Chapter 138025700

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article138025700
Full Date1886-04-24
Page Number42
Corrections0
Word Count2506
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Australasian (Melbourne, Vic. : 1864 - 1946)
Trove TitleDodo and Daisy
article text

THE STORYTELLER.

DODO AND DAISY.

Br M. E.

Chapter IL

Bet meanwhile what of our heroine's parents and home? When the mother re tained from the creek and missed the child, she at first thought that she had strayed a little way from the camp, as the sometimes did, to have a quiet play with Daisy, and she coo-e-ed several times without being at all anxious. 13ut when half an hour had elapsed and no child reappeared she became seriously alarmed, and started off to look for her. Un fortunately she took the wrong direction in the first instance, and 60 gave the little fugi tive time to get dear away. After an hour's search 6hc returned to the camp, hoping to find the lost one come back. Not finding her ehe wandered up and down in a state of distraction, tilling the forest with her cries and lamentation, until, as darkness fell, she returned once more to the camp, only to find it desolate.

As she sat moaning and wringing her hands the tramp of horses roused her ; she knew that her husband and his companions had returned.

"Ob. Arthur, Arthur ! Dodo is lost!" she wailed out as he rode up.

"Lost— nonsense, how and when?" he asked, reining up his horse and jumping off.

" fcbe has been missing since midday. I have searched everywhere. Oh, my child! my child 1"

" Which way did she go?"

" Oh, I don't know, I don't know. She is gone; and 1 shall never see my darling again."

The poor distracted mother burst into a torrent of weeping; and it was long -before she could explain to her anxions husband, with some sort of coherence, what had hap pened.

Strong and the other member of the party, a blackfcllow called Hippai, had been atten tive listeners to the narrative, and now joined their leader in consulting as to the beBt means of recovering his lost child.

Hippai, as be sat cross-legged before the fire, made known his views without hesita tion.

' Too mucby dark all about: you sit down; mine megaligbt piccanuiny when tnnec jump up."

But this inaction would have been terrible to the poor mother, and to the father too; so it did not need her tightened clasp on his arm, and her lowly murmnred " Oh, Arthur," to incite him to instant action."

The same terrible thought was in ail their minds. Strong gave expression to it " The creek," be sniJ, " we must look there first,"

But liippai shook hiB head, and Baid, " Nebber mind alonga there ; too muchy nyrang, 'cept along a camp."

" By George, lies right, said the father, as he drew a longbreath; "the only bole in the creek for miles is the one you were at when she strayed away; it is almost dry now."

" Which way was the wind to-day?" asked Strong.

" Blowing strongly right down the creek."

" Then she has gone with it; we bad tetter go that way first Let us pile np a good fire before we start"

Soon the great logs that they lighted sent a blaze through the lorest almost equalling the light of day.

Taking a gon apiece, the two white men went ont into the forest, keeping some dis tance apart, and listening intently to every sound.

They called the blackfellow, but he sat sulkily before the fire and refused to stir. The mother went to him.

" Hippai, find my child." i " Too ronchy dark. Bael see him track." ! " Hippai, wheu you tumbled along a yarra-, man mine mend your arm,"

" Too mnchy long ago."

The mother turned away with a sob, but the black, with a sudden change of inten tion, rose from where he sat and, saying

Mine yan, glided into the darkness beyond the firelight like a shadow vanishing from the gr&BS.

For a while the mother sat listlessly, worn ont by her exertions, listening intently for the signal-gun, that would mean so much for her. Then mechanically ehe heaped

the dying fire, and pre-, more wood upon Hie ay .no evcr

pared food lorthe. 'Vrrv of "lWo and anon aho sent a wi.d weir . ^

allltl ililUll cut nviiv ...... .

Dodo" into tiie darkness. But no childish treble replied.

lier imagination played her a thousand pranks. Sometimes the dicker of the tire light showed her a tiny li.;ure coming towards her, which vanished when she rushed to meet it. And all the noises of the night spoke to her of her child. 1 ha possum's shriek, the far away hoot of the owl, the falling branch, all came to her cam chanced into the cry of a child or the distant report of the gun announcing the finding 01 the lost

one.

