|Newspaper Title||The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 - 1933)|
|Trove Title||The Hermit Convict|
THE HERMIT CONVICT.
By the Rev. William Draper
Slowly, pensively, Judd walked along think- ing of the past, not a little anxious about his pre- sent safety, and thoroughly undetermined about his future course. He would have decidedly pre- ferred immunity from discovery, which he had so long enjoyed; but the interview with Mo- gara threatened altogether to change his soli- tary condition into a constant warfare with the tribe over which she reigned supreme. Sup- posing she willed to renew the intercourse with him, he knew it must be, unless he chose the alternative of flight to another district. This was all but impossible. In this moody dispo- sition he walked down the glen. The storm was still raging fiercely elsewhere, and the lightning was very vivid; but immediately above Hermit Glen the sky was clear, and the stars were shining brilliantly. But in a mo- mentary lull a loud ringing laugh came echoing its original up the glen, so plainly hu- man and so near that the fountain of his blood seemed for a moment to stand still. For years he had lived in this spot and not a sound had reached his ears, save that which belonged to the created life, which is so varied in the bush. The harsh cry of the dingo; the mournful knell of the mopoke; the scream of the cooka- too; the sharp ringing call of the numerous parrot tribe; the over-joyful song of the butcher bird; or the shrill note of the goatsucker and coachman; these were common—as common as the "croak, croak, croak" of Mr. Bull-frog and his parliament of not windy but watery mem- bers, ever reproaching, retaliating, courting, and daring to court, scolding, and teaching; and if Mr. Henry Judd had been asked the question, "Do frogs sleep?" he would have replied, "If they do, it must be with their eyes open." First fiddle and second fiddle; double bass and trom- bone; horn and trumpet; drums, double and single; picolo and violincello; organ and piano- forte; soprano, alto, tenor, and bass—very bass; all these engaged in giving unceasing il- lustrations of Mr. Weather's proceedings, might possibly be considered as constituting a very musical family if the taste of individuals ran in
Judd would sooner have listened to any, or all of these combined, than to that one hearty expression of glee. He started—sunk in an in- stant upon the ground, where he appeared to be lifeless; but no ears could be more atten- tive than his. Not a sound reached him; all seemed lifeless as the glen, saving the number- less frogs and the distant thunder. "Was it fancy?" said he to himself. "No, it was plainly man's voice, but where?" The question troubled him. Was that voice that of a white or black man? "White," he at once replied. As he was thinking over tho subject, half re- solving to retrace his steps, the jovial party in the hut put some additional fuel on the fire, which produced its inevitable accompaniment of smoke, and the wind veering round at this mo- ment, drove the smoke directly towards the spot where tho owner of the hut was watching with all the solicitude of a sentinel. Upon see- ing this, Judd decided upon his course. Creeping with the utmost stealth back upon the path by which he had come, he struck off upon a track which led to the top of the great boulder which formed the roof of his hut. With tho same caution, measuring step by step as if his life depended on not being detected, he at length reached the place, and actually stood above the heads of the very men whose ruin and disgrace he had so foully plotted. Upon the top of this immense stone he laid down with the utmost silence, and gradually pushing his body forward, he attained a posi- tion by which he could hear all that passed within the place, and actually see the fire and the men lying on their blankets. Not a word escaped his wary ear, but still ho heard nothing which in the least concerned him. At length the yarning, as it is called, like all other things, came to an end, and general preparations were made for the night's repose. But ere Stewart and Argyle turned in by mutual consent they turned out—that is, Stewart went outside to see what sort of a night it was, and naturally enough David Argyle followed. They were both smoking, and as they stood upon the edge of an immense cliff, from whence they could look down upon the surging waters, which were roaring and rushing in tho rocky glen beneath them, the light of the fire from within shone full upon their faces as they stood looking up the glen, and Judd discovered who were the tenants of his hut. A hundred emotions rushed pell mell through his startled brain; horror, vexation, fear, even revenge, started up like de- mons to worry and torment him. An involun- tary gasp escaped him, which attracted the at- tention of the young men for an instant, but they, of course, were in perfect ignorance of the near proximity of their mutual enemy. As may be expected, the conversation at first turned upon the question of what the weather was likely to be, and so on, but it finally merged into heart breathings about past times. Days gone by never to return; pains and penalties endured, recollected with gratitude for deliverance from them; afflictions and losses which have humbled us. Ah! who has not some chapter or two of such in the book of their life? Both these men who were standing in the front of Judd's old house had theirs, and many a time had the books been opened, and they had read to one
Many an event less significant than that which took place this night has been called providen- tial, and rightly so, if we believe the Bible; and if this is not believed, what else is there for poor human nature to full back upon? Nothing; no, not an atom of light about anything beyond the present life. Surely, then, it was provi- dential in the highest degree that the conversa- tion between the two men took the following turn.
