suspicion in my mind. He had been tried too often for that. But still, I thought it strange.

On this occasion, we had not ridden far before he asked me a question which rather surprised me. He said, —

“Mr. Hamlyn; do you carry pistols?”

“Why, Dick, boy?” I said, “why should I?”

“Look you here, Mr. Hamlyn,” said he. “Have you tried me?”

“I have tried you for twenty years, Dick, and have not found you wanting.”

“Ah!” said he, “that's good hearing. You're a magistrate, sir, though only just made. But you know that coves like me, that have been in trouble, get hold of information which you beaks can't. And I tell you, sir, there's bad times coming for this country side. You carry your pistols, sir, and, what's more, you use 'em. See here.”

He opened his shirt, and showed me a long sharp knife inside.

“That's what I carries, sir, in these times, and you ought to carry ditto, and a brace of barkers besides. We shan't get back to the Captain's to‐night.”

We were rising on the first shoulder of Mirngish, and daylight was rapidly departing. I looked back. Nothing

  ― 61 ―
but a vast sea of fog, one snow peak rising from it like an iceberg from a frozen sea, piercing the clear frosy air like a crystal of lead and silver.

“We must hurry on,” I said, “or we shall never have daylight to find the bracelet. We shall never find our way home through that fog, without a breath of wind to guide us. What shall we do?”

“I noticed to‐day, sir,” said Dick, “a track that crossed the hill to the east; if we can get on that, and keep on it, we are sure to get somewhere. It would be better to follow that than go blundering across the plain through such a mist as that.”

As he was speaking, we had dismounted and commenced our search. In five minutes, so well did our recollection serve us, Dick had got the bracelet, and, having mounted our horses, we deliberated what was next to be done.

A thick fog covered the whole country, and was rapidly creeping up to the elevation on which we stood. To get home over the plains without a compass seemed a hopeless matter. So we determined to strike for the track which Dick had noticed in the morning, and get on it before it was dark.

We plunged down into the sea of fog, and, by carefully keeping the same direction, we found our road. The moon was nearly full, which enabled us to distinguish it, though we could never see above five yards in front of us.

  ― 62 ―

We followed the road above an hour; then we began to see ghostly tree‐stems through the mist. They grew thicker and more frequent. Then we saw a light, and at last rode up to a hut‐door, cheered by the warm light, emanating from a roaring fire within, which poured through every crack in the house‐side, and made the very fog look warm.

I held Dick's horse while he knocked. The door was opened by a wee feeble old man, about sixty, with a sharp clever face, and an iron‐grey rough head of hair.

“Night, daddy,” said Dick. “Can me and my master stay here to‐night? We're all abroad in this fog. The governor will leave something handsome behind in the morning, old party, I know.” (This latter was in a whisper.)

“Canst thou stay here, say'st thou?” replied the old fellow. “In course thou canst. But thy master's money may bide in a's pouch. Get thy saddles off, lad, and come in; 'tis a smittle night for rheumatics.”

I helped Dick to take off the saddles, and, having hobbled our horses with stirrup‐leathers, we went in.

Our little old friend was the hut‐keeper, as I saw at a glance. The shepherd was sitting on a block before the fire, in his shirt, smoking his pipe and warming his legs preparatory to turning in.

I understood him in a moment, as I then thought (though I was much deceived). A short, wiry, black

  ― 63 ―
headed man, with a cunning face — convict all over. He rose as we came in, and gave us good evening. I begged he would not disturb himself; so he moved his block into the corner, and smoked away with that lazy indifference that only a shepherd is master of.

But the old man began bustling about. He made us sit down before the fire, and make ourselves comfortable. He never ceased talking.

“I'll get ye, lads, some supper just now,” said he. “There's na but twa bunks i' the hut; so master and man must lie o' the floor, 'less indeed the boss lies in my bed, which he's welcome to. We've a plenty blankets, though, and sheepskins. We'll mak ye comfortable, boys. There's a mickle back log o' the fire, and ye'll lie warm, I'se warrant ye. There's cowd beef, sir (to me), and good breed, no' to mind boggins o' tea. Ye'll be comfortable, will ye. What's yer name?”

“Hamlyn,” I said.

“Oh, ay! Ye're Hamlyn and Stockbridge! I ken ye well; I kenned yer partner: a good man — a very good man, a man o' ten thousand. He was put down up north. A bad job — a very bad job! Ye gat terrible vengeance, though. Ye hewed Agag in pieces! T' Governor up there to Sydney was wild angry at what ye did, but he darena' say much. He knew that every free man's heart went with ye. It were the sword of the Lord and of Gideon that ye fought with! Ye saved many good lives by that raid of yours after

  ― 64 ―
Stockbridge was killed. The devils wanted a lesson, and ye gar'd them read one wi' a vengeance!”

During this speech, which was uttered in a series of interjections, we had made our supper, and drawn back to the fire. The shepherd had tumbled into his blankets, and was snoring. The old man, having cleared away the things, came and sat down beside us. The present of a fig of tobacco won his heart utterly, and he, having cut up a pipeful, began talking again.

“Why,” said he, “it's the real Barret's twist — the very real article! Eh, master, ye're book‐learned: do you ken where this grows? It must be a fine country to bring up such backer as this; some o' they Palm Isles, I reckon.”

“Virginia,” I told him, “or Carolina, one of the finest countries in the world where they hold slaves.”

“Ah,” said he, “they couldn't get white men to mess with backer and such in a hot country, and in course every one knows that blacks won't work till they're made. That's why they bothers themselves with 'em, I reckon. But, Lord! they are useless trash. White convicts is useless enough; think what black niggers must be!”

How about the gentleman in bed? I thought; but he was snoring comfortably.

“I am a free man myself,” continued the old man. “I never did aught, ay, or thought o' doing aught, that an honest man should not do. But I've lived

  ― 65 ―
among convicts twenty odd year, and do you know, sir, sometimes I hardly know richt fra wrang. Sometimes I see things that whiles I think I should inform of, and then the devil comes and tells me it would be dishonourable. And then I believe him till the time's gone by, and after that I am miserable in my conscience. So I haven't an easy time of it, though I have good times, and money to spare.”

I was getting fond of the honest, talkative old fellow; so when Dick asked him if he wanted to turn in, and he answered no, I was well pleased.

“Can't you pitch us a yarn, daddy?” said Dick. “Tell us something about the old country. I should like well to hear what you were at home.”

“I'll pitch ye a yarn, lad,” he replied, “if the master don't want to turn in. I'm fond of talking. All old men are, I think,” he said, appealing to me. “The time's coming, ye see, when the gift o' speech will be gone from me. It's a great gift. But happen we won't lose it after all.”

I said, “No, that I thought not; that I thought on the other side of the grave we should both speak and hear of higher things than we did in the flesh.”

“Happen so,” said he; “I think so too, sometime. I'll give ye my yarn; I have told it often. Howsever, neither o' ye have heard it, so ye're the luckier that I tell it better by frequent repetition. Here it is: —

  ― 66 ―

“I was a collier lad, always lean, and not well favoured, though I was active and strong. I was small, too, and that set my father's heart agin me somewhat, for he was a gran' man, and a mighty fighter.

“But my elder brother Jack, he was a mighty fellow, God bless him; and when he was eighteen he weighed twelve stone, and was earning man's wages, tho' that I was hurrying still. I saw that father loved him better than me, and whiles that vexed me, but most times it didn't, for I cared about the lad as well as father did, and he liked me the same. He never went far without me; and whether he fought, or whether he drunk, I must be wi' him and help.

“Well, so we went on till, as I said, I was seventeen, and he eighteen. We never had a word till then; we were as brothers should be. But at this time we had a quarrel, the first we ever had; ay, and the last, for we got something to mind this one by.

“We both worked in the same pit. It was the Southstone Pit; happen you've heard of it. No? Well, thus things get soon forgot. Father had been an overman there, but was doing better now above ground. He and mother kept a bit shop; made money.

“There was a fair in our village, a poor thing enough; but when we boys were children we used to look forward to it eleven months out o' twelve, and the day it came round we used to go to father, and get sixpence, or happen a shilling apiece to spend.

  ― 67 ―

“Well, time went on till we came to earn money; but still we kept up the custom, and went to the old man reg'lar for our fairin', and he used to laugh and chaff us as he'd give us a fourpenny or such, and we liked the joke as well as he.

“Well this time — it was in '12, just after the comet, just the worst times of the war, the fair came round, 24th of May, I well remember, and we went in to the old man to get summut to spend — just for a joke like.

“He'd lost money, and been vexed; so when Jack asked him for his fairin' he gi'ed him five shillin', and said, ‘I'll go to gaol but what my handsome boy shan't have summut to treat his friends to beer.’ But when I axed him, he said, ‘Earn man's wages, and thee'll get a man's fairin,’ and heaved a penny at me.

“That made me wild mad, I tell you. I wasn't only angry wi' the old man, but I was mad wi' Jack, poor lad! The devil of jealousy had got into me, and, instead of kicking him out, I nursed him. I ran out o' the house, and away into the fair, and drunk, and fought, and swore like a mad one.

“I was in one of the dancing booths, half drunk, and a young fellow came to me, and said, ‘Where has thee been? Do thee know thy brother has foughten Jim Perry, and beaten him?’

“I felt like crying, to think my brother had fought, and I not there to set him up. But I swore, and said,

  ― 68 ―
‘I wish Jim Perry had killed un;’ and then I sneaked off home to bed, and cried like a lass.

“And next morning I was up before him, and down the pit. He worked a good piece from me, so I did not see him, and it came on nigh nine o'clock before I began to wonder why the viewer had not been round, for I had heard say there was a foul place cut into by some of them, and at such times the viewer generally looks into every corner.

“Well, about nine, the viewer and underviewer came up with the overman, and stood talking alongside of me, when there came a something sudden and sharp, as tho' one had boxed your ears, and then a ‘whiz, whiz,’ and the viewer stumbled a one side, and cried out, ‘God save us!’

“I hardly knew what had happened till I heard him singing out clear and firm, ‘Come here to me, you lads; come here. Keep steady, and we'll be all right yet.’ Then I knew it was a fire, and a sharp one, and began crying out for Jack.

“I heard him calling for me, and then he ran up and got hold of me; and so ended the only quarrel we ever had, and that was a one‐sided one.

“‘Are you all here?’ said the viewer. ‘Now follow me, and if we meet the afterdamp hold your breath and run. I am afraid it's a bad job, but we may get through yet.’

“We had not gone fifty yards before we came on the afterdamp, filling the headway like smoke. Jack and

  ― 69 ―
I took hold of each other's collars and ran, but before we were half‐way through, he fell. I kept good hold of his shirt, and dragged him on on the ground. I felt as strong as a horse; and in ten seconds, which seemed to me like ten hours, I dragged him out under the shaft into clear air. At first I thought he was dead, but he was still alive, and very little of that. His heart beat very slow, and I thought he'd die; but I knew if he got clear air that he might come round.

“When we had gotten to the shaft bottom we found it all full of smoke; the waft had gone straight up, and they on the top told us after that all the earth round was shook, and the black smoke and coal‐dust flew up as though from a gun‐barrel. Any way it was strong enough to carry away the machine, so we waited there ten minutes and wondered the basket did not come down; but they above, meanwhile, were rigging a rope to an old horse‐whim, and as they could not get horses, the men run the poles round themselves.

“But we at the bottom knew nothing of all this. There were thirty or so in the shaft bottom, standing there, dripping wet wi' water, and shouting for the others, who never came; now the smoke began to show in the west drive, and we knew the mine was fired, and yet we heard nought from those above.

“But what I minded most of all was, that Jack was getting better. I knew we could not well be lost right under the shaft, so I did not swear and go on like some

  ― 70 ―
of them, because they did not mind us above. When the basket came down at last, I and Jack went up among the first, and there I saw such a sight, lad, as ye'll never see till ye see a colliery explosion. There were hundreds and hundreds there. Most had got friends or kin in the pit, and as each man came up, his wife or his mother would seize hold of him and carry on terrible.

“But the worst were they whose husbands and sons never came up again, and they were many; for out of one hundred and thirty‐one men in the pit, only thirtynine came up alive. Directly we came to bank, I saw father; he was first among them that were helping, working like a horse, and directing everything. When he saw us, he said, ‘Thank the Lord, there's my two boys. I am not a loser to‐day!’ and came running to us, and helped me to carry Jack down the bank. He was very weak and sick, but the air freshened him up wonderful.

“I told father all about it, and he said, ‘I've been wrong, and thou'st been wrong. Don't thou get angry for nothing; thou hast done a man's work to‐day, at all events. Now come and bear a hand. T'owd 'ooman will mind the lad.’

“We went back to the pit's mouth; the men were tearing round the whim faster than horses would a' done it. And first amongst 'em all was old Mrs. Cobley, wi' her long grey hair down her back, doing the work o' three men; for her two boys were down still, and I knew for

  ― 71 ―
one that they were not with us at the bottom; but when the basket came up with the last, and her two boys missing, she went across to the master, and asked him what he was going to do, as quiet as possible.

“He said he was going to ask some men to go down, and my father volunteered to go at once, and eight more went with him. They were soon up again, and reported that all the mine was full of smoke, and no one had dared leave the shaft bottom fifty yards.

“‘It's clear enough, the mine's fired, sir,’ said my father to the owner. ‘They that's down are dead. Better close it, sir.’

“‘What!’ screamed old Mrs. Cobley, ‘close the pit, ye dog, and my boys down there? Ye wouldn't do such a thing, master dear?’ she continued; ‘ye couldn't do it.’ Many others were wild when they heard the thing proposed; but while they raved and argued, the pit began to send up a reek of smoke like the mouth of hell, and then the master gave orders to close the shaft, and a hundred women knew they were widows, and went weeping home.

“And Jack got well. And after the old man died, we came out here. Jack has gotten a public‐house in Yass, and next year I shall go home and live with him.

“And that's the yarn about the fire at the Southstone Pit.”

We applauded it highly, and after a time began to

  ― 72 ―
talk about lying down, when on a sudden we heard a noise of horses' feet outside; then the door was opened, and in came a stranger.

He was a stranger to me, but not to my servant, who I could see recognized him, though he gave no sign of it in words. I also stared at him, for he was the handsomest young man I had ever seen.

Handsome as an Apollo, beautiful as a leopard, but with such a peculiar style of beauty, that when you looked at him you instinctively felt at your side for a weapon of defence, for a more reckless, dangerous looking man I never yet set eyes on. And while I looked at him I recognised him. I had seen his face, or one like it, before often, often. And it seemed as though I had known him just as he stood there, years and years ago, on the other side of the world. I was almost certain it was so, and yet he seemed barely twenty. It was an impossibility, and yet as I looked I grew every moment more certain.

He dashed in in an insolent way. “I am going to quarter here to‐night and chance it,” he said. “Hallo! Dick, my prince! You here? And what may your name be, old cock?” he added, turning to me, now seeing me indistinctly for the first time, for I was sitting back in the shadow.

“My name is Geoffry Hamlyn. I am a Justice of the Peace, and I am at your service,” I said. “Now perhaps you will favour me with your name?”

  ― 73 ―

The young gentleman did not seem to like coming so suddenly into close proximity with a “beak,” and answered defiantly, —

“Charles Sutton is my name, and I don't know as there's anything against me, at present.”

“Sutton,” I said; “Sutton? I don't know the name. No, I have nothing against you, except that you don't appear very civil.”

Soon after I rolled myself in a blanket and lay down. Dick lay at right angles to me, his feet nearly touching mine. He began snoring heavily almost immediately, and just when I was going to give him a kick, and tell him not to make such a row, I felt him give me a good sharp shove with the heel of his boot, by which I understood that he was awake, and meant to keep awake, as he did not approve of the strangers.

I was anxious about our horses, yet in a short time I could keep awake no longer. I slept, and when I next woke, I heard voices whispering eagerly together. I silently turned, so that I could see whence the voices came, and perceived the hut‐keeper sitting up in bed, in close confabulation with the stranger.

“Those two rascals are plotting some villany,” I said to myself; “somebody will be minus a horse shortly, I expect.” And then I fell asleep again; and when I awoke it was broad day.

I found the young man was gone, and, what pleased me better still, had not taken either of our horses with

  ― 74 ―
him. So, when we had taken some breakfast, we started, and I left the kind little old man something to remember me by.

We had not ridden a hundred yards, before I turned to Dick and said, —

“Now mind; I don't want you to tell me anything you don't like, but pray relieve my mind on one point. Who was that young man? Have I ever seen him before?”

“I think not, sir; but I can explain how you come to think you have. You remember, sir, that I knew all about Mrs. Hawker's history?”

“Yes! Yes! Go on.”

“That young fellow is George Hawker's son.”

It came upon me like a thunderbolt. This, then, was the illegitimate son that he had by his cousin Ellen. Oh miserable child of sin and shame! to what end, I wondered, had he been saved till now?

We shall see soon. Meanwhile I turned to my companion and said, “Tell me how he came to be here.”

“Why you see, sir, he went on in his father's ways, and got lagged. He found his father out as soon as he was free, which wasn't long first, for he is mortal cunning, and since then they two have stuck together. Most times they quarrel, and sometimes they fight, but they are never far apart. Hawker ain't far off now.”

“Now, sir,” he continued, “I am going to tell you something which, if it ever leaks out of your lips again, in such a way as to show where it came from, will end

  ― 75 ―
my life as sure as if I was hung. You remember three months ago that a boatful of men were supposed to have landed from Cockatoo?”

“Yes,” I said, “I heard it from Major Buckley. But the police have been scouring in all directions, and can find nothing of them. My opinion is that the boat was capsized, and they were all drowned, and that the surf piled the boat over with sea‐weed. Depend on it they did not land.”

“Depend on it they did, sir; those men are safe and well, and ready for any mischief. Hawker was on the look‐out for them, and they all stowed away till the police cleared off, which they did last week. There will be mischief soon. There; I have told you enough to cut my throat, and I'll tell you more, and convince you that I am right. That shepherd at whose hut we stayed last night was one of them; that fellow was the celebrated Captain Mike. What do you think of that?”

I shuddered as I heard the name of that fell ruffian, and thought that I had slept in the hut with him. But when I remembered how he was whispering with the stranger in the middle of the night, I came to the conclusion that serious mischief was brewing, and pushed on through the fog, which still continued as dense as ever, and, guided by some directions from the old hut‐keeper, I got to Captain Brentwood's about ten o'clock, and told him and the Major the night's adventures.

  ― 76 ―

We three armed ourselves secretly and quietly, and went back to the hut with the determination of getting possession of the person of the shepherd Mike, who, were he the man Dick accused him of being, would have been a prize indeed, being one of the leading Van Diemen's Land rangers, and one of the men reported as missing by Captain Blockstrop.

“Suppose,” said Captain Brentwood, “that we seize the fellow, and it isn't him after all?”

“Then,” said the Major, “an action for false imprisonment would lie sir, decidedly. But we will chance it.”

And when we got there, we saw the old hut‐keeper, he of the colliery explosion experiences, shepherding the sheep himself, and found that the man we were in search of had left the hut that morning, apparently to take the sheep out. But that going out about eleven the old man had found them still in the yard, whereby he concluded that the shepherd was gone, which proved to be the case. And making further inquiries we found that the shepherd had only been hired a month previously, and no man knew whence he came: all of which seemed to confirm Dick's story wonderfully, and made us excessively uneasy. And in the end the Major asked me to prolong my visit for a time and keep my servant with me, as every hand was of use; and so it fell out that I happened to be present at, and chronicle all which follows.

  ― 77 ―

iii: Chapter IV.


I PAUSE here — I rather dread to go on. Although our course has been erratic and irregular; although we have had one character disappearing for a long time (like Tom Troubridge); and, although we have had another entirely new coming bobbing up in the manner of Punch's victims, unexpected, and apparently unwanted; although, I say, the course of this story may have been ill‐arranged in the highest degree, and you may have been continually coming across some one in Vol. II. who forced you to go back to Vol. I. (possibly sent back to the library) to find out who he was; yet, on the whole, we have got on pleasantly enough as things go. Now, I am sorry to say I have to record two or three fearful catastrophes. The events of the next month are seldom alluded to by any of those persons mentioned in the preceding pages; they are too painful. I remark that the Lucknow and Cawnpore men don't much like talking about the

  ― 78 ―
affairs of that terrible six weeks; much for the same reason, I suspect, as we, going over our old recollections, always omit the occurrences of this lamentable spring.

The facts contained in the latter end of this chapter I got from the Gaol Chaplain at Sydney.

The Major, the Captain, and I, got home to dinner, confirmed in our suspicions that mischief was abroad, and very vexed at having missed the man we went in search of. Both Mrs. Buckley and Alice noticed that something was wrong, but neither spoke a word on the subject. Mrs. Buckley now and then looked anxiously at her husband, and Alice cast furtive glances at her father. The rest took no notice of our silence and uneasiness, little dreaming of the awful cloud that was hanging above our heads, to burst, alas! so soon.

I was sitting next to Mary Hawker that evening, talking over old Devon days and Devon people, when she said, —

“I think I am going to have some more quiet peaceful times. I am happier than I have been for many years. Do you know why? Look there.”

“I shuddered to hear her say so, knowing what I knew, but looked where she pointed. Her son sat opposite to us, next to the pretty Ellen Mayford. She had dropped the lids over her eyes and was smiling. He, with his face turned toward her, was whispering in his eager impulsive way, and tearing to

  ― 79 ―
pieces a slip of paper which he held in his hand. As the firelight fell on his face, I felt a chill come over me. The likeness was so fearful! — not to the father (that I had been long accustomed to), but to the son, to the half‐brother — to the poor lost young soul I had seen last night, the companion of desperate men. As it struck me I could not avoid a start, and a moment after I would have given a hundred pounds not to have done so, for I felt Mary's hand on my arm, and heard her say, in a low voice, —

“Cruel! cruel! Will you never forget?”

I felt guilty and confused. As usual, on such occasions, Satan was at my elbow, ready with a lie, more or less clumsy, and I said, “You do me injustice, Mrs. Hawker. I was not thinking of old times. I was astonished at what I see there. Do you think there is anything in it?”

“I sincerely hope so,” she said.

“Indeed, and so do I. It will be excellent on every account. Now,” said I, “Mrs. Hawker, will you tell me what has become of your old servant, Lee? I have reasons for asking.”

“He is in my service still,” she said; “as useful and faithful as ever. At present he is away at a little hut in the ranges, looking after our ewes.”

“Who is with him?” I asked.

“Well, he has got a new hand with him, a man who came about a month or so ago, and stayed about split

  ― 80 ―
ting wood. I fancy I heard Lee remark that he had known him before. However, when Lee had to go to the ranges, he wanted a hut‐keeper; so this man went up with him.”

“What sort of a looking man was he?”

“Oh, a rather large man, red‐haired, much pitted with the small‐pox.”

All this made me uneasy. I had asked these questions, by the advice of Dick, and, from Mrs. Hawker's description tallying so well with his, I had little doubt that another of the escaped gang was living actually in her service, alone too, in the hut with Lee.

The day that we went to Mirngish, the circumstances I am about to relate took place in Lee's hut, a lonely spot, eight miles from the home station, towards the mountain, and situated in a dense dark stringy bark forest — a wild desolate spot, even as it was that afternoon, with the parrots chattering and whistling around it, and the bright winter's sun lighting up the green tree‐tops.

Lee was away, and the hut‐keeper was the only living soul about the place. He had just made some bread, and, having carried out his camp‐oven to cool, was sitting on the bench in the sun, lazily, thinking what he would do next.

He was a long, rather powerfully‐built man, and seemed at first sight, merely a sleepy half‐witted fellow, but at a second glance you might perceive that there

  ― 81 ―
was a good deal of cunning, and some ferocity in his face. He sat for some time, and was beginning to think that he would like a smoke, so he got out his knife preparatory to cutting tobacco.

The hut stood at the top of a lone gully, stretching away in a vista, nearly bare of trees for a width of about ten yards or so, all the way down, which gave it the appearance of a grass‐ride, walled on each side by tall dark forest; looking down this, our hutkeeper saw, about a quarter of a mile off, a horseman cross from one side to the other.

He only caught a momentary glimpse of him, but that was enough to show him that it was a stranger. He neither knew horse nor man, at least judging by his dress; and while he was still puzzling his brains as to what stranger would be coming to such an out‐of‐theway place, he heard the “Chuck, kuk, kuk, kuk,” of an opossum close behind the hut, and started to his feet.

It would of course have startled any bushman to hear an opossum cry in broad day, but he knew what this meant well. It was the arranged signal of his gang, and he ran to the place from whence the sound came.

George Hawker was there — well dressed, sitting on a noble chestnut horse. They greeted one another with a friendly curse.

As is my custom, when recording the conversation of this class of worthies, I suppress the expletives, thereby

  ― 82 ―
shortening them by nearly one half, and depriving the public of much valuable information.

“Well, old man,” began Hawker, “is the coast clear?”

“No one here but myself,” replied the other. “I'm hut‐keeping here for one Bill Lee, but he is away. He was one of the right sort once himself, I have heard; but he's been on the square for twenty years, so I don't like to trust him.”

“You are about right there, Moody, my lad,” said Hawker. “I've just looked up to talk to you about him, and other matters, — I'll come in. When will he be back?”

“Not before night, I expect,” said the other.

“Well,” said Hawker, “we shall have the more time to talk; I've got a good deal to tell you. Our chaps are all safe and snug, and the traps are off. Only two, that's you and Mike, stayed this side of the hill; the rest crossed the ranges and stowed away in an old lair of mine on one of the upper Murray gullies. They've had pretty hard times, and if it hadn't been for the cash they brought away, they'd have had worse. Now the coast is clear, they're coming back by ones and twos, and next week we shall be ready for business. I'm going to be head man this bout, because I know the country better than any; and the most noble Michael has consented, for this time only, to act as lieutenant. We haven't decided on any plans yet, but some think

  ― 83 ―
of beginning from the coast, because that part will be clearest of traps, they having satisfied themselves that we ain't there. In fact, the wiseacres have fully determined that we are all drowned. There's one devil of a foreign doctor knows I'm round though: he saw me the night before you came ashore, and I am nigh sure he knew me. I have been watching him, and I could have knocked him over last week as clean as a whistle, only, thinks I, it'll make a stir before the time. Never mind, I'll have him yet. This Lee is a black sheep, lad. I'm glad you are here; you must watch him, and if you see him flinch, put a knife in him. He raised the country on me once before. I tell you, Jerry, that I'd be hung, and willing, to‐morrow, to have that chap's life, and I'd have had it before now, only I had to keep still for the sake of the others. That man served me the meanest, dirtiest trick, twenty years ago, in the old country, that ever you or any other man heard of, and if he catches sight of me the game's up. Mind, if you see cause, you deal with him, or else,——” (with an awful oath) “you answer to the others.”

“If he's got to go, he'll go,” replied the other, doggedly. “Don't you fear me; Moody the cannibal ain't a man to flinch.”

“What, is that tale true then?” asked Hawker, looking at his companion with a new sort of interest.

“Why, in course it is,” replied Moody; “I thought no one doubted that. That Van Diemen's Land bush

  ― 84 ―
would starve a bandicoot, and Shiner and I walked two days before we knocked the boy on the head; the lad was getting beat, and couldn't a' gone much further. After three days more we began to watch one another, and neither one durst walk first, or go to sleep. Well, Shiner gave in first; he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer. And then, you know, of course my own life was dearer than his'n.” note

“My God! That's worse than ever I did!” said Hawker.

“But not worse than you may do, if you persevere. You promise well,” said Moody, with a grin.

Hawker bent and whispered in his ear; the other listened for a time, and then said, —

“Make it twenty.”

Hawker after a little consideration nodded — then the other nodded — then they whispered together again. Something out of the common this must be, that they, not very particular in their confidences, should whisper about it.

They looked up suddenly, and Lee was standing in the doorway.

  ― 85 ―

Hawker and he started when they saw one another, but Lee recovered himself first, and said, —

“George Hawker, it's many years since we met, and I'm not so young as I was. I should like to make peace before I go, as I well know that I'm the chief one to blame for you getting into trouble. I'm not humbugging you, when I say that I have been often sorry for it of late years. But sorrow won't do any good. If you'll forgive and forget, I'll do the same. You tried my life once, and that's worse than ever I did for you. And now I'll tell you, that if you want money to get out of the country and set up anywhere else, and leave your poor wife in peace, I'll find it for you out of my own pocket.”

“I don't bear any malice,” said Hawker; “but I don't want to leave the country just yet. I suppose you won't peach about having seen me here?”

“I shan't say a word, George, if you keep clear of the home station; but I won't have you come about there. So I warn you.”

Lee held out his hand, and George took it. Then he asked him if he would stay there that night, and George consented.

Day was fast sinking behind the trees, and making golden boughs overhead. Lee stood at the hut door watching the sun set, and thinking, perhaps, of old Devon. He seemed sad, and let us hope he was regretting his old crimes while time was left him. Night

  ― 86 ―
was closing in on him, and having looked once more on the darkening sky, and the fog coldly creeping up the gully, he turned with a sigh and a shudder into the hut, and shut the door.

Near midnight, and all was still. Then arose a cry upon the night so hideous, so wild, and so terrible, that the roosting birds dashed off affrighted, and the dense mist, as though in sympathising fear, prolonged the echoes a hundred fold. One articulate cry, “Oh! you treacherous dog!” given with the fierce energy of a dying man, and then night returned to her stillness, and the listeners heard nothing but the weeping of the moisture from the wintry trees.

