Chapter 161812140

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter TitleJACK'S STRATACEM.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161812140
Full Date1894-11-10
Page Number35
Corrections0
Word Count3013
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleBreelong Dora
article text

CHAPTKR IV.

JACK S STUATACCtt.

Jack nail been seated at the rough bush tab's for some time busily engaged in writing; at last with a sigh be looked up, and said, "Coppo, old man, I want you to take the best horse of the three, and ride as fast as you oan over to Breelong with this letter, take the back track, and when up to the horse paddock tie up your horse and go on foot to the house. Don't let any one see you. Should you, be fore you get there, see anyone riding about do your best to keep out of the way. When you reach the house go to Miss Dora's window, you know the one, n6it the big chimney. If you see a light burning, you knock gently, and when she opens it, which I feel sure she will, you give her this, and say, * Paper:]: yabba, .Tacky been send it.' If you do this all right you shall have a new saddle next time I go to Koukrille. Now, off you go, and don't forget, old man, that .Tim Warland is going to steal white lukra, and that the paper yabba you hare is to atop him, but itmust get there before the moon is up."

Those instructions, dear reader, were perhaps not delivered in precisely the above language, hut nearly all in the aboriginal tongue, whioh Jack was almost master of, the above being a fair translation of what was said, es afterwards repeated to the writer by the speaker himself.

Copiio no doubt thought it was rather strange that, now ha wus free, Jack did not go himself. Still, the promise of the new saddle was not forgotten, and tho value of this gift quite assured him that he was tho bearer of importaut news.

Jack knew that Warland and his party must be oloae to Breelong. by now, as 'twas quite dark ; but be felt sure that the leader was too great a coward to show himself before it was dark. Jaok also knew that if he him self were seen approaohing the house he would bo fired on at onoe, but a stray blaokfellow or two would never be noticed ; besides that, be had a scheme of his own to work out, and whioh, if suooessful, would not only save bis loved one, but would, he trusted, enable him to hand her would-be destroyer over to justice. This is what he wrote to Mr. Rodgers on some leovBB from his faithful pooket-book.

"Dear Dad—I am all right. Justas I arrived at Cbowilia after doing the quietest time on reoord, and had juBt got the door unlocked and about to walk in, Jim Warland and two other men rode up. They are all well armed. They very Boon let me know their errand and iinduoed me to give my tongues rest by pre

senting a revolver at my bead. After telling me that if they hod met me on the ran it was their intention to have shot me, Jim Warland then said that they are going on to Breelong : to-night to carry off Dora to some plaoe be has out back in the ranges. He said that be would a-k her fair and eqoare as he put it, and that if she objected it would be ell the seme, as he ? would then take her by force and make ber

his . But the word that he would have said never left his lips, for I jumped up and landed ' him a beauty right between the eyes. Ho fell back a little dazed, and before I could get another blow I was collared.by the other two, and they soon had me bonnd and lashed down to the bunk, and finished off by patting a gag in my mouth. Then they left me, as they thought, to starve, taking your rifle and Fleetwing. I heard them ride away. Of oourse Warland did not know of the blaoks

* No, or 1 don't know. t Go and see, or look. I Talk

being oamped oat here. JaBt as I heard the ] oattle making for the yard (I had nearly bitten the gag through), I began to ebout. {I will tell yon all another time.) Presently old Ooppo, after trying the door, whioh by the way, Warland had looked, forced open one of the shatter*, got in, and soon liberated me. I have told him all, and am sending him with this. I hope he will get to Breelong before those three fiends. Now what I want yon to do is this—to appear to eanotion the marriage (I know Dora will not like it)—say it is rather

a surprise. Then gire them a feed and a glass ; of grog; tell them to go and camp in the hat, ;

bat before they gd; and I feel sure they will ]

(provided yon do not funk it) tell Warland that as you wish to have everything fair and square, you and Dora will go with him into Itoekville in the morning, and there get the parson to do the trick. Take the whole lot to the Criterion Hotel (Warland is so dense he will not smell a rat), shout driDks for them all, and if four policemen, eeveral friends, and myself don't follow those drinks in pretty Bharp, and make Messrs. Warland and Co. look very queer, then my name is not.