"I think, James, you said that this Mrs. Welland is an old acquaintance of yours?"
"Yes, David. I used to visit at her house in my earlier—I can hardly say happier—days; for God has greatly over-ruled all my troubles
"Had she anything to do with our strange friend—our mutual Judas, Stewart?"
"She had," replied the other; "but I am sure she was as innocent of wrong to me as you are. There was always a strange mystery about that man that I could not understand. My dear Argyle, I shall startle you by saying she is
"His wife, Stewart! Judd's wife! You don't say so!" replied Argyle, in astonishment. "When is the whole of that villain's history to be revealed. How long hare you known this?"
"From the very commencement of my great trouble, David," said Stewart; " but until I re-
ceived Colonel Tomlinson's letter I had no idea
that this Mrs. Welland was the woman. I knew
her, of course, as Mrs. Julet."
"Why does she use the assumed name? Is she married again?"
"No. At least, I think not. In fact, David,
I am safe in saying I am sure she is not. But you and I," continued Stewart, "can imagine many reasons why she should wish to shake off the recollection and the association of a great
"Or great crimes, rather," said Argyle; "for she must surely know something about that villany at Leyton. I don't think I shall like the
"Oh, nonsense, David, nonense! You don't know her. If she was innocent of all cause of
offence in my case, I warrant she has no stained hands in yours. She is the most gentle, kind, and loving creature I ever saw, always excepting my own mother."
"Ah, James, that word mother!" replied Argyle, after a pause of a minute or two in the
conversation, during which their thoughts were coursing past events with vigor. "That word
mother; how it rings upon the pavement of one's memory! I wonder if our parents know all that has passed concerning us since they
"It is no wonder to me, David," replied Stewart. "I do not vouch for the truth of the theory which has ever been strong with me, but I believe that our loved ones are very near to us. Who can tell? They may even now be minis- ters of good. If so, is it not delightful to think
of a kind father or mother always standing near
to defend us?"
"But there are two sides to that idea, James. One can hardly fancy the thing. Who would
like to know that eyes were constantly gazing upon every action they perform? There is something repulsive in the thought."
"Not at all," replied Stewart; "not at all. You
will not deny that God's eyes are upon us at all
times. Well, is there more shame attached to any action when the Infinite looks upon it than there can be when a created being sees it? In fact, I believe, David, that in the future many of those things which are objected to in this pre- sent state as being immodest will be utterly un- known. Pure in heart, shame can have no place in the nobility of a holy nature."
"Ah! that is a grand thought, James, if we can grasp it."
"Why not?" said Stewart. "Yon moon, now, for instance, shining so brightly as she rises; look at it as I have, and try and innocu-
late the thought into your system of imaginative
economy that that beautiful planet—I will call
it so—is a living reality. Of course we know it
is not; but fancy, now, that Jupiter up there is tho eye of the Infinite gazing at you, would you feel any compunction in doing that which Omniscience has arranged as the proper func- tions of your nature. Understand me now— I refer to nothing which is sinful. To put the thought into plainer words, is not one function of life as necessary as the other?"
"Yes, perfectly so."
"Well, then, that which makes anything a shame which Omniscience has ordained as indis- pensible to us is due to sin. Now, David, I come to the point; in a future state I believe this will be abolished. Many functions of life which are necessary to us now, will be unneces- sary in another state; but of some of these,
even now, it may be added, 'Honi soit qui mal
"Ah, James, you soar so high sometimes," said his companion, "that I cannot follow you; but tell me, do you think that any eyes, save those of Omniscience saw the murder of poor
"Do I think so! I have no doubt about it," replied Stewart. "Think you your mother, your father, does not know of your calamity; and could not they tell, if it were right they should do so, who struck that hellish blow?
You were to be tried, David, like me, and it may be in mercy you were arrested at the very commencement of your vicious career—pardon me, it might have turned out so."
"But what theory have you about your own case then? This arresting, as you call it, at the outset of a vicious career, cannot apply to you,
"Perhaps not in the same sense, David; but I read in my Bible that Philip was sent down to the desert to meet the eunuch, Candace's mes- senger, and to preach to him the Word of Life."
"And so you were sent for some such purpose, and God thought the only way of accomplishing it was to make you the victim of a most abomi- nable treachery. No, James, I cannot seo with you in that definition of God's dealings with
"What put Joseph into a dungeon, David?" "Why, his wicked mistress' miserable con- duct."
"Well, he was innocent, but he lay there a long weary while, an injured, persecuted, appa- rently to human understanding, a God-forsaken
man. Yet we know that God was with him. It is mysterious, I grant, but while it is consistent with Divine wisdom to accomplish His designs thus, who has a right to complain?"
"'Tis very hard though, James," replied Argyle.
"Yes, it is; frankly I confess that I have felt
it to be so at times."
