“It’s nicer to look at than to live in,” the captain answered. “What with convicts and emancipists, you’d soon be sick of living in Sydney. No, my grant is some miles up-country. There’s a nasty swarm of ticket-of-leavers round it, but, of course, you’ll have nothing to do with them. And then there are some good fellows of our sort within reach—some of them married, too. What a time you’ve been! I was down two months ago looking out for you. It’s quite by chance I’m down now. However, there’ll be room on the dray for your luggage, if you haven’t brought out a ship-load, and we’ll start home to-morrow, if one night will be rest enough for you. I’ve been buying some horses, and you and Walter can ride two of them, and help me to drive the rest. You’ll be better off than you were before you married me, old lady. You had only one horse then, but I can give you your pick out of a dozen or two now. Of course Walter has learnt to stick on a horse somehow, though you couldn’t keep a pony for him? The girl will have to learn to ride, too, if she wants to get about up-country. In the meantime she can go up on the dray. The bullock-driver is an assigned servant, but he’s as true as steel, and that’s more than I can say for some of the beggars I’ve got.”Harry and Donald went to catch the hobbled horse; Mr. Lawson turned to refasten an up-pulled tent-peg, and to get a cord, and when he turned round again, the mulatto was gone.Prince Chummy was far less affected by this horrid story than Harry and Donald were. There is not much love lost between black fellows of different tribes; the tribes are not united by any feeling of common patriotism; but native Australian lads have the same kind of liking for the blacks that a young squire has for his peasant foster-brother. pc蛋蛋怎么压得准 “‘Which way?’ says he, lookin’ about an’ cockin’ his gun. ‘Who was it, Tom?’ says he, with his face as white as ashes.The boys set to work with a will, and about five feet below the surface they came to a rusty-yellow crumbling skeleton. There was nothing in the look of the bones from which the boys, at any rate, could tell how their owner had met his death. But they dug up also what turned out to have been a white bone-handled pocket knife, when they had washed off the earth that encrusted it. The blades were almost eaten up by rust; the handle was the colour of bad teeth, and the rivets fell out, and it dropped asunder as the boys handled it; but on one of the sides was cut—“Andrew Wilson.”“Oh, Walter,” cried Mrs. Daventry to her husband, when the kissing was over, “I hope your farm is close by. I used to think that they sent the convicts out here because it was a hideously ugly hole, but this is a love of a place.”Once Handsome Bob was missing for a couple of days. When he was found he was almost dead; for the blacks had knocked him off his horse with a boomerang, gashed him with their tomahawks, prodded at him with their spears till his flesh was like a perforated card, and then tied him to a tree which ants had connected with their hill by a little sunken path like a miniature railway-cutting. The ants and the flies had made an awful object of poor Bob’s patchwork of wounds; and though he did at last most marvellously “recover,” as it is called, he was half silly ever afterwards. Jawing Jim was kinder to him than you would have expected whilst he lay helpless in the hut, and Sydney and the boys, of course, looked in, and did what they could for him. But for hours he had to be left alone, with the chance that the blacks would swoop down upon him and finish their work. When he did get about again, although half silly in other things, he had a strange, fierce knack of surprising black fellows, and potting them from behind a tree as if they had been so many wild ducks.175 183“I should think we did,” answered Harry, “a precious sight more than a good many of your Jerry’s Town loafers; we’ve got a boat of our own at Wonga-Wonga.” 145154133164 THE END.“It’s a squatter fellow that sold some bullocks to Wilcox the butcher,” said one of the mulatto’s companions. “He’s camped out yonder by himself.”84 pc蛋蛋怎么压得准 25A little farther down the boys came to a hollow full of kangaroo-grass, and a mob of mouse-coloured, deer-eyed kangaroo were camped in it. Some were nibbling the spiky brown grass, with their fore feet folded under them like hill sheep. Some were patting one another, and tumbling one another over like kittens. Others were watching in a ring two “old men” that were fighting. One of the boxers was a nearly grey “old man,” with a regular Roman nose; the other was darker and younger, but nearly as tall, and so he did not intend to let old Roman-nose cock over him any more. The old does were looking on as if they hoped their contemporary would win, but the darkie seemed the favourite of the young “flying does.” The two bucks stood up to each other, and hit out at each other, and tried to get each other’s head “into chancery” in prize-ring style; but sometimes they jabbered at each other, just like two Whitechapel vixens, and they gave nasty kicks at each other’s bellies, too, with their sharp-clawed hind feet. They were so taken up with their fight that they let the boys watch it for nearly five minutes. When they found out, however, that they were being watched, they parted sulkily, and hopped off to “have it out” somewhere else, as fighting schoolboys slope when they see a master coming, or fighting street-boys when they see a policeman. After them hopped the rest of the mob, and Harry and Donald gave chase to one of the does. She had come back to pick up her “Joey.” The little