"John Fitzgebald.

" P.3.—Don't forget the drinks. I reckon a man oannot well use a revolver .and drink his grog at the same time. Tell Dora to keep up heart and try to be jolly over it, I expoot the brute will want to kiss her (oh—horrid !), but this oannot be helped. I am off now for

Rockville. We have two certain oharges, for | whioh I shall take out warrants—namely, stealing Fieetwing and the gun, and the assault on me.—J.F."

My readers will perhaps say this was rather

a long letter to write at auob a time; but think j for a moment—oan you ?—what depended on

the instruotions being olear and explioit. One j little mistake might mean ruin and death.

Soon after Jack had started his trusted mes senger he oalled Jerry and Kangaroo to him, gave them directions what to do until Coppo returned, aud then left for Bockville. But how about Breelong and the unwelcome and expected visitors T Let's go over and see for ourselves.

"Hello, Jerry, old man; how are yon?" eaid Jim Warland as at about 7 o'clook he walked into (without knocking) the station

kitchen. Jerry was just finishing a batch of j his celebrated bread, and was in no humour to |

welcome visitors.

" Well, none the better for seeing your ugly

face, Jim Warland,"replied Jerry ; "and the j

sooner you olear out of my kitchen the better 'twill be for you." "Come, Jerry,"said his visitor, "here's myself and two mates waiting to have tea with yon, so don't get angry, old man, but just turn out the bread and beef while I look after the tea." " Here, hands off that, you dirty spalpeen,"eaid the now very angry cook, as Warland made to take up the big tin teapot, which was yet by the tire. "Devil a one of me'ill take notice of ynur blathering talk; you just go and ask the masther before I give the likes of you a feed. Faith ! there be is shouting to kuow what the

devil the matter's wid ye. Sure, thin, here he I

comes.'

Just then Mr. Rodgers walked into the kitchen. Thinking within himself that it would perhaps be better to play a " waiting game" until Jaok returned, said, addressing Warland, " Why, Jim, what brings you here?

I thought Breelong had seen tho last of you ; J what is it you want?" "Well," eaid the ' deposed stockman, "my mates (pointing to hie two friends) and myBelf wont a feed ; but this oross-grainei old block of an Irishman

refuses to supply us, and then when my hunger |

is satisfied I myself want to see yon on busi ness." " We have already watered our horses and put them in the stable, so you see, old man, I have not quite forgotten my way about

Breelong yet." " Well, so it appears,"almost | groaned Mr. Rodgers. "Here, Jerry," said he, " give these men some supper," and then, looking at Warland, said—" I will see you inside after you have finished." So far all was well; no mention had been made of Dora, and there were no signs of wsapona. Per haps, thought Mr. Rodgers, as he re turned to his rooms, they are not armed after ail. But what of Dora? She was sitting in her room close to the door, which was slightly open, listening to every word that had been spoken. What her feelings were it would be hard to describe. While thus engaged she was startled with a gentle tap, tap at her window. She listened, hardly knowing what to think. Presently it was repeatod again and yet again. Then going close up she heard a \oioe. " Missey, Miesey, paper yabbsr, Jackey, Jaokey."

Directly she heard the came of him she truly loved, she opened the window, and at first almost screamed at the sight of Coppo in the light reflected from her bedroom lamp. Ooppo pushed the letter forward with the one expression "Jaokey been send it,"aud as suddenly disappeared.

Dora at onoe quietly made her way to her

father's room, taking the letter with her. Here I it was quietly perused by both. j

Dora, as was to be expected, did not like j Jack's ideas, but when, as her father pointed out to her, it perhaps meant life or death to horself and those who were near and dear to her. she agreed to fall in with the plan. Jerry was called in and quietly cold all. He was simply delighted at what be oalled "Master Jack's cuteness,"

but still could not refrain from regretting that j

what he desoribed as " illigant fun" was to be spoiled. He was, however, shown the im portance of keeping cool and quiet, aud being toM to see that Ooppo was cared for, retired to his kitchen, Dora also once more seeking tho seclusion of her own room.