A minute or two of silence intervened, and Stewart spoke again: "You know, David, after all we have only our own conscience which can
clear us of wrong. The Great Clearing may never come on this side of the grave. I for one
shall never mention the subject to Mrs. Wel- land."
"Why not, James? We have the incoherent rambling words of that fellow which he uttered in his illness; they were very satisfactory."
"Not at all, my dear friend," replied Stewart; "they went so far, they no doubt cleared away
much of the mist and fog which hung like a
pall over our characters, but legally we have not yet been justified."
"Why not then procure the testimony of the wife?" said Argyle.
"And make the man a witness against him-
self? No, David, no, 'Vengeance is Mine,' God says. I, for one, am perfectly willing to
bide His time. Often I have cried out as I have looked at my sorrows, 'Watchman, what of the
night?' and as often some bidden, blessed moni-
tor within, or, to put it in another form, some messenger of the Good One, has whispered, 'Be still, the morning will come.' I know it, David, as well as I know that I exist, the day is not far distant when the declaration of my innocence will be as clear as the shining of yon brilliant planet."
"Well, you are a patient, good, kind fellow," replied Argyle, "but I cannot enter into the
depth of your thoughts. But I know one thing, I am tired and shall turn in. Good night, old fellow, may God bless you, and make me like you."
"Good night, Argyle, pray, my dear friend, remember the sublime height of the words of Jesus: 'men ought always to pray, and not to
There were attractions which would have kept Stewart outside for awhile longer, even if his own thoughts would havo allowed him to seek repose. It was now a most lovely night. The brilliant stars which decorate the sky in the Southern hemisphere, shone like diamonds set in ultramarine. To begin to enumerate them would be to raise up the temptation to write as- tronomically; and who could resist such a temp- tation? This brilliant array of first magnitude stars which stare at you as God's sentinels, look- ing at every portion of this earth; nothing is hidden, no nothing.
The gentle breeze, after the desolating whirl- winds which accompanied the tempest, was sweet and cool as the zephyr in the groves of Para- dise. Life, health, vigor, hope, and joy came sailing along upon its wings, holding sisterly converse together how they could unite to do God's creatures good. Stewart was no mere speculator about anything, but his imaginative powers were vividly strong. To read a book was, to him, the reprint of it in a folio of etch- ings upon his brain. These he could produce ad libitum, and after using them in wrapt con- templation for awhile, back again ho passed them into his portfolio of memory to servo the same purpose another time.
In a few moments he was in a reverie, and it fixed his soul in the deepest profundity of silent searchings of heart. It is possible to descend into a mine so deep as to be, in imagination, a being of another world, so strangely altered is everything around you. But look up the shaft and you will see daylight, look around and you read, ventilation has been provided, stand aside and you will see wealth rolling in the little truck which has come from some unknown abyss of black night. You are bewildered, but every power of the soul is centered on one thought; you are far beneath the surface. Stewart was so mentally. The past, the past, how it will come up! He thought and thought, and plunged deeper and deeper into the living whirl- pool, the current carried him nearer and nearer to the centre, until at length he exclaimed, "It is too painful for me." Then the climax came. He fell on his knees and groaned out the appeal, "O, righteous God, when is this vortex of earth's wrong to be filled up? Thy Holy One has cast Himself into the yawning gulf which no human thought could sound, but it is a vast abyss to some even yet. Has there not been sacrifice enough " He unclosed his eyes as he said these last words, and instantly started to his feet to grasp a stranger by the arm, who stood within a yard of him.
"Hush!" said Judd, for it was he. "Hush, for your life, not a word. I mean ye no harm."
"Who are you?" said Stewart, "and what brings you here?"
"My house," said Judd pointing to the inside of the hut, "my house; but you are welcome."
"Your house?" replied Stewart.
"Come this way, master. See, I no arms, no weapon. I mean nothing but good."
Stewart hesitated a moment, but he was not one who could fear very much. However, he drew a pistol from his belt and silently followed his strange visitor, for such he regarded Judd beyond a doubt. Only about a dozen yards up the path did Judd lead the way, then he turned round and faced his former fellow-clerk. For a minute or two neither spoke, but stood looking at one another in the bright moonlight which now filled all the glen. At longth the shepherd spoke: "Young man, I have heard all you have spoken to your friend."
"Ah!" replied Stewart hastily, "how and
"Listen, that humble place is my house, made by these hands. I lived in that place more than ten years."
"Well," said Stewart, "we are borrowing it for a night's lodging, and can pay for it."
Judd lifted his hands, as if in repudiation of such a thought and replied, "I meant not that,
no; I said, my house, in another meaning. Listen and calmly: when I came hither to-night, I did so to get fire, dry garment, and dry place
"Perfectly natural," said Stewart.
Judd stared very hard at the young squatter as he interrupted him, but soon resumed the thread of his discourse with the proviso, "don't stay me again. I am a man very reserved, and little used to conversation, I have that to ask
which I want to know, and that to say whioh I want you to hear. First, I know you. Ah! be calm and listen, I beg."