The two perpetrators of the atrocity stood silent a minute or more, recovering themselves. Then Hawker said in a fierce whisper, —

“You clumsy hound; why did you let him make that noise? I shall never get it out of my head again, if I live till a hundred. Let's get out of this place before I go mad; I could not stay in the house with it for salvation. Get his horse, and come along.”

They got the two horses, and rode away into the night; but Hawker, in his nervous anxiety to get away, dropped a handsome cavalry pistol, — a circumstance which nearly cost Doctor Mulhaus his life.

They rode till after daylight, taking a course toward the sea, and had gone nearly twelve miles before George

  ― 87 ―
discovered his loss, and broke out into petulant imprecations.

“I wouldn't have lost that pistol for five pounds,” he said; “no, nor more. I shall never have one like it again. I've put over a parrot at twenty yards with it.”

“Go back and get it, then,” said Moody, “if it's so valuable. I'll camp and wait for you. We want all the arms we can get.”

“Not I,” said George; “I would not go back into that cursed hut alone for all the sheep in the country.”

“You coward,” replied the other; “afraid of a dead man. Well, if you wont, I will: and, mind, I shall keep it for my own use.”

“You're welcome to it, if you like to get it,” said George. And so Moody rode back.

  ― 88 ―

iii: Chapter V.


I MUST recur to the same eventful night again, and relate another circumstance that occurred on it. As events thicken, time gets more precious; so that, whereas at first I thought nothing of giving you the events of twenty years or so in a chapter, we are now compelled to concentrate time so much that it takes three chapters to twenty‐four hours. I read a long novel once, the incidents of which did not extend over thirty‐six hours, and yet it was not so profoundly stupid as you would suppose.

All the party got safe home from the picnic, and were glad enough to get housed out of the frosty air. The Doctor, above all others, was rampant at the thoughts of dinner, and a good chat over a warm fire, and burst out, in a noble bass voice, with an old German student's song about wine and Gretchen, and what not.

His music was soon turned into mourning; for, as they rode into the courtyard, a man came up to Captain Brentwood, and began talking eagerly to him.

  ― 89 ―

It was one of his shepherds, who lived alone with his wife towards the mountain. The poor woman, his wife, he said, was taken in labour that morning, and was very bad. Hearing there was a doctor staying at the home station, he had come down to see if he could come to their assistance.

“I'll go, of course,” said the Doctor; “but let me get something to eat first. Is anybody with her?”

“Yes, a woman was with her; had been staying with them some days.”

“I hope you can find the way in the dark,” said the Doctor, “for I can tell you I can't.”

“No fear, sir,” said the man; “there's a track all the way, and the moon's full. If it wasn't for the fog it would be as bright as day.”

He took a hasty meal, and started. They went at a foot's pace, for the shepherd was on foot. The track was easily seen, and although it was exceedingly cold, the Doctor, being well wrapped up, contrived, with incessant smoking, to be moderately comfortable. All external objects being a blank, he soon turned to his companion to see what he could get out of him.

“What part of the country are you from, my friend?”

“Fra' the Isle of Skye,” the man answered. “I'm one of the Macdonalds of Skye.”

“That's a very ancient family, is it not?” said the Doctor at a venture, knowing he could not go wrong with a Highlander.

  ― 90 ―

“Very ancient, and weel respeckit,” the man answered.

“And who is your sheik, rajah, chieftain, or what you call him?”

“My lord Macdonald. I am cousin to my lord.”

“Indeed! He owns the whole island, I suppose?”

“There's Mackinnons live there. But they are interlopers; they are worthless trash,” and he spit in disgust.

“I suppose,” said the Doctor, “a Mackinnon would return the compliment, if speaking of a Macdonald.”

The man laughed, and said, he supposed “Yes,” then added, “See! what's yon?”

“A white stump burnt black at one side, — what did you think it was?”

“I jaloused it might be a ghaist. There's a many ghaists and bogles about here.”

“I should have thought the country was too young for those gentry,” said the Doctor.

“It's a young country, but there's been muckle wickedness done in it. And what are those blacks do you think? — next thing to devils — at all events they're no' exactly human.”

“Impish, decidedly,” said the Doctor. “Have you ever seen any ghosts, friend?”

“Ay! many. A fortnight agone, come to‐morrow, I saw the ghost of my wife's brother in broad day. It was the time of the high wind ye mind of; and the

  ― 91 ―
rain drove so thick I could no see all my sheep at once. And a man on a white horse came fleeing before the wind close past me; I knew him in a minute; it was my wife's brother, as I tell ye, that was hung fifteen years agone for sheep‐stealing, and he wasn't so much altered as ye'd think.”

“Some one else like him!” suggested the Doctor.

“Deil a fear,” replied the man, “for when I cried out and said, ‘What, Col, lad! Gang hame, and lie in yer grave, and dinna trouble honest folk,’ he turned and rode away through the rain, straight from me.”

“Well!” said the Doctor, “I partly agree with you that the land's bewitched. I saw a man not two months ago who ought to have been dead five or six years at least. But are you quite sure the man you saw was hung?”

“Well nigh about,” he replied. “When we sailed from Skye he was under sentence, and they weren't over much given to reprieve for sheep‐stealing in those days. It was in consequence o' that that I came here.”

“That's a very tolerable ghost story,” said the Doctor. “Have you got another? If you have, I shouldn't mind hearing it, as it will beguile the way.”

“Did ye ever hear how Faithful's lot were murdered by the blacks up on the Merrimerangbong?”

“No, but I should like to; is it a ghost story?”

“Deed ay, and is it. This is how it happened: — When Faithful came to take up his country across the

  ― 92 ―
mountains yonder, they were a strong party, enough to have been safe in any country, but whether it was food was scarce, or whether it was on account of getting water, I don't know, but they separated, and fifteen of them got into the Yackandandah country before the others.

“Well, you see, they were pretty confident, being still a strong mob, and didn't set any watch or take any care. There was one among them (Cranky Jim they used to call him — he as told me this yarn — he used to be about Reid's mill last year) who always was going on at them to take more care, but they never heeded him at all.

“They found a fine creek, with plenty of feed and water, and camped at it to wait till the others came up. They saw no blacks, nor heard of any, and three days were past, and they began to wonder why the others had not overtaken them.

“The third night they were all sitting round the fire, laughing and smoking, when they heard a loud co'ee on the opposite side of the scrub, and half‐a‐dozen of them started up, and sang out, “There they are!”

“Well, they all began co'eeing again, and they heard the others in reply, apparently all about in the scrub. So off they starts, one by one, into the scrub, answering and hallooing, for it seemed to them that their mates were scattered about, and didn't know where they were. Well, as I said, fourteen of them started into the scrub to collect the party and bring them up to the fire; only

  ― 93 ―
old Cranky Jim sat still in the camp. He believed, with the others, that it was the rest of their party coming up, but he soon began to wonder how it was that they were so scattered. Then he heard one scream, and then it struck him all at once that this was a dodge of the blacks to draw the men from the camp, and, when they were abroad, cut them off one by one, plunder the drays, and drive off the sheep.

“So he dropped, and crawled away in the dark. He heard the co'ees grow fewer and fewer as the men were speared one by one, and at last everything was quiet, and then he knew he was right, and he rose up and fled away.

“In two days he found the other party, and told them what had happened. They came up, and there was some sharp fighting, but they got a good many of their sheep back.

“They found the men lying about singly in the scrub, all speared. They buried them just where they found each one, for it was hot weather. They buried them four foot deep, but they wouldn't lie still.

“Every night, about nine o'clock, they get up again, and begin co'eeing for an hour or more. At first there's a regular coronach of them, then by degrees the shouts get fewer and fewer, and, just when you think it's all over, one will break out loud and clear close to you, and after that all's still again.”

“You don't believe that story, I suppose?”

  ― 94 ―

“If you press me very hard,” said the Doctor, “I must confess, with all humility, that I don't!”

“No more did I,” said Macdonald, “till I heard 'em!”

“Heard them!” said the Doctor.

“Ay, and seen them!” said the man, stopping and turning round.

“You most agreeable of men! pray, tell me how.”

“Why, you see, last year I was coming down with some wool‐drays from Parson Dorken's, and this Cranky Jim was with us, and told us the same yarn, and when he had finished, he said, ‘You'll know whether I speak truth or not to‐night, for we're going to camp at the place where it happened.

“Well, and so we did, and, as well as we could reckon, it was a little past nine when a curlew got up and began crying. That was the signal for the ghosts, and in a minute they were co'eeing like mad all round. As Jim had told us, one by one ceased until all was quiet, and I thought it was over, when I looked, and saw, about a hundred yards off, a tall man in grey crossing a belt of open ground. He put his hand to his mouth, gave a wild shout, and disappeared!”

“Thank you,” said the Doctor. “I think you mentioned that your wife's confinement was somewhat sudden?”

“Yes, rather,” replied the man.

“Pray, had you been relating any of the charming

  ― 95 ―
little tales to her lately — just, we will suppose, to while away the time of the evening?”

“Well, I may have done so,” said Macdonald, “but I don't exactly mind.”

“Ah, so I thought. The next time your good lady happens to be in a similar situation, I think I would refrain from ghost stories. I should not like to commit myself to a decided opinion, but I should be inclined to say that the tales you have been telling me were rather horrible. Is that the light of your hut?”

Two noble colley dogs bounded to welcome them, and a beautiful bare‐legged girl, about sixteen, ran forth to tell her father, in Gaelic, that the trouble was over, and that a boy was born.

On going in, they found the mother asleep, while her gossip held the baby on her knee; so the Doctor saw that he was not needed, and sat down, to wait until the woman should wake, having first, however, produced from his saddle two bottles of port wine, a present from Alice.

The woman soon woke, and the Doctor, having felt her pulse, and left some medicine, started to ride home again, carrying with him an incense of good wishes from the warm‐hearted Highlanders.

Instead of looking carefully for the road, the good Doctor was soon nine fathoms deep into the reasons why the mountaineers and coast folk of all northern countries should be more blindly superstitious than the

  ― 96 ―
dwellers in plains and in towns; and so it happened that, coming to a fork in the track, he disregarded the advice of his horse, and, instead of taking the right hand, as he should have done, he held straight on, and, about two o'clock in the morning, found that not only had he lost his road, but that the track had died out altogether, and that he was completely abroad in the bush.

He was in a very disagreeable predicament. The fog was thicker than ever, without a breath of air; and he knew that it was as likely as not that it might last for a day or two. He was in a very wild part of the mountain, quite on the borders of all the country used by white men.

After some reflection, he determined to follow the fall of the land, thinking that he was still on the water‐shed of the Snowy‐river, and hoping, by following down some creek, to find some place he knew.

Gradually day broke, cold and cheerless. He was wet and miserable, and could merely give a guess at the east, for the sun was quite invisible; but, about eight o'clock, he came on a track, running at right angles to the way he had been going, and marked with the hoofs of two horses, whose riders had apparently passed not many hours before.

Which way should he go? He could not determine. The horsemen, it seemed to him, as far as he could guess, had been going west, while his route lay east.

  ― 97 ―
And, after a time, having registered a vow never to stir out of sight of the station again without a compass, he determined to take a contrary direction from them, and to find out where they had come from.

The road crossed gully after gully, each one like the other. The timber was heavy stringy bark, and, in the lower part of the shallow gullies, the tall white stems of the blue gums stood up in the mist like ghosts. All nature was dripping and dull, and he was chilled and wretched.

At length, at the bottom of a gully, rather more dreary looking, if possible, than all the others, he came on a black reedy waterhole, the first he had seen in his ride, and perceived that the track turned short to the left. Casting his eye along it, he made out the dark indistinct outline of a hut, standing about forty yards off.

He rode up to it. All was as still as death. No man came out to welcome him, no dog jumped, barking forth, no smoke went up from the chimney; and, looking round, he saw that the track ended here, and that he had ridden all these miles only to find a deserted hut.

But was it deserted? Not very long so, for those two horsemen, whose tracks he had been on so long, had started from here. Here, on this bare spot in front of the door, they had mounted. One of their horses had been capering; nay, here were their footsteps on the threshold. And, while he looked, there was a light

  ― 98 ―
fall inside, and the chimney began smoking. “At all events,” said the Doctor, “the fire's in, and here's the camp‐oven, too. Somebody will be here soon. I shall go in and light my pipe.”

He lifted the latch, and went in. Nobody there. Stay — yes, there is a man asleep in the bed‐place. “The watchman, probably,” thought the Doctor; “he's been up all night with the sheep, and is taking his rest by day. Well, I won't wake him; I'll hang up my horse a bit, and take a pipe. Perhaps I may as well turn the horse out. Well, no. I shan't wait long; he may stand a little without hurting himself.”

So soliloquised the Doctor, and lit his pipe. A quarter of an hour passed, and the man still lay there without moving. The Doctor rose and went close to him. He could not even hear him breathe.

His flesh began to creep, but his brows contracted, and his face grew firm. He went boldly up, and pulled down the blanket, and then, to his horror and amazement, recognised the distorted countenance of the unfortunate William Lee.

He covered the face over again, and stood thinking of his situation, and how this had come to pass. How came Lee here, and how had he met his death? At this moment something bright, half hidden by a blue shirt lying on the floor, caught his eye, and, going to pick it up, he found it was a beautiful pistol, mounted in silver, and richly chased.

  ― 99 ―

He turned it over and over till in a lozenge behind the hammer he found, apparently scratched with a knife, the name, “G. Hawker.”

Here was light with a vengeance! But he had little time to think of his discovery ere he was startled by the sound of horses' feet rapidly approaching the hut.

Instinctively he thrust the pistol into his pocket, and stooped down, pretending to light his pipe. He heard some one ride up to the door, dismount, and enter the hut. He at once turned round, pipe in mouth, and confronted him.

He was a tall, ill‐looking, red‐haired man, and to the Doctor's pleasant good morning he replied by sulkily asking what he wanted.

“Only a light for my pipe, friend,” said the Doctor; “having got one, I will bid you good morning. Our friend here sleeps well.”

The new comer was between him and the door, but the Doctor advanced boldly. When the two men were opposite their eyes met, and they understood one another.

Moody (for it was he) threw himself upon the Doctor with an oath, trying to bear him down; but, although the tallest man, he had met his match. He was held in a grasp of iron; the Doctor's hand was on his collar, and his elbow against his face, and thus his head was pressed slowly backwards till he fell to avoid a broken neck, and fell, too, with such force that he lay for an

  ― 100 ―
instant stunned and motionless, and before he came to himself the Doctor was on horseback, and some way along the track, glad to have made so good an escape from such an awkward customer.

“If he had been armed,” said the Doctor, as he rode along, “I should have been killed: he evidently came back after that pistol. Now, I wonder where I am? I shall know soon at this pace. The little horse keeps up well, seeing he has been out all night.”

In about two hours he heard a dog bark to the left of the track, and, turning off in that direction, he soon found himself in a courtyard, and before a door which he thought he recognised: the door opened at the sound of his horse, and out walked Tom Troubridge.

“Good Lord!” said the Doctor, “a friend's face at last; tell me where I am, for I can't see the end of the house.”

“Why, at our place, Toonarbin, Doctor.”

“Well, take me in and give me some food; I have terrible tidings for you. When did you last see Lee?”

“The day before yesterday; he is up at an outlying hut of ours in the ranges.”

“He is lying murdered in his bed there, for I saw him so not three hours past.”

He then told Troubridge all that had happened.

“What sort of man was it that attacked you?” said Troubridge.

  ― 101 ―

The Doctor described Moody.

“That's his hut‐keeper that he took from here with him; a man he said he knew, and you say he was on horseback. What sort of a horse had he?”

“A good‐looking roan, with a new bridle on him.”

“Lee's horse,” said Troubridge; “he must have murdered him for it. Poor William!”

But when Tom saw the pistol and read the name on it, he said, —

“Things are coming to a crisis, Doctor; the net seems closing round my unfortunate partner. God grant the storm may come and clear the air! Anything is better than these continual alarms.”

“It will be very terrible when it does come, my dear friend,” said the Doctor.

“It cannot be much more terrible than this,” said Tom, “when our servants are assassinated in their beds, and travellers in lonely huts have to wrestle for their lives. Doctor, did you ever nourish a passion for revenge?”

“Yes, once,” said the Doctor, “and had it gratified in fair and open duel; but when I saw him lying white on the grass before me, and thought that he was dead, I was like one demented, and prayed that my life might be taken instead of his. Be sure, Tom, that revenge is of the devil, and, like everything else you get from him, is not worth having.”

“I do not in the least doubt it, Doctor,” said Tom;

  ― 102 ―
“but oh, if I could only have five minutes with him on the turf yonder, with no one to interfere between us! I want no weapons; let us meet in our shirts and trowsers, like Devon lads.”

“And what would you do to him?”

“If you weren't there to see, he'd never tell you.”

“Why nourish this feeling, Tom, my old friend; you do not know what pain it gives me to see a noble open character like yours distorted like this. Leave him to Desborough, — why should you feel so deadly towards the man? He has injured others more than you.”

“He stands between me and the hopes of a happy old age. He stands between me and the light, and he must stand on one side.”

That night they brought poor Lee's body down in a dray, and buried him in the family burying‐ground close beside old Miss Thornton. Then the next morning he rode back home to the Buckleys', where he found that family with myself, just arrived from the Brentwoods'. I of course was brimful of intelligence, but when the Doctor arrived I was thrown into the shade at once. However, no time was to be lost, and we despatched a messenger, post haste, to fetch back Captain Desborough and his troopers, who had now been moved off about a week, but had not been as yet very far withdrawn, and were examining into some “black” outrages to the northward.

Mary Hawker was warned, as delicately as possible,

  ― 103 ―
that her husband was in the neighbourhood. She remained buried in thought for a time, and then, rousing herself, said, suddenly, —

“There must be an end to all this. Get my horse, and let me go home.”

In spite of all persuasions to the contrary, she still said the same.

“Mrs. Buckley, I will go home and see if I can meet him alone. All I ask of you is to keep Charles with you. Don't let the father and son meet, in God's name.”

“But what can you do?” urged Mrs. Buckley.

“Something, at all events. Find out what he wants. Buy him off, perhaps. Pray don't argue with me. I am quite determined.”

Then it became necessary to tell her of Lee's death, though the fact of his having been murdered was concealed; but it deeply affected her to hear of the loss of her old faithful servant, faithful to her at all events, whatever his faults may have been. Nevertheless, she went off alone, and took up her abode with Troubridge, and there they two sat watching in the lonely station, for him who was to come.

Though they watched together there was no sympathy or confidence between them. She never guessed what purpose was in Tom's heart; she never guessed what made him so pale and gloomy, or why he never stirred from the house, but slept half the day on the

  ― 104 ―
sofa. But ere she had been a week at home, she found out. Thus: —

They would sit, those two, silent and thoughtful, beside that unhappy hearth, watching the fire, and brooding over the past. Each had that in their hearts which made them silent to one another, and each felt the horror of some great overshadowing formless calamity, which any instant might take form, and overwhelm them. Mary would sit late, dreading the weary night, when her overstrained senses caught every sound in the distant forest; but, however late she sat, she always left Tom behind, over the fire, not taking his comfortable glass, but gloomily musing — as much changed from his old self as man could be.

She now lay always in her clothes, ready for any emergency; and one night, about a week after Lee's murder, she dreamt that her husband was in the hall, bidding her in a whisper which thrilled her heart, to come forth. The fancy was so strong upon her, that saying aloud to herself, “The end is come!” she arose in a state little short of delirium, and went into the hall. There was no one there, but she went to the front door, and, looking out into the profoundly black gloom of the night, said in a low voice, —

“George, George, come to me! Let me speak to you, George. It will be better for both of us to speak.”

No answer: but she heard a slight noise in the

  ― 105 ―
sitting‐room behind her, and, opening the door gently, saw a light there, and Tom sitting with parted lips watching the door, holding in his hand a cocked pistol.

She was not in the least astonished or alarmed. She was too much tête montée to be surprised at anything. She said only, with a laugh, —

“What! are you watching, too, old mastiff? — Would you grip the wolf, old dog, if he came?”

“Was he there, Mary? Did you speak to him?”

“No! no!” she said. “A dream, a wandering dream. What would you do if he came, — eh, cousin?”

“Nothing! nothing!” said Tom. “Go to bed.”

“Bed, eh?” she answered. “Cousin; shooting is an easier death than hanging, — eh?”

Tom felt a creeping at the roots of his hair, as he answered, — “Yes, I believe so.”

“Can you shoot straight, old man? Could you shoot straight and true if he stood there before you? Ah, you think you could now, but your hand would shake when you saw him.”

“Go to bed, Mary,” said Tom. “Don't talk like that. Let the future lie, cousin.”

She turned and went to her room again.

All this was told me long after by Tom himself. Tom believed, or said he believed, that she was only sounding him, to see what his intentions were in case of a meeting with George Hawker. I would not for the world have had him suppose I disagreed with him; but I myself

  ― 106 ―
take another and darker interpretation of her strange words that night. I think, that she, never a very strong‐minded person, and now, grown quite desperate from terror, actually contemplated her husband's death with complacency, nay, hoped, in her secret heart, that one mad struggle between him and Tom might end the matter for ever, and leave her a free woman. I may do her injustice, but I think I do not. One never knows what a woman of this kind, with strong passions and a not over‐strong intellect, may be driven to. I knew her for forty years, and loved her for twenty. I knew in spite of all her selfishness and violence that there were many good, nay, noble points in her character; but I cannot disguise from myself that that night's conversation with Tom showed me a darker point in her character than I knew of before. Let us forget it. I would wish to have none but kindly recollections of the woman I loved so truly and so long.

For the secret must be told sooner or later, — I loved her before any of them. Before James Stockbridge, before George Hawker, before Thomas Troubridge, and I loved her more deeply and more truly than any of them. But the last remnant of that love departed from my heart twenty years ago, and that is why I can write of her so calmly now, and that is the reason, too, why I remain an old bachelor to this day.

  ― 107 ―

iii: Chapter VI.


BUT with us, who were staying down at Major Buckley's, a fortnight passed on so pleasantly that the horror of poor Lee's murder had begun to wear off, and we were getting once more as merry and careless as though we were living in the old times of profound peace. Sometimes we would think of poor Mary Hawker, at her lonely watch up at the forest station; but that or any other unpleasant subject was soon driven out of our heads by Captain Desborough, who had come back with six troopers, declared the country in a state of siege, proclaimed martial law, and kept us all laughing and amused from daylight to dark.

Captain Brentwood and his daughter Alice (the transcendently beautiful!) had come up, and were staying there. Jim and his friend Halbert were still away, but were daily expected. I never passed a pleasanter time in my life than during that fortnight's lull between the storms.

“Begorra (that's a Scotch expression, Miss Brentwood, but very forcible),” said Captain Desborough.

  ― 108 ―
“I owe you more than I can ever repay for buying out the Donovans. That girl Lesbia Burke would have forcibly abducted me, and married me against my will, if she hadn't had to follow the rest of the family to Port Phillip.”

“A fine woman, too,” said Captain Brentwood.

“I'd have called her a little coarse, myself,” said Desborough.

“One of the finest, strangest sights I ever saw in my life,” resumed Captain Brentwood, “was on the morning I came to take possession. None of the family were left but Murtagh Donovan and Miss Burke. I rode over from Buckley's, and when I came to the door Donovan took me by the arm, and saying ‘whist,’ led me into the sitting‐room. There, in front of the empty fireplace, crouched down on the floor, bareheaded, with her beautiful hair hanging about her shoulders, sat Miss Burke. Every now and then she would utter the strangest low wailing cry you ever heard: a cry, by Jove, sir, that went straight to your heart. I turned to Donovan, and whispered, ‘Is she ill?’ and he whispered again, ‘Her heart's broke at leaving the old place where she's lived so long. She's raising the keen over the cold hearthstone. It's the way of the Burkes.’ I don't know when I was so affected in my life. Somehow, that exquisite line came to my remembrance, — ‘And the hare shall kindle on the cold hearth‐stone,’

  ― 109 ―
and I went back quietly with Donovan; and, by Jove, sir, when we came out the great ass had the tears running down his cheeks. I have always felt kindly to that man since.”

“Ah, Captain,” said Desborough, “with all our vanity and absurdity, we Irish have got good warm hearts under our waistcoats. We are the first nation in the world, sir, saving the Jews.”

This was late in the afternoon of a temperate spring day. We were watching Desborough as he was giving the finishing touches to a beautiful watercolour drawing.

“Doctor,” he said, “come and pass your opinion.”

“I think you have done admirably, Captain,” said the Doctor; “you have given one a splendid idea of distance in the way you have toned down the plain, from the grey appearance it has ten miles off to the rich, delicate green it shows close to us. And your mountain, too, is most aërial. You would make an artist.”

“I am not altogether displeased with my work, Doctor, if you, who never flatter, can praise it with the original before you. How exceedingly beautiful the evening tones are becoming!”

We looked across the plain; the stretch of grass I have described was lying before one like a waveless sea, from the horizon of which rose the square abruptsided mass of basalt which years ago we had named

  ― 110 ―
the Organ‐hill, from the regular fluted columns of which it was composed. On most occasions, as seen from Major Buckley's, it appeared a dim mass of pearly grey, but to‐night, in the clear frosty air, it was of a rich purple, shining on the most prominent angles with a dull golden light.

“The more I look at that noble fire‐temple, the more I admire it,” said the Doctor. “It is one of the most majestic objects I ever beheld.”

“It is not unlike Staffa,” said Desborough. “There come two travellers.”

Two dots appeared crawling over the plain, and making for the river. For a few minutes Alice could not be brought to see them, but when she did, she declared that it was Jim and Halbert.

“You have good eyes, my love,” said her father, “to see what does not exist. Jim's horse is black, and Halbert's roan, and those two men are both on grey horses.”

“The wish was parent to the thought, father,” she replied, laughing. “I wonder what is keeping him away from us so long? If he is to go to India, I should like to see him as much as possible.”

“My dear,” said her father, “when he went off with Halbert to see the Markhams, I told him that if he liked to go on to Sydney, he could go if Halbert went with him, and draw on the agent for what money he wanted. By his being so long away, I conclude

  ― 111 ―
he has done so, and that he is probably at this moment getting a lesson at billiards from Halbert before going to dinner. I shall have a nice little account from the agent just now, of ‘Cash advanced to J. Brentwood, Esq.’ ”

“I don't think Jim's extravagant, papa,” said Alice.

“My dear,” said Captain Brentwood, “you do him injustice. He hasn't had the chance. I must say, considering his limited opportunities, he has spent as much money on horses, saddlery, &c., as any young gentleman on this country side. Eh, Sam?”

“Well sir,” said Sam, “Jim spends his money, but he generally makes pretty good investments in the horse line.”

“Such as that sweet‐tempered useful animal Stampedo,” replied the Captain, laughing, “who nearly killed a groom, and staked himself trying to leap out of the stockyard the second day he had him. Well, never mind; Jim's a good boy, and I am proud of him. I am in some hopes that this Sydney journey will satisfy his wandering propensities for the present, and that we may keep him at home. I wish he would fall in love with somebody, providing she wasn't old enough to be his grandmother. — Couldn't you send him a letter of introduction to some of your old schoolfellows, Miss Puss? There was one of them, I remember, I fell in love with myself one time when

  ― 112 ―
I came to see you; Miss Green, I think it was. She was very nearly being your mamma‐in‐law, my dear.”

“Why, she is a year younger than me,” said Alice, “and, oh goodness, such a temper! She threw the selections from Beethoven at Signor Smitherini, and had bread and water‐melon for two days for it. Serve her right!”

“I have had a narrow escape, then,” replied the father. “But we shall see who these two people are immediately, for they are crossing the river.”

When the two travellers rose again into sight on the near bank of the river, one of them was seen galloping forward, waving his hat.

“I knew it was Jim,” said Alice, “and on a new grey horse. I thought he would not go to Sydney.” And in a minute more she had run to meet him, and Jim was off his horse, kissing his sister, laughing, shouting, and dancing around her.

“Well, father,” he said, “here I am back again. Went to Sydney and stayed a week, when we met the two Marstons, and went right up to the Clarence with them. That was a pretty journey, eh? Sold the old horse, and bought this one. I've got heaps to tell you, sister, about what I've seen. I went home, and only stayed ten minutes; when I heard you were here, I came right on.”

“I am glad to see you back, Mr. Halbert,” said Major

  ― 113 ―
Buckley; “I hope you have had a pleasant journey. You have met Captain Desborough?”

“Captain Desborough, how are you?” says Jim. “I am very glad to see you. But, between you and I, you're always a bird of ill omen. Whose pig's dead now? What brings you back? I thought we should be rid of you by this time.”

“But you are not rid of me, Jackanapes,” said Desborough, laughing. “But I'll tell you what, Jim; there is really something wrong, my boy, and I'm glad to see you back.” And he told him all the news.

Jim grew very serious. “Well,” said he, “I'm glad to be home again; and I'm glad, too, to see you here. One feels safer when you're in the way. We must put a cheerful face on the matter, and not frighten the women. I have bought such a beautiful brace of pistols in Sydney. I hope I may never have the chance to use them in this country. Why, there's Cecil Mayford and Mrs. Buckley coming down the garden, and Charley Hawker, too. Why, Major, you've got all the world here to welcome us.”