When for a few minutes she slept matters j were worse ; and she woke with a j wild cry from a horrible dream or a dingo "and a hawk lighting tor pos session ot something, liven in her dream she shuddered to think what that w.iite I bundle, whence fell a mass of shining hair, might be, and in her agony, as the picture of her darling's face seemed to frame itseli in the golden setting, she mercifully awoke.

The waking was scarcely a relic!; but she

dared not allow sleep to surprise her again. ! L'aclnraids and forwards she paceJ from the j tent to the fire. Suddenly she thought it must "be all a horrid dream. Wirhin the lent

was Dodo's little bed ; surely her darling was I lying there safe asleep.

She rushed frantically towards it- Nothing: j or worse than nothing; the firelight showed a j little bonnet hanging from the pole, a tiny ? pair of hoots, and some rude toys scattered

about The sight was heartbreaking, and a ) fresh ogonv of sobbing overcome her.

So the night wore away: and now inornin?

was at baud. The darkness cave place to j the dim twilight which precedes the dawn. 1 She saw two figures moving towards her. She rushed to meet them. Her husband

and Strong. Alone. No slightest trace I or fillings bad they found. They had1

searched the forest for miles, using, j to attract the child's attention, every device that the darkness permitted and their bush experience suggested, but in vain, llippai remained; perhaps he had been more suc

cessful. !

As the thought crossed their minds he i stood amongst them. They looked nt him. j He shook his bead, and only muttered his old

reply, "Toomuchydark." I

Vresently be added, ''Directly tunee I eurokec. Mine fetch it yarrainen. Vou, make it tuck out"

Without another word he went after flic j horses. Fortunately they were not far a war. ' By the. time the san wasVuiriy up the whole

party had partaken of a hasty meal (to) which, however, llippai alone did justice!'

and were prepared to start

Arthur, I mux/ go with you." "But, dear

" I must—I must—I must. 1 would die if left here in suspense again."

" Very well." And the eide-saddie was put

on her mare.

"Down the creek," said the father, as lie turned his horse. Bat llippai shook his

head.

" Wongai, like it that way. You sit down. Mine yan myself one fellow first time" lie gave his reins to Strong, and motioning to the party to wait in a small open space near the tent, he went up the creek for a couple of hundred yards. Being then beyond the ordinary traffic of the camp he moved slowly away from the creek, circling round the camp, examining, as he went, every blade of grass for some slightest trace of the lost chiliL A dozen times he dropped flat on the ground, aud his great dark eyes, rolling to aud fro, gleamed as they took in every most minute disturbance of the soil.

Twenty times he retraced his steps, and | went over the 6ame place again and again,j whilst the impatient whites fretted and fumed ot the delay: and only the mother's entreaties

kept her hnsband from breaking away to ride ' at random through the forest.

The sun was over the tree-tops, and the shadows were shortening perceptibly, and llippai had seemed to make no progress.

They could see him gliding along like a snake, slowly, liken woundedsnake, twisting and turning continuously. Suddenly he ro-e to liia feet, and a long coo-e-e brought them in a moment to hie side.

"Mine megalicht track, that way yan," and be pointed with his chin iu the direction of the range.

"Thank God," burst from the others. "Ob, quick, llippai, bring us to her."

" Talnnga " (by aud by), he answered, and.! having assured himself that the child had fol

lowed the .cattle-track, lie went along at a i good pace, only stopping occasionally to see i that he was still on the right path.

The others followed, looking in vain for any footprints, but with implicit confidence

in their guide. Presently they reached the j swamp, and llippai, pausing for a moment, | glanced significantly at the mother, i

. and then 1 at the gronnd ; and loud sobs of joy burst from her as she saw in the mud perfect casts of a little pair of feet Dodo was surely found now.

Actobs the swamp, along the side of the range Hippai followed the tracks un erringly. By /'said the father, "she is huiding for Hail's Gap; the mountain cattle come down through there."