Stewart had started with an audible expression of surprise, for he saw in whose presence he stood, and he revealed his knowledge by the utterance of the single word, Julet.
"No, James Stewart, not Julet, but Judd— Judd the witness, Judd the murderer, some say, Judd the perjured, and Judd the convict, Heap it all on me, and I will not blink, nor blush, nor say a word to justify myself."
"Please, let me have my say, James Stewart, and then you shall have your's; all that I have just stated, and more, as you shall know some day. They thought me dead, but I one arisen from the grave.—Nay, start not, I mean not the real grave, but arisen from the dead as your Bible says. I see you read it still. One minute more, nay, give me five, and I shall say all I have to say now. I not dead; the blacks took me in hand, healed my wounds, and I lived with them. Then I escaped, came up here, made that house, lived here—no, not quite ten years but some long time—turned shepherd, and here I am. Now, James Stewart, I heard you speak about my wife. I not catch the words, but I think you called her by some queer
"Yes, that was it. Where is she now?"
"As I learn, she is with a gentleman who is even now at Helidon, at Mr. Baines' station."
"My God!" replied Judd, hastily. "What you say?" Stewart repeated that which he had stated, and to it he added that he knew who she was by the letters which he had received from Colonel Tomlinson, the gentleman with whom she had come from England.
"What you mean? She not married? I saw no signs—"
"Oh, no; she is still as she was when you left her—a poor, good, kind, but I fear a broken- hearted creature, and so altered."
"Good God! and I saw her, and knew her
not. Oh! why you all come around me together just at the same time? I in a charmed circle, with all my enemies about me at once."
"Henry Judd," said Stewart, "this is strange, but is there not something which warrants you in expecting it? 'Be sure your sins—'"
"They have found me out. You mean this, I know," said Judd, with such vehemence that Stewart instinctively raised his hand in which he held the pistol tightly grasped. There was no need of it, for the old man, so far from in- tending violence, retreated from the place where he stood, even further from the hut.
"But this is trifling," said Stewart. "What do you wish to tell me more than you have?"
"James Stewart, should you know me as the Henry Judd?"
"No, I do not think I should; in fact, I may say I should not."
"Would my wife know me, think you?"
"That is another question. Perhaps not. It appears you have seen her, and yet you knew
"I must and will see her. Yes; I must and will. And little Alice, and that was her too!
I left her a mere baby, and now! It was dark
when they arrived."
Tears flowed rapidly down the cheeks of the storm-beaten criminal, and he sobbed audibly.
"Now, James Stewart! now, my Alice! And
yet not mine. I forget how wide we must be
"Henry Judd," said Stewart, deeply moved by the intense anguish of the old man, "I am not about to reproach you; but still I cannot for- get that you have done me a fearful injury. How you did it, and why, I never could understand."
"Mr. Stewart—for so I must call you—the Almighty has already cleared you; but I am a convict still—a subject for your pity, not your blame. I am glad to have seen you, and I think you can pardon me."
"Pardon, Judd? It is useless for me to with- hold that, even if I dared; and that, you know, I do not, cannot do. I use the Lord's prayer as I used it years ago: 'as we forgive our debtors.' This does not mean anything but what it says. 'As we forgive;' if I did not forgive, I could not be forgiven. Have you passed all these years, Judd, without thinking of these things?"
"No, Mr Stewart, I have not," said Judd in reply; and then he told the younger man of his bitter experience—how he found a Bible, and had read it, and even prayed to God for pardon and help."
It was an interesting episode in the lives of both these men. The one saw that the repent- ance of the other was real, but not scriptural; whilst the convict was humble, it was the hu-
mility of shame, not of love. The Christian thereupon preached the Gospel to the poor out-
cast, who listened like a little child, with his face
wrapped in his mantle, assenting now and then
by a simple "Yea."
In answer to other questions, Judd told Ste-
wart where he came from, whither he was bound, and some of his difficulties, his hopes, his fears.
But nothing could persuade him to reveal the
history of his great crimes.
"Mr. Stewart, one hope remains to me in this world—that you will be my friend. I no right to ask it; nay, I deeply ashamed to ask such a thing of you; but you have just told me that Christ died for His bitterest foes,and that, to be a Christian, we must be like Christ. When I heard that, hope sprung up within me that you not cast me away."
"No, Judd it is not for me to cast you away. I could not do it. But I do not see how my aid can prove of any use. It is useless to try to do anything with the authorities; discovery, I well know, will end in hopeless captivity. I see one hope: Colonel Tomlinson is at Mr. Baines' house, he was commandant when you came ashore. True, he has no power now, and, even if he had, I question if he could or would use it for you. Show me how I could help you, and I—even I—will do all I can."