The young men were soon busy discussing the merits of Jim's new horse, and examining with great admiration his splendid new pistols. Charley Hawker, poor boy! made a mental resolution to go to Sydney, and also come back with a new grey horse, and a pair of pistols more resplendent than Jim's. And then they went in to get ready for dinner.

  ― 114 ―

When Jim unpacked his valise, he produced a pretty bracelet for his sister, and a stockwhip for Sam. On the latter article he was very eloquent.

“Sam, my boy,” said he, “there is not such another in the country. It was made by the celebrated Bill Mossman of the Upper Hunter, the greatest swearer at bullocks, and the most accomplished whipmaker on the Sydney side. He makes only one in six months, and he makes it a favour to let you have it for five pounds. You can take a piece of bark off a blue gum, big enough for a canoe, with one cut of it. There's a fine of two pounds for cracking one within a mile of Government House, they make such a row. A man the other day cracked one of them on the South Head, and broke the windows in Pitt Street.”

“You're improving, master Jim,” said Charles Hawker. “You'll soon be as good a hand at a yarn as Hamlyn's Dick.” At the same time he wrote down a stockwhip, similar to this one, on the tablets of his memory, to be procured on his projected visit to Sydney.

That evening we all sat listening to Jim's adventures; and pleasantly enough he told them, with not a little humorous exaggeration. It is always pleasant to hear a young fellow telling his first impressions of new things and scenes, which have been so long familiar to ourselves; but Jim had really a very good power of narration, and he kept us laughing and amused till long after the usual hour for going to bed.

  ― 115 ―

Next day we had a pleasant ride, all of us, down the banks of the river. The weather was slightly frosty, and the air clear and elastic. As we followed the windings of the noble rushing stream, at a height of seldom less than three hundred feet above his bed, the Doctor was busy pointing out the alternations of primitive sandstone and slate, and the great streams of volcanic bluestone which had poured from various points towards the deep glen in which the river flowed. Here, he would tell us, was formerly a lofty cascade, and a lake above it, but the river had worn through the sandstone bar, drained the lake, leaving nothing of the waterfall but two lofty cliffs, and a rapid. There again had come down a lava‐stream from Mirngish, which, cooled by the waters of the river, had stopped, and, accumulating, formed the lofty overhanging cliff on which we stood. He showed us how the fern‐trees grew only in the still sheltered elbows facing northward, where the sun raised a warm steam from the river, and the cold south wind could not penetrate. He gathered for Mrs. Buckley a bouquet of the tender sweetscented yellow oxalis, the winter flower of Australia, and showed us the copper‐lizard basking on the red rocks, so like the stone on which he lay, that one could scarce see him till a metallic gleam betrayed him, as he slipped to his lair. And we, the elder of the party, who followed the Doctor's handsome little brown mare, kept our ears open, and spoke little, — but gave

  ― 116 ―
ourselves fully up to the enjoyment of his learning and eloquence.

But the Doctor did not absorb the whole party; far from it. He had a rival. All the young men, and Miss Alice besides, were grouped round Captain Desborough. Frequently we elders, deep in some Old World history of the Doctor's, would be disturbed by a ringing peal of laughter from the other party, and then the Doctor would laugh, and we would all join; not that we had heard the joke, but from sheer sympathy with the hilarity of the young folks. Desborough was making himself agreeable, and who could do it better? He was telling the most outrageous of Irish stories, and making, on purpose, the most outrageous of Irish bulls. After a shout of laughter louder than the rest, the Doctor remarked, —

“That's better for them than geology, — eh, Mrs. Buckley?”

“And so my grandmother,” we heard Desborough say, “waxed mighty wrath, and she up with her goldheaded walking stick in the middle of Sackville Street, and says she, ‘Ye villain, do ye think I don't know my own Blenheim spannel when I see him?’ ‘Indeed, my lady,’ says Mike, ‘'twas himself tould me he belanged to Barney.’ ‘Who tould you?’ says she. ‘The dog himself tould me, my lady.’ ‘Ye thief of the world,’ says my aunt, ‘and ye'd believe a dog before a dowager countess? Give him up, ye villain, this minute, or I'll hit ye!’ ”

  ― 117 ―

These were the sort of stories Desborough delighted in, making them up, he often confessed, as he went on. On this occasion, when he had done his story, they all rode up and joined us, and we stood admiring the river, stretching westward in pools of gold between black cliffs, toward the setting sun; then we turned homeward.

That evening Alice said, “Now do tell me, Captain Desborough, was that a true story about Lady Covetown's dog?”

“True!” said he. “What story worth hearing ever was true? The old lady lost her dog certainly, and claimed him of a dogstealer in Sackville Street; but all the rest, my dear young lady, is historic romance.”

“Mr. Hamlyn knows a good story,” said Charley Hawker, “about Bougong Jack. Do tell it to us, Uncle Jeff.”

“I don't think,” I said, “that it has so much foundation in fact as Captain Desborough's. But there must be some sort of truth in it, for it comes from the old hands, and shows a little more signs of imagination than you would expect from them. It is a very stupid story too.”

“Do tell it,” they all said. So I complied, much in the same language as I tell it now: —

You know that these great snow‐ranges which tower up to the west of us are, farther south, of great breadth, and that none have yet forced their way from

  ― 118 ―
the country of the Ovens and the Mitta Mitta through here to Gipp's‐land.

The settlers who have just taken up that country, trying to penetrate to the eastward here towards us, find themselves stopped by a mighty granite wall. Any adventurous men, who may top that barrier, see nothing before them but range beyond range of snow Alps, intersected by precipitous cliffs, and frightful chasms.

This westward range is called the Bougongs. The blacks during summer are in the habit of coming thus far to collect and feed on the great grey moths (Bougongs) which are found on the rocks. They used to report that a fine available country lies to the east embosomed in mountains, rendered fertile by perpetual snow‐fed streams. This is the more credible, as it is evident that between the Bougong range on the west and the Warragong range on the extreme east, towards us, there is a breadth of at least eighty miles.

There lived a few years ago, not very far from the Ovens‐river, a curious character, by name John Sampson. He had been educated at one of the great English universities, and was a good scholar, though he had been forced to leave the university, and, as report went, England too, for some great irregularity.

He had money, and a share in his brother‐in‐law's station, although he never stayed there many months in the year. He was always away at some mischief or another. No horse‐race or prize‐fight could go on

  ― 119 ―
without him, and he himself never left one of these last‐mentioned gatherings without finding some one to try conclusions with him. Beside this, he was a great writer and singer of comic songs, and a consummate horseman.

One fine day he came back to his brother's station in serious trouble. Whether he had mistaken another man's horse for his own or not, I cannot say; but, at all events, he announced that a warrant was out against him for horse‐stealing, and that he must go into hiding. So he took up his quarters at a little hut of his brotherin‐law's, on the ranges, inhabited only by a stockkeeper and a black boy, and kept a young lubra in pay to watch down the glen for the police.

One morning she came running into the hut, breathless, to say that a lieutenant and three troopers were riding towards the hut. Jack had just time to saddle and mount his horse before the police caught sight of him, and started after him at full speed.

They hunted him into a narrow glen; a single cattletrack, not a foot broad, led on between a swollen rocky creek, utterly impassable by horse or man, and a lofty precipice of loose broken slate, on which one would have thought a goat could not have found a footing. The young police lieutenant had done his work well, and sent a trooper round to head him, so that Jack found himself between the devil and the deep sea. A tall armed trooper stood in front of him, behind was the

  ― 120 ―
lieutenant, on the right of the creek, and on the left the precipice.

They called out to him to surrender; but, giving one look before and behind, and seeing escape was hopeless, he hesitated not a moment, but put his horse at the cliff, and clambered up, rolling down tons of loose slate in his course. The lieutenant shut his eyes, expecting to see horse and man roll down into the creek, and only opened them in time to see Jack stand for a moment on the summit against the sky, and then disappear.

He disappeared over the top of the cliff, and so he was lost to the ken of white men for the space of four years. His sister and brother‐in‐law mourned for him as dead, and mourned sincerely, for they and all who knew him liked him well. But at the end of that time, on a wild winter's night, he came back to them, dressed in opossum skins, with scarce a vestige of European clothing about him. His beard had grown down over his chest, and he had nearly forgotten his mother tongue, but, when speech came to him again, he told them a strange story.

It was winter time when he rode away. All the table lands were deep with snow; and, when he had escaped the policemen, he had crossed the first of the great ridges on the same night. He camped in the valley he found on the other side; and, having his gun and some ammunition with him, he fared well.

He was beyond the country which had ever been

  ― 121 ―
trodden by white men, and now, for the mere sake of adventure, he determined to go further still, and see if he could cross the great White Mountains, which had hitherto been considered an insurmountable barrier.

For two days he rode over a high table‐land, deep in snow. Here and there, in a shallow sheltered valley, he would find just grass enough to keep his horse alive, but nothing for himself. On the third night he saw before him another snow‐ridge, too far off to reach without rest, and, tethering his horse in a little crevice between the rocks, he prepared to walk to and fro all night, to keep off the deadly snow sleepiness that he felt coming over him. “Let me but see what is beyond that next ridge,” he said, “and I will lie down and die.”

And now, as the stillness of the night came on, and the Southern Cross began to twinkle brilliantly above the blinding snow, he was startled once more by a sound which had fallen on his ear several times during his toilsome afternoon journey: a sound as of a sudden explosion, mingled, strangely too, with the splintering of broken glass. At first he thought it was merely the booming in his ears, or the rupture of some vessel in his bursting head. Or was it fancy? No; there it was again, clearer than before. That was no noise in his head, for the patient horse turned and looked toward the place where the sound came from. Thunder? The air was clear and frosty, and not a cloud stained the sky. There was

  ― 122 ―
some mystery beyond that snow‐ridge worth living to see.

He lived to see it. For an hour after daybreak next morning, he, leading his horse, stumbled over the snowcovered rocks that bounded his view, and, when he reached the top, there burst on his sight a scene that made him throw up his arms and shout aloud.

Before him, pinnacle after pinnacle towered up a mighty Alp, blazing in the morning sun. Down through a black rift on its side wound a gleaming glacier, which hurled its shattered ice crystals over a dark cliff, into the deep profound blue of a lake, which stretched north and south, studded with green woody islets, almost as far as the eye could see. Toward the mountain the lake looked deep and gloomy, but, on the hither side, showed many a pleasant yellow shallow, and sandy bay, while between him and the lake lay a mile or so of park‐like meadow land, in the full verdure of winter. As he looked, a vast dislocated mass of ice fell crashing from the glacier into the lake, and solved at once the mystery of the noises he had heard the night before.

He descended into the happy valley, and found a small tribe of friendly blacks, who had never before seen the face of white man, and who supposed him to be one of their own tribe, dead long ago, who had come back to them, renovated and beautified, from the other world. With these he lived a pleasant slothful life, while four years went on, forgetting all the outside world, till his

  ― 123 ―
horse was dead, his gun rusted and thrown aside, and his European clothes long since replaced by the skin of the opossum and the koala. He had forgotten his own tongue, and had given up all thoughts of crossing again the desolate barriers of snow which divided him from civilization, when a slight incident brought back old associations to his mind, and roused him from sleep.

In some hunting excursion he got a slight scratch, and, searching for some linen to tie it up, found in his mi‐mi an old waistcoat, which he had worn when he came into the valley. In the lining, while tearing it up, he found a crumpled paper, a note from his sister, written years before, full of sisterly kindness and tenderness. He read it again and again before he lay down, and the next morning, collecting such small stock of provisions as he could, he started on the homeward track, and after incredible hardships reached his station.

His brother‐in‐law tried in vain with a strong party to reach the lake, but never succeeded. What mountain it was he discovered, or what river is fed by the lake he lived on, no man knows to this day. Some say he went mad, and lived in the ranges all the time, and that this was all a mere madman's fancy. But, whether he was mad or not then, he is sane enough now, and has married a wife, and settled down to be one of the most thriving men in that part of the country. note

  ― 124 ―

“Well,” said the Doctor, thrusting his fists deep into his breeches pockets, “I don't believe that story.”

“Nor I either, Doctor,” I replied. “But it has amused you all for half an hour; so let it pass.”

“Oh!” said the Doctor, rather peevishly, “if you put it on those grounds, I am bound, of course, to withhold a few little criticisms I was inclined to make on its probability. I hope you won't go and pass it off as authentic, you know, because if we once begin to entertain these sort of legends as meaning anything, the whole history of the country becomes one great fogbank, through which the devil himself could not find his way.”

“Now, for my part,” said mischievous Alice, “I think it a very pretty story. And I have no doubt that it is every word of it true.”

“Oh, dear me, then,” said the Doctor, “let us vote it true. And, while we are about it, let us believe that the Sydney ghost actually did sit on a three‐rail fence, smoking its pipe, and directing an anxious crowd of relatives where to find its body. By all means let us believe everything we hear.”

The next morning our pleasant party suffered a loss. Captain Brentwood and Alice went off home. He was wanted there, and all things seemed so tranquil that he thought it was foolish to stay away any longer. Cecil Mayford, too, departed, carrying with him the affectionate farewells of the whole party. His pleasant even temper, and his handsome face, had won every one who

  ― 125 ―
knew him, and, though he never talked much, yet, when he was gone, we all missed his merry laugh, after one of Desborough's good stories. Charley Hawker went off with him too, and spent a few hours with Ellen Mayford, much to his satisfaction, but came in again at night, as his mother had prayed of him not to leave the Major's till he had seen her again.

That night the Major proposed punch, and, after Mrs. Buckley had gone to bed, Sam sang a song, and Desborough told a story, about a gamekeeper of his uncle's, whom the old gentleman desired to start in an independent way of business. So he built him a new house, and gave him a keg of whisky, to start in the spirit‐selling line. “But the first night,” said Desborough, “the villain finished the whisky himself, broke the keg, and burnt the house down; so my uncle had to take him back into service again, after all.” And after this came other stories equally preposterous, and we went rather late to bed.

And the next morning, too, I am afraid, we were rather late for breakfast. Just as we were sitting down, in came Captain Brentwood.

“Hallo,” said the Major; “what brings you back so soon, old friend. Nothing the matter I hope?”

“Nothing but business,” he replied. “I am going on to Dickson's, and I shall be back home to‐night, I hope. I am glad to find you so late, as I have had no breakfast, and have ridden ten miles.”

  ― 126 ―

He took breakfast with us and went on. The morning passed somewhat heavily, as a morning is apt to do, after sitting up late and drinking punch. Towards noon Desborough said, —

“Now, if anybody will confess that he drank just three drops too much punch last night, I will do the same. Mrs. Buckley, my dear lady, I hope you will order plenty of pale ale for lunch.”

Lunch passed pleasantly enough, and afterwards the Major, telling Sam to move a table outside into the verandah, disappeared, and soon came back with a very “curious” bottle of Madeira. We sat then in the verandah smoking for about a quarter of an hour.

I remember every word that was spoken, and every trivial circumstance that happened during that quarter of an hour; they are burnt into my memory as if by fire. The Doctor was raving about English poetry, as usual, saying, however, that the modern English poets, good as they were, had lost the power of melody a good deal. This the Major denied, quoting: — “By torch and trumpet fast array'd.”

“Fifty such lines, sir, are not worth one of Milton's,” said the Doctor. “‘The trumpet spake not to the armed throng.’ There's melody for you; there's a blare and a clang; there's a——”

I heard no more. Mrs. Buckley's French clock, in

  ― 127 ―
the house behind, chimed three quarters past one, and I heard a sound of two persons coming quickly through the house.

Can you tell the step of him who brings evil tidings? I think I can. At all events, I felt my heart grow cold when I heard those footsteps. I heard them coming through the house, across the boarded floor. The one was a rapid, firm, military footstep, accompanied with the clicking of a spur, and the other was unmistakably the “pad, pad” of a black‐fellow.

We all turned round and looked at the door. There stood the sergeant of Desborough's troopers, pale and silent, and close behind him, clinging to him as if for protection, was the lithe naked figure of a black lad, looking from behind the sergeant, with terrified visage, first at one and then at another of us.

I saw disaster in their faces, and would have held up my hand to warn him not to speak before Mrs. Buckley. But I was too late, for he had spoken. And then we sat for a minute, looking at one another, each man seeing the reflection of his own horror in his neighbour's eyes.

  ― 128 ―

iii: Chapter VII.


POOR little Cecil Mayford had left us about nine o'clock in the morning of the day before this, and, accompanied by Charles Hawker, reached his mother's station about eleven o'clock in the day.

All the way Charles had talked incessantly of Ellen, and Cecil joined in Charles's praises of his sister, and joked with him for being “awfully spooney” about her.

“You're worse about my sister, Charley,” said he, “than old Sam is about Miss Brentwood. He takes things quiet enough, but if you go on in this style till you are old enough to marry, by Jove, there'll be nothing of you left!”

“I wonder if she would have me?” said Charles, not heeding him.

“The best thing you can do is to ask her,” said Cecil. “I think I know what she would say though.”

They reached Mrs. Mayford's, and spent a few pleasant hours together. Charles started home again about three o'clock, and having gone a little way,

  ― 129 ―
turned to look back. The brother and sister stood at the house‐door still. He waved his hand in farewell to them, and they replied. Then he rode on and saw them no more.

Cecil and Ellen went into the house to their mother. The women worked, and Cecil read aloud to them. The book was “Waverley;” I saw it afterwards, and when supper was over he took it up to begin reading again.

“Not that book to‐night, my boy,” said his mother. “Read us a chapter out of the Bible. I am very low in my mind, and at such times I like to hear the Word.”

He read the good book to them till quite late. Both he and Ellen thought it strange that their mother should insist on that book on a week‐night; they never usually read it, save on Sunday evenings.

The morning broke bright and frosty. Cecil was abroad betimes, and went down the paddock to fetch the horses. He put them in the stock‐yard, and stood for a time close to the stable, talking to a tame black lad, that they employed about the place.

His attention was attracted by a noise of horses' feet. He looked up and saw about a dozen men riding swiftly and silently across the paddock towards the house.

For an instant he seems to have idly wondered who they were, and have had time to notice a thickset gaudily dressed man, who rode in front of the others,

  ― 130 ―
when the kitchen‐door was thrown suddenly open, and the old hut‐keeper, with his grey hair waving in the wind, run out, crying, — “Save yourself, in God's name, Master Cecil. The Bushrangers!”

Cecil raised his clenched hands in wild despair. They were caught like birds in a trap. No hope! — no escape! Nothing left for it now, but to die red‐handed. He dashed into the house with the old hut‐keeper and shut the door.

The black lad ran up to a little rocky knoll within two hundred yards of the house, and, hiding himself, watched what went on. He saw the bushrangers ride up to the door and dismount. Then they began to beat the door and demand admittance. Then the door was burst down, and one of them fell dead by a pistolshot. Then they rushed in tumultuously, leaving one outside to mind the horses. Then the terrified boy heard the dull sound of shots fired rapidly inside the building (pray that you may never hear that noise, reader: it always means mischief), and then all was comparatively still for a time.

Then there began to arise a wild sound of brutal riot within, and after a time they poured out again, and mounting, rode away.

Then the black boy slipt down from his lair like a snake, and stole towards the house. All was still as death. The door was open, but, poor little savage as he was, he dared not enter. Once he thought he heard

  ― 131 ―
a movement within, and listened intently with all his faculties, as only a savage can listen, but all was still again. And then gathering courage, he went in.

In the entrance, stepping over the body of the dead bushranger, he found the poor old white‐headed hutkeeper knocked down and killed in the first rush. He went on into the parlour; and there, — oh, lamentable sight! — was Cecil; clever, handsome little Cecil, our old favourite, lying half fallen from the sofa, shot through the heart, dead.

But not alone. No; prone along the floor, covering six feet or more of ground, lay the hideous corpse of Moody, the cannibal. The red‐headed miscreant, who had murdered poor Lee, under George Hawker's directions.

I think the poor black boy would have felt in his dumb darkened heart some sorrow at seeing his kind old master so cruelly murdered. Perhaps he would have raised the death‐cry of his tribe over him, and burnt himself with fire, as their custom is; but he was too terrified at seeing so many of the lordly white race prostrated by one another's hands. He stood and trembled, and then, almost in a whisper, began to call for Mrs. Mayford.

“Missis!” he said, “Miss Ellen! All pull away, bushranger chaps. Make a light, good Missis. Plenty frightened this fellow.”

No answer. No sign of Mrs. Mayford or Ellen.

  ― 132 ―
They must have escaped then. We will try to hope so. The black boy peered into one chamber after another, but saw no signs of them, only the stillness of death over all.

Let us leave this accursed house, lest, prying too closely, we may find crouching in some dark corner a Gorgon, who will freeze us into stone.

The black lad stripped himself naked as he was born, and running like a deer, sped to Major Buckley's before the south wind, across the plain. There he found the Sergeant, and told him his tale, and the Sergeant and he broke in on us with the terrible news as we were sitting merrily over our wine.

  ― 133 ―

iii: Chapter VIII.


THE Sergeant, as I said, broke in upon us with the fearful news as we sat at wine. For a minute no man spoke, but all sat silent and horror struck. Only the Doctor rose quietly, and slipped out of the room unnoticed.

Desborough spoke first. He rose up with deadly wrath in his face, and swore a fearful oath, an oath so fearful, that he who endorsed every word of it then, will not write it down now. To the effect, “That, he would take neither meat, nor drink, nor pleasure, nor rest, beyond what was necessary to keep body and soul together, before he had purged the land of these treacherous villains!”

Charles Hawker went up to the Sergeant, with a livid face and shaking hands; “Will you tell me again, Robinson, are they all dead?

The Sergeant looked at him compassionately. “Well, sir!” he said; “the boy seemed to think Mrs. and Miss Mayford had escaped. But you mustn't trust what he says, sir.”

  ― 134 ―

“You are deceiving me,” said Charles. “There is something you are hiding from me, I shall go down there this minute, and see.”

“You will do nothing of the kind, sir,” said Mrs. Buckley, coming into the doorway and confronting him; “your place is with Captain Desborough. I am going down to look after Ellen.”

During these few moments, Sam had stood stupified. He stepped up to the Sergeant, and said, —

“Would you tell me which way they went from the Mayfords'?”

“Down the river, sir.”

“Ah!” said Sam; “towards Captain Brentwood's, and Alice at home, and alone! — There may be time yet.”

He ran out of the room and I after him. “His first trouble,” I thought, — “his first trial. How will our boy behave now?”

Let me mention again, that the distance from the Mayfords' to Captain Brentwood's, following the windings of the river on its right bank, was nearly twenty miles. From Major Buckley's to the same point, across the plains, was barely ten; so that there was still a chance that a brave man on a good horse, might reach Captain Brentwood's before the bushrangers, in spite of the start they had got.

Sam's noble horse, Widderin, a horse with a pedigree a hundred years old, stood in the stable. The buying

  ― 135 ―
of that horse had been Sam's only extravagance, for which he had often reproached himself, and now this day, he would see whether he would get his money's worth out of that horse, or no.

I followed him up to the stable, and found him putting the bridle on Widderin's beautiful little head. Neither of us spoke, only when I handed him the saddle, and helped him with the girths, he said, “God bless you.”

I ran out and got down the slip‐rails for him. As he rode by he said, “Good‐bye, uncle Jeff, perhaps you won't see me again;” and I cried out, “Remember your God and your mother, Sam, and don't do anything foolish.”

Then he was gone; and looking across the plains the way he should go, I saw another horseman toiling far away, and recognised Doctor Mulhaus. Good Doctor! he had seen the danger in a moment, and by his ready wit had got a start of every one else by ten minutes.

The Doctor, on his handsome long‐bodied Arabian mare, was making good work of it across the plains, when he heard the rush of horses' feet behind him, and turning, he saw tall Widderin bestridden by Sam, springing over the turf, gaining on him stride after stride. In a few minutes they were alongside of one another.

“Good lad!” cried the Doctor; “On, forwards;

  ― 136 ―
catch her, and away to the woods with her. Bloodhound Desborough will be on their trail in half‐an‐hour. Save her, and we will have noble vengeance.”

Sam only waved his hand in good‐bye, and sped on across the plain like a solitary ship at sea. He steered for a single tree, now becoming dimly visible, at the foot of the Organ hill.

The good horse, with elastic and easy motion, fled on his course like a bird; lifting his feet clearly and rapidly through the grass. The brisk south wind filled his wide nostrils as he turned his graceful neck from side to side, till, finding that work was meant, and not play, he began to hold his head straight before him, and rush steadily forward.

And Sam, poor Sam! all his hopes for life now brought down to this: to depend on the wind and pluck of an unconscious horse. One stumble now, and it were better to lie down on the plain and die. He was in the hands of God, and he felt it. He said one short prayer, but that towards the end was interrupted by the wild current of his thoughts.

Was there any hope? They, the devils, would have been drinking at the Mayfords', and perhaps would go slow; or would they ride fast and wild? After thinking a short time, he feared the latter. They had tasted blood, and knew that the country would be roused on them shortly. On, on, good horse!

The lonely shepherd on the plains, sleepily watching

  ― 137 ―
his feeding sheep, looked up as Sam went speeding by, and thought how fine a thing it would be to be dressed like that, and have nothing to do but to ride bloodhorses to death. Mind your sheep, good shepherd; perhaps it were better for you to do that and nothing more all your life, than to carry in your breast for one short hour such a volcano of rage, indignation, and terror, as he does who hurries unheeding through your scattered flock.

Here are a brace of good pistols, and they, with care, shall give account, if need be, of two men. After that, nothing. It were better, so much better, not to live if one were only ten minutes too late. The Doctor would be up soon; not much matter if he were, though, only another life gone.

The Organ hill, a cloud of misty blue when he started, now hung in aërial fluted cliffs above his head. As he raced across the long glacis which lay below the hill, he could see a solitary eagle wheeling round the topmost pinnacles, against the clear blue sky; then the hill was behind him, and before him another stretch of plain, bounded by timber, which marked the course of the river.

Brave Widderin had his ears back now, and was throwing his breath regularly through his nostrils in deep sighs. Good horse, only a little longer; bear thyself bravely this day, and then pleasant pastures for thee till thou shalt go the way of all horses. Many a

  ― 138 ―
time has she patted, with kind words, thy rainbow neck, my horse; help us to save her now.

Alas! good willing brute, he cannot understand; only he knows that his kind master is on his back, and so he will run till he drop. Good Widderin! think of the time when thy sire rushed triumphant through the shouting thousands at Epsom, and all England heard that Arcturus had won the Derby. Think of the time when thy grandam, carrying Sheik Abdullah, bore down in a whirlwind of sand on the toiling affrighted caravan. Ah! thou knowest not of these things, but yet thy speed flags not. We are not far off now, good horse, we shall know all soon.

Now he was in the forest again, and now, as he rode quickly down the steep sandy road among the braken, he heard the hoarse rush of the river in his ears, and knew the end was well‐nigh come.

No drink now, good Widderin! a bucket of Champagne in an hour's time, if thou wilt only stay not now to bend thy neck down to the clear gleaming water; flounder through the ford, and just twenty yards up the bank by the cherry‐tree, we shall catch sight of the house, and know our fate.

Now the house was in sight, and now he cried aloud some wild inarticulate sound of thankfulness and joy. All was as peaceful as ever, and Alice, unconscious, stood white‐robed in the verandah, feeding her birds.

As he rode up he shouted out to her and beckoned.

  ― 139 ―
She came running through the house, and met him breathless at the doorway.

“The bushrangers! Alice, my love,” he said. “We must fly this instant, they are close to us now.”

She had been prepared for this. She knew her duty well, for her father had often told her what to do. No tears! no hysterics! She took Sam's hand without a word, and placing her fairy foot upon his boot, vaulted up into the saddle before him, crying, — “Eleanor, Eleanor!”

Eleanor, the cook, came running out. “Fly!” said Alice. “Get away into the bush. The gang are coming; close by.” She, an old Vandemonian, needed no second warning, and as the two young people rode away, they saw her clearing the paddock rapidly, and making for a dense clump of wattles, which grew just beyond the fence.

“Whither now, Sam?” said Alice, the moment they were started.

“I should feel safer across the river,” he replied; “that little wooded knoll would be a fine hiding‐place, and they will come down this side of the river from Mayford's.”

“From Mayford's! why, have they been there?”

“They have, indeed. Alas! poor Cecil.”

“What has happened to him? nothing serious.”

“Dead! my love, dead.”

  ― 140 ―

“Oh! poor little Cecil,” she cried, “that we were all so fond of. And Mrs. Mayford and Ellen?”

“They have escaped! — they are not to be found. — They have hidden away somewhere.”

They crossed the river, and dismounting, they led the tired horse up the steep slope of turf that surrounded a little castellated tor of bluestone. Here they would hide till the storm was gone by, for from here they could see the windings of the river, and all the broad plain stretched out beneath their feet.

“I do not see them anywhere, Alice,” said Sam presently. “I see no one coming across the plains. They must be either very near us in the hollow of the river‐valley, or else a long way off. I have very little doubt they will come here though, sooner or later.”

“There they are!” said Alice. “Surely there are a large party of horsemen on the plain, but they are seven or eight miles off.”

“Ay, ten,” said Sam. “I am not sure they are horsemen.” Then he said suddenly in a whisper, “Lie down, my love, in God's name! Here they are, close to us!”