fellow jumped into her pouch head foremost like a harlequin, and then up came his bright eyes and cocked ears above the edge of the pocket, and away Mrs. Kangaroo went with her baby. She tried hard to carry him off safe, but the boys had got an advantage over her at starting, and threatened to head her off from the rest of the mob. Into her apron-pocket went Mrs. Kangaroo’s fore paw, and out came poor little Master Kangaroo. The mother was safe then, but it would have been easy to capture the fat, half-stunned baby. The boys, however, did not wish to encumber themselves with a pet, and, besides, they could not help pitying both the baby and his mamma. So they turned their horses’ heads, and presently, when they looked back, they saw the doe watching them, and then bounding to pick up once more the Joey she had “dinged.” There was no time to ask what had become of Harry. Warrigal hurried Sydney by the collar to the stable, whilst the other men mounted their horses, and unhooked Guardsman to be ready for their captain. Warrigal blew off the padlock with his pistol, but Venus was fractious, and wouldn’t let him put on her halter. Whilst he was dodging about in the stable with her, Sydney heard hoofs in the distance. Nearer and nearer came the tan-ta-ta-tan-ta-ta-tan-ta-ta. Four bluecoats galloped up to the slip-panels—three troopers and a sergeant; the sergeant with Harry on his saddlebow. In a second Harry was down, and in three seconds the slip-panels were down too. Up the rocky rise came the troopers as if they were riding a steeple-chase. The waiting bushrangers saw the morning sun gleaming on their carbines as the police dashed between the aloes and the prickly pears, and, letting Guardsman go, were off like a shot. Sydney banged to the stable-door, and, setting his back against it, shouted for help. His mother and Gertrude, and even John Jones, as the police were close at hand, rushed to his aid; and up galloped the troopers. Instead of bagging Venus, Warrigal was bagged himself. He fired a bullet or two through the door, and talked very big about not being taken alive; but he thought better of it, and in an hour’s time he was jogging off to Jerry’s Town with handcuffs on and his legs tied under his horse’s belly.“It is the son of Kaludie,” shouted the old gin again.79Soon after his adventures with Warrigal, Harry Lawson had a tutor to teach him instead of Miss Smith, and when Harry was twelve, his cousin, Donald M‘Intyre, who was about his own age, came to live at Wonga-Wonga to share the tutor’s instructions. Harry considered this a very jolly arrangement. Like most Australian boys, he was a very quick little fellow, but he was inclined to be rather lazy over his lessons; and Donald helped him in his Latin and French exercises, and made his sums come right for him, and yet was just as ready for a spree out of school as Harry was. Donald, too, had been born in the colony, and so the two boys got on famously together. 18Just then, however, it was Harry’s turn to look scared, for a great grey owl, with round eyes that gleamed like polished guineas, brushed against his face, and directly afterwards two or three flying foxes floated by, looking in the dark very much like dirty cherubim off a tombstone.“We must come for her next trip,” said Boniface. The rain did not cease until the following Thursday, and although, when it did cease, the flood went down almost as rapidly as it had risen, a fearful amount of damage had been done on and about Jerry’s Flats. Several lives had been lost. Scores of acres had been washed away bodily, or smothered in white sand. Houses, huts, sheds, fences, had utterly vanished. The flooded buildings that had stood out the flood looked like sewers when the waters went down. A good many of the “cockatoo settlers” were temporarily ruined, and had to petition the Government, through the hon. member for the Kakadua, for seed-corn; living, and re-making some kind of a home meanwhile, on the alms they got from the relief committees. But on the other hand, some of the river-side farms were made richer than ever by the shiploads of fat soil that had been left on them, and it was like magic to see how rapidly the bush, that had been as dry as a calcined bone a few days before, became green again when the sun shone out once more.“If you can’t remember a Wilson, can you remember a body that went by the name of Squinny?” persisted Donald, like a barrister; “and did he take to the Bush because he couldna stand the floggings he got?”“I doubt if she’d float, Tommy,” said the landlord; “and besides, she hain’t got ne’er a rudder.”All the assigned servants, except Long Steve and his wife, were habitual thieves. They did not get any wages for their work, and so they thought themselves free to help themselves to their master’s property. So many pounds of salt or fresh meat and flour, so much coarse brown sugar and inferior tea, and a little tobacco, were the rations served out to each man every week; but there was good living in the men’s huts for all that. China pigs, ducks, turkeys, &c., mysteriously disappeared. The men made out that they had wandered into the bush, and been devoured by bush beasts and birds, or else starved to death; but if Captain Daventry had gone to the huts a little more frequently, instead of trusting, as he did, to his overseer, the savoury scent that often issued from them would have told him what had become of his poultry, &c. Walter noticed the savoury steam one evening, but the overseer said that he had shot some wild ducks, and given them to the men. The overseer was a convict—a