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Chapter XXII. Conclusion.

MUTUAL explanations followed. Trevor explained that Oionoo had followed the track in the bush until they came up with the party of the Major, whom he found in great perplexity, shortly after the Bushranger had gone off with his horse. That, impressed with the conviction that Helen was in the vicinity of the spot where Brandon had suddenly appeared, her father had spent some days, with himself, in searching for her in all the places round about; and that, on diverging to a considerable distance on their left, Oionoo had discovered the track of her foot, and had led them to the bank of the river where it seemed she had crossed some time before, with the natives. This supposition was confirmed by Helen.

Trevor further explained that, as they found

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the river too rapid and too deep to be crossed at that point, they had been led by Oionoo up the stream till they came to a fording-place, which Oionoo knew of, and which was nearly opposite the high rock on which the keen eyes of the native girl first discovered the form of Helen.

Jeremiah, on his part, related the manner of the Bushranger's death, making several grave and moral reflections on the awful end of the murderer, and pointing out to the Major's attention the sketches of his life which Brandon had written with his blood.

The constable desired to identify the body, and with that intent, made his way over the smouldering embers, to the spot described by Mr. Silliman; but nothing was to be seen but a black mass scarcely bearing a resemblance to the human form. However, as both Helen and Mr. Silliman were well acquainted with his person, and had witnessed his dreadful death, there was no doubt that the scourge of Van Diemen's Land was no more.

The object of the expedition of the several parties being now fulfilled, they had nothing to do but to make the best of their way towards

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the settlements. They recrossed the river, therefore, without delay; and Helen by the way, gave ample explanations of all that had occurred since the Bushranger had taken her away from the cave; and she particularly extolled Mr. Silliman's kindness and bravery to the skies.

Trevor scrutinised the little man with much curiosity as Helen sounded his praises, and she thought that he looked graver than there was any occasion for. Perhaps a feeling of envy at Mr. Silliman having had the good fortune to render Helen services so important, might have increased to jealousy at his long freedom of intercourse with Miss Horton, had not Jeremiah, in the excess of his joy, seeing how matters stood between the ensign and Helen, made a confidant of the young soldier; who, soon becoming master of Jerry's character, and being amused at his mixture of simplicity and good feeling, readily promised his good offices in respect to the sister.

He afterwards owned to Helen, that he felt considerable relief at being made acquainted with the little man's love for Louisa; “as there was no knowing,” he said, “what impression

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the genuine kindness of heart and courage of such a good-natured fellow might have had even on such a heroine as Helen.”

Helen might have been inclined to resent this insinuation at any other time; but the impression of the recent dangers through which she had passed was too strong to allow her to take any other notice of the impertinence than by a haughty frown, which was presently succeeded, however, by a gracious smile.

As their party was too strong to have any fears of the natives, they pushed forward cheerily, Helen being accommodated with one of the horses on which they contrived to make a substitute for a side-saddle by the bell tent, which formed a retreat for at her night. Every body was pleased; the constable and the soldiers to know that the objects of their expedition were accomplished; Trevor to find Helen; Mr. Silliman to find himself safe and sound; and the Major was rejoiced to recover not only his daughter, but from the note of the “plant” found in the Bushranger's memorandums of his murders, &c., his thousand pounds in gold, and most of his

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dollars besides; forming altogether a serious sum of money to a new colonist, and which he thought of sufficient importance to induce him to go out of his way to secure it.

As they were well supplied with necessaries, and had with them two kangaroo dogs which assured to them abundance of game, they made their journey as much of a tour of pleasure as possible; and the provident Major took advantage of the opportunity to survey the country with a view to cattle runs and sheep walks—so important to the owner of flocks and herds.

He found the money in the spot described; and not only that, but the dollars carried away by the Bushranger who had been shot by Brandon, to which spot they were led by Oionoo, who discovered the tracks. All this very much added to the good humour of the Major and his family, which was increased by a further discovery of various articles of property and of valuables which had been “planted” near the cave by the Bushrangers.

They then journeyed on to Hobart Town, passing over the ground previously travelled

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by the ensign with the corporal, and reached “camp,” as the capital was then generally denominated, without accident.

There was a grand rejoicing in the town on the arrival of the Major with his lost daughter; and Helen became so much an object of attraction, that Trevor, with a view to prevent further accidents, proposed to her father that he should forthwith take her under his own care; an arrangement to which the Major assented cordially, but to which Helen demurred as removing her from her father and her sister.

This difficulty however was promptly removed by the ensign, who declared, that his object in entering the army was merely to distract his mind from the memory of Helen whom he had supposed he had lost, and who announced his determination to resign his commission; and as he had few relations in England to whom he felt attached, to settle in the colony as a landowner and proprietor of sheep and cattle in general, and of Miss Horton in particular.