There burst on his ear a confused sound of talking and laughing, and out of one of the rocky gullies leading towards the river, came the men they had been flying from, in number about fourteen. They had crossed the river, for some unknown reason, and to the fear‐struck hiders it seemed as though they were making straight towards their lair.

  ― 141 ―

He had got Widderin's head in his breast, blindfolding him with his coat, for should he neigh now, they were undone, indeed! As the bushrangers approached, the horse began to get uneasy, and paw the ground, putting Sam in such an agony of terror that the sweat rolled down his face. In the midst of this he felt a hand on his arm, and Alice's voice, which he scarcely recognised, said, in a fierce whisper, —

“Give me one of your pistols, sir!”

“Leave that to me!” he replied in the same tone.

“As you please,” she said; “but I must not fall alive into their hands. Never look your mother in the face again if I do.”

He gave one more glance round, and saw that the enemy would come within a hundred yards of their hiding‐place. Then he held the horse faster than ever, and shut his eyes.

Was it a minute only, or an hour, till they heard the sound of the voices dying away in the roar of the river? and, opening their eyes once more, looked into one another's faces.

Faces, they thought, that they had never seen before, — so each told the other afterwards, — so wild, so haggard, and so strange! And now that they were safe and free again — free to arise and leave their dreadful rock prison, and wander away where they would, they could scarcely believe that the danger was past.

They came out silently from among the crags, and

  ― 142 ―
took up another station, where they could see all that went on. They saw the miscreants swarming about the house, and heard a pistol‐shot — only one.

“Who can they be firing at?” said Alice, in a subdued tone. They were both so utterly appalled by their late danger, that they spoke in whispers, though the enemy were a quarter of a mile off.

“Mere mischief, I should fancy,” said Sam; “there is no one there. Oh! Alice, my love, can you realize that we are safe?”

“Hardly yet, Sam! But who could those men be we saw at such a distance on the plain? Could they have been cattle? I am seldom deceived, you know; I can see an immense distance.”

“Why,” said Sam, “I had forgotten them! They must be our friends, on these fellows' tracks. Desborough would not be long starting, I know.”

“I hope my father,” said Alice, “will hear nothing till he sees me. Poor father! what a state he will be in. See, there is a horseman close to us. It is the Doctor!”

They saw Dr. Mulhaus ride up to one of the heights overlooking the river, and reconnoitre. Seeing the men in the house, he began riding down towards them.

“He will be lost!” said Alice. “He thinks we are there. Call, Sam, at all risks.”

Sam did so, and they saw the Doctor turn. Alice showed herself for a moment, and then he turned back,

  ― 143 ―
and rode the way he had come. In a few minutes he joined them from the rear, and, taking Alice in his arms, kissed her heartily.

“So, our jewel is safe, then — praise be to God! Thanks due also to a brave man and a good horse. This is the last station those devils will ruin, for our friends are barely four miles off. I saw them just now.”

“I wish, I only wish,” said Sam, “that they may delay long enough to be caught. I would give a good deal for that.”

There was but little chance of that, though; their measures were too well taken. Almost as Sam spoke, the three listeners heard a shrill whistle, and immediately the enemy began mounting. Some of them were evidently drunk, and could hardly get on their horses, but were assisted by the others. But very shortly they were all clear off, heading to the northwest.

“Now we may go down, and see what destruction has been done,” said Alice. “Who would have thought to see such times as these!”

“Stay a little,” said the Doctor, “and let us watch these gentlemen's motions. Where can they be going nor'‐west — straight on to the mountains?”

“I am of opinion,” said Sam, “that they are going to lie up in one of the gullies this evening. They are full of drink and madness, and they don't know what they are about. If they get into the main system of

  ― 144 ―
gullies, we shall have them like rats in a trap, for they can never get out by the lower end. Do you see, Doctor, a little patch of white road among the trees over there? That leads to the Limestone Gates, as we call it. If they pass those walls upwards, they are confined as in a pound. Watch the white road, and we shall see.”

The piece of road alluded to was about two miles off, and winding round a steep hill among trees. Only one turn in it was visible, and over this, as they watched, they saw a dark spot pass, followed by a crowd of others.

“There they go,” said Sam. “The madmen are safe now. See, there comes Desborough, and all of them; let us go down.”

They turned to go, and saw Jim coming towards them, by the route that Sam had come, all bespattered with clay, limping and leading his new grey horse, dead lame.

He threw up his hat when he saw them, and gave a feeble hurrah! but even then a twinge of pain shot across his face, and, when he was close, they saw he was badly hurt.

“God save you, my dear sister,” he said; “I have been in such a state of mind; God forgive me, I have been cursing the day I was born. Sam, I started about three minutes after you, and had very nearly succeeded in overhauling the Doctor, about two miles from here, when this brute put his foot in a crab hole,

  ― 145 ―
and came down, rolling on my leg. I was so bruised I couldn't mount again, and so I have walked. I see you are all right though, and that is enough for me. Oh my sister — my darling Alice! Think what we have escaped!”

So they went towards the house. And when Major Buckley caught sight of Alice, riding between Doctor Mulhaus and Sam, he gave such a stentorian cheer that the retreating bushrangers must have heard it.

“Well ridden, gentlemen,” he said. “And who won the race? Was it Widderin, or the Arabian, or the nondescript Sydney importation?”

“The Sydney importation, sir, would have beaten the Arabian, barring accident,” said Jim. “But, seriously speaking, I should have been far too late to be of any service.”

“And I,” said the Doctor, “also. Sam won the race, and has got the prize. Now, let us look forward, and not backward.”

They communicated to Desborough all particulars, and told him of the way they had seen the bushrangers go. Every one was struck with the change in him. No merry stories now. The laughing Irishman was gone, and a stern gloomy man, more like an Englishman, stood in his place. I heard after, that he deeply blamed himself for what had occurred (though no one else thought of doing so), and thought he had not taken full precautions. On the present occasion, he said, —

“Well, gentlemen, night is closing in. Major

  ― 146 ―
Buckley, I think you will agree with me that we should act more effectually if we waited till daylight, and refresh both horses and men. More particularly as the enemy in their drunken madness have hampered themselves in the mountains. Major, Doctor Mulhaus, and Mr. Halbert, you are military men — what do you say?”

They agreed that there was no doubt. It would be much the best plan.

“I would sooner he'd have gone to‐night and got it over,” said Charles Hawker, taking Sam's arm. “Oh! Sam, Sam! Think of poor Cecil! Think of poor Ellen, when she hears what has happened. She must know by now!”

“Poor Charley,” said Sam, “I am so sorry for you. Lie down, and get to sleep; the sun is going down.”

He lay down as he was bid, somewhere out of the way. He was crushed and stunned. He hardly seemed to know at present what he was doing. After a time, Sam went in and found him sleeping uneasily.

But Alice was in sad tribulation at the mischief done. All her pretty little womanly ornaments overturned and broken, her piano battered to pieces, and, worst of all, her poor kangaroo shot dead, lying in the verandah. “Oh!” said she to Major Buckley, “you must think me very wicked to think of such things at a time like this, but I cannot help it. There is something so shocking to me in such a sudden bouleversement of old

  ― 147 ―
order. Yet, if it shocks me to see my piano broken, how terrible must a visitation like the Mayfords' be. These are not the times for moralizing, however. I must see about entertaining the garrison.”

Eleanor, the cook, had come back from her lair, quite unconcerned. She informed the company, in a nonchalant sort of way, that this was the third adventure of the kind she had been engaged in, and, although they seemed to make a great fuss about it; on the other side (Van Diemen's Land), it was considered a mere necessary nuisance; and so proceeded to prepare such supper as she could. In the same off‐hand way she remarked to Sam, when he went into the kitchen to get a light for his pipe, that, if it was true that Mike Howe had crossed and was among them, they had better look out for squalls; for that he was a devil, and no mistake.

Desborough determined to set a watch out on the road towards the mouth of the gully, where they were supposed to be. “We shall have them in the morning,” said he. “Let every one get to sleep who can sleep, for I expect every one to follow me to morrow.”

Charles Hawker had laid down in an inner room, and was sleeping uneasily, when he was awakened by some one, and, looking up, saw Major Buckley, with a light in his hand, bending over him. He started up.

“What is the matter, sir?” he asked. “Why do you look at me so strangely? Is there any new misfortune?”

  ― 148 ―

“Charles,” said the Major, “you have no older friend than me.”

“I know it, sir. What do you want me to do?”

“I want you to stay at home to‐morrow.”

“Anything but that, sir. They will call me a coward.”

“No one shall do so. I swear that he who calls you a coward shall feel the weight of my arm.”

“Why am I not to go with them? Why am I to be separated from the others?”

“You must not ask,” said the Major; “perhaps you will know some day, but not yet. All I say to you is, go home to your mother to‐morrow, and stay there. Should you fire a shot, or strike a blow against those men we are going to hunt down, you may do a deed which would separate you from the rest of mankind, and leave you to drag on a miserable guilty life. Do you promise?”

“I will promise,” said Charles; “but I wonder——”

“Never mind wondering. Good night.”

The troopers lay in the hall, and in the middle of the night there was a sound of a horse outside, and he who was nearest the door got up and went out.

“Who is there?” said the voice of Captain Brentwood.

“Jackson, sir.”

“My house has been stuck up, has it not?”

“Yes, sir.”

  ― 149 ―

“And my daughter?”

“Safe, sir. Young Mr. Buckley rode over and caught her up out of it ten minutes before they got here.”

“Long life to him, and glory to God. Who is here?”

The trooper enumerated them.

“And what has become of the gang?” asked the Captain.

“Gone into the limestone gully, sir. Safe for tomorrow.”

“Ah, well, I shall come in and lie in the hall. Don't make a noise. What is that?”

They both started. Some one of the many sleepers, with that strange hoarse voice peculiar to those who talk in their dreams, said, with singular energy and distinctness, —

“I will go, sir; they will call me coward.”

“That's young Mr. Hawker, sir,” said the trooper. “His sweetheart's brother, Mr. Mayford, was killed by them yesterday. The head of this very gang, sir, that villain Touan — his name is Hawker. An odd coincidence, sir.”

“Very odd,” said the Captain. “At the same time, Jackson, if I were you, I wouldn't talk about it. There are many things one had best not talk about, Jackson. Pull out the corner of that blanket, will you? So we shall have some fun to‐morrow, up in the pass, I'm thinking.”

  ― 150 ―

“They'll fight, sir,” said the trooper. “If we can bail them up, they'll fight, believe me. Better so; I think we shall save the hangman some trouble. Good night, sir.”

So Captain Brentwood lay down beside the trooper, and slept the sleep of the just among his broken chairs and tables. The others slept too, sound and quiet, as though there were no fight on the morrow.

But ere the moon grew pale they were woke by Desborough, tramping about with clicking spurs among the sleepers, and giving orders in a loud noise. At the first movement, while the rest were yawning and stretching themselves, and thinking that battle was not altogether so desirable a thing on a cold morning as it was overnight, Major Buckley was by Charles Hawker's bedside, and, reminding him of his promise, got him out unperceived, helped him to saddle his horse, and started him off to his mother with a note.

The lad, overawed by the major's serious manner, went without debate, putting the note in his pocket. I have seen that note; Sam showed it to me the next day, and so I can give you the contents. It was from Major Buckley to Mary Hawker, and ran thus: —

“I have sent your boy to you, dear old friend, bearing this. You will have heard by now what has happened, and you will give me credit for preventing what might come to be a terrible catastrophe. The boy is utterly

  ― 151 ―
unconscious that his own father is the man whose life is sought this day above all others. He is at the head of this gang, Mary. My own son saw him yesterday. My hand shall not be raised against him; but further than that I will not interfere. Your troubles have come now to the final and most terrible pass; and all the advice I have to give you is to pray, and pray continually, till this awful storm is gone by. Remember, that come what may, you have two friends entirely devoted to you — my wife and myself.”

Hurriedly written, scrawled rather, as this note was, it showed me again plainer than ever what a noble clear‐hearted man he was who had written it. But this is not to the purpose. Charles Hawker departed, carrying this, before the others were stirring, and held his way through the forest‐road towards his mother's station.

This same two days' business was the best stroke of work that the Devil did in that part of the country for many years. With his usual sagacity he had busied himself in drawing the threads of mischief so parallel, that it seemed they must end in one and only one lamentable issue; namely, that Charles Hawker and his father should meet pistol in hand, as deadly enemies. But at this last period of the game, our good honest Major completely check‐mated him, by sending Charles Hawker home to his mother. In this terrible pass,

  ― 152 ―
after this unexpected move of the Major's; he (the Devil, no other) began casting about for a scoundrel, by whose assistance he might turn the Major's flank. But no great rogue being forthcoming he had to look round for the next best substitute, a great fool, — and one of these he found immediately, riding exactly the way he wished. Him he subpœnaed immediately, and found to do his work better even than a good rogue would have done. We shall see how poor Charles Hawker, pricking along through the forest, getting every moment further from danger and mischief, met a man charging along the road, full speed, who instantly pulled up and spoke to him.

This was the consummate fool, sent of the Devil, whom I have mentioned above. We have seen him before. He was the longest, brownest, stupidest of the Hawbuck family. The one who could spit further than any of his brothers.

“Well, Charley,” he said, “is this all true about the bushrangers?”

Charles said it was. And they were bailed up in the limestone gully, and all the party were away after them.

“Where are you going then?” asked the unfortunate young idiot.

“Home to my mother,” blurted out poor Charles.

“Well!” said the other, speaking unconsciously exactly the words which the enemy of mankind

  ― 153 ―
desired. “Well, I couldn't have believed that. If a chap had said that of you in my hearing, I'd have fought him if he'd been as big as a house. I never thought that of you, Charley.”

Charles cursed aloud. “What have I done to be talked to like this? Major Buckley has no right to send me away like this, to be branded as coward through the country side. Ten times over better to be shot than have such words as these said to me. I shall go back with you.”

“That's the talk,” said the poor fool. “I thought I wasn't wrong in you, Charley.” And so Charles galloped back with him.

We, in the meantime, had started from the station, ere day was well broke. Foremost of the company rode Desborough, calm and serene, and on either side of him Captain Brentwood and Major Buckley. Then came the Doctor, Sam, Jim, Halbert, and myself; behind us again, five troopers and the Sergeant. Each man of us all was armed with a sword; and every man in that company, as it happened, knew the use of that weapon well. The troopers carried carbines, and all of us carried pistols.

The glare in the east changing from pearly green to golden yellow, gave notice of the coming sun. One snow peak, Tambo, I think, began to catch the light, and blaze like another morning star. The day had begun in earnest, and, as we entered the mouth of the

  ― 154 ―
glen to which we were bound, slanting gleams of light were already piercing the misty gloom, and lighting up the loftier crags.

A deep, rock‐walled glen it was, open and level, though, in the centre, ran a tangled waving line of evergreen shrubs, marking the course of a pretty bright creek, which, half hidden by luxuriant vegetation, ran beside the faint track leading to one of Captain Brentwood's mountain huts. Along this track we could plainly see the hoof marks of the men we were after.

It was one of the most beautiful gullies I had ever seen, and I turned to say so to some one who rode beside me. Conceive my horror at finding it was Charles Hawker. I turned to him fiercely, and said, —

“Get back, Charles. Go home. You don't know what you are doing, lad.”

He defied me. And I was speaking roughly to him again, when there came a puff of smoke from among the rocks overhead, and down I went, head over heels. A bullet had grazed my thigh, and killed my horse, who. throwing me on my head, rendered me hors de combat. So that during the fight which followed, I was sitting on a rock, very sick and very stupid, a mile from the scene of action.

My catastrophe caused only a temporary stoppage; and, during the confusion, Charles Hawker was unnoticed. The man who had fired at me (why at me I cannot divine), was evidently a solitary guard perched

  ― 155 ―
among the rocks. The others held on for about a quarter of an hour, till the valley narrowed up again, just leaving room for the walk between the brawling creek and the tall limestone cliff. But after this it opened out into a broader amphitheatre, walled on all sides by inaccessible rock, save in two places. Sam, from whom I get this account of affairs, had just time to notice this when he saw Captain Brentwood draw a pistol and fire it, and, at the same instant, a man dashed out of some scrub on the other side of the creek, and galloped away up the valley.

“They have had the precaution to set two watches for us, which I hardly expected,” said Captain Desborough. “They will fight us now, they can't help it, thank God. They have had a short turn and a merry one, but they are dead men, and they know it. The Devil is but a poor paymaster, Buckley. After all this hide and seek work, they have only got two days' liberty.”

The troopers now went to the front with Halbert and the other military men, while Sam, Jim, and Charles, the last all unperceived by the Major in his excitement, rode in the rear.

“We are going to have a regular battle,” said Jim. “They are bailed up, and must fight; some of us will go home feet foremost to‐day.”

So they rode on through the open forest, till they began to see one or two horsemen through the tree

  ― 156 ―
stems, reconnoitering. The ground began to rise towards a lofty cliff that towered before them, and all could see that the end was coming. Then they caught sight of the whole gang, scattered about among the low shrubs, and a few shots were fired on both sides before the bushrangers turned and retreated towards the wall of rock, now plainly visible through the timber. Our party continued to advance steadily in open order.

Then under the beetling crags, where the fern‐trees began to feather up among the fallen boulders, the bushrangers turned like hunted wolves, and stood at bay.

  ― 157 ―

iii: Chapter IX.


THEN Desborough cried aloud to ride at them, and spare no man. And, as he spoke, every golden fernbough, and every coigne of vantage among the rocks, began to blaze and crackle with gun and pistol shot. Jim's horse sprung aloft and fell, hurling him forcibly to the ground, and a tall young trooper, dropping his carbine, rolled heavily off his saddle, and lay on the grass face downward, quite still, as if asleep.

“There's the first man killed,” said the Major, very quietly. “Sam, my boy, don't get excited, but close on the first fellow you see a chance at.” And Sam, looking in his father's face as he spoke, saw a light in his eyes, that he had never seen there before — the light of battle. The Major caught a carbine from the hands of a trooper who rode beside him, and took a snap shot, quick as lightning, at a man whom they saw running from one cover to another. The poor wretch staggered and put his hands to his head, then stumbled and fell heavily down.

  ― 158 ―

Now the fight became general and confused. All about among the fern and the flowers, among the lemanshrubs, and the tangled vines, men fought, and fired, and struck, and cursed; while the little brown bandiroots scudded swiftly away, and the deadly snake hid himself in his darkest lair, affrighted. Shots were cracking on all sides, two riderless horses, confused in the melée, were galloping about neighing, and a third lay squealing on the ground in the agonies of death.

Sam saw a man fire at his father, whose horse went down, while the Major arose unhurt. He rode at the ruffian, who was dismounted, and cut him so deep between the shoulder and the neck, that he fell and never spoke again. Then seeing Halbert and the Doctor on the right, fiercely engaged with four men who were fighting with clubbed muskets and knives, he turned to help them, but ere he reached them, a tall, handsome young fellow dashed out of the shrub, and pulling his horse short up, took deliberate aim at him, and fired.

Sam heard the bullet go hissing past his ear, and got mad. “That young dog shall go down,” said he. “I know him. He is the one who rode first yesterday.” And as this passed through his mind, he rode straight at him, with his sword hand upon his left shoulder. He came full against him in a moment, and as the man held up his gun to guard himself, his cut descended, so full and hard that it shore through the gunbarrel as

  ― 159 ―
through a stick, note and ere he could bring his hand to his cheek, his opponent had grappled him, and the two rolled off their horses together, locked in a deadly embrace.

Then began an awful and deadly fight between these two young fellows. Sam's sword had gone from his hand in the fall, and he was defenceless, save by such splendid physical powers as he had by nature. But his adversary, though perhaps a little lighter, was a terrible enemy, and fought with the strength and litheness of a leopard. He had his hand at Sam's throat, and was trying to choke him. Sam saw that one great effort was necessary, and with a heave of his whole body, threw the other beneath him, and struck downwards, three quick blows, with the whole strength of his ponderous fist, on the face of the man, as he lay beneath him. The hold on his throat loosened, and seeing that they had rolled within reach of his sword, in a moment he had clutched it, and drawing back his elbow, prepared to plunge it in his adversary's chest.

But he hesitated. He could not do it. Maddened as he was with fighting, the sight of that bloody face, bruised beyond recognition by his terrible blows, and the wild fierce eyes, full of rage and terror, looking into his own, stayed his hand, and while he paused the

  ― 160 ―
man spoke, thick and indistinctly, for his jaw was broken.

“If you will spare me,” he said, “I will be King's evidence.”

“Then turn on your face,” said Sam; “and I will tie you up.”

And as he spoke a trooper ran up, and secured the prisoner, who appealed to Sam for his handkerchief. “I fought you fair,” he said; “and you're a man worth fighting. But you have broken something in my face with your fist. Give me something to tie it up with?”

“God save us all!” said Sam, giving him his handkerchief. “This is miserable work! I hope it is all over.”

It seemed so. All he heard were the fearful screams of a wounded man lying somewhere among the fern.

“Where are they all, Jackson?” said he.

“All away to the right, sir,” said the trooper. “One of my comrades is killed, your father has had his horse shot, the Doctor is hit in the arm, and Mr. James Brentwood has got his leg broke with the fall of his horse. They are minding him now. We've got all the gang, alive or dead, except two. Captain Desborough is up the valley now after the head man, and young Mr. Hawker is with him. D——n it all! hark to that.”

Two shots were fired in quick succession in the direc

  ― 161 ―
tion indicated; and Sam having caught his horse, gallopped off to see what was going on.

Desborough fought neither against small nor great, but only against one man, and he was George Hawker. Him he had sworn he would bring home, dead or alive. When he and his party had first broken through the fern, he had caught sight of his quarry, and had instantly made towards him, as quick as the broken, scrub‐tangled ground would allow.

They knew one another; and, as soon as Hawker saw that he was recognised, he made to the left, away from the rest of his gang, trying to reach, as Desborough could plainly see, the only practicable way that led from the amphitheatre in which they were back into the mountains.

They fired at one another without effect at the first. Hawker was now pushing in full flight, though the scrub was so dense that neither made much way. Now the ground got more open and easier travelled, when Desborough was aware of one who came charging recklessly up alongside of him, and, looking round, he recognised Charles Hawker.

“Good lad,” he said; “come on. I must have that fellow before us there. He is the arch‐devil of the lot. If we follow him to h — ll, we must have him!”

“We'll have him, safe enough!” said Charles.

  ― 162 ―
“Push to the left, Captain, and we shall get him against those fallen rocks.”

Desborough saw the excellence of this advice. This was the last piece of broken ground there was. On the right the cliff rose precipitous, and from its side had tumbled a confused heap of broken rock, running out into the glen. Once past this, the man they were pursuing would have the advantage, for he was splendidly mounted, and beyond was clear galloping ground. As it was, he was in a recess, and Desborough and Charles, pushing forward, succeeded in bringing him to bay. Alas, too well!

George Hawker reined up his horse when he saw escape was impossible, and awaited their coming with a double‐barrelled pistol in his hand. As the other two came on, calling on him to surrender, Desborough's horse received a bullet in his chest, and down went horse and man together. But Charles pushed on till he was within twenty yards of the bushranger, and levelled his pistol to fire.

So met father and son the second time in their lives, all unconsciously. For an instant they glared on one another with wild threatening eyes, as the father made his aim more certain and deadly. Was there no lightning in heaven to strike him dead, and save him from this last horrid crime? Was there no warning voice to tell him that this was his son?

None. The bullet sped, and the poor boy tumbled

  ― 163 ―
from his saddle, clutching wildly, with crooked, convulsive fingers at the grass and flowers — shot through the the chest!

Then, ere Desborough had disentangled himself from his fallen horse, George Hawker rode off laughing — out through the upper rock walls into the presence of the broad bald snow‐line that rolled above his head in endless lofty tiers towards the sky.

Desborough arose, swearing and stamping; but, ere he could pick up his cap, Sam was alongside of him, breathless, and with him another common‐looking man — my man, Dick, no other — and they both cried out together, “What has happened?”

“Look there!” said Desborough, pointing to something dark among the grass, — “that's what has happened. What lies there was Charles Hawker, and the villain is off.”

“Who shot Charles Hawker?” said Dick.

“His namesake,” said Desborough.

“His own father!” said Dick; “that's terrible.”

“What do you mean?” they both asked, aghast.

“Never mind now,” he answered. “Captain Desborough, what are you going to do? Do you know where he's gone?”

“Up into the mountain, to lie by, I suppose,” said Desborough.

“Not at all, sir! He is going to cross the snow, and get to the old hut, near the Murray Gate.”

  ― 164 ―

“What! Merryman's hut?” said the Captain. “Impossible! He could not get through that way.”

“I tell you he can. That is where they came from at first; that is where they went to when they landed; and this is the gully they came through.”

“Are you deceiving me?” said Desborough. “It will be worse for you if you are! I ain't in a humour for that sort of thing. Who are you?”

“I am Mr. Hamlyn's groom — Dick. Strike me dead if I ain't telling the truth!”

“Do you know this man, Buckley?” said Desborough, calling out to Sam, who was sitting beside poor Charles Hawker, holding his head up.

“Know him! of course I do,” he replied; “ever since I was a child.”

“Then, look here,” said Desborough to Dick; “I shall trust you. Now, you say he will cross the snow. If I were to go round by the Parson's I shouldn't get much snow.”

“That's just it, don't you see? You can be round at the huts before him. That's what I mean,” said Dick. “Take Mr. Buckley's horse, and ride him till he drops, and you'll get another at the Parson's. If you have any snow, it will be on Broadsaddle; but it won't signify. You go round the low side of Tambo, and sight the lake, and you'll be there before him.”

“How far?”

  ― 165 ―

“Sixty miles, or thereabouts, plain sailing. It ain't eleven o'clock yet.”

“Good; I'll remember you for this. Buckley, I want your horse. Is the lad dead?”

“No; but he is very bad. I'll try to get him home. Take the horse; he is not so good a one as Widderin, but he'll carry you to the Parson's. God speed you.”

They watched him ride away almost south, skirting the ridges of the mountain as long as he could; then they saw him scrambling up a lofty wooded ridge, and there he disappeared.

They raised poor Charles Hawker up, and Sam, mounting Dick's horse, took the wounded man up before him, and started to go slowly home. After a time, he said, “Do you feel worse, Charles?” and the other replied, “No; but I am very cold.” After that he stayed quite still, with his arm round Sam Buckley's neck, until they reached the Brentwoods' door.

Some came out to the door to meet them, and, among others, Alice. “Take him from me,” said Sam to one of the men. “Be very gentle: he is asleep.” And so they took the dead man's arm from off the living man's shoulder, and carried him in; for Charles Hawker was asleep indeed — in the sleep that knows no waking.

That was one of the fiercest and firmest stands that was ever made by bushrangers against the authorities. Of the latter five were shot down, three wounded, and

  ― 166 ―
the rest captured, save two. The gang was destroyed at once, and life and property once more secure, though at a sad sacrifice.

One trooper was shot dead at the first onset, — a fine young fellow, just picked from his regiment for good conduct to join the police. Another was desperately wounded, who died the next day. On the part of the independent men assisting, there were Charles Hawker killed, Doctor Mulhaus shot in the left arm, and Jim with his leg broke; so that, on that evening, Captain Brentwood's house was like a hospital.

Captain Brentwood set his son's leg, under Dr. Mulhaus' directions, the Doctor keeping mighty brave, though once or twice his face twisted with pain, and he was nearly fainting. Alice was everywhere, pale and calm, helping every one who needed it, and saying nothing. Eleanor, the cook, pervaded the house, doing the work of seven women, and having the sympathies of fourteen. She told them that this was as bad a job as she'd ever seen; worse, in fact. That the nearest thing she'd ever seen to it was when Mat Steeman's mob were broke up by the squatters; “But then,” she added, “there were none but prisoners killed.”

But when Alice had done all she could, and the house was quiet, she went up to her father, and said, —

“Now, father, comes the worst part of the matter for me. Who is to tell Mrs. Hawker?”

“Mrs. Buckley, my dear, would be the best person. But she is at the Mayfords', I am afraid.”

  ― 167 ―

“Mrs. Hawker must be told at once, father, by some of us. I do so dread her hearing of it by some accident, when none of her friends are with her. Oh, dear! oh, dear! I never thought to have had such times as these.”

“Alice, my darling,” said her father, “do you think that you have strength to carry the news to her? If Major Buckley went with you, he could tell her, you know; and it would be much better for her to have him, an old friend, beside her. It would be such a delay to go round and fetch his wife. Have you courage?”

“I will make courage,” she said. “Speak to Major Buckley, father, and I will get ready.”

She went to Sam. “I am going on a terrible errand,” she said; “I am going to tell Mrs. Hawker about this dreadful, dreadful business. Now, what I want to say is, that you mustn't come; your father is going with me, and I'll get through it alone, Sam. Now please,” she added, seeing Sam was going to speak, “don't argue about it; I am very much upset as it is, and I want you to stay here. You won't follow us, will you?”

“Whatever you order, Alice, is law,” said Sam. “I won't come if you don't wish it; but I can't see——”

“There now. Will you get me my horse? And please stay by poor Jim, for my sake.”

Sam complied; and Alice, getting on her riding‐habit, came back trembling, and trying not to cry, to tell Major Buckley that she was ready.