" Do you know this country ?' asked Strong in surprises

"Know it?'he answered bitterly, "there is not a track between here and Pauanga 1 couldn't tide blindfolded. I have good

reason to know it"

The question had evidently awakened un pleasant memories, for he pulled back his norse, and followed in moody silence until the Gap was readied, and Hippai began rapidly to descend the other side

Suddenly the latter paused. In his eager ness he had overshot the mark, and missed the place where Dodo had left the track to mount the little knolL The hard bill-side left but few traces of the tiny feet, and mnch precious time was lost in vain efforts to find where she had branched off. When almost in despair^ Hippal's quick eye caught sight of

Bomethinir ? white damrlimr from n. nrlnlriv

shrub, ft proved to be a shred of Dodo's dress, torn whenjshe tumbled in ecramlbing

down the bilL

This was all that was required; and Hippai. fairly started again, followed every turn and twist till he came to the place where she bad followed the emus.

" Ficcanniny chaee him nourl," he called out with a loud laugh, pointing to the tracks of the little feet over the broad arrow marks of tbe great bird.

From there ail was plain enough, and the blackfellow never paused till he came to tbe side of the boulder, and said, "Inst night quamby," pointing to the little nest where iue poor child had slept, and where her pina fore was found, forgotten, where she had spread it over her grassy bed.

A. moments bait whilst Hippai picked np the right track, confused somewhat by her journeys to the creek to drink: which tire mother spent laughing and crying over and kissing the precious pinafore. Then on with fresh hope and energy. They knew that tbe wanderer bad only a few hours' start of tbem now, and that the road she had taken led1

down towards the open country, where they : would have every chance in their favour, i

The track wag plain, and as llippai fob lo wed it at a jog trot, the others strained thei r eyes, hoping at every turn to catch eight of the littic figure toiling on before them.

But midday was long past, and there was no sign of her. The track they were pursuing left the main cattle track and turned aside to a creek. Jlippai followed it. Stopped. Beckoned to tlie others; and as they rode joyously np. turning uponihem with a starlied

look, said, " Myall cogee."

" Why, you fool, there arc no Myall blacks here : and no canoe cither as far as I can

see."

"Myall cogeeynn piccanniny yan along a creek. Mine mcgalight all about track.

This appeared too true. The practised eyes of the bushinrn soon saw the tracks of the child to the creek and not returning, and the track, also going to the creek, of a single

fellow, whose camp-fire still lighted they found close at hand, and lastly the mark in the shallow water where the canoe had giounded, and the holeukerc the paddle that held it had been stuck in the bank. It was too plain. The child had been carried oil" by

a blackfellow.

The anguish of the mother was terrible to

behold.

Oh ! Arthur. Arthur! find our child. Ilcscue her from that demon."

A moment the father Eat motionless, as if in deep thought Then, as he stuck the spurs into Black Astur's side, and the great iiorse bounded under hi i), he called out "Follow me,"and without another word darted through the forest at a pace that soon left the others

tar behind.

But we must return to poor Dodo, whom we left asleep in the canoe. In stepping into it she must have loosed the carelessly-tied cord, for no sooner had she thrown herself back amongst the fern fronds and gone off to sleep than her frail bark, set into motion by the impetus given to it by her weight, had shppeJ nuietlyaway from the bauk, and floated

down uic creci*.

When Kins Toby retained, shortly before the arrival of the tracking party, to the place where he had left his canoe, his surprise and disgust at Qnding it gone may be imagined. Me hastily gras|»ed his paddle, and wading through the creek disappeared in the 6crub on the other side, taking a short cut across a bend in the hoj>e of intercepting the dere

lict.

Meanwhile the canoe had proceeded on its voyage, with its unconscious passenger, un derneath tlie dark wattles that almost met across the narrow stream, over many a rip pling shallow, through the quiet, deep pools, where the wild ducks swam to and fro in peace till scared by the passing danger; among the great, cruel-looking snags that seemed to be lying in wait for its (destruction the fragile vessel weut in safety, the child lying still in the deep aleep of childhood, un aware that a single uneasy movement would have ended her voyage and her life in a

moment

And 60 down the narrow and winding creek the little boat sailed safely, and at Ia6t out of the narrow and winding creek it floated on to the broad bosom of a great river, which bore it along swiftly towards the

ocean.