Helen and Louisa, in a private conversation with their father, earnestly entreated him to

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quit a colony where such excesses could be committed, and return to England.

But the Major represented to them, that the small property which he had left was scarcely sufficient to provide them with the common necessaries of life at home, whereas it was enough to establish them in comfort and affluence in the colony: “besides,” he said, “according to the doctrine of chances, the extraordinary events which have happened to us once, will not happen again. And, after all, scenes of violence take place at home—in Ireland for instance—hardly less fearful than those which we have happily escaped from here.”

The Major was right. They had no reason afterwards to repent the determination, which they unanimously adopted, of persevering in the original intention of the Major to become colonists; and they often amused themselves by the fireside in talking over the perils which had beset them on their first arrival; and when the natives in the course of years were entirely rooted out from the island, Mr. Silliman at last lost all fear of being revisited by the abominable old woman whose

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“ugly mug,” as he expressed it, for a long time after, haunted him in his dreams.

The affectionate Oionoo remained with them in the capacity of a domestic, although she could never be thoroughly convinced of the propriety, at all times, of submitting herself to the white woman's custom of stays and petticoats; and would insist occasionally on divesting herself of the embarrassment of her apparel in order to climb up some stately gum-tree after an opossum, the presence of which savoury animal she was enabled to detect by her sense of smell with marvellous sagacity.

The corporal obtained his discharge from his regiment, and resided with his officer, who offered to settle him on some land; but the veteran said that he was too old to begin life again that way, and he preferred taking a part in the superintendence of his master's flocks:—

“He had come to a time of life,” he said, “when the best way to get forward was to stand still.”

The mate of the brig which the Major disposed of advantageously, followed his avocations

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on the sea, notwithstanding the liberal offers of his late employer to assist him in settling on the island.

“It was all very well for the long-tails,” such was the observation of the worthy sailor, “to dig up the land; but his profession was to plough up the sea; and he never should be able to bring himself to bear such a sawneying life,” he said, “as to stand with his hands in his pockets looking at sheeps' tails growing behind them. The sea for him! There he was born—that was his home—and there, when it pleased God, he would die.”

As Helen never ceased to magnify the importance of her family's obligations to Mr. Silliman, dwelling strongly not only on his courage, but on the fact of his having offered to the bushrangers the thousand pounds in dollars, which were lodged to his credit in Hobart Town; as well as on his punctilious respect towards herself, under very awkward circumstances, and as on his general goodness of heart and sincerity of affection, which goes so far with the gentle sex, the amiable Louisa was inclined, in process of time, to listen favourably to his suit; and the union being

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approved of by her father, and most heartily by her brother-in-law and her sister, the marriage took place about two years after her sister's union with Trevor; by which time Jeremiah had not only ample time and opportunity to prove still further the force and constancy of his devotion, but had contrived with great diligence and industry, to build a good house, and establish a well-stocked farm, about half a mile from the Major's mansion.

The alliance between the houses of Horton and Silliman was celebrated with extraordinary pomp, and with festivities of unusual splendour; not less than twelve bullock-carts, of four bullocks each, arriving nearly all together. The quantity of “geeing,” and the cracking of whips was tremendous! But owing to the excellent regulations adopted by the bridegroom, the drivers being directed by public placard, to set down with their bullocks' heads towards the Blue Gum Tree, and to take up with their tails towards the stockyard, no accident occurred; although, owing to excessive fatigue or other causes, it was necessary, on their return to their homes, to assist some

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of the male portion of the guests into their respective vehicles.

At the termination of an entertainment, which consisted of almost a whole hetacomb of sheep and cattle, and at which port wine and claret was drunk from the cask fresh and fresh, due honours having been paid to Mr. and Mrs. Trevor, and the obligations due to them from the general community, for their presentation of two little colonists to increase the population of the island, having been properly acknowledged, with many hearty encouragements to persevere in those praiseworthy contributions, the Major proposed the health of his second son-in-law.

He expatiated much on Mr. Silliman's goodness of heart, and bestowed warm praises on his courage amidst the difficulties and dangers in which he had assisted in rescuing his eldest daughter!

The great store-room rang with acclamations at this eulogium, and the gentle Louisa's eyes filled with pleasing tears.

Jerry acknowledged the honour in a neat speech, which elicited a prodigious rattling of glasses, and the warmest enthusiasm of the

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company at every sentence, especially when he announced that another hogshead of claret was then broached, and proposed as a concluding toast:—

“Success to the Colony of Van Diemen's Land!”

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