  ― 168 ―

He took her in his arms, and kissed her. “You are a brave, noble girl,” he said; “I thank God for such a daughter‐in‐law. Now, my dear, let us hurry off, and not think of what is to come.”

It was about five o'clock when they went off. Sam and Halbert, having let them out of the paddock, went in‐doors to comfort poor Jim's heart, and to get something to eat, if it were procurable. Jim lay on his bed tossing about, and the Doctor sat beside him, talking to him; pale and grim, waiting for the doctor who had been sent for; no other than his drunken old enemy.

“This is about as nice a kettle of fish,” said Jim, when they came and sat beside him, “as a man could possibly wish to eat. Poor Cecil and Charley; both gone, eh? Well, I know it ain't decent for a fellow with a broken leg to feel wicked; but I do, nevertheless. I wish now that I had had a chance at some of them before that stupid brute of a horse got shot.”

“If you don't lie still, you Jim,” said Sam, “your leg will never set; and then you must have it taken off, you know. How is your arm, Doctor?”

“Shooting a little,” said the Doctor; “nothing to signify, I believe. At least, nothing in the midst of such a tragedy as this. Poor Mary Hawker; the pretty little village‐maid we all loved so well. To come to such an end as this!”

“Is it true, then, Doctor, that Hawker, the bushranger, is her husband?”

  ― 169 ―

“Quite true, alas! Every one must know it now. But I pray you, Sam, to keep the darkest part of it all from her; don't let her know that the boy fell by the hand of his father.”

“I could almost swear,” said Sam, “that one among the gang is his son too. When they rode past Alice and myself yesterday morning, one was beside him so wonderfully like him, that even at that time I set them down for father and son.”

“If Hamlyn's strange tale be true, it is so,” said the Doctor. “Is the young man you speak of among the prisoners, do you know?”

“Yes; I helped to capture him myself,” said Sam. “What do you mean by Hamlyn's story?”

“Oh, a long one. He met him in a hut the night after we pic‐nic'd at Mirngish, and found out who he was. The secret not being ours, your father and I never told any of you young people of the fact of this bushranger being poor Mrs. Hawker's husband. I wish we had; all this might have been avoided. But the poor soul always desired that the secret of his birth might be kept from Charles, and you see the consequences. I'll never keep a secret again. Come here with me; let us see both of them.”

They followed him, and he turned into a little side room at the back of the house. It was a room used for chance visitors or strangers, containing two small beds, which now bore an unaccustomed burden, for beneath

  ― 170 ―
the snow‐white coverlids, lay two figures, indistinct indeed, but unmistakeable.

“Which is he?” whispered the Doctor.

Sam raised the counterpane from the nearest one, but it was not Charles. It was a young, handsome face that he saw, lying so quietly and peacefully on the white pillow, that he exclaimed —

“Surely this man is not dead?”

The Doctor shook his head. “I have often seen them like that,” he said. “He is shot through the heart.”

Then they went to the other bed, where poor Charles lay. Sam gently raised the black curls from his face, but none of them spoke a word for a few minutes, till the Doctor said, “Now let us come and see his brother.”

They crossed the yard, to a slab outbuilding, before which one of the troopers was keeping guard, with a loaded carbine, and, the Sergeant coming across, admitted them.

Seven or eight fearfully ill‐looking ruffians lay about on the floor, handcuffed. They were most of them of the usual convict stamp, dark, saturnine looking fellows, though one offered a strange contrast by being an Albino, and another they could not see plainly, for he was huddled up in a dark corner, bending down over a basin of water, and dabbing his face. The greater part of them cursed and blasphemed desperately, as is the manner of such men when their blood is up, and they are reckless; while the wounded ones lay in a fierce

  ― 171 ―
sullen silence, more terrible almost than the foul language of the others.

“He is not here,” said Sam. “Stay, that must be him wiping his face!”

He went towards him, and saw he was right. The young man he had taken looked wildly up like a trapped animal into his face, and the Doctor could not suppress an exclamation when he saw the likeness to his father.

“Is your face very bad?” said Sam quietly.

The other turned away in silence.

“I'll tie it up for you, if you like,” said Sam.

“It don't want no tying up.”

He turned his face to the wall, and remained obstinately silent. They perceived that nothing more was to be got from him, and departed. But, turning at the door, they still saw him crouched in the corner like a wild beast, wiping his bruised face every now and then with Sam's handkerchief, apparently thinking of nothing, hoping for nothing. Such a pitiful sight — such an example of one who was gone beyond feeling pity, or sorrow, or aught else, save physical pain, that the Doctor's gorge rose, and he said, stamping on the gravel, —

“A man, who says that that is not the saddest, saddest sight he ever saw, is a disgrace to the mother that bore him. To see a young fellow like that with such a physique — and God only knows what undeveloped qualities in him, only ripe for the gallows at five‐and

  ― 172 ―
twenty, is enough to make the angels weep. He knows no evil but physical pain, and that he considers but a temporary one. He knows no good save, perhaps, to be faithful to his confederates. He has been brought up from his cradle to look on every man as his enemy. He never knew what it was to love a human being in his life. Why, what does such a man regard this world as? As the antechamber of hell, if he ever heard of such a place. I want to know what either of us three would have been if we had had his training. I want to know that now. We might have been as much worse than him as a wolf is worse than an evil‐tempered dog.”

A beautiful colley came up to the Doctor and fawned on him, looking into his face with her deep, expressive, hazel eyes.

“We must do something for that fellow, Sam. If it's only for his name's sake,” said the Doctor.

That poor boy, sitting crouched there in the corner, with a broken jaw, and just so much of human feeling as one may suppose a polecat to have, caught in a gin, is that same baby that we saw Ellen Lee nursing on the door‐step in the rain, when our poor Mary came upon her on one wild night in Exeter.

Base‐born, workhouse‐bred! Tossed from workhouse to prison, from prison to hulk — every man's hand against him — an Arab of society. As hopeless a case, my lord judge, as you ever had to deal with; and yet

  ― 173 ―
I think, my lord, that your big heart grows a little pitiful, when you see that handsome face before you, blank and careless, and you try, fruitlessly, to raise some blush of shame, or even anger in it, by your eloquence.

Gone beyond that, my lord. Your thunderbolts fall harmless here, and the man you say is lost, and naturally. Yet, give that same man room to breathe and act; keep temptation from him, and let his good qualities, should he have any, have fair play, and, even yet, he may convert you to the belief that hardened criminals may be reformed, to the extent of one in a dozen; beyond that no reasonable man will go.

Let us see the end of this man. For now the end of my tale draws near, and I must begin gathering up the threads of the story, to tie them in a knot, and release my readers from duty. Here is all I can gather about him, —

Sam and the Doctor moved heaven, earth, and the Colonial Secretary, to get his sentence commuted, and with success. So when his companions were led out to execution, he was held back; reserved for penal servitude for life.

He proved himself quiet and docile; so much so that when our greatest, boldest explorer was starting for his last hopeless journey to the interior, this man was selected as one of the twelve convicts who were to accompany him. What follows is an extract which I have been favoured with from his private journal. You

  ― 174 ―
will not find it in the published history of the expedition: —

“Date — lat. — long. — Morning. It is getting hopeless now, and to‐morrow I turn. Sand, and nothing but sand. The salsolaceous plants, so long the only vegetation we have seen, are gone; and the little sienite peak, the last symptom of a water‐bearing country, has disappeared behind us. The sandhills still roll away towards the setting sun, but get less and less elevated. The wild fowl are still holding their mysterious flight to the north‐west, but I have not wings to follow them. Oh, my God! if I only knew what those silly birds know. It is hopeless to go on, and, I begin to fear, hopeless to go back. Will it never rain again?

“Afternoon. — My servant Hawker, one of the convicts assigned to me by Government, died to‐day at noon. I had got fond of this man, as the most patient and the bravest, where all have been so patient and so brave. He was a very silent and reserved man, and had never complained, so that I was deeply shocked on his sending for me at dinner‐time, to find that he was dying.

“He asked me not to deceive him, but to tell him if there was any truth in what the gaol‐chaplain had said, about there being another life after death. I told him earnestly that I knew it as surely as I knew that the earth was under my feet; and went on comforting him as one comforts a dying man. But he never spoke

  ― 175 ―
again; and we buried him in the hot sand at sundown. The first wind will obliterate the little mound we raised over him, and none will ever cross this hideous desert again. So that he will have as quiet a grave as he could wish.

“Eleven o'clock at night. — God be praised. Heavy clouds and thunder to the north. — ”

So this poor workhouse‐bred lad lies out among the sands of the middle desert.

  ― 176 ―

iii: Chapter X.


HAWKER the elder, as I said, casting one glance at the body of his son, whom he knew not, and another at Captain Desborough, who was just rising from the ground after his fall, set spurs to his noble chestnut horse, and, pushing through the contracted barriers of slate which closed up the southern end of the amphitheatre where they had been surprised, made for the broader and rapidly rising valley which stretched beyond.

He soon reached the rocky gate, where the vast ridge of schist, alternating with the limestone, and running north and south in high serrated ridges, was cut through by a deep fissure, formed by the never idle waters of a little creek, that in the course of ages had mined away the softer portions of the slate, and made a practicable pass toward the mountains.

He picked his way with difficulty through the tumbled boulders that lay in the chasm; and then there was a cool brisk wind on his forehead, and a glare in his eyes. The chill breath of the west wind from the mountain —

  ― 177 ―
the glare of the snow that filled up the upper end of the valley, rising in level ridges towards the sky‐line.

He had been this path before; and if he had gone it a hundred times again, he would only have cursed it for a rough, desperate road, the only hope of a desperate man. Not for him to notice the thousand lessons that the Lord had spread before him in the wilderness! Not for him to notice how the vegetation changed when the limestone was passed, and the white quartz reefs began to seam the slaty sides of the valley like rivers of silver! Not for him to see how, as he went up and on, the hardy Dicksoniæ, still nestled in stunted tufts among the more sheltered side gullies, long after her tenderer sister, the queenly Alsophylla note had been left behind. He only knew that he was a hunted wild beast, and that his lair was beyond the snow.

The creek flashed pleasantly among the broken slate, full and turbid under the mid‐day sun. After midnight, when its fountains are sealed again by the frosty breath of night, that creek will be reduced to a trickling rill. His horse's feet brushed through the delicate asplenium, the Venus'‐hair of Australia; the sarsaparilla still hung in scant purple tufts on the golden wattle, and the scarlet correa lurked among the broken quartz.

Upwards and onwards. In front, endless cycles agone, a lava stream from some crater we know not had burst over the slate, with fearful clang and fierce explo

  ― 178 ―
sion, forming a broad roadway of broken basalt up to a plateau twelve hundred feet or more above us, and not so steep but that a horse might be led up it. Let us go up with him, not cursing heaven and earth, as he did, but noticing how, as we ascend, the scarlet wreaths of the Kennedia and the crimson Grevillea give place to the golden Grevillea and the red Epacris; then comes the white Epacris, and then the grass trees, getting smaller and scantier as we go, till the little blue Gentian, blossoming boldly among the slippery crags, tells us that we have nearly reached the limits of vegetation.

He turned when he reached this spot, and looked around him. To the west a broad rolling down of snow, rising gradually; to the east, a noble prospect of forest and plain, hill and gully, with old Snowy winding on in broad bright curves towards the sea. He looked over all the beauty and undeveloped wealth of Gipp's Land, which shall yet, please God, in fulness of time, be one of the brightest jewels in the King of England's crown, but with eyes that saw not. He turned towards the snow, and mounting his horse, which he had led up the cliff, held steadily westward.

His plans were well laid. Across the mountain, north of Lake Omeo, not far from the mighty cleft in which the infant Murray spends his youth, were two huts, erected years before by some settler, and abandoned. They had been used by a gang of bushrangers, who had been attacked by the police, and dispersed.

  ― 179 ―
Nevertheless, they had been since inhabited by the men we know of, who landed in the boat from Van Diemen's Land, in consequence of Hawker himself having found a pass through the ranges, open for nine months in the year. So that, when the police were searching Gipp's Land for these men, they, with the exception of two or three, were snugly ensconced on the other water‐shed, waiting till the storm should blow over. In these huts Hawker intended to lie by for a short time, living on such provisions as were left, until he could make his way northward, on the outskirts of the settlements, and escape.

There was no pursuit, he thought: how could there be? Who knew of this route but himself and his mates? hardly likely any of them would betray him. No creature was moving in the valley he had just ascended; but the sun was beginning to slope towards the west, and he must onwards.

Onwards, across the slippery snow. At first a few tree‐stems, blighted and withered, were visible right and left, proving that at some time during their existence, these bald downs had either a less elevation or a warmer climate than now. Then these even disappeared, and all around was one white blinding glare. To the right, the snow‐fields rolled up into the shapeless lofty mass called Mount Tambo, behind which the hill they now call Kosciusko, note — as some say, the

  ― 180 ―
highest ground in the country, — began to take a crimson tint from the declining sun. Far to the south, black and gaunt among the whitened hills, towered the rounded hump of Buffaloe, while the peaks of Buller and Aberdeen showed like dim blue clouds on the furthest horizon.

Snow, and nothing but snow. Sometimes plunging shoulder deep into some treacherous hollow, sometimes guiding the tired horse across the surface frozen over unknown depths. He had been drinking hard for some days, and, now the excitement of action had gone off, was fearfully nervous. The snow‐glint had dizzied his head, too, and he began to see strange shapes forming themselves in the shade of each hollow, and start at each stumble of his horse.

A swift‐flying shadow upon the snow, and a rush of wings overhead. An eagle. The lordly scavenger is following him, impatient for him to drop and become a prey. Soar up, old bird, and bide thy time; on yonder precipice thou shalt have good chance of a meal.

Twilight, and then night, and yet the snow but

  ― 181 ―
half past. There is a rock in a hollow, where grow a few scanty tufts of grass which the poor horse may eat. Here he will camp, fireless, foodless, and walk up and down the livelong night, for sleep might be death. Though he is not in thoroughly Alpine regions, yet still, at this time of the year, the snow is deep and the frost is keen. It were as well to keep awake.

As he paced up and down beneath the sheltering rock, when night had closed in, and the frosty stars were twinkling in the cold blue firmament, strange ghosts and fancies came crowding on him thick and fast. Down the long vista of a misspent, ruined life, he saw people long since forgotten trooping up towards him. His father tottered sternly on, as with a fixed purpose before him; his gipsy‐mother, Madge, strode forward pitiless; and poor ruined Ellen, holding her child to her heart, joined the others, and held up her withered hand as if in mockery. But then there came a face between him and all the other figures which his distempered brain had summoned, and blotted them out; the face of a young man, bearing a strange likeness to himself; the face of the last human creature he had seen; the face of the boy that he had shot down among the fern.

Why should this face grow before him wherever he turned, so that he could not look on rock or sky without seeing it? Why should it glare at him through a blood‐red haze when he shut his eyes to keep it out, not in sorrow, not in anger, but even as he had seen it

  ― 182 ―
last, expressing only terror and pain, as the lad rolled off his horse, and lay a black heap among the flowers? Up and away! anything is better than this. Let us stumble away across the snow, through the mirk night once more, rather than be driven mad by this pale boy's face.

Morning, and the pale ghosts have departed. Long shadows of horse and man are thrown before him now, as the slope dips away to the westward, and he knows that his journey is well‐nigh over.

It was late, afternoon, before, having left the snow some hours, he began to lead his horse down a wooded precipice, through vegetation which grew more luxuriant every yard he descended. The glen, whose bottom he was trying to reach, was a black profound gulf, with perpendicular, or rather over‐hanging walls, on every side, save where he was scrambling down. Here indeed it was possible for a horse to keep his footing among the belts of trees, that, alternating with precipitous granite cliff, formed the upper end of one of the most tremendous glens in the world — the Gates of the Murray.

He was barely one‐third of the way down this mountain wall, when the poor tired horse lost his footing and fell over the edge, touching neither tree nor stone for five hundred feet, while George Hawker was left terrified, hardly daring to peer into the dim abyss, where the poor beast was gone.

But it was little matter. The hut he was making

  ― 183 ―
for was barely four miles off now, and there was meat, drink, and safety. Perhaps there might be company, he hoped there might, — some of the gang might have escaped. A dog would be some sort of friend, anything sooner than such another night as last night.

His pistols were gone with the saddle, and he was unarmed. He reached the base of the cliff in safety, and forced his way through the tangled scrub that fringed the infant river, towards the lower end of the pass. Here the granite walls, overhanging, bend forward above to meet one another, almost forming an arch, the height of which, from the river‐bed, is computed to be nearly, if not quite, three thousand feet. Through this awful gate he forced his way, overawed and utterly dispirited, and reached the gully where his refuge lay, just as the sun was setting.

There was a slight track, partly formed by stray cattle which led up it, and casting his eyes upon this, he saw the marks of a horse's feet. “Some one of the gang got home before me,” he said. “I'm right glad of that, anything better than such another night.”

He turned a sharp angle in the path, just where it ran round an abrupt cliff. He saw a horseman within ten yards of him with his face towards him. Captain Desborough, holding a pistol at his head.

“Surrender, George Hawker!” said Desborough. “Or, by the living Lord! you are a dead man.”

Hungry, cold, desperate, unarmed; he saw that he

  ― 184 ―
was undone, and that hope was dead. The Captain had an easier prey than he had anticipated. Hawker threw up his arms, and ere he could fully appreciate his situation, he was chained fast to Desborough's saddle, only to be loosed, he knew, by the gallows.

Without a word on either side they began their terrible journey. Desborough riding, and Hawker manacled by his right wrist to the saddle. Fully a mile was passed before the latter asked, sullenly, —

“Where are you going to take me to‐night?”

“To Dickenson's,” replied Desborough. “You must step out you know. It will be for your own good, for I must get there to‐night.”

Two or three miles further were got over, when Hawker said abruptly, —

“Look here, Captain, I want to talk to you.”

“You had better not,” said Desborough. “I don't want to have any communication with you, and every word you say will go against you.”

“Bah!” said Hawker. “I must swing. I know that. I shan't make any defence. Why, the devils out of hell would come into court against me if I did. But I want to ask you a question or two. You haven't got the character of being a brutal fellow, like O——. It can't hurt you to answer me one or two things, and ease my mind a bit.”

“God help you, unhappy man;” said Desborough. “I will answer any questions you ask.”

  ― 185 ―

“Well, then, see here,” said Hawker, hesitating. “I want to know — I want to know first, how you got round before me?”

“Is that all?” said Desborough. “Well, I came round over Broad‐saddle, and got a fresh horse at the Parson's.”

“Ah!” said Hawker. “That young fellow I shot down when you were after me, is he dead?”

“By this time,” said Desborough. “He was just dying when I came away.”

“Would you mind stopping for a moment, Captain? Now tell me, who was he?”

“Mr. Charles Hawker, son of Mrs. Hawker, of Toonarbin.”

He gave such a yell that Desborough shrunk from him appalled, — a cry as of a wounded tiger, — and struggled so wildly with his handcuffs that the blood poured from his wrists. Let us close this scene. Desborough told me afterwards that that wild, fierce, despairing cry, rang in his ears for many years afterwards, and would never be forgotten till those ears were closed with the dust of the grave.

  ― 186 ―

iii: Chapter XI.


TROUBRIDGE'S Station, Toonarbin, lay so far back from the river, and so entirely on the road to nowhere, that Tom used to remark, that he would back it for being the worst station for news in the country. So it happened that while these terrible scenes were enacting within ten miles of them, down, in fact, to about one o'clock in the day when the bushrangers were overtaken and punished, Mary and her cousin sat totally unconscious of what was going on.

But about eleven o'clock that day, Burnside, the cattle dealer, mentioned once before in these pages, arrived at Major Buckley's, from somewhere up country, and found the house apparently deserted.

But having coee'd for some time, a door opened in one of the huts, and a sleepy groom came forth, yawning.

“Where are they all?” asked Burnside.

“Mrs. Buckley and the women were down at Mrs. Mayford's, streaking the bodies out,” he believed. “The rest were gone away after the gang.”

This was the first that Burnside had heard about the

  ― 187 ―
matter. And now, bit by bit, he extracted everything from the sleepy groom.

I got him afterwards to confess to me, that when he heard of this terrible affair, his natural feeling of horror was considerably alloyed with pleasure. He saw here at one glance a fund of small talk for six months. He saw himself a welcome visitor at every station, even up to furthest lonely Condamine, retailing the news of these occurrences with all the authenticity of an eye witness, improving his narrative by each repetition. Here was the basis of a new tale, Ode, Epic, Saga, or what you may please to call it, which he Burnside, the bard, should sing at each fireside throughout the land.

“And how are Mrs. and Miss Mayford, poor souls!” he asked.

“They're as well,” answered the groom, “as you'd expect folks to be after such a mishap. They ran out at the back way and down the garden towards the river before the chaps could burst the door down. I am sorry for that little chap Cecil; I am, by Jove! A straightforward, manly little chap as ever crossed a horse. Last week he says to me, says he, ‘Benjy, my boy,’ says he, ‘come and be groom to me. I'll give you thirty pound a‐year.’ And I says, ‘If Mr. Sam——’ Hallo, there they are at it, hammer and tongs! Sharp work, that!”

They both listened intensely. They could hear,

  ― 188 ―
borne on the west wind, a distant dropping fire and a shouting. The groom's eye began to kindle a bit, but Burnside, sitting yet upon his horse, grasped the lad's shoulder and cried, “God save us, suppose our men should be beaten!”

“Suppose,” said the groom, contemptuously shaking him off; “why, then you and I should get our throats cut.”

At this moment the noise of the distant fight breezed up louder than ever.

“They're beat back,” said Burnside. “I shall be off to Toonarbin, and give them warning. I advise you to save yourself.”

“I was set to mind these here things,” said Benjy, “and I'm a‐going to mind 'em. And they as meddles with 'em had better look out.”

Burnside started off for Toonarbin, and when halfway there he paused and listened. The firing had ceased. When he came to reflect, now that his panic was over, he had very little doubt that Desborough's party had gained the day. It was impossible, he thought, that it could be otherwise.

Nevertheless, being half‐way to Toonarbin, he determined to ride on, and, having called in a moment, to follow a road which took a way past Lee's old hut towards the scene of action. He very soon pulled up at the door, and Tom Troubridge came slowly out to meet him.

  ― 189 ―

“Hallo, Burnside!” said Tom. “Get off, and come in.”

“Not I, indeed. I am going off to see the fight.”

“What fight?” said Mary Hawker, looking over Tom's shoulder.

“Do you mean to say you have not heard the news?”

“Not a word of any news for a fortnight.”

For once in his life, Burnside was laconic, and told them all that had happened. Tom spoke not a word, but ran up to the stable and had a horse out, saddled in a minute, he was dashing into the house again for his hat and pistols when he came against Mary in the passage, leaning against the wall.

“Tom,” she whispered hoarsely. “Bring that boy back to me safe, or never look me in the face again!”

He never answered her, he was thinking of some one beside the boy. He pushed past her, and the next moment she saw him gallop away with Burnside, followed by two men, and now she was left alone indeed, and helpless.

There was not a soul about the place but herself; not a soul within ten miles. She stood looking out of the door fixedly, at nothing, for a time; but then, as hour by hour went on, and the afternoon stillness fell upon the forest, and the shadows began to slant, a terror began to grow upon her which at length became unbearable, and well‐nigh drove her mad.

  ― 190 ―

At the first she understood that all these years of anxiety had come to a point at last, and a strange feeling of excitement, almost joy, came over her. She was one of those impetuous characters who stand suspense worse than anything, and now, although terror was in her, she felt as though relief was nigh. Then she began to think again of her son, but only for an instant. He was under Major Buckley's care, and must be safe; so she dismissed that fear from her mind for a time, but only for a time. It came back to her again. Why did he not come to her? Why had not the Major sent him off to her at once? Could the Major have been killed? even if so, there was Doctor Mulhaus. Her terrors were absurd.

But not the less terrors that grew in strength hour by hour, as she waited there, looking at the pleasant spring forest, and no one came. Terrors that grew at last so strong, that they took the place of certainties. Some hitch must have taken place, and her boy must be gone out with the rest.

Having got as far as this, to go further was no difficulty. He was killed, she felt sure of it, and none had courage to come and tell her of it. She suddenly determined to verify her thoughts at once, and went in doors to get her hat.

She had fully made up her mind that he must be killed at this time. The hope of his having escaped was gone. We, who know the real state of the case,

  ― 191 ―
should tremble for her reason, when she finds her fears so terribly true. We shall see.

She determined to start away to the Brentwoods', and end her present state of terror one way or another. Tom had taken the only horse in the stable, but her own brown pony was running in the paddock with some others; and she sallied forth, worn out, feverish, halfmad, to try to catch him.

The obstinate brute wouldn't be caught. Then she spent a weary hour trying to drive them all into the stockyard, but in vain. Three times she, with infinite labour, drove them up to the slip‐rack, and each time the same mare and foal broke away, leading off the others. The third time, when she saw them all run whinnying down to the further end of the paddock, after half an hour or so of weary work driving them up, when she had run herself off her poor tottering legs, and saw that all her toil was in vain, then she sank down on the cold hard gravel in the yard, with her long black hair streaming loose along the ground, and prayed that she might die. Down at full length, in front of her own door, like a dead woman, moaning and crying, from time to time, “Oh, my boy, my boy.”

How long she lay there she knew not. She heard a horse's feet, but only stopped her ears from the news she thought was coming. Then she heard a steady heavy footstep close to her, and some one touched her, and tried to raise her.

  ― 192 ―

She sat up, shook the hair from her eyes, and looked at the man who stood beside her. At first she thought it was a phantom of her own brain, but then looking wildly at the calm, solemn features, and the kindly grey eyes which were gazing at her so inquiringly, she pronounced his name — “Frank Maberly.”

“God save you, madam,,” he said. “What is the matter?”

“Misery, wrath, madness, despair!” she cried wildly, raising her hand. “The retribution of a lifetime fallen on my luckless head in one unhappy moment.”

Frank Maberly looked at her in real pity, but a thought went through his head. “What a magnificent actress this woman would make.” It merely past through his brain and was gone, and then he felt ashamed of himself for entertaining it a moment; and yet it was not altogether an unnatural one for him who knew her character so well. She was lying on the ground in an attitude which would have driven Siddons to despair; one white arm, down which her sleeve had fallen, pressed against her forehead, while the other clutched the ground; and her splendid black hair fallen down across her shoulders. Yet how could he say how much of all this wild despair was real, and how much hysterical?

“But what is the matter, Mary Hawker,” he asked. “Tell me, or how can I help you?”

“Matter?” she said. “Listen. The bushrangers

  ― 193 ―
are come down from the mountains, spreading ruin, murder, and destruction far and wide. My husband is captain of the gang: and my son, my only son, whom I have loved better than my God, is gone with the rest to hunt them down — to seek, unknowing, his own father's life. There is mischief beyond your mending, priest!”

Beyond his mending, indeed. He saw it. “Rise up,” he said, “and act. Tell me all the circumstances. Is it too late?”

She told him how it had come to pass, and then he showed her that all her terrors were but anticipations, and might be false. He got her pony for her, and, as night was falling, rode away with her along the mountain road that led to Captain Brentwood's.

The sun was down, and ere they had gone far, the moon was bright overhead. Frank, having fully persuaded himself that all her terrors were the effect of an overwrought imagination, grew cheerful, and tried to laugh her out of them. She, too, with the exercise of riding through the night‐air, and the company of a handsome, agreeable, well‐bred man, began to have a lurking idea that she had been making a fool of herself; when they came suddenly on a hut, dark, cheerless, deserted, standing above a black, stagnant, reed‐grown waterhole.

The hut where Frank had gone to preach to the stockmen. The hut where Lee had been murdered — an ill‐omened place; and as they came opposite to it, they

  ― 194 ―
saw two others approaching them in the moonlight — Major Buckley and Alice Brentwood.

Then Alice, pushing forward, bravely met her, and told her all — all, from beginning to end; and when she had finished, having borne up nobly, fell to weeping as though her heart would break. But Mary did not weep, or cry, or fall down. She only said, “Let me see him,” and went on with them, silent and steady.

They got to Garoopna late at night, none having spoken all the way. Then they showed her into the room where poor Charles lay, cold and stiff, and there she stayed hour after hour through the weary night. Alice looked in once or twice, and saw her sitting on the bed which bore the corpse of her son, with her face buried in her hands; and at last, summoning courage, took her by the arm and led her gently to bed.

Then she went into the drawing‐room, where, besides her father, were Major Buckley, Doctor Mulhaus, Frank Maberly, and the drunken doctor before spoken of, who had had the sublime pleasure of cutting a bullet from his old adversary's arm, and was now in a fair way to justify the sobriquet I have so often applied to him. I myself also was sitting next the fire, alongside of Frank Maberly.

“My brave girl,” said the Major, “how is she?”

“I hardly can tell you, sir,” said Alice; “she is so very quiet. If she would cry now, I should be very

  ― 195 ―
glad. It would not frighten me so much as seeing her like that. I fear she will die!”

“If her reason holds,” said the Doctor, “she will get over it. She had, from all accounts, gone through every phase of passion, down to utter despair, before she knew the blow had fallen. Poor Mary!”