smooth-faced, smooth-tongued rascal. He was trusted to weigh out the rations, and the men used to carry a good deal besides their rations out of the store. The house servants, too, whenever they had a good opportunity, would appropriate unguarded valuables. They had no difficulty in disposing of them, since all the assigned servants, except Long Steve and his wife, were in league with the ticket-of-leave farmers round about. Most of these ticket-of-leavers were a thieving, drunken lot. Some of them would reconvey their Government grants for a keg of rum. As for conveyance of another kind—Pistol’s—they did not rob one another, but gentlemen-settlers they considered fair game. Captain Daventry’s bullocks found their way into the ticket-of-leavers’ beef-casks. They stole his best horses; they clapped their brands on his best colts, fillies, and calves; they pastured their own horses and cattle on his grant; through the villany of his overseer and convict shepherds, they robbed him of his sheep wholesale. They had even the impudence to steal Dragon-fly!The escort were very much astonished to find no one at the barrack gates, or in the barrack-yard. They were still more astonished to find the sergeant and his men lashed down on the mess-room floor—all gagged, pinioned, and fettered. pc蛋蛋怎么压得准 Discovering his mistake, the captain fired his pistol at the speaker, and rushed back to the house. A hailstorm of lead soon rattled on the weatherboards, and Mrs. Daventry and Ph?be got up and rushed about like maniacs. The women’s screams were not calculated to improve the Captain and Long Steve’s aim, and though they had the advantage of cover, and Walter to load for them, and of the moon which came up presently, seven to two are heavy odds. (The overseer and assigned servants said next morning that they had been sound asleep—one, indeed, had heard a little firing, but thought that it was the Captain out duck-shooting!) I am afraid that the besiegers would have been the victors, had not a party of the Captain’s friends suddenly made their appearance. They had been dining together about ten miles off, and a drunken convict had let out in their hearing the intended attack on Daventry Hall. They had instantly rushed to horse, and galloped the ten miles at racing speed. The bushrangers turned tail when the new-comers poured a volley into them. Five of the scoundrels, altogether, had been hit, but only one was taken. When the prisoner was escorted to the nearest police-barracks next day, the reason of the constables’ non-appearance at Daventry Hall the night before was discovered.Donald laughed to see how the owl and the great bats made Harry jump, when he had been talking so big the minute before. Presently they walked into a cloud of great dusky moths that came fluttering about the lantern like butterflies’ ghosts, and then they saw stalactites hanging down like sheets and chandeliers, and fruit and flowers, and plucked geese, and organ-pipes, and joining on to the stalagmites on the floor, and making columns and cloisters and great hour-glasses. Some of the stalactites rang in tune when they rapped them, like harmonicons. It would have been a very jolly place to wander about in, if the water had not dropped off the roof down the napes of their necks, and if they had not been obliged to look out so sharp to keep from tumbling down little precipices, or into the streams they could hear running, and the ponds they could sometimes see shining through the darkness.The settled country through which they passed would have seemed wild enough to most English people, accustomed to hedged-in little fields, fitting like patches in a patchwork quilt, with roads and lanes curving between them, and railways running over them in the most rural places. In this “settled country” there were miles without a fence, and our pioneers generally camped out at night; although, when they came to a public, or an “accommodation-house,” with a paddock, about sundown, they would have a night between sheets for a change, and when they chanced to halt near a head-station at nightfall, they could make sure of hearty hospitality, although not always of a bed. As they went on, the country seemed wilder and wilder to their eyes, although perhaps we should not have seen much difference. 67Once Handsome Bob was missing for a couple of days. When he was found he was almost dead; for the blacks had knocked him off his horse with a boomerang, gashed him with their tomahawks, prodded at him with their spears till his flesh was like a perforated card, and then tied him to a tree which ants had connected with their hill by a little sunken path like a miniature railway-cutting. The ants and the flies had made an awful object of poor Bob’s patchwork of wounds; and though he did at last most marvellously “recover,” as it is called, he was half silly ever afterwards. Jawing Jim was kinder to him than you would have expected whilst he lay helpless in the hut, and Sydney and the boys, of course, looked in, and did what they could for him. But for hours he had to be left alone, with the chance that the blacks would swoop down upon him and finish their work. When he did get about again, although half silly in other things, he had a strange, fierce knack of surprising black fellows, and potting them from behind a tree as if they had been so many wild ducks.211The note that Sydney had received caused a good deal of excitement at the Wonga-Wonga tea-table. Miss Smith, who helped Mrs. Lawson in the house, and taught Sydney’s sisters and his brother Harry, had not long come out from London, and was in a great fright.