"Mr Stewart," replied Judd, "when I came down this path, and, by the smoke of your fire, discovered that strangers had invaded this glen, I took the bye-path which led to the top of yon hut. There I laid down, and saw you and your friend come outside. I not hear all that passed, but perhaps you will say I heard very little which was pleasant to myself."
"Listeners seldom do," replied Stewart.
"Mr. Stewart, if my life had hung upon a word, I could not have torn myself away from such a chance to hear about old times. I heard enough to see that in your friend I have a bitter enemy."
"Can you wonder at it?" replied Stewart.
"No. But hear me. Will you prove your pardon to me by concealing the fact that you have seen me? Let me explain: I shall see my wife again; I will speak to her, that will prove if she recollects me. If so, she will not betray me, but you, Mr Stewart——"
"Oh, do not fear that I shall betray you. I have no interest in doing so. But a good proof of identification may be had at once. Come to the hut and pass the night. David Argyle is there; test your question by his recognition of you, or otherwise. Upon this I advise you to act. His perception is very keen; if he recog- nises you it will be difficult to induce him to keep silence. I think he would certainly report the circumstance to the authorities, and there would be an instant search after you. It is worth a trial, but I will guarantee you shall not now be detained."
Judd hesitated for a minute, then advanced and took Stewart by the hand, saying, "May God Almighty bless you . Ten years ago, had I met you your life would not have been worth much, if a strong hand could have struck you down. In mercy I was saved from this; in mercy spared to talk thus with you. Oh! the dread past—the irretrievable past! The hor- rible recollection of it haunts me like a spectre. What shall I do? oh, what shall I do?"
He covered his face with his hands and groaned rather than spoke these words.
"Let us pray," said Stewart, "prayer alone can meet your case. God Almighty willeth not
the death of a sinner." He knelt on the hard
rock as he spoke, but Judd still stood with his face covered with his hands, his strong frame quiver- ing with emotion. The prayer was very solemn, earnest, and simple. It asked for the blessings that poor sinners most need—light, understand- ing, penitence, courage to confess past sins—and this portion of it was offered in the first person, so that the criminal might join in it. Not a word, however, was audible save those which Stewart spoke; but ere the prayer was ended, Judd was prostrate upon the ground.
SAM. BROWN AT HOME.
Another place was also the scene of hallowed devotion at the same moment. Not that the
prayer was a particular request for this wretched but repenting man, Judd, but it was in the form of the beautiful petition in the litany, that He who rules and governs his church in the right way would be pleased to remember "the deso- late and oppressed." Mr. Brown, the overseer at Burnham Beeches, was a good worthy man, who, believing that it was his duty to serve God under all circumstances, thought that worship of the Supreme Being was a right and proper thing to set up in his own house. This night there was a special petition for the travellers, and that God would overrule their coming to the good of tho people upon the station, and then the family retired to rest. The night was beautifully bright and clear after the storm. The Southern Cross, that beautiful emblem of hope to a fallen world, looked like a cluster of gems, watching, with eyes of fire, the little globe where rebellion against the Most High is running its course. Silently they pursued their way dipped in the southern azure, and began majestically to arise, as the humble clock at Rooksnest proclaimed the advent of another day. Midnight! What thoughts does it create? It is a fit division of day from day. It seems to suggest a door swinging on central pivots, which, at that mo- ment, opens to allow the day, which is past, to slip into eternity, whilst on the other side, there comes out a new and untried period, which is destined to witness many a good deed, alas! many an evil one also. The evening and the morning meet in a common centre. "Fare- well," says one, as she returns to the treasure house of the Infinite, with a chart filled with events which have become historical. "Morn- ing is coming," and even as she speaks, on- ward the new period strides. This was four hours old ere the Cross reached the meridian, and then the first streaks of light shot upwards to announce the approach of day. 'Father's up," then everyone else must be up. Such was the law at Rooksnest, although some of the small folk did not like turning out so soon; it was no use to object, every one was to put in an appearance before the sun. "Labor could be performed in the early morning which would be all but impossible in the strong heat of the day," so Mr. Brown told his children, and it would be well for Queensland people if they were to endorse this opinion, and leave off attempting
to commit a suicide with the assistance of the sun.
Men tempt Providence, they sweat out their lives at the hours when people in India are rest- ing in cool shade, and they rest in idleness at the period when Indians are hard at work.
Bob had to get in the cows; Jenny was the dairymaid; Jacky professed to be head and chief in the garden; Harry fed the pigs and a few more creatures called live stock, but cousist-
ing of pets of various kinds; Sally was mother's right hand in the indoors department, and, in cooking, washing, baking, brewing, and other domestic portions of this well ordered establish- ment, there were few girls who were more use- ful than Sarah Brown. There were two others in the family, but, beyond the fact that they re- quired a considerable amount of looking after to keep them out of mischief, it is impossible to say that they had any particular post or office to
[To be Continued.]