There, we have done. All this misery has come on her from one act of folly and selfishness years ago. How many lives are ruined, how many families broken up, by one false step! If ever a poor soul has expiated her own offence, she has. Let us hope that brighter times are in store for her. Let us have done with moral reflections; I am no hand at that work. One more dark scene, reader, and then. —

It was one wild dreary day in the spring; a day of furious wind and cutting rain; a day when few passengers were abroad, and when the boatmen were gathered in knots among the sheltered spots upon the quays, waiting to hear of disasters at sea; when the ships creaked and groaned at the wharfs, and the harbour was a sheet of wind‐driven foam, and the domain was strewed with broken boughs. On such a day as this, Major Buckley and myself, after a sharp walk, found ourselves in front of the principal gaol in Sydney.

We were admitted, for we had orders; and a small, wiry, clever‐looking man about fifty bowed to us as

  ― 196 ―
we entered the white‐washed corridor, which led from the entrance hall. We had a few words with him, and then followed him.

To the darkest passage in the darkest end, of that dreary place; to the condemned cells. And my heart sank as the heavy bolt shot back, and we went into the first one on the right.

Before us was a kind of bed‐place. And on that bedplace lay the figure of a man. Though it is twenty years ago since I saw it, I can remember that scene as though it were yesterday.

He lay upon a heap of tumbled blankets, with his face buried in a pillow. One leg touched the ground, and round it was a ring, connecting the limb to a long iron bar, which ran along beneath the bed. One arm also hung listlessly on the cold stone floor, and the other was thrown around his head, a head covered with short black curls, worthy of an Antinous, above a bare muscular neck, worthy of a Farnese Hercules. I advanced towards him.

The governor held me back. “My God, sir,” he said, “take care. Don't, as you value your life, go within length of his chain.” But at that moment the handsome head was raised from the pillow, and my eyes met George Hawker's. Oh, Lord! such a piteous wild look. I could not see the fierce desperate villain who had kept our country‐side in terror so long. No, thank God, I could only see the handsome curly‐headed boy who used to play with James Stockbridge and myself among

  ― 197 ―
the gravestones in Drumston churchyard. I saw again the merry lad who used to bathe with us in Hatherleigh water, and whom, with all his faults, I had once loved well. And seeing him, and him only, before me, in spite of a terrified gesture from the governor, I walked up to the bed, and, sitting down beside him, put my arm round his neck.

“George! George! Dear old friend!” I said. “O George, my boy, has it come to this?”

I don't want to be instructed in my duty. I know what my duty was on that occasion as well as any man. My duty as a citizen and a magistrate was to stand at the further end of the cell, and give this hardened criminal a moral lecture, showing how honesty and virtue, as in my case, had led to wealth and honour, and how yielding to one's passions led to disgrace and infamy, as in his. That was my duty, I allow. But then, you see, I didn't do my duty. I had a certain tender feeling about my stomach which prevented me from doing it. So I only hung there, with my arm round his neck, and said, from time to time, “O George, George!” like a fool.

He put his two hands upon my shoulders, so that his fetters hung across my breast; and he looked me in the face. Then he said, after a time, “What! Hamlyn? Old Jeff Hamlyn! The only man I ever knew that I didn't quarrel with! Come to see me now, eh? Jeff, old boy, I'm to be hung to‐morrow.”

  ― 198 ―

“I know it,” I said. “And I came to ask you if I could do anything for you. For the sake of dear old Devon, George.”

“Anything you like, old Jeff,” he said, with a laugh, “so long as you don't get me reprieved. If I get loose again, lad, I'd do worse than I ever did yet, believe me. I've piled up a tolerable heap of wickedness as it is, though. I've murdered my own son, Jeff. Do you know that?”

I answered — “Yes; I know that, George; but that was an accident. You did not know who he was.”

“He came at me to take my life,” said Hawker. “And I tell you, as a man who goes out to be hung to‐morrow, that, if I had guessed who he was, I'd have blown my own brains out to save him from the crime of killing me. Who is that man?”

“Don't you remember him?” I said. “Major Buckley.”

The Major came forward, and held out his hand to George Hawker. “You are now,” he said, “like a dead man to me. You die to‐morrow; and you know it; and face it like a man. I come to ask you to forgive me anything you may have to forgive. I have been your enemy since I first saw you: but I have been an honest and open enemy; and now I am your enemy no longer. I ask you to shake hands with me. I have been warned not to come within arm's length of you, chained as you are. But I am not afraid of you.”

  ― 199 ―

The Major came and sat on the bed‐place beside him.

“As for that little animal,” said George Hawker, pointing to the governor as he stood at the further end of the cell, “if he comes within reach of me, I'll beat his useless little brains out against the wall, and he knows it. He was right to caution you not to come too near me. I nearly killed a man yesterday: and to‐morrow, when they come to lead me out——But, with regard to you, Major Buckley, the case is different. Do you know I should be rather sorry to tackle you; I'm afraid you would be too heavy for me. As to my having anything to forgive, Major, I don't know that there is anything. If there is, let me tell you that I feel more kind and hearty towards you and Hamlyn for coming to me like this to‐day, than I've felt towards any man this twenty year. By‐the‐bye; let no man go to the gallows without clearing himself as far as he may. Do you know that I set on that red‐haired villain, Moody, to throttle Bill Lee, because I hadn't pluck to do it myself.”

“Poor Lee,” said the Major.

“Poor devil,” said Hawker. “Why that man had gone through every sort of villany, from” (so and so up to so and so, he said; I shall not particularize) “before my beard was grown. Why that man laid such plots and snares for me when I was a lad, that a bishop could not have escaped. He egged me on to forge my

  ― 200 ―
own father's name. He drove me on to ruin. And now, because it suited his purpose to turn honest, and act faithful domestic to my wife for twenty years, he is mourned for as an exemplary character, and I go to the gallows. He was a meaner villain than ever I was.”

“George,” I asked, “have you any message for your wife?”

“Only this,” he said; “tell her I always liked her pretty face, and I'm sorry I brought disgrace upon her. Through all my rascalities, old Jeff, I swear to you that I respected and liked her to the last. I tried to see her last year, only to tell her that she needn't be afraid of me, and should treat me as a dead man; but she and her blessed pig‐headed lover, Tom Troubridge, made such knife and pistol work of it, that I never got the chance of saying the word I wanted. She'd have saved herself much trouble if she hadn't acted so much like a frightened fool. I never meant her any harm. You may tell her all this if you judge right, but I leave it to you. Time's up, I see. I ain't so much of a coward, am I, Jeff? Good‐bye, old lad, good‐bye.”

That was the last we saw of him; the next morning he was executed with four of his comrades. But now the Major and I, leaving him, went out again into the street, into the rain and the furious wind, to beat up against it for our hotel. Neither spoke a word till we came to a corner in George Street, nearest the wharf: and there the Major turned back upon me suddenly

  ― 201 ―
and I thought he had been unable to face the terrible gust which came sweeping up from the harbour: but it was not so. He had turned on purpose, and putting his hands upon my shoulders, he said, —

“Hamlyn, Hamlyn, you have taught me a lesson.”

“I suppose so,” I said. “I have shown you what a fool a tender‐hearted soft‐headed fellow may make of himself by yielding to his impulses. But I have a defence to offer, my dear sir, the best of excuses, the only real excuse existing in this world. I couldn't help it.”

“I don't mean that, Hamlyn,” he answered. “The lesson you have taught me is a very different one. You have taught me that there are bright points in the worst man's character, a train of good feeling which no tact can bring out, but yet which some human spark of feeling may light. Here is this man Hawker, of whom we heard that he was dangerous to approach, and whom the good chaplain was forced to pray for and exhort from a safe distance. The man for whose death, till ten minutes ago, I was rejoicing. The man I thought lost, and beyond hope. Yet you, by one burst of unpremeditated folly, by one piece of silly sentimentality; by ignoring the man's later life, and carrying him back in imagination to his old schoolboy days, have done more than our good old friend the Chaplain could have done without your assistance. There is a spark of the Divine in the worst of men, if you can only find it.”

  ― 202 ―

In spite of the Major's parliamentary and didactic way of speaking, I saw there was truth at the bottom of what he said, and that he meant kindly to me, and to the poor fellow who was even now among the dead; so instead of arguing with him, I took his arm, and we fought homewards together through the driving rain.

Imagine three months to have passed. That stormy spring had changed into a placid, burning summer. The busy shearing‐time was past; the noisy shearers were dispersed, heaven knows where (most of them probably suffering from a shortness of cash, complicated with delirium tremens). The grass in the plains had changed from green to dull grey; the river had changed his hoarse roar for a sleepy murmur, as though too lazy to quarrel with his boulders in such weather. A hot dull haze was over forest and mountain. The snow had perspired till it showed long black streaks on the highest eminences. In short, summer had come with a vengeance; every one felt hot, idle, and thirsty, and “there was nothing doing.”

Now that broad cool verandah of Captain Brentwood's, with its deep recesses of shadow, was a place not to be lightly spoken of. Any man once getting footing there, and leaving it, except on compulsion, would show himself of weak mind. Any man once comfortably settled there in an easy chair, who fetched anything for himself when he could get any one else to fetch it for him, would show himself, in my opinion, a man

  ― 203 ―
of weak mind. One thing only was wanted to make it perfect, and that was niggers. To the winds with “Uncle Tom's Cabin,” and “Dred” after it, in a hot wind! What can an active‐minded, self‐helpful lady like Mrs. Stowe, freezing up there in Connecticut, obliged to do something to keep herself warm, — what can she, I ask, know about the requirements of a southern gentleman when the thermometer stands at 125° in the shade? Pish! Does she know the exertion required for cutting up a pipe of tobacco in a hot north wind? No! Does she know the amount of perspiration and anger superinduced by knocking the head off a bottle of Bass in January? Does she know the physical prostration which is caused by breaking up two lumps of hard white sugar in a pawnee before a thunderstorm? No, she doesn't, or she would cry out for niggers with the best of us! When the thermometer gets over 100° in the shade, all men would have slaves if they were allowed. An Anglo‐Saxon conscience will not, save in rare instances, bear a higher average heat than 95°.

But about this verandah. It was the model and type of all verandahs. It was made originally by the Irish family, the Donovans, before spoken of; and, like all Irish‐made things, was nobly conceived, beautifully carried out, and then left to take care of itself, so that when Alice came into possession, she found it a neglected mine of rare creepers run wild. Here, for the first time, I saw the exquisite crimson passion‐flower,

  ― 204 ―
then a great rarity. Here, too, the native passion‐flower, scarlet and orange, was tangled up with the common purple sarsaparilla and the English honeysuckle and jessamine.

In this verandah, one blazing morning, sat Mrs. Buckley and Alice making believe to work. Mrs. Buckley really was doing something. Alice sat with her hands fallen on her lap, so still and so beautiful, that she might then and there have been photographed off by some enterprising artist, and exhibited in the printshops as “Argia, Goddess of Laziness.”

They were not alone, however. Across the very coolest, darkest corner was swung a hammock, looking at which you might perceive two hands elevating a green paper‐covered book, as though the owner were reading — the aforesaid owner, however, being entirely invisible, only proving his existence by certain bulges and angles in the canvas of the hammock.

Now, having made a nice little mystery as to who it was lying there, I will proceed to solve it. A burst of laughter came from the hidden man, so uproarious and violent, that the hammock‐strings strained and shook, and the magpie, waking up from a sound sleep, cursed and swore in a manner fearful to hear.

“My dearest Jim!” said Alice, rousing herself, “What is the matter with you?”

Jim read aloud the immortal battle of the two editors, with their carpet bags, in “Pickwick,” and, ere he had

  ― 205 ―
half done, Alice and Mrs. Buckley had mingled their laughter with his, quite as heartily, if not so loudly.

“Hallo!” said Jim; “here's a nuisance! There's no more of it. Alice, have you got any more?”

“That is all, Jim. The other numbers will come by the next mail.”

“How tiresome! I suppose the governor is pretty sure to be home to‐night. He can't be away much longer.”

“Don't be impatient, my dear,” said Alice. “How is your leg?”

Please to remember that Jim's leg was broken in the late wars, and, as yet, hardly well.

“Oh, it's a good deal better. Heigho! This is very dull.”

“Thank you, James!” said Mrs. Buckley. “Dear me! the heat gets greater every day. If they are on the road, I hope they won't hurry themselves.”

Our old friends were just now disposed in the following manner: —

The Major was at home. Mary Hawker was staying with him. Doctor Mulhaus and Halbert staying at Major Brentwood's, while Captain Brentwood was away with Sam and Tom Troubridge to Sydney; and, having been absent some weeks, had been expected home now for a day or two. This was the day they came home, riding slowly up to the porch about five o'clock.

When all greetings were done, and they were sat

  ― 206 ―
down beside the others, Jim opened the ball by asking, “What news, father?”

“What a particularly foolish question!” said the Captain. “Why, you'll get it all in time — none the quicker for being impatient. May be, also, when you hear some of the news, you won't like it!”

“Oh, indeed!” said Jim.

“I have a letter for you here, from the Commanderin‐Chief. You are appointed to the 3 — th Regiment, at present quartered in India.”

Alice looked at him quickly as she heard this, and, as a natural consequence, Sam looked too. They had expected that he would have hurra'd aloud, or thrown up his hat, or danced about, when he heard of it. But no; he only sat bolt upright in his hammock, though his face flushed scarlet, and his eyes glistened strangely.

His father looked at him an instant, and then continued, —

“Six months' leave of absence procured at the same time, which will give you about three months more at home. So you see you now possess the inestimable privilege of wearing a red coat; and what is still better, of getting a hole made in it; for there is great trouble threatening with the Affghans and Beloochs, and the chances are that you will smell powder before you are up in your regimental duties. Under which circumstances I shall take the liberty of requesting that you inform yourself on these points under my direction,

  ― 207 ―
for I don't want you to join your regiment in the position of any other booby. Have the goodness to lie down again and not excite yourself. You have anticipated this some time. Surely it is not necessary for you to cry about it like a great girl.”

But that night, after dark, when Sam and Alice were taking one of those agreeable nocturnal walks, which all young lovers are prone to, they came smoothly gliding over the lawn close up to the house, and then, unseen and unheard, they saw Captain Brentwood with his arm round Jim's neck, and heard him say, —

“O James! James! why did you want to leave me?”

And Jim answered. “Father, I didn't know. I didn't know my own mind. But I can't call back now.”

Sam and Alice slipt back again, and continued their walk. Let us hear what conversation they had been holding together before this little interruption.

“Alice, my darling, my love, you are more beautiful than ever!”

“Thanks to your absence, my dear Sam. You see how well I thrive without you.”

“Then when we are——”

“Well?” said Alice. For this was eight o'clock in the evening, you know, and the moon being four days past the full, it was pitch dark. “Well?” says she.

“When we are married,” says Sam, audaciously, “I suppose you will pine away to nothing.”

  ― 208 ―

“Good gracious me!” she answered. “Married? Why surely we are well enough as we are.”

“Most excellently well, my darling,” said Sam. “I wish it could last for ever.”

“Oh, indeed!” said Alice, almost inaudibly though.

“Alice, my love,” said Sam, “have you thought of one thing? Have you thought that I must make a start in life for myself?”

No, she hadn't thought of that. Didn't see why Baroona wasn't good enough for him.

“My dear!” he said. “Baroona is a fine property, but it is not mine. I want money for a set purpose. For a glorious purpose, my love! I will not tell you yet, not for years perhaps, what that purpose is. But I want fifty thousand pounds of my own. And fifty thousand pounds I will have.”

Good gracious! What an avaricious creature. Such a quantity of money. And so she wasn't to hear what he was going to do with it, for ever so many years. Wouldn't he tell her now? She would so like to know. Would nothing induce him?

Yes, there was something. Nay, what harm! Only an honest lover's kiss, among the ripening grapes. In the dark, you say. My dear madam, you would not have them kiss one another in broad day, with the cook watching them out of the kitchen window?

“Alice,” he said, “I have had one object before me from my boyhood, and since you told me that I was to

  ― 209 ―
be your husband, that object has grown from a vague intention to a fixed purpose. Alice, I want to buy back the acres of my forefathers; I wish, I intend, that another Buckley shall be the master of Clere, and that you shall be his wife.”

“Sam, my love!” she said, turning on him suddenly. “What a magnificent idea. Is it possible?”

“Easy,” said Sam. “My father could do it, but will not. He and my mother have severed every tie with the old country, and it would be at their time of life only painful to go back to the old scenes and interests. But with me it is different. Think of you and I taking the place we are entitled to by birth and education, in the splendid society of that noble island. Don't let me hear all that balderdash about the founding of new empires. Empires take too long in growing for me. What honours, what society, has this little colony to give, compared to those open to a fourth‐rate gentleman in England? I want to be a real Englishman, not half a one. I want to throw in my lot heart and hand with the greatest nation in the world. I don't want to be young Sam Buckley of Baroona. I want to be the Buckley of Clere. Is not that a noble ambition?”

“My whole soul goes with you, Sam,” said Alice. “My whole heart and soul. Let us consult, and see how this is to be done.”

“This is the way the thing stands,” said Sam. “The

  ― 210 ―
house and park at Clere, were sold by my father for 12,000l. to a brewer. Since then, this brewer, a most excellent fellow by all accounts, has bought back, acre by acre, nearly half the old original property as it existed in my great grandfather's time, so that now Clere must be worth fifty thousand pounds at least. This man's children are all dead; and as far as Captain Brentwood has been able to find out for me, no one knows exactly how the property is going. The present owner is the same age as my father; and at his death, should an advantageous offer be made, there would be a good chance of getting the heirs to sell the property. We should have to pay very highly for it, but consider what a position we should buy with it. The county would receive us with open arms. That is all I know at present.”

“A noble idea,” said Alice, “and well considered. Now what are you going to do?”

“Have you heard tell yet,” said Sam, “of the new country to the north, they call the Darling Downs?”

“I have heard of it, from Burnside the cattle dealer. He describes it as a paradise of wealth.”

“He is right. When you get through the Cypress, the plains are endless. It is undoubtedly the finest piece of country found yet. Now do you know Tom Troubridge?”

“Slightly enough,” said Alice, laughing.

“Well,” said Sam. “You know he went to Sydney

  ― 211 ―
with us, and before he had been three days there he came to me full of this Darling Down country. Quite mad about it in fact. And in the end he said: ‘Sam, what money have you got?’ I said that my father had promised me seven thousand pounds for a certain purpose, and that I had come to town partly to look for an investment. He said, ‘Be my partner;’ and I said, ‘What for?’ ‘Darling Downs,’ he said. And I said I was only too highly honoured by such a mark of confidence from such a man, and that I closed with his offer at once. To make a long matter short, he is off to the new country to take up ground under the name of Troubridge and Buckley. There!”

“But oughtn't you to have gone up with him, Sam?”

“I proposed to do so, as a matter of course,” said Sam. “But what do you think he said?”

“I don't know.”

“He gave me a great slap on the back,” said Sam; “and, said he, ‘Go home, my old lad, marry your wife, and fetch her up to keep house.’ That's what he said. And now, my own love, my darling, will you tell me, am I to go up alone, and wait for you; or will you come up, and make a happy home for me in that dreary desert? Will you leave your home, and come away with me into the grey hot plains of the west?”

“I have no home in future, Sam,” she said, “but where you are, and I will gladly go with you to the world's end.”

  ― 212 ―

And so that matter was settled.

And now Sam disclosed to her that a visitor was expected at the station in about a fortnight or three weeks; and he was no less a person than our old friend the dean, Frank Maberly. And then he went to ask, did she think that she could manage by that time to — , eh? Such an excellent opportunity, you know; seemed almost as if his visit had been arranged, which, between you and I, it had.

She thought it wildly possible, if there was any real necessity for it. And after this they went in; and Alice went into her bedroom.

“And what have you been doing out there with Alice all this time, eh?” asked the Captain.

“I've been asking a question, sir.”

“You must have put it in a pretty long form. What sort of an answer did you get?”

“I got ‘yes’ for an answer, sir.”

“Ah, well! Mrs. Buckley, can you lend Baroona to a new married couple for a few weeks, do you think? There is plenty of room for you here.”

And then into Mrs. Buckley's astonished ear all the new plans were poured. She heard that Sam and Alice were to be married in a fortnight, and that Sam had gone into partnership with Tom Troubridge.

“Stop there,” she said; “not too much at once. What becomes of Mary Hawker?”

“She is left at Toonarbin, with an overseer, for the present.”

  ― 213 ―

“And when,” she asked, “shall you leave us, Sam?”

“Oh, in a couple of months, I suppose. I must give Tom time to get a house up before I go and join him. What a convenient thing a partner like that is, eh?”

“Oh, by‐the‐bye, Mrs. Buckley,” said Captain Brentwood, “what do you make of this letter?”

He produced a broad thick letter, directed in a bold running hand,

“Major Buckley,

“Baroonah, Combermere County,


“If absent, to be left with the nearest magistrate, and a receipt taken for it.”

“How very strange,” said Mrs. Buckley, turning it over. “Where did you get it?”

“Sergeant Jackson asked me, as nearest magistrate, to take charge of it; and so I did. It has been forwarded by orderly from Sydney.”

“And the Governor's private seal, too,” said Mrs. Buckley. “I don't know when my curiosity has been so painfully excited. Put it on the chimney‐piece, Sam; let us gaze on the outside, even if we are denied to see the inside. I wonder if your father will come tonight?”

“No; getting too late,” said Sam. “Evidently Halbert and the Doctor have found themselves there during their ride, and are keeping him and Mrs. Hawker com

  ― 214 ―
pany. They will all three be over to‐morrow morning, depend on it.”

“What a really good fellow that Halbert is,” said Captain Brentwood. “One of the best companions I ever met. I wish his spirits would improve with his health. A sensitive fellow like him is apt not to recover from a blow like his.”

“What blow?” said Mrs. Buckley.

“Did you never hear?” said the Captain. “The girl he was going to be married to got drowned coming out to him in the Assam.”

  ― 215 ―

iii: Chapter XII.


AT ten o'clock the next morning arrived the Major, the Doctor, and Halbert; and the first notice they had of it was the Doctor's voice in the passage, evidently in a great state of excitement.

“No more the common bower‐bird than you, sir; a new species. His eyes are red instead of blue, and the whole plumage is lighter. I will call it after you, my dear Major.”

“You have got to shoot him first,” said the Major.

“I'll soon do that,” said the Doctor, bursting into the room‐door. “How do you do, all of you? Sam, glad to see you back again. Brentwood, you are welcome to your own house. Get me your gun — where is it?”

“In my bedroom,” said the Captain.

The Doctor went off after it. He reappeared again to complain that the caps would not fit; but, being satisfied on that score, he disappeared down the garden, on murderous thoughts intent.

Sam got his father away into the verandah, and told him all his plans. I need hardly say that they met with

  ― 216 ―
the Major's entire approval. All his plans I said; no, not all. Sam never hinted at the end and object of all his endeavours; he never said a word about his repurchase of Clere. The Major had no more idea that Sam had ever thought of such a thing, or had been making inquiries, than had the owner of Clere himself.

“Sam, my dear boy,” said he, “I am very sorry to lose you, and we shall have but a dull time of it henceforth; but I am sure it is good for a man to go out into the world by himself” (and all that sort of thing). “When you are gone, Brentwood and I mean to live together, to console one another.”

“My dear, are you coming in?” said Mrs. Buckley. “Here is a letter for you, which I ought to have given you before.”

The Major went in and received the mysterious epistle which the captain had brought the night before. When he saw it he whistled.

They sat waiting to know the contents. He was provokingly long in opening it, and when he did, he said nothing, but read it over twice with a lengthening visage. Now also it became apparent that there was another letter inside, at the superscription of which the Major having looked, put it in his pocket, and turning round to the mantel‐piece, with his back to the others, began drumming against the fender with his foot, musingly.

A more aggravating course of proceeding he could not have resorted to. Here they were all dying of

  ― 217 ―
curiosity, and not a word did he seem inclined to answer. At last, Mrs. Buckley, not able to hold out any longer, said, —

“From the Governor, was it not, my love?”

“Yes,” he said, “from the Governor. And very important too,” and then relapsed into silence.

Matters were worse than ever. But after a few minutes he turned round to them suddenly, and said, —

“You have heard of Baron Landstein.”

“What,” said Sam, “the man that the Doctor's always abusing so? Yes, I know all about him, of course.”

“The noble Landstein,” said Alice. “In spite of the Doctor's abuse he is a great favourite of mine. How well he seems to have behaved at Jena with those two Landwehr regiments.”

“Landsturm, my love,” said the Major.

“Yes, Landsturm I mean. I wonder if he is still alive, or whether he died of his wounds.”

“The Doctor,” said Sam, “always speaks of him as dead.”

“He is not only alive,” said the Major, “but he is coming here. He will be here to‐day. He may come any minute.”

“What! the great Landstein,” said Sam.

“The same man,” said the Major.

“The Doctor will have a quarrel with him, father. He is always abusing him. He says he lost the battle of Jena, or something.”

  ― 218 ―

“Be quiet, Sam, and don't talk. Watch what follows.”

The Doctor was seen hurrying up the garden‐walk. He put down his gun outside, and bursting open the glass door, stepped into the room, holding aloft a black bird, freshly killed, and looking around him for applause.

“There!” he said; “I told you so.”

The Major walked across the room, and put a letter in his hand, the one which was enclosed in the mysterious epistle before mentioned. “Baron,” he said. “here is a letter for you.”

The Doctor looked round as one would who had received a blow, and knew not who smote him. He took the letter, and went into the window to read it.

No one spoke a word. “This, then, my good old tutor,” thought Sam, “turns out to be the great Landstein. Save us, what a piece of romance.” But though he thought this, he never said anything, and catching Alice's eye, followed it to the window. There, leaning against the glass, his face buried in his hands, and his broad back shaking with emotion, stood Doctor Mulhaus. Alas! no. Our kindly, good, hearty, learned, irritable, but dearly‐beloved old friend, is no more. There never was such a man in reality: but in his place stands Baron von Landstein of the Niederwald.

What the contents of the Doctor's (I must still call him so) letter, I cannot tell you. But I have seen the letter which Major Buckley received enclosing it, and I

  ― 219 ―
can give it you word for word. It is from the Governor himself, and runs thus: —


“I am informed that the famous Baron von Landstein has been living in your house for some years, under the name of Dr. Mulhaus. In fact, I believe he is a partner of yours. I therefore send the enclosed under cover to you, and when I tell you that it has been forwarded to me through the Foreign Office, and the Colonial Office, and is, in point of fact, an autograph letter from the King of P——to the Baron, I am sure that you will ensure its safe delivery.

The Secretary is completely “fixed” with his estimates. The salaries for the Supreme Court Office are thrown out. He must resign. Do next election send us a couple of moderates.

“Yours, &c.,    G.G.”

This was the Major's letter. But the Doctor stood still there, moved more deeply than any had seen him before, while Alice and Sam looked at one another in blank astonishment.

At length he turned and spoke, but not to them, to the empty air. Spoke as one aroused from a trance. Things hard to understand, yet having some thread of sense in them too.

“So he has sent for me,” he said, “when it seems

  ― 220 ―
that he may have some use for me. So the old man is likely to go at last, and we are to have the golden age again. If talking could do it, assuredly we should. He has noble instincts, this young fellow, and some sense. He has sent for me. If H——, and B——, and Von U——, and myself can but get his ear!

“Oh, Rhineland! my own beloved Rhineland, shall I see you again? Shall I sit once more in my own grey castle, among the vineyards, above the broad gleaming river, and hear the noises from the town come floating softly up the hillside! I wonder are there any left who will remember — ”

He took two short turns through the room, and then he turned and spoke to them again, looking all the time at Sam.

“I am the Baron von Landstein. The very man we have so often talked of, and whose character we have so freely discussed. When the French attacked us, I threw myself into the foremost ranks of my countrymen, and followed the Queen with two regiments which I had raised almost entirely myself.

“I fled away from the blood‐red sun of Jena, wounded and desperate. “That sun,” I thought, “has set on the ruins of Great Frederick's kingdom. Prussia is a province of France: what can happen worse than this? I will crawl home to my castle and die.

“I had no castle to crawl to. My brother, he who hung upon the same breast with me, he who learnt his

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first prayer beside me, he who I loved and trusted above all other men, had turned traitor, had sold himself to the French, had deceived my bride that was to be, and seized my castle.

“I fled to England, to Drumston, Major. I had some knowledge of physic, and called myself a doctor. I threw myself into the happy English domestic life which I found there, and soon got around me men and women whom I loved full well.

“Old John Thornton and his sister knew my secret, as did Lord Crediton: but they kept it well, and by degrees I began to hope that I would begin a new life as a useful village apothecary, and forget for ever the turmoils of politics.

“Then you know what happened. There was an Exodus. All those I had got to love, arose, in the manner of their nation, and went to the other end of the earth, so that one night I was left alone on the cliff at Plymouth, watching a ship which was bearing away all that was left me to love in the world.

“I went to Prussia. I found my brother had made good use of his prosperity, and slandered me to the King. His old treachery seemed forgotten, and he was high in power. The King, for whom I had suffered so much, received me coldly, and leaving the palace, I spoke to my brother, and said, — ‘Send me so much yearly, and keep the rest for a time.’ And then I followed you, Major, out here.”

  ― 222 ―

“Shall I tell you any more, Sam?”

“No!” said Sam, smiting his fist upon the table. “I can tell the rest, Baron, to those who want to know it. I can tell of ten years' patient kindness towards myself. I can tell — I can tell — ”

Sam was the worst orator in the world. He broke down, sir. He knew what he meant very well; and so I hope do you, reader, but he couldn't say it. He had done what many of us do, tried to make a fine speech when his heart was full, and so he failed.

But Alice didn't fail, — not she, though she never spoke a word. She folded up her work; and going up to the good old man, took both his hands in hers and kissed him on both his cheeks. A fine piece of rhetorical action, wasn't it? And then they all crowded round him, and shook hands with him, and kissed him, and God‐blessed him, for their kind, true, old friend; and prayed that every blessing might light upon his noble head, till he passed through them speechless and wandered away to his old friend, the river.

About the middle of this week, there arrived two of our former friends, — Frank Maberly and Captain Desborough, riding side by side. The Elders, with the Doctor, were outside, and detained the Dean, talking to him and bidding him welcome. But Captain Desborough, passing in, came into the room where were

  ― 223 ―
assembled Alice, Sam, and Jim, who gave him a most vociferous greeting.

They saw in a moment that there was some fun in the wind. They knew, by experience, that when Desborough's eyes twinkled like that, some absurdity was preparing, though they were quite unprepared for the mixture of reality and nonsense which followed.

“Pace!” said Desborough, in his affected Irish accent; “be on this house, and all in it. The top of the morning to ye all.”

“Now,” said Alice, “we are going to have some fun; Captain Desborough has got his brogue on.”

“Ye'll have some fun directly, Miss Brentwood,” he said. “But there's some serious, sober earnest to come first. My cousin, Slievedonad, is dead.”

“Lord Slievedonad?”

“The same. That small Viscount is at this moment in pur——. God forgive me, and him too.”

“Poor fellow!”

“That's just half. My uncle Lord Covetown was taken with a fit when he heard of it, and is gone after him, and the Lord forgive him too. He turned me, his own brother's son, out into the world with half an education, to sink or swim; and never a kind word did he or his son ever give me in their lives. It must have broken the old man's heart to think how the estate would go. But as I said before, God forgive him.”

  ― 224 ―

“You must feel his loss, Captain Desborough,” said Alice. “I am very sorry for you.”

“Ahem! my dear young lady, you don't seem to know how this ends.”

“Why, no,” said Alice, looking up wonderingly; “I do not.”

“Why, it ends in this,” said Desborough; “that I myself am Earl of Covetown, Viscount Slievedonad, and Baron Avoca, with twenty thousand a year, me darlin, the laste penny; see to there now.”

“Brogue again,” said Alice. “Are you joking?”

“True enough,” said Desborough. “I had a letter from my grandmother, the Dowager (she that lost the dog), only this very day. And there's a thousand pounds paid into the Bank of New South Wales to my account. Pretty good proof that last, eh?”

“My dear Lord,” said Alice, “I congratulate you most heartily. All the world are turning out to be noblemen. I should not be surprised to find that I am a duchess myself.”

“It rests with you, Miss Brentwood,” said Desborough, with a wicked glance at Sam, “to be a countess. I now formally make you an offer of me hand and heart. Oh! tell me, Miss Brentwood, will ye be Mrs. Mars — I beg pardon, Countess of Covetown?”

“No, I thank you, my lord,” said Alice, laughing and blushing. “I am afraid I must decline.”

  ― 225 ―

“I was afraid ye would,” said Lord Covetown. “I had heard that a great six‐foot villain had been trifling with your affections, so I came prepared for a refusal. Came prepared with this, Miss Brentwood, which I pray you to accept; shall I be too bold if I say, as a wedding present, from one of your most sincere admirers.”

He produced a jewel case, and took from it a bracelet, at the sight of which Alice gave an honest womanly cry of delight. And well she might, for the bauble cost 150l. It was a bracelet of gold, representing a snake. Half‐way up the reptile's back began a row of sapphires, getting larger towards the neck, each of which was surrounded by small emeralds. The back of the head contained a noble brilliant, and the eyes were two rubies. Altogether, a thorough specimen of Irish extravagance and good taste.

“Can you clasp it on for her, Sam?” said Lord Covetown.

“Oh, my Lord, I ought not to accept such a princely present!” said Alice.

“Look here, Miss Brentwood,” said Covetown, laying his hand on Sam's shoulder. “I find that the noblest and best fellow I know is going to marry the handsomest woman, saving your presence, that I ever saw. I myself have just come into an earldom, and twenty thousand a‐year; and if, under these circumstances, I mayn't make that woman a handsome present, why

  ― 226 ―
then the deuce is in it, you know. Sam, my boy, your hand. Jim, your hand, my lad. May you be as good a soldier as your father.”

“Ah!” said Jim. “So you're an earl are you? What does it feel like, eh? Do you feel the blue blood of a hundred sires coursing in your veins? Do you feel the hereditary class prejudices of the Norman aristocracy cutting you off from the sympathies of the inferior classes, and raising you above the hopes and fears of the masses? How very comical it must be! So you are going to sit among the big‐wigs in the House of Lords. I hope you won't forget yourself, and cry ‘Faug a Ballagh,’ when one of the bishops rises to speak. And whatever you do, don't sing ‘Gama crem'ah cruiskeen’ in the lobby.”

“My dear fellow,” said he, “I am not in the House of Lords at all. Only an Irish peer. I intend to get into the Commons though, and produce a sensation by introducing the Australian ‘Co'ee’ into the seat of British legislature.”

How long these four would have gone on talking unutterable nonsense, no man can say. But Frank Maberly coming in, greeted them courteously, and changed the conversation.

Poor Frank! Hard and incessant work was beginning to tell on that noble frame, and the hard marked features were getting more hard and marked year by year. Yet, in spite of the deep lines that now furrowed that

  ― 227 ―
kindly face, those who knew it best, said that it grew more beautiful than it had ever been before. As that magnificent physique began to fail, the noble soul within began to show clearer through its earthly tenement. That noble soul, which was getting purified and ready for what happened but a few years after this in Patagonia. When we heard that that man had earned the crown of glory, and had been thought worthy to sit beside Stephen and Paul in the Kingdom, none of us wept for him, or mourned. It seemed such a fitting reward for such a pure and noble life. But even now, when I wake in the night, I see him before me as he was described in the last scene by the only survivor. Felled down upon the sand, with his arms before his eyes, crying out, as the spears struck him, one after another, “Lord, forgive them, they know not what they do!”

  ― 228 ―

iii: Chapter XIII.


WHAT morning is this, when Sam, waking from silver dreams to a golden reality, turns over in his bed and looks out of the open glass door; at dog Rover, propped up against the lintel, chopping at the early flies; at the flower‐garden, dark and dewy; at the black wall of forest beyond, in which the magpies were beginning to pipe cheerily; at the blessed dawn which was behind and above it, shooting long rays of primrose and crimson half‐way up the zenith; hearing the sleepy ceaseless crawling of the river over the shingle bars; hearing the booming of the cattle‐herds far over the plain; hearing the chirrup of the grasshopper among the raspberries, the chirr of the cicada among the wattles — what happy morning is this? Is it the Sabbath?

Ah, no! the Sabbath was yesterday. This is his wedding morn.

My dear brother bachelor, do you remember those old first‐love sensations, or have you got too old, and too fat? Do you remember the night when you parted

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from her on the bridge by the lock, the night before her father wrote to you and forbade you the house? Have you got the rose she gave you there? Is it in your Bible, brother? Do you remember the months that followed — months of mad grief and wild yearning, till the yearning grew less — less wild — and the grief less desperate; and then, worst of all, the degrading consciousness that you were, in spite of yourself, getting rid of your love, and that she was not to you as she had been? Do you remember all this? When you come across the rose in your Bible, do you feel that you would give all the honour and wealth of the world to feel again those happy, wretched, old sensations? Do you not say that this world has nothing to give in comparison to that?

Not this world, I believe. You and I can never feel that again. So let us make up our minds to it — it is dead. In God's name don't let us try to galvanize an old corpse, which may rise upon us hideous, and scare us to the lower pit. Let us be content as we are. Let us read that Book we spoke of just now with the rose in it, and imitate the Perfect Man there spoken of, who was crucified 1800 years ago, believing, like Him, that all men are our brothers, and acting up to it. And then, Lord knows what may be in store for us.

Here's a digression. If I had had a good wife to keep me in order, I never should have gone so far out of the road. Here is Sam in bed, sitting up, with his

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happy head upon his hands, trying to believe that this dream of love is going to be realized — trying to believe that it is really his wedding morn.

It evidently is; so he gets out of bed and says his prayers like an honest gentleman — he very often forgot to do this same, but he did it this morning carefully — much I am afraid as a kind of charm or incantation, till he came to the Lord's Prayer itself, and then his whole happy soul wedded itself to the eternal words, and he arose calm and happy, and went down to bathe.

Happy, I said. Was he really happy? He ought to have been; for every wish he had in this life was fulfilled. And yet, when Jim, and he, and Halbert, were walking, towel in hand down the garden, they held this conversation: —

“Sam, my dear old brother, at last,” said Jim, “are you happy?”

“I ought to be, Jim,” said Sam; “but I'm in the most confounded fright, sir.” — They generally are in a fright, when they are going to be married, those Benedicts. What the deuce are they afraid of?

Our dear Jim was in anything but an enviable frame of mind. He had found out several things which did not at all conduce to his happiness; he had found out that it was one thing to propose going to India, or No‐man'sland, and cutting off every tie and association which he had in the world; and that it was quite another thing to do that same. He had found out that it was one

  ― 231 ―
thing to leave his sister in the keeping of his friend Sam, and another to part from her probably for ever; and, last of all, he had found out, ever since his father had put his arm round his neck and kissed him, that night we know of, that he loved that father beyond all men in this world. It was a new discovery; he had never known it till he found he had got to part with him. And now, when he woke in the night, our old merry‐hearted Jim sat up in bed, and wept; aye, and no shame to him for it, when he thought of that handsome, calm, bronzed face tearless and quiet there, over the fortifications and the mathematics, when he was far away.

“He will never say a word, Sam,” said Jim, as they were walking down to bathe this very morning of the wedding; “but he'll think the more. Sam, I am afraid I have done a selfish thing in going; but if I were to draw back now, I should never be the same to him again. He couldn't stand that. But I am sorry I ever thought of it.”

“I don't know, Jim,” said Halbert, pulling off his trowsers, “I really don't know of any act of parliament passed in favour of the Brentwood family, exempting them from the ordinary evils of humanity. Do you think now, that when John Nokes, aged nineteen, goes into market at Cambridge, or elsewhere, and 'lists, and never goes home again; do you think, I say, that that lad don't feel a very strange emptiness about the epigastric region

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when he thinks of the grey‐headed old man, that is sitting waiting for him at the cottage‐door? And,” added Halbert, standing on the plunging‐stage Adamically, without a rag upon him, pointing at Jim with his finger in an oratorical manner; “do you think that the old man who sits there, year after year, waiting for him who never comes, and telling the neighbours that his lad who is gone for a sodger, was the finest lad in the village, do you think that old man feels nothing? Give up fine feelings, Jim. You don't know what trouble is yet.”

And so he went souse into the water.

And after the bathe all came up and dressed; — white trowsers and brilliant ties being the order of the day. Then we all, from the bachelor side of the house, assembled in the verandah, for the ceremony was not to be performed till eight, and it was not more than halfpast seven. There was the promise of a very awkward half hour, so I was glad of a diversion caused by my appearing in a blue coat with gilt buttons, and pockets in the tails, — a coat I had not brought out for twenty years, but as good as new, I give you my honour. Jim was very funny about that coat, and I encouraged him by defending it, and so we got through ten minutes, and kept Sam amused. Then one of the grooms, a lad I mentioned before as bringing a note to Baroona on one occasion, a long brown‐faced lad, born of London parents in the colony, made a diversion by coming round to

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look at us. He admired us very much, but my gilt buttons took his attention principally. He guessed they must have cost a matter of twenty pound, but on my telling him that the whole affair was bought for three pounds, he asked, I remember: —

“What are they made on, then?”

Brass I supposed, and gilt. So he left me in disgust, and took up with Jim's trowsers, wanting to know “if they was canvas.”

“Satin velvet,” Jim said; and then the Major came out and beckoned us into the drawing‐room.

And there she was, between Mrs. Buckley and Mary Hawker, dressed all in white, looking as beautiful as morning. Frank Maberly stood beside a little table, which the women had made into an altar, with the big Prayer‐book in his hand. And we all stood around, and the servants thronged in, and Sam, taking Alice's hand, went up and stood before Frank Maberly.

Captain Brentwood, of the Artillery, would give this woman to be married to this man, with ten thousand blessings on her head; and Samuel Buckley, of Baroona, would take this woman as his wedded wife, in sickness and health, for richer, for poorer, till death did them part. And, “Yes, by George, he will,” says Jim to himself, — but I heard him, for we were reading out of the same Prayer‐book.

And so it was all over. And the Doctor, who had all

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the morning been invisible, and had only slipt into the room just as the ceremony had began, wearing on his coat a great star, a prodigy, which had drawn many eyes from their Prayer‐books, the Doctor, I say, came up, star and all, and taking Alice's hand, kissed her forehead, and then clasped a splendid necklace round her throat.

Then followed all the usual kissings and congratulations, and then came the breakfast. I hope Alice and Sam were happy, as happy as young folks can be in such a state of flutter and excitement; but all I know is, that the rest of the party were thoroughly and utterly miserable. The certainty that this was the break‐up of our happy old society, that all that was young, and merry, and graceful, among us, was about to take wing and leave us old folks sitting there lonely and dull. The thought, that neither Baroona nor Garoopna could ever be again what they had once been, and that never again we should hear those merry voices, wakening us in the morning, or ringing pleasant by the river on the soft summer's evening; these thoughts, I say, made us but a dull party, although Covetown and the Doctor made talking enough for the rest of us.

There was something I could not understand about the Doctor. He talked loud and nervously all breakfast time, and afterwards, when Alice had retired to change her dress, and we were all standing about talking, he came up to me in a quiet corner where I was,

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and took me by the hand. “My dear old friend,” he said, “you will never forget me, will you?”

“Forget you, Baron! never,” I said. I would have asked him more, but there was Alice in the room, in her pretty blue riding‐habit and hat, ready for a start, and Sam beside her, whip in hand; so we all crowded out to say good‐bye.

That was the worst time of all. Mrs. Buckley had said farewell and departed. Jim was walking about, tearless, but quite unable to answer me when I asked him a question. Those two grim old warriors, the Captain and the Major, were taking things very quietly, but did not seem inclined to talk much, while the Doctor was conducting himself like an amiable lunatic, getting in everybody's way as he followed Sam about.

“Sam,” he said, after Alice had been lifted on her horse, “my dear Sam, my good pupil, you will never forget your old tutor, will you?”

“Never, never!” said Sam; “not likely, if I lived to be a hundred. I shall see you to‐morrow.”

“Oh yes, surely,” said the Baron; “we shall meet to‐morrow for certain. But good‐bye, my boy; good bye.”

And then the young couple rode away to Baroona, which was empty, swept, and garnished, ready for their reception. And the servants cheered them as they went away, and tall Eleanor sent one of her husband's boots after them for luck, with such force and dexterity that

  ― 236 ―
it fell close to the heels of Widderin, setting him capering; — then Sam turned round and waved his hat, and they were gone.

And we turned round to look at one another, and lo! another horse, the Doctor's, was being led up and down by a groom, saddled; and, while we wondered, out came the Doctor himself and began strapping his valise on to the saddle.

“And where are you going to‐day, Baron?” asked the Major.

“I am going,” said he, “to Sydney. I sail for Europe in a week.”

Our astonishment was too great for ejaculations; we kept an awful silence; this was the first hint he had given us of his intention.

“Yes,” said he, “I sail from Sydney this day week. I could not embitter my boy's wedding‐day by letting him know that he was to lose me; better that he should come back and find me gone. I must go, and I foresaw it when that letter came; but I would not tell you, because I knew you would be so sorry to part. I have been inside and said farewell to Mrs. Buckley. And now, my friends, shorten this scene for me. Night and day, for a month, I have been dreading it, and now let us spare one another. Why should we tear our hearts asunder by a long leave‐taking. Oh, Buckley, Buckley! after so many years — ”

Only a hurried shaking of hands, and he was gone.

  ― 237 ―
Down by the paddock to the river, and when he reached the height beyond, he turned and waved his hand. Then he went on his way across the old plains, and we saw him lessening in the distance until he disappeared altogether, and we saw him no more. No more!

In two months from that time Jim and Halbert were gone to India, Sam and Alice were away to the Darling Downs, Desborough and the Doctor had sailed for Europe, and we old folks, taking up our residence at Baroona, had agreed to make common house of it. Of course we were very dull at first, when we missed half of the faces which had been used to smile upon us; but this soon wore off. During the succeeding winter I remember many pleasant evenings, when the Captain, the Major, Mrs. Buckley, and myself played whist, shilling points and the rigour of the game, and while Mary Hawker, in her widow's weeds, sat sewing by the fireside, contentedly enough.

  ― 238 ―

iii: Chapter XIV.


IT was one evening during the next spring, and the game of whist was over for the night. The servant had just brought in tumblers with a view to whiskey and water before bed. I was preparing to pay fourteen shillings to Mrs. Buckley, and was rather nervous about meeting my partner, the Major's eye, when he, tapping the table with his hand, spoke: —

“The most childish play, Hamlyn; the most childish play.”

“I don't defend the last game,” I said. “I thought you were short of diamonds — at least I calculated on the chance of your being so, having seven myself. But please to remember, Major, that you yourself lost two tricks in hearts, in the first game of the second rubber.”

“And why, sir?” said the Major. “Tell me that, sir. Because you confused me by leading queen, when you had ace, king, queen. The most utterly schoolboy play. I wouldn't have done such a thing at Eton.”

“I had a flush of them,” I said eagerly. “And I

  ― 239 ―
meant to lead ace, and then get trumps out. But I put down queen by mistake.”

“You can make what excuses you like, Hamlyn,” said the Major. “But the fact remains the same. There is one great fault in your character, the greatest fault I know of, and which you ought to study to correct. I tell you of it boldly as an old friend. You are too confoundedly chary in leading out your trumps, and you can't deny it.”

“Hallo!” said Captain Brentwood, “who comes so late?”

Mary Hawker rose from her chair, and looked eagerly towards the door. “I know who it is,” she said, blushing. “I heard him laugh.”

In another moment the door was thrown open, and in stalked Tom Troubridge.

“By George!” he said. “Don't all speak to me at once. I feel the queerest wambling in my innards, as we used to say in Devon, at the sight of so many old faces. Somehow, a man can't make a new home in a hurry. It's the people make the home, not the house and furniture. My dear old cousin, and how are you?”

“I am very quiet, Tom. I am much happier than I thought to have been. And I am deeply thankful to see you again.”

“How is my boy, Tom?” said the Major.

“And how is my girl, Tom?” said the Captain.

“Sam,” said Tom, “is a sight worth a guinea, and

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Mrs. Samuel looks charming, but — In point of fact you know I believe she expects — ”

“No!” said the Captain. “You don't say so.”

“Fact, my dear sir.”

“Dear me,” said the Major, drumming on the table. “I hope it will be a b — . By the bye, how go the sheep?”

“You never saw such a country, sir!” said Tom. “We have got nearly five thousand on each run, and there is no one crowding up yet. If we can hold that ground with our produce, and such store‐sheep as we can pick up, we shall do wonders.”

By this time Tom was set at supper, and between the business of satisfying a hunger of fifteen hours, began asking after old friends.

“How are the Mayfords?” he asked.

“Poor Mrs. Mayford is better,” said Mrs. Buckley. “She and Ellen are just starting for Europe. They have sold their station, and we have bought it.”

“What are they going to do in England?” asked Tom.

“Going to live with their relations in Hampshire.”

“Ellen will be a fine match for some young English squire,” said Tom. “She will have twenty thousand pounds some day, I suppose.”

And then we went on talking about other matters.

A little scene took place in the garden next morning, which may astonish some of my readers, but which did

  ― 241 ―
not surprise me in the least. I knew it would happen, sooner or later, and when I saw Tom's air, on his arrival the night before, I said to myself, “It is coming,” and so sure enough it did. And I got all the circumstances out of Tom only a few days afterwards.

Mary Hawker was now a very handsome woman, about one and forty. There may have been a grey hair here and there among her long black tresses, but they were few and far between. I used to watch her sometimes of an evening, and wonder to myself how she had come through such troubles, and lived; and yet there she was on the night when Tom arrived, for instance, sitting quite calm and cheerful beside the fire in her half‐mourning (she had soon dropped her weeds, perhaps, considering who her husband had been, a piece of good taste), with quite a placid, contented look on her fine black eyes. I think no one was capable of feeling deeper for a time, but her power of resilience was marvellous. I have noticed that before. It may, God forgive me, have given me some slight feeling of contempt for her, because, forsooth, she did not brood over and nurse an old grief as I did myself. I am not the man to judge her. When I look back on my own wasted life; when I see how for one boyish fancy I cut myself off from all the ties of domestic life, to hold my selfish way alone, I sometimes think that she has shown herself a better woman than I have a man. Ah!

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well, old sweetheart, not much to boast of either of us. Let us get on.

She was walking in the garden, next morning, and Tom came and walked beside her; and after a little he said, —

“So you are pretty well contented, cousin?”

“I am as well content,” she said, “as a poor, desolate, old childless widow could hope to be. There is no happiness left for me in this life!”

“Who told you that?” said Tom. “Who told you that the next twenty years of your life might not be happier than any that have gone before?”

“How could that be?” she asked. “What is left for me now, but to go quietly to my grave?”

“Grave!” said Tom. “Who talks of graves for twenty years to come! Mary, my darling, I have waited for you so long and faithfully, you will not disappoint me at last?”

“What do you mean? What can you mean?”

“Mean!” said he; “why, I mean this, cousin: I mean you to be my wife — to come and live with me as my honoured wife, for the next thirty years, please God!”

“You are mad!” she said. “Do you know what you say? Do you know who you are speaking to?”

“To my old sweetheart, Polly Thornton!” he said, with a laugh, — “to no one else in the world.”

“You are wrong,” she said; “you may try to forget now, but you will remember afterwards. I am not

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Mary Thornton. I am an old broken woman, whose husband was transported for coining, and hung for murder and worse!”

“Peace be with him!” said Tom. “I am not asking who your husband was; I have had twenty years to think about that, and at the end of twenty years, I say, my dear old sweetheart, you are free at last: will you marry me?”

“Impossible!” said Mary. “All the country‐side knows who I am. Think of the eternal disgrace that clings to me. Oh, never, never!”

“Then you have no objection to me? eh, cousin?”

“To you, my kind, noble old partner? Ah, I love and honour you above all men!”

“Then,” said Tom, putting his arm round her waist, “to the devil with all the nonsense you have just been talking, about eternal disgraces and so forth! I am an honest man and you're an honest woman, and, therefore, what cause or impediment can there be? Come, Mary, it's no use resisting; my mind is made up, and you must!

“Oh, think!” she said; “oh, think only once, before it is too late for ever!”

“I have thought,” said Tom, “as I told you before, for twenty years; and I ain't likely to alter my opinion in ten minutes. Come, Mary. Say, yes!”

And so she said yes.

“Mrs. Buckley,” said Tom, as they came up arm in

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arm to the house, “it will be a good thing if somebody was to go up to our place, and nurse Mrs. Sam in her confinement.”

“I shall go up myself,” said Mrs. Buckley, “though how I am to get there I hardly know. It must be nearly eight hundred miles, I am afraid.”

“I don't think you need, my dear madam,” said he. “My wife will make an excellent nurse!”

“Your wife!”

Tom looked at Mary, who blushed, and Mrs. Buckley came up and kissed her.

“I am so glad, so very glad, my love!” she said. “The very happiest and wisest thing that could be! I have been hoping for it, my love, and I felt sure it would be so, sooner or later. How glad your dear aunt would be if she were alive!”

And, in short, he took her off with him, and they were married, and went up to join Sam and his wife in New England — reducing our party to four. Not very long after they were gone, we heard that there was a new Sam Buckley born, who promised, said the wise women, to be as big a man as his father. Then, at an interval of very little more than two years, Mrs. Buckley got a long letter from Alice, announcing the birth of a little girl to the Troubridges. This letter is still extant, and in my possession, having been lent me, among other family papers, by Agnes Buckley, as soon as she heard that I was bent upon correcting these memoirs to fit

  ― 245 ―
them for the press. I will give you some extracts from it: —

. . . “Dear Mary Troubridge has got a little girl, a sweet, quiet, brighteyed little thing, taking, I imagine, after old Miss Thornton. They are going to call it Agnes Alice, after you and I, my dearest mother.

“You cannot imagine how different Mary is grown from what she used to be! Stout, merry, and matronly, quite! She keeps the house alive, and I think I never saw a couple more sincerely attached than are she and her husband. He is a most excellent companion for my Sam. Not to make matters too long, we are just about as happy as four people can be. Some day we may all come to live together again, and then our delight will be perfect.

“I got Jim's letter which you sent me. . . . Sam and his partner are embarking every sixpence they can spare in buying town and suburban lots at Melbourne. I know every street and alley in that wonderful city (containing near a hundred houses) on the map, but I am not very likely to go there ever. Let us hope that Sam's speculations will turn out profitable.

“Best love to Mr. Hamlyn.” . . .

I must make a note to this letter. Alice refers to a letter received from Jim, which, as near as I can make the dates agree, must be the one I hold in my hand at

  ― 246 ―
this moment. I am not sure, but I think so. This one runs —

“Dear Dad, . . . I have been down among the dead men, and since then up into the seventh heaven, in consequence of being not only gazetted, but promoted. The beggars very nearly did for us. All our fortifications, the prettiest things ever done under the circumstances, executed under Bobby's own eye, were thrown down by — what do you think? — an earthquake! Perhaps we didn't swear — Lord forgive us! Akbar had a shy at us immediately, but got a most immortal licking!

“Is not this a most wonderful thing about Halbert? The girl that he was to be married to was supposed to be lost, coming out in the Assam. And now it appears that she wasn't lost at all (the girl I mean, not the ship), but that she was wrecked on the east coast of Madagascar, and saved, with five and twenty more. She came on to Calcutta, and they were married the week after he got his troop. She is uncommonly handsome and ladylike, but looks rather brown and lean from living on birds' nests and sea‐weed for above six months of her life.”

[Allow me to remark that this must be romance on Jim's part; birds' nests and trepang are not found in Madagascar.]

“My wound is nearly all right again. It was only a prick with a spear in my thigh — ”

It is the very deuce editing these old letters without

  ― 247 ―
anything to guide one. As far as I can make out by myself (Jim being now down at Melton hunting, and not having answered my letter of inquiries), this letter must have come accompanied by an Indian newspaper containing the account of some battle or campaign in which he was engaged. Putting this and that together, I am inclined to believe that it refers to the defence of Jellalabad by Sir Robert Sale, in which I know he was engaged. I form this opinion from the fact of his mentioning that the fortifications were destroyed by an earthquake. And I very much fear that the individual so disrespectfully mentioned above as “Bobby,” was no other than the great Hero himself. In my second (or if that goes off too quick, in my third) edition, I will endeavour to clear this point up in a satisfactory manner.

After this there was a long dull time with no news from him or from any one. Then Sam came down from New England, and paid us a visit, which freshened us up a little. But in spite of this and other episodes, there was little change or excitement for us four. We made common house of it, and never parted from one another more than a day. Always of an evening came the old friendly rubber, I playing with the Major, and Captain Brentwood with Mrs. Buckley. The most remarkable event I have to chronicle during the long period which followed, is, that one day a bushfire came right up to the garden rails, and was beaten out with difficulty; and that same evening I held nine trumps, Ace, Queen, Knave,

  ― 248 ―
Nine of hearts, and the rest small. I cannot for the life of me remember what year it was in, somewhere between forty‐two and forty‐five, I believe, because within a year or two of that time we heard that a large comet had appeared in England, and that Sir Robert Peel was distrusted on the subject of Protection. After all, it is no great consequence, though it is rather provoking, because I never before or since held more than eight trumps. Burnside, the cattle‐dealer, claims to have held eleven, but I may state, once for all, that I doubt that man's statements on this and every other subject on which he speaks. — He knows where I am to be found.

My man Dick, too, somehow or another, constituted himself my groom and valet. And the Major was well contented with the arrangement. So we four, Major and Mrs. Buckley, Captain Brentwood and I, sat there in the old station night after night, playing our whist, till even my head, the youngest of the four, began to be streaked with grey, and sixteen years were past.

  ― 249 ―

iii: Chapter XV.


IT is March, 1856. The short autumn day is rapidly giving place to night; and darkness, and the horror of a great tempest is settling down upon the desolate grey sea, which heaves and seethes for ever around Cape Horn.

A great clipper ship, the noblest and swiftest of her class, is hurling along her vast length before the terrible west wind. Hour by hour through the short and gloomy day, sail after sail has gone fluttering in; till now, at night‐fall, she reels and rolls before the storm under a single close reefed maintopsail.

There is a humming, and a roaring, and a rushing of great waters, so that they who are clinging to the bulwarks, and watching awe‐struck this great work of the Lord's, cannot hear one another though they shout. Now there is a grey mountain which chases the ship, overtakes her, pours cataracts of water over her rounded stern, and goes hissing and booming past her. And now a roll more frantic than usual, nigh dips her mainyard, and sends the water spouting wildly over her bulwarks.