WHAT HAPPENED AT EMU
The Emu Plains run was first held by a young Scotchman, whom I shall call Wilson. Not many years previously the surrounding country had been quite an unknown land; and, indeed, even at the present time it is only partially oc- cupied. You might search a long time in vain on any ordinary map for the small township which is now the capital of the district. Wil-
son came among the pioneer settlers about a year after he had first arrived in Queensland. His station hut was more than sixty miles from the neighborhood of any other white man. In front lay a broad and shallow creek, nourishing along its banks a thick margin of trees and scrub. On the other side an open plain, which resembled the sea in its stillness, its monotony, and in the immense view which it afforded.
Far as the eye could reach, it stretched away
with the same unbroken flatness and dull uni-
formity of color, varying only as it became blurred and indistinct towards the horizon, where the groups of cattle, the only signs of life, or the few occasional clumps of gum trees, appeared as mere specks, scarcely visible in the distance. Wilson's two stockmen were his only companions, and they were obliged to remain out every day to keep the cattle together, or track and bring home a strayed horse or bullock. Time passed, the stock increased, and at length a muster became necessary. The squatter was now to remain entirely alone, and take charge of that portion of the stock which remained at the station. Harvey and Kilner, the two stockmen, were to set out in opposite directions. "Good bye, Sir," at length said the latter, who had been delayed some time catching his mare. "I shall be back in less than a week, in any case." Long after the horse and rider had disappeared, Wil-
son remained gazing at the heavy clouds of dust which hung over their track. The sense
of his utter isolation and solitude induced a
gloomy and depressing feeling. It is possible, thought he, that they may remain a week, or longer than a week, and again, for the hun- dredth time, he regretted having fixed his home in a place where he was destined to such solitary meditations. It was not the solitude alone that filled him with a kind of awe, but the perfect stillness, unbroken by any sound of life or mo- tion. It was now near mid-day, and the burn- ing heat seemed to oppress everything animate with languor. The cattle, requiring no care, lay in motionless groups under the gum trees, or crept slowly to their watering places. Wil son therefore returned to the station, and, sit-
ting down, endeavored to read, but could not fix his attention. Then, notwithstanding the heat, he saddled a horse, and tried to pass the time hunting wallabies. He was without a dog, but had a fowling piece slung over his shoulder, a shot bag half empty, and a powder flask. The gun belonged to the Irish stockman, Mick, who had fired it once, without driving the ball further than half way out of the barrel. It ib true that the other stockman, who had been a soldier, asserted that Mick must have put tho bullet in before the powder on that occasion; but even at present, when it was loaded and fired in the usual way, every shot fell wide of the mark. The sport, therefore, called for the exercise of a considerable amount of patience. Now and then a wallaby or kangaroo bounded past, or hopped out from behind a fallen tree. Sometimes it would stare for a moment in sur- prise, and then bound speedily away; and sometimes move so slowly as to make Wilson think it was wounded, and lead him a long chase over the plain. But always, just at he was pre-
paring to take aim, or was approaching within gunshot of an apparently wounded kangaroo, the hoped-for victim would either hide itself in some tract of long reedy grass, or hop off at a speed that mocked pursuit, and in a fow seconds disappear altogether in the distance. In this way, without having bagged a single wallaby, he passed the time until the sun had set, and the darkness fast closing in, imparted additional solemnity to the lonely solitude. To avoid the danger of being lost on tho plain, he guided his way home by the course of the river, amidst the thick forest of gum trees, through which at length tho station hut appeared. At the same instant, to his intense surprise, a dog barked fiercely, and a blazing fire appeared where he had left in the morning only a few scattered ashes. He hesitated at first, half alarmed, and remained for a minute wondering who his visitor could be, then, hearing some one cooey, he rode quickly towards the fire. No white man, he knew, would be likely to come there with a hostile intention, and the blacks had been taught not to venture near the place at all. Very likely, he thought, it is a shepherd or a stock- man looking for work, or it may be, perhaps, some one from the neighboring station. Any companion would be preferable to this solitude. As he approached, a man, who was drawing "johnny cakes" from the hot ashes, called out in a rough voice, "Hobble your horse quick, mate, before the tea is cold." At the same time he bestowed a kick on the dog, which had again commenced to growl and bark. "I was in luck to find the station, and am pretty glad to see that it is not empty," continued he, as Wilson opened the door of the hut. After lighting a candle, the squatter turned to his visitor, whose face was nearly half concealed by an immense beard. His clothes were exceedingly ragged; he wore a green veil round his hat, and had a large revolver and half a dozen leather pouches slung round his waist. After tea, pipes were lit and puffed for some time in a not unsociable silence, and then the squatter brought out some rum. Presently the two were exchanging news and spinning yarns. Then Wilson's visitor commenced the recital of an adventure which had led him to that part of the country. "I was travelling down from D——'s," said he, "where I had been shepherding for the last year." "But how can that be?" said Wilson in amazement. "D——'s is a cattle run." "I guess I ought to know that as well as you," said the other quickly; "but they can keep sheep on a cattle run as well us any where else. As I was saying—or would have said, if you had let me—I had a big cheque and two first