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(“Oh, you very miserable ass,” said Captain Brentwood; “to sit down and try to describe the indescribable. Do you think that because you can see all the scene before you now, because your flesh creeps, and your blood moves as you call it to mind, do you think, I say, that you can describe it? Do you think that you can give a man, in black and white, with ink, and on paper, any real notion of that most tremendous spectacle, a sharp bowed ship running before a gale of wind through the ice in the great South Sea, where every wave rolls round the world? Go to — read Tom Cringle, who has given up his whole soul to descriptions, and see how many pictures dwell in your mind's eye, after reading his books. Two, or at most three, and they, probably, quite different from what he intended you to see, lovely as they are; — leave describing things, man, and give us some more facts.”

Said Major Buckley, “Go on, Hamlyn, and do the best you can. Don't mind him.” And so I go on accordingly.)

61° 30" South. The Horn, storm‐beaten, desolate, four hundred miles to the North, and barely forty miles to the South, that cruel, gleaming, ice barrier, which we saw to‐day when the weather lifted at noon, and which we know is there yet, though we dare not think about it. There comes to us, though, in spite of ourselves, a vision of what may happen any hour. A wild cry from the foretop. A mass, grey, indistinct, horrible, rising from the wild waters, scarce a hundred

  ― 251 ―
yards from her bowsprit. A mad hurrying to and fro. A crash. A great ruin of masts and spars, and then utter, hopeless destruction. That is the way the poor old Madagascar must have gone. The Lord send us safe through the ice.

Stunned, drenched to the skin, half‐frightened, but wildly excited and determined to see out, what a landsman has but seldom a chance of seeing, a great gale of wind at sea, I clung tight to the starboard bulwarks of Mr. Richard Green's new clipper, Sultan, Captain Sneezer, about an hour after dark, as she was rounding the Horn, watching much such a scene as I have attempted to give you a notion of above. And as I held on there, wishing that the directors of my insurance office could see me at that moment, the first mate, coming from forward, warping himself from one belayingpin to another, roared in my ear, “that he thought it was going to blow.”

“Man! man!” I said, “do you mean to tell me it is not blowing now?”

“A bit of a breeze,” he roared; but his roar came to me like a whisper. However, I pretty soon found out that this was something quite out of the common; for, crawling up, along the gangway which runs between the poophouse and the bulwarks, I came with great difficulty to the stern; and there I saw the two best men in the larboard watch (let us immortalize them, they were Deaf Bob, and Harry the digger), lashed to the

  ― 252 ―
wheel, and the Skipper himself, steadfast and anxious, alongside of them, lashed to a cleat on the afterpart of the deck‐house. So thinks I, if these men are made fast, this is no place for me to be loose in, and crawled down to my old place in the waist, at the after end of the spare topsail‐yard, which was made fast to the starboard‐bulwarks, and which extended a little abaft of the main shrouds.

If any gentleman can detect a nautical error in that last sentence, I shall feel obliged by his mentioning it.

Somebody who came forth from the confusion, and was gone again, informed me that “He note was going to lay her to, and that I'd better hold on.” I comforted myself with the reflection that I was doing exactly the right thing, holding on like grim death.

Then something happened, and I am sorry to say I don't exactly know what. I find in my notes, taken shortly afterwards, from the dictation of an intelligent midshipman, “that the fore royal‐yard got jammed with the spanker‐boom, and carried away the larboard quarter boat.” Nautical friends have since pointed out to me that this involves an impossibility. I daresay it does. I know it involved an impossibility of turning in without subjecting yourself to a hydropathic remedy of violent nature, by going to bed in wet blankets, and of getting anything for breakfast besides wet biscuit and

  ― 253 ―
cold tea. Let it go; something went wrong, and the consequences were these.

A wall of water, looming high above her mainyard, came rushing and booming along, dark, terrible, opaque. For a moment I saw it curling overhead, and would have cried out, I believe, had there been time; but a midshipman, a mere child, slipped up before me, and caught hold of my legs, while I tried to catch his collar. Then I heard the skipper roar out, in that hoarse throaty voice that seamen use when excited. “Hold on, the sea's aboard,” and then a stunning, blinding rush of water buried us altogether. The Sultan was on her beamends, and what was more, seemed inclined to stay there, so that I, holding on by the bulwarks, saw the sea seething and boiling almost beneath my feet, which were swinging clear off the deck.

But the midshipman sung out that she was righting again, which she did rather quicker than was desirable, bringing every loose article on deck down to our side again with a rush. A useless, thundering, four‐pounder gun, of which terrible implements of war we carried six, came plunging across from the other side of the deck, and went crashing through the bulwarks, out into the sea, within two feet of my legs.

“I think,” I said, trying to persuade myself that I was not frightened, “I think I shall go into the cuddy.”

That was not very easy to do. I reached the door,

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and got hold of the handle, and, watching my opportunity, slipped dexterously in, and making a plunge, came against the surgeon, who, seated on a camp‐stool, was playing piquette, and overthrew him into a corner.

“Repique, by jingo,” shouted Sam Buckley, who was the surgeon's opponent. “See what a capital thing it is to have an old friend like Hamlyn, to come in and knock your opponent down just at the right moment.”

“And papa was losing, too, Uncle Jeff,” added a handsome lad, about fifteen, who was leaning over Sam's shoulder.

“What are they doing to you, Doctor?” said Alice Buckley, neè Brentwood, coming out of a cabin, and supporting herself to a seat by her husband and son.

“Why,” replied the surgeon, “Hamlyn knocked me down just in a moment of victory, but his nefarious project has failed, for I have kept possession of my cards. Play, Buckley.”

Let us give a glance at the group which is assembled beneath the swing lamp in the reeling cabin. The wife and son are both leaning over the father's shoulder, and the three faces are together. Sam is about forty. There is not a wrinkle in that honest forehead, and the eyes beam upon you as kindly and pleasantly as ever they did; and when, after playing to the surgeon, he looks up and laughs, one sees that he is just the same old Sam that used to lie, as a lad, dreaming in the verandah at Garoopna. No trouble has left its shadow there. Alice,

  ― 255 ―
whose face is pressed against his, is now a calm, young matron of three or four‐and‐thirty, if it were possible, more beautiful than ever, only she has grown from a Hebe into a Juno. The boy, the son and heir, is much such a stripling as I can remember his father at the same age, but handsomer. And while we look, another face comes peering over his shoulder; the laughing face of a lovely girl, with bright sunny hair, and soft blue eyes; the face of Maud Buckley, Sam's daughter.

They are going home to England. Sam — what between his New England runs, where there are now, under Tom Troubridge's care, 118,000 sheep, and his land speculations at Melbourne, which have turned him out somewhere about 1,000 per cent. since the gold discovery — Sam, I say, is one of the richest of her Majesty's subjects in the Southern hemisphere. I would give 200,000l. for Sam, and make a large fortune in the surplus. “And so,” I suppose you say, “he is going home to buy Clere.” Not at all, my dear sir. Clere is bought, and Sam is going home to take possession. “Marry, how?” Thus, —

Does any one of my readers remember that our dear old friend, Agnes Buckley's maiden name was Talbot, and that her father owned the property adjoining Clere? “We do not remember,” you say; “or at least, if we do, we are not bound to; you have not mentioned the circumstance since the very beginning of this excessively wearisome book, forty years ago.” Allow me to

  ― 256 ―
say, that I have purposely avoided mentioning them all along, in order that, at this very point, I might come down on you like a thunderbolt with this piece of information; namely: — That Talbot of Beaulieu Castle, the towers of which were visible from Clere Terrace, had died without male issue. That Marian and Gertrude Talbot, the two pretty girls, Agnes Buckley's eldest sisters, who used to come in and see old Marmaduke when James was campaigning, had never married. That Marian was dead. That Gertrude, a broken old maid, was sole owner of Beaulieu Castle, with eight thousand a‐year; and, that Agnes Buckley, her sister, and consequently, Sam as next in succession, was her heir. note

All the negotiations for the purchase of Clere had been carried on through Miss Gertrude and her steward. The Brewer died, the property was sold, and Sam, by his agents, bought old Clere back, eight months before this, for 48,000l.

“Then, why on earth,” says Mrs. Councillor Wattlegum (our colonial Mrs. Grundy), “didn't they go home overland? How could people with such wealth as you describe, demean themselves by going home round the Horn, like a parcel of diggers?”

  ― 257 ―

“Because, my dear Madam, the young folks were very anxious to see an iceberg. Come, let us get on.”

The gale has lasted three days, and in that time we have run before it on our course 970 miles. The fourth morning breaks gloriously bright, with the shadows of a few fleecy clouds flying across the bright blue heaving sea. The ship, with all canvas crowded on her, alow and aloft, is racing on, fifteen knots an hour, with a brisk cold wind full on her quarter, heeling over till the water comes rushing and spouting through her leeward ports, and no man can stand without holding on, but all are merry and happy to see the water fly past like blue champagne, and to watch the seething wake that the good ship leaves behind her. Ah! what is this, that all are crowding down to leeward to look at? Is this the Crystal Palace, of which we have read, come out to sea to meet us? No! the young folks are going to be gratified. It is a great iceberg, and we shall pass about a mile to windward.

Certainly worth seeing. Much more tremendous than I had expected, though my imagination had rather run riot in expectation. Just a great floating cluster of shining splintered crystals, about a mile long and 300 feet high, with the cold hungry sea leaping and gnawing at its base, — that is all. Send up those German musicians here, and let us hear the echo of one of Strauss' Waltzes come ringing back from the chill green caverns. Then away, her head in north

  ― 258 ―
ward again now, we may sight the Falklands the day after to‐morrow.

Hardly worth telling you much more about that happy voyage, I think, and really I remember but few things more of note. A great American ship in 45°, steaming in the teeth of the wind, heaving her long gleaming sides through the roll of the South Atlantic. The Royal Charter passing us like a phantom ship through the hot haze, when we were becalmed on the line, waking the silence of the heaving glassy sea with her throbbing propeller. A valiant vainglorious little gun‐boat going out all the way to China by herself, giving herself the airs of a seventy‐four, requiring boats to be sent on board her, as if we couldn't have stowed her, guns and all, on our poop, and never crowded ourselves. A noble transport, with 53 painted on her bows, swarming with soldiers for India, to whom we gave three times three. All these things have faded from my recollection in favour of a bright spring morning in April.

A morning which, beyond all others in my life, stands out clear and distinct, as the most memorable. Jim Buckley shoved aside my cabin door when I was dressing, and says he, — “Uncle Jeff, my Dad wants you immediately; he is standing by the davits of the larboard quarterboat.”

And so I ran up to Sam, and he took my arm and pointed northward. Over the gleaming morning sea

  ― 259 ―
rose a purple mountain, shadowed here and there by travelling clouds, and a little red‐sailed boat was diving and plunging towards us, with a red flag fluttering on her mast.

“What!” I said, — but I could say no more.

“The Lizard!”

But I could not see it now for a blinding haze, and I bent down my head upon the bulwarks — Bah! I am but a fool after all. What could there have been to cry at in a Cornish moor, and a Falmouth pilot boat? I am not quite so young as I was, and my nerves are probably failing. That must have been it. “When I saw the steeple,” says M. Tapley, “I thought it would have choked me.” Let me say the same of Eddystone Lighthouse, which we saw that afternoon; and have done with sentiment for good. If my memory serves me rightly, we have had a good deal of that sort of thing in the preceding pages.

I left the ship at Plymouth, and Sam went on in her to London. I satisfied my soul with amazement at the men of war, and the breakwater; and, having bought a horse, I struck boldly across the moor for Drumston, revisiting on my way many a well‐known snipe‐ground, and old trout haunt; and so, on the third morning, I reached Drumston once more, and stabled my horse at a little public‐house near the church.

It was about eight o'clock on a Tuesday morning; nevertheless, the church‐bell was going, and the door

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was open as if for prayer. I was a little surprised at this, but having visited the grave where my father and mother lay, and then passed on to the simple headstone which marked the resting place of John Thornton and his wife, I brushed through the docks and nettles, towards the lychgate, in the shadow of which stood the clergyman, a gentlemanly looking young man, talking to a very aged woman in a red cloak.

He saluted me courteously, and passed on, talking earnestly and kindly to his aged companion, and so the remarkable couple went into the church, and the bell stopped.

I looked around. Close to me, leaning against the gate, was a coarse looking woman about fifty, who had just set down a red earthen pitcher to rest herself, and seemed not disinclined for a gossip. And at the same moment I saw a fat man, about my own age, with breeches, unbuttoned at the knee, grey worsted stockings and slippers, and looking altogether as if he was just out of bed, having had too much to drink the night before; such a man, I say, I saw coming across the road, towards us, with his hands in his pockets.

“Good morning,” I said to the woman. “Pray what is the clergyman's name?”

“Mr. Montague,” she answered, with a curtsey.

“Does he have prayers every morning?”

“Every marnin' of his life,” she said. “He's a Papister.”

  ― 261 ―

“You'm a fool, Cis Jewell,” said the man, who had by this time arrived. “You'm leading the gentleman wrong, he's a Pussyite.”

“And there bain't much difference, I'm thinking, James Gosford,” said Cis Jewell.

I started. James Gosford had been one of my favourite old comrades in times gone by, and here he was. Could it be he? Could this fat red‐faced man of sixty‐one, be the handsome hard‐riding young dandy of forty years ago? It was he, doubtless, and in another moment I should have declared myself, but a new interruption occurred.

The bell began again, and service was over. The old woman came out of the porch and slowly down the pathway towards us.

“Is that all his congregation?” I asked.

“That's all, sir,” said Gosford. “Sometimes some of they young villains of boys gets in, and our old clerk, Jerry, hunts 'em round and round all prayer time; but there's none goes regular except the old 'ooman.”

“And she had need to pray a little more than other folks,” said Cis Jewell, folding her arms, and balancing herself in a conversational attitude. “My poor old grandfather——”

Further conversation was stopped by the near approach of the old woman herself, and I looked up at her with some little curiosity. A very old woman she was surely; and while I seemed struggling with some sort of recol

  ― 262 ―
lection, she fixed her eyes upon me, and we knew one another.

“Geoffry Hamlyn,” she said, without a sign of surprise. “You are welcome back to your native village. When your old comrade did not know you, I, whose eyes are dim with the sorrow of eighty years, recognised you at once. They may well call me the wise woman.”

“Good God!” was all I could say. “Can this be Madge?”

“This is Madge,” she said, “who has lived long enough to see and to bless the man who saw and comforted her poor lost boy in prison, when all beside fell off from him. The Lord reward you for it.”

“How did you know that, Madge?”

“Ask a witch where she gets her information!” laughed she. “God forgive me. I'll tell you how it was. One of the turnkeys in that very prison was a Cooper, a Hampshire gipsy, and he, knowing my boy to be half‐blooded, passed all the facts on through the tribes to me, who am a mother among them! Did you see him die?” she added, eagerly putting her great bony hand upon my arm, and looking up in my face.

“No! no! mother,” I answered: “I hadn't courage for that.”

“I heard he died grim,” she continued, half to herself. “He should a done. There was a deal of wild blood in him from both sides. Are you going up to the woodlands, to see the old place? 'Tis all in ruins now; and the

  ― 263 ―
choughs and stares are building and brooding in the chimney nook where I nursed him. I shall not have much longer to wait; I only stayed for this. Goodbye.”

And she was gone; and Gosford, relieved by her departure, was affectionately lugging me off to his house. Oh, the mixture of wealth and discomfort that house exhibited! Oh, the warm‐hearted jollity of every one there! Oh, to see those three pretty, well‐educated girls taking their father off by force, and making him clean himself in honour of my arrival! Oh, the merry evening we had! What, though the cider disagreed with me? What, though I knew it would disagree with me at the time I drank it? That noisy, jolly night in the old Devonshire grange was one of the pleasantest of my life.

And, to my great surprise, the Vicar came in in the middle of it, and made himself very agreeable to me. He told me that old Madge, as far as he could see, was a thoroughly converted and orderly person, having thrown aside all pretence of witchcraft. That she lived on some trifle of hoarded money of her own, and a small parish allowance that she had; and that she had only come back to the parish some six years since, after wandering about as a gipsy in almost every part of England. He was so good as to undertake the delivery of a small sum to her weekly from me, quite sufficient to enable her to refuse the parish allowance, and live comfortably

  ― 264 ―
(he wrote to me a few months afterwards, and told me that it was required no longer, for that Madge was gone to rest at last); and a good deal more news he gave me, very little of which is interesting here.

He told me that Lord C——, John Thornton's friend, was dead; that he never thoroughly got over the great Reform debate, in which he over‐exerted himself; and that, after the passing of the Bill, he had walked joyfully home and had a fit, which prevented his ever taking any part in politics afterwards, though he lived above ten years. That his son was not so popular as his father, in consequence of his politics, which were too conservative for the new class of tenants his father had brought in; and his religious opinions, which, said the clergyman, were those of a sound Churchman; by which he meant, I rather suspect, that he was a pretty smart Tractarian. I was getting won with this young gentleman, in spite of religious difference, when he chose to say that the parish had never been right since Maberly had had it, and that the Dissenters always raved about him to this day; whereby, he concluded, that Frank Maberly was far from orthodox. I took occasion to say that Frank was the man of all others in this world whom I admired most, and that, considering he had sealed his faith with his life, I thought that he ought to be very reverently spoken of. After this there arose a little coolness, and he went home.

I went up to town by the Great Western, and, for the

  ― 265 ―
first time, knew what was meant by railway travelling. True, I had seen and travelled on that monument of human industry, the Hobson's Bay Railroad, but that stupendous work hardly prepared me for the Great Western. And on this journey I began to understand, for the first time in my life, what a marvellous country this England of ours was. I wondered at the wealth and traffic I saw, even in comparatively unimportant towns. I wondered at the beauty and solidity of the railway works; at the vast crowds of people which I saw at every station; at the manly, independent bearing of the men of the working classes, which combined so well with their civility and intelligence; and I thought, with a laugh, of the fate of any eighty thousand men who might shove their noses into this bee‐hive, while there was such material to draw upon. Such were the thoughts of an Englishman landing in England, from whom the evils produced by dense population were as yet hidden.

But when I got into the whirl of London, I was completely overwhelmed and stupified. I did not enjoy anything. The eternal roar was so different to what I had been used to; and I had stayed there a couple of months before I had got a distinct impression of anything, save and except the Crystal Palace at Sydenham.

It was during this visit to London that I heard of the fall of Von Landstein's (Dr. Mulhaus') Ministry, which had happened a year or two before. And now, also, I

  ― 266 ―
read the speech he made on his resignation, which, for biting sarcasm and bitter truth rudely told, is unequalled by any speech I ever read. A more witty, more insolent, more audacious tirade, was never hurled at a successful opposition by a fallen minister. The K—— party sat furious, as one by one were seized on by our ruthless friend, held up to ridicule, and thrown aside. They, however, meditated vengeance.

Our friend, in the heat of debate, used the word “Dummerkopf,” which answers, I believe, to our “wooden head.” He applied it to no one in particular; but a certain young nobleman (Bow‐wow Von Azelsberg was his name) found the epithet so applicable to his own case, that he took umbrage at it; and, being egged on by his comrades, challenged Von Landstein to mortal combat. Von Landstein received his fire without suffering, adjusted his spectacles, and shot the young gentleman in the knee, stopping his waltzing for ever and a day. He then departed for his castle, where he is at this present speaking (having just gone there after a visit to Clere) busy at his great book, “The History of Fanatics and Fanaticism, from Mahomet to Joe Smith.” Beloved by all who come in contact with him; happy, honoured, and prosperous, as he so well deserves to be.

But I used to go and see everything that was to be seen, though, having no companion (for Sam was down at Clere, putting his house in order), it was very wretched

  ― 267 ―
work. I did, in fact, all the public amusements in London, and, as a matter of course, found myself one night, about eleven o'clock, at Evans's, in Covent Garden.

The place was crowded to suffocation, but I got a place at a table about half‐way up, opposite an old gentleman who had been drinking a good deal of brandy and water, and was wanting some more. Next me was an honest‐looking young fellow enough, and opposite him his friend. These two looked like shop‐lads, out for a “spree.”

A tall old gentleman made me buy some cigars, with such an air of condescending goodwill, that I was encouraged to stop a waiter and humbly ask for a glass of whisky and water. He was kind enough to bring it for me; so I felt more at ease, and prepared to enjoy myself.

A very gentlemanly‐looking man sang us a song, so unutterably funny that we were dissolved in inextinguishable laughter; and then, from behind a curtain, began to come boys in black, one after another, as the imps in a pantomime come from a place I dare not mention, to chase the clown to his destruction. I counted twelve of them and grew dizzy. They ranged themselves in a row, with their hands behind them, and began screeching Tennyson's “Miller's Daughter” with such a maximum of shrillness, and such a minimum of expression, that I began to think that tailing wild cattle on the mountains, at midnight, in a thunderstorm, with

  ― 268 ―
my boots full of water, was a far preferable situation to my present one.

They finished. Thank goodness. Ah! delusive hope. The drunken old miscreant opposite me got up an encore with the bottom of his tumbler, and we had it all over again. Who can tell my delight when he broke his glass applauding, and the waiter came down on him sharp, and made him pay for it. I gave that waiter sixpence on the spot.

Then came some capital singing, which I really enjoyed; and then came a remarkable adventure; “an adventure!” you say; “and at Evans's!” My dear sir, do you suppose that, at a moment like this, when I am pressed for space, and just coming to the end of my story; — do you suppose that, at a moment like this, I would waste your time at a singing‐house for nothing?

A tall, upright looking man passed up the lane between the tables, and almost touched me as he passed. I did not catch his face, but there was something so distingué about him that I watched him. He had his hat off, and was smoothing down his close‐cropped hair, and appeared to be looking for a seat. As he was just opposite to us, one of the young clerks leant over to the other, and said, —

“That is——.” I did not catch what he said.

“By George,” said the other lad. “Is it now?”

“That's him, sir,” said the first one.

  ― 269 ―

The new comer was walking slowly up the room, and there began to arise a little breeze of applause, and then some one called out, “Three cheers for the Inkerman pet,” and then there was a stamping of feet, and a little laughter, and cheering in various parts of the room, but the new comer made one bow and walked on.

“Pray, sir,” said I, bending over to one of those who had spoken before, “who is that gentleman?”

He had no need to tell me. The man we spoke of reached the orchestra and turned round. It was Jim Brentwood!

There was a great white seam down his face, and he wore a pair of light curling moustachios, but I knew him in a moment; and, when he faced round to the company, I noticed that his person seemed known to the public, for there was not a little applause with the bottoms of tumblers, not unlike what one remembers at certain banquets I have been at, with certain brethren, Sons of Apollo.

In one moment we were standing face to face, shaking one another by both hands; in another, we were arm in arm, walking through the quiet streets towards Jim's lodgings. He had been in Ireland with his regiment, as I knew, which accounted for my not having seen him. And that night, Major Brentwood recounted to me all his part in the last great campaign, from the first fierce rush up the hill at the Alma, down to the time when our Lady pinned a certain bit of gun metal on to his coat in St. James's Park.

  ― 270 ―

A few days after this, Jim and I were standing together on the platform of the Wildmoor station, on the SouthWestern Railway, and a couple of porters were carrying our portmanteaus towards a pair‐horse phaeton, in which stood Sam Buckley, shouting to us to come on, for the horses wouldn't stand. So, in a moment, I was alongside of Sam in the front seat, with Jim standing up behind, between the grooms, and leaning over between us, to see after Sam's driving; and away we went along a splendid road, across a heath, at what seemed to me a rather dangerous pace.

“Let them go, my child,” said Jim to Sam, “you've got a fair mile before. You sit at your work in capital style. Give me time and I'll teach you to drive, Sam. How do you like this, Uncle Jeff?”

I said, “That's more than I can tell you, Master Jim. I know so little of your wheeled vehicles that I am rather alarmed.”

“Ah!” said Jim, “you should have been in Calcutta when the O'Rourke and little Charley Badminton tried to drive a pair of fresh imported Australians tandem through the town. Red Maclean and I looked out of the billiard‐room, and we saw the two horses go by with a bit of a shaft banging about the wheeler's hocks. So we ran down and found Charley, with his head broke, standing in the middle of the street, mopping the blood off his forehead. ‘Charley,’ says I, ‘how the deuce did this happen?’ ‘We met an elephant,’ says he, in a faint voice.”

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“Have you heard anything of the Mayfords lately?” said Jim.

“You know Ellen is married?” said Sam.

“No! Is she?” I said. “And pray to whom?”

“The Squire of Monkspool,” he answered. “A very fine young fellow, and clever withal.”

“Did old Mrs. Mayford,” asked Jim, “ever recover her reason before she died?”

“Never, poor soul,” said Sam. “To the last, she refused to see my mother, believing that the rivalry between Cecil and myself in some way led to his death. She was never sane after that dreadful morning.”

And so with much pleasant talk we beguiled the way, till I saw, across a deep valley on our right, a line of noble heights, well timbered, but broken into open grassy glades, and smooth sheets of bright green lawn. Between us and these hills flowed a gleaming river, from which a broad avenue led up to the eye of the picture, a noble grey stone mansion, a mass of turrets, gables, and chimneys, which the afternoon sun was lighting up right pleasantly.

“That is the finest seat I have seen yet, Sam,” I said. “Whose is that?”

“That,” said Sam, “is Clere. My house and your home, old friend.”

Swiftly up under the shadow of the elm avenue, past the herds of dappled deer, up to the broad graveled terrace which ran along in front of the brave

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old house. And there, beneath the dark wild porch, above the group of servants that stood upon the steps to receive their master, was Alice, with her son and daughter beside her, waiting to welcome us, with the happy sunlight on her face.

I bought a sweet cottage, barely a mile from Clere, with forty acres of grass‐land round it, and every convenience suited for an old bachelor of my moderate though comfortable means.

I took to fishing and to the breeding of horses on a small scale, and finding that I could make myself enormously busy with these occupations, and as much hunting as I wanted, I became very comfortable, and considered myself settled.

I had plenty of society, the best in the land. Above all men I was the honoured guest at Clere, and as the county had rallied round Sam with acclamation, I saw and enjoyed to the fullest extent that charming English country‐life, the like of which, I take it, no other country can show.

I was a great favourite, too, with old Miss Gertrude Talbot at the castle. Her admiration and love for Sam and his wife was almost equal to mine. So we never bored one another, and so, by degrees, gaining the old lady's entire confidence, I got entrusted with a special mission of a somewhat peculiar character.

The leading desire of this good old woman's life was,

  ― 273 ―
that her sister Agnes should come back with her husband, the Major, and take possession of the castle. Again, Alice could not be content, unless her father could be induced to come back and take up his residence at Clere. And letters having failed to produce the desired effect in both instances, the Major, saying that he was quite comfortable where he was, and the Captain urging that the English winters would be too vigorous for his constitution; under these circumstances, I say, I, the confidant of the family, within fifteen months of landing at Plymouth, found myself in a hot omnibus with a Mahomedan driver, jolting and bumping over the desert of Suez on my way back to Australia, charged to bring the old folks home, or never show my face again.

And it was after this journey that the scene described in the first chapter of this book took place; when I read aloud to them from the roll of manuscript mentioned there, my recollections of all that had happened to us during so many years, But since I have come back to England, these “Recollections” have been very much enlarged and improved by the assistance of Major Buckley, Agnes, and Captain Brentwood.

For I succeeded in my object, and brought them back in triumph through the Red Sea, across the Isthmus of Suez, and so by way of the Mediterranean, the Bay of Biscay, the English Channel, Southampton Water, the South‐Western railway, and Alice's new dark‐blue barouche, safe and sound to Clere and the castle, where

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they all are at this present speaking, unless some of them are gone out a walking.

As for Tom Troubridge and Mary, they are so exceedingly happy and prosperous, that they are not worth talking about. They will come either by the Swiftsure or the Norfolk, and we have got their rooms ready for them. They say that their second child, the boy, is one of the finest riders in the colony.

“You have forgotten some one after all,” says the reader, after due examination. “A man we took some little interest in. It is not much matter though, we shall be glad when you have done.”

Is this the man you mean?

I am sitting in Sam's “den” at Clere. He is engaged in receiving the “afterdavy” of a man who got his head broke by a tinker at the cricket‐match in the park (for Sam is in the commission, and sits on the bench once a month “a perfect Midas,” as Mrs. Wattlegum would say). I am busy rigging up one of these wonderful new Yankee spoons with a view to killing a villanous pike, who has got into the troutwater. I have just tied on the thirty‐ninth hook, and have got the fortieth ready in my fingers, when a footman opens the door, and says to me, —

“If you please, sir, your stud‐groom would be glad to see you.”

I keep two horses of all work and a grey pony, so that the word “stud” before the word groom in the last

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sentence must be taken to refer to my little farm, on which I rear a few colts annually.

“May he come in, Sam?” I ask.

“Of course! uncle Jeff,” says he.

And so there comes in a little old man, dressed in the extreme of that peculiar dandyism which is affected by retired jockeys and trainers, and which I have seen since attempted, with indifferent success, by a few young gentlemen at our great universities. He stands in the door and says, —

“Mr. Plowden has offered forty pound for the dark chestnut colt, sir.”

“Dick,” I say (mark that, if you please) “Dick, I think he may have the brute.”

And so, my dear reader, I must at last bid you heartily farewell. I am not entirely without hope that we may meet again.