rate horses. The first day after along ride over a very bad country I found myself on the wrong track, so you may guess I was pretty glad when I found a mate who said he knew every inch of the way. There was one drawback, however— that I had to slacken my pace to a walk to let him keep up with me. His horse was blind of one eye, very old, and hobbled along I should say at the rate of about five hours a mile. It struck me too at the time that I never saw a more rascally looking follow than him, but that, I thought, was nothing to me. 'I know a short cut,' says he, and so we camped out on Tuesday somewhere about thirty miles away from the road. Early next morning, before I awoke, my mate took his departure, leaving his mare behind, and that is the last I have seen, or will see, I suppose, either of himself or of my horses." "And how is it that your dog did not give the alarm?" said Wilson. "Well, for some things that dog aint of much use, though as a sheep dog it aint got its equal in the colony." "And do you mean to tell me," said Wilson, amazed at the other's palpable falsehoods, "that that dog, a bulldog can take caro of sheep?" "Yes, Sir," replied the shepherd coolly, as if unaware that there was anything in the statement which might appear at all improbable; "and that dog Sir, has been all over the colony with me since I first pegged a claim at Ballarat. Was you ever at Ballarat?" The name seemed to call up various reminiscences, and he cleared his throat and began to relate how he had been deep sinking there with a mate named "Penton- ville Tom;" how, after working hard for about six weeks when they had sunk a hole of thirty feet and came at last on payable ground, the "traps" got information of some kind which led to the arrest of his mate, and he was, there- fore, unfortunately, as he said, unable to assist him in washing out the gold; how, shortly after that, he dropped on a Chinaman fossicking in his claim, and shot him there and then; and various other amusing anecdotes of himself, from which it seemed that his conduct was not always regulated exactly by the strictest rules of morality. Wilson began to suspect that his former solitude might in some respects be pre- ferable to such companionship. As the bottle became empty, the shepherd's stories grew at length quite incoherent, and finally he took to singing. At last he seemed to have suffi- ciently exercised his lungs in this way, and sunk back, apparently overcome by the com- bined effects of rum and fatigue. The squatter, who had been for some time anxiously awaiting this, put out the candle, slipped noiselessly into the inner room, and placed a heavy chest against the door. He undressed hastily, and threw himself on his bed, carefully closing the mos- quito curtains; but, though much tired, he could not sleep. Strange, unaccountable sus- picions crowded upon his mind, and vague fears connected with his present visitor. The stories he had related of his past life, and the obvious inconsistencies in his account of his journey from D——'s again occurred to Wilson, and then he suddenly remembered, with increased uneasi- ness, that he had left his revolver in the inner- room. The shepherd had an immense six-bar- relled Colt, while he himself was quite unarmed. For some time he remained awake, revolving these thoughts through his mind, and listening to the heavy snores of his guest, which partially
reassured him At length, sleep began gradu- ally to creep over him, and his waking fancies were replaced by vivid, uneasy dreams, in which his visitor again played the principal part. Years seemed to pass on; he travelled to Eng- land, but somehow the shepherd was always be- fore him. He sailed again for Australia, and again the shepherd was his fellow passenger. This time the vessel grounded on a rock; a heavy crash was heard, and suddenly he awoke. A noise as of falling glass still seemed to sound in his ears. His first impulse was to look around. The moon beaming through the win- dow showed everything just as he had left it, and there was now a perfect stillness. In a few seconds, just as he was again composing himself for sleep, he was startled by the voice of the shepherd, who inquired in an angry and excited tone where the devil he (Wilson) was, and what the devil he meant. To this polite inquiry there was no response. Perhaps it is the mos- quitoes that have awakened him, thought Wil-
son. I had better remain as quiet as possible, and no doubt the fellow will be all right in the morning. He settled himself comfortably again for a sleep, but in a few seconds he was again aroused by the voice of his troublesome visitor. "Look out now," said he; "if you don't answer, I'm blowed but I'll fire. One—two—
three," and then there was a loud bang, and
something, as Wilson thought exceedingly like a pistol bullet, whizzed about a foot above his head. Under the circumstances, this did not seem to be exactly a suitable time for sleeping. He started up with a bound, and, pretending to be just awakened, inquired of the shepherd what was the matter, and why he had fired off his pistol? The other hiccuped out an answer to the effect that he would blow him to—at once, if he did not open the door and get a light immediately Not wishing again to be made a target of, the squatter hurriedly opened the door and lit a candle. His guest was steady- ing himself against the table with one hand, while he brandished the revolver with the other, swearing frightfully at the same time. Frag- ments of the rum bottle lay on the floor, and explained to Wilson the origin of the noise he had heard. He mentally vowed that that would be the last occasion of the kind on which any visitor should get drunk, at least at his expense. The shepherd seemed impressed with the idea that Wilson had, on entering the room, made to him some remarks of an extremely offensive and personal nature, and he therefore invited him, in a loud voice, to repeat the same, or stand out like a man. At the same time he pointed the revolver in a threatening manner, waving it unsteadily from side to side. Wilson feared every second would be his last. He endeavored in vain to conciliate the other, and tried to persuade him to put down the revolver, but his only answer was a torrent of abuse. He then resolved to take some means at once to disarm or rid himself of his troublesome visi- tor. The sole plan seemed to be to attack the other by surprise, and overcome him by su- perior quickness. An iron cattle-brand, hang- ing from a nail on the wall, appeared to be the only available weapon. Seizing that with his right hand, and the barrel of the revolver with his left, he struck the shepherd a heavy blow on the forehead, and, to his intense satisfaction, saw him fall at once to the ground, and lay there apparently stunned. In a few seconds Wilson had taken possession of the pistol, and hidden every other weapon in the inner bed- room. He now began to consider whether or not it was necessary to take any further pre- cautions before again retiring to bed. Then it occurred to him that the shepherd, even when sober, might think fit in the morning to renew the quarrel; and he endeavored to invent some means to avoid, or at least prepare for this. Would it be prudent to return the other his re- volver, or would he be justified in refusing him it? For some time he remained sitting on the table, considering thus, and gradually fell half asleep. The candle sank lower and lower, burnt down to the socket, and at length went out, and Wilson, now aroused by the total darkness, hastened to light another. Then it suddenly struck him that there was something suspicious in the continued and perfect stillness of the shepherd. Never before had he seen sleep ac- companied with such intense stillness and quiet. Was it that this was assumed, for the purpose of attacking him when off his guard? or could it be that the blow had really done more injury than he had intended? A dreadful thought intruded itself into his mind. He bent down to listen to the others breathing, to mark the beating of his heart, or discover some signs of life. The faintest sound would have been audible, but all was as silent as the grave. Wil- son was surprised and stunned, and, for a mo- ment, as motionless as the object before him. He now saw beyond doubt that he was indeed in the presence of death, and recoiled, half stupified with awe and horror. A kind of su- perstitious fear seized him, and strange fancies passed through his mind. To his excited ima- gination the shepherd's ghastly face seemed to wear a terrible expression, and fix its gaze on him with a stern and threatening look. If for a moment he shut his eyes, its shadowy form rose again before him, and he felt as if oppressed by the consciousness of some mysterious and dreadful presence. Then, in his agitation, he considered himself a criminal, thought of law and vengeance, and wondered if his own state- ment would be believed. Through the long hours he remained fascinated and spell-bound, gazing at the pallid visage before him, until at length aroused by the morning light as from a kind of waking nightmare. The bright sun- beams pouring in through the window, the clearness and freshness of every thing, was in strange contrast to the squatter's inward feelings. He was still utterly bewildered and perplexed, and, not knowing what else to do, saddled a horse and galloped madly towards the next station. Though quite worn out with watching and mental excitement, he scarcely halted once or slacked his speed in the whole journey of sixty miles; and when he at length arrived in front of the log house, his horse was covered with sweat and foam and scarcely able to stand. Two men happened to be then engaged putting up additional rails to the stockyard, and, at his urgent request, they consented to set out at once for Emu Plains and commit the body of the un- fortunate shepherd to a final resting place. They sought first, but in vain, for some note or scrap of paper that might assist in identifying him. It was afterwards ascertained that the soi-disant shepherd had never been at D——'s at all. But whence he came or who he was could never be discovered.
Yeneeh, February, 1871.
Not Well-Bred.——A young lady comments in moving terms, on the perils and annoyances befalling her on the occasion of a visit to the opera with a young gentleman, otherwise quite agreeable, but, sadly given over to the iniqui- tous practice of "going out." Hardly were they seated before he must go out and get a libretto, which libretto being brought smelled horribly of cloves. Then the book fell, in quite an unac- countable manner, over the balcony, and on the return of Augustus with the missing document, the odor thereof was of juniper. Here the first act ended; and, "By Jove, there's Frank!" and forthwith a visit to that gentleman became ne- cessary, whose habits could not have been of the best, seeing that proximity to him had dif- fused about her escort on his return a strong flavor of otard. After this there was a fire alarm, and with something about the "office," Augustus disappeared again, returning with a piece of champagne cork in his whiskers. This kind of thing, the young lady is confident, was gone over at least a dozen times, with the not unlooked for result of a partial obscuration of speech, accompanied with an immenso hilarity that required the intervention of an usher to
Three Terms of Life.—Life is divided into three terms that which was, which is, and which will be. Let us learn from the past to profit by the present, and from the present to
live better for the future.