The visitors having by this time finished their meal Warland, without any invitation, quietly walked into Mr. Rodgera's sitting room, and justasquietly took possession of a ohair. "New, Warland," said Mr. Rodgers, " what is it you want to see me about ? You must know that I am not fool enough to sup pose that this visit from you is either of a

friendly or a business nature, so sot to work at j once and let me know your erraud."

Warland was a little taken abaok at the old man's ooolnees, and for a moment hardly knew how to commence. He was by nature a great bounoe, oouid abuse and knock a horse or a bl&okfellow about, but in heart was the very esssuoeofa coward. " Well, Jim Rodgers," eaid he, looking up, " I want to marry your daughter. Yes, you may look. I mean it. I not only want but I intend to marry her, and if etie will not agree to this proposal from me by fair means, well, then, she must be' made to. I am determined in what I say." As he uttered the last sentence lie took a revolver

from his pooket and placed it on the table beside him. Mr. Rodgers saw this and knew then that Jaok was right. "Here, put that thing away, Warland," said he. " You know we are in your power, Jack and Pearson are away, you are armed and we are not. Let us talk quietly over this matter, for as yoo must be aware you have indeed taken me by sur prise, not only with yonr presence here, but by your—well, to say the least—strange proposal.

The revolver was returned to Warland'e pocket, who then eaid:—"Fair and square always was my motto with those who treated me fair. So listen, this is my proposal That your daughter Dora accompanies me and my mates into Rookviile to-morrow morn ing to be splioed by tho parson in regular

style; but if she objects to this, then,as I told you before, we will carry her off by force, and make her consent to be my wife." Mr. Rodgers was apparently deep in thought, and for a time appeared to pay little or no heed to wbat Warland had said, but was apparently thoroughly aroused as the desperado jumped to his feet and, once more drawing bis re volver, said, " Look here, old man, I am in no humonr to stand your fooling. Say the word; what is it to be? Yes or No? or by heavens yon will be mode to." Trembling in every

limb, this brute's late master looked up and ! said—" Warland, while in my employ you did 1 me quite enough injury when you stole my oattle. For this I would and have forgiven you; but to oome now and to before my face try to steal away from my roof my one pet lamb—oh, 'tis terrible. Warland, if there is a spark of manhood about you, I plead with you to refrain from this terribly wicked act."

Jim was not prepared for an outburst like this, and seemed to once again be lost for an answer, then the old devil in the man was once again to ttie fore, for his reply was to the point, "Look here, Rodgere, unless you inside ten minutes sign a document agreeing to your daughter boooming my wife, I will so sure as my name is Jim Warland shoot you where you stand, and as Isaidbeforetakeheroffby force." Mr. Rodgers saw the man was in deadly earnest, and looking up said "Warland, I want to see Dora. Give mn ten minutes' quiet interview with her, and thee you shall without fail have my answer, and hers also."

This Warland agreed to, and Mr. Rodgers went to Dora's room, but as he passed called out to Jerry to put a bottle of brandy on the table. He was not away long, and onoe more taking Ilia seat, addressed Warland thus—

" i bave told Dora all you say, and she direots me to deliver the mosBago to you. She is witling for my sake to do as you wish. She will leave with you and I to-morrow for Rock ville, where the ceremony can be performed, but only on one oondition, namely, that you do not speak a word to her or aocost her in any way until she stands beside you at the altar. Will you ae a man agree to this? If so I will give you my consent, as you asked, in writing."

Warland was again puzzled. He Beemed to think somehow that all was not "right. He came prepared and quite expected to have to fight for bis bride, and this quiet acquiescence to hie planB did not tend to make him feel too com fortable. However, thought he, I may bs well agree; so, looking up, he said, Wei). Mr. Rodgers, I think your terms a bit hard. I d id expect to be allowed a little love-makiug. Still, as we are apparently both determined to have our own way, I as theyonnger must of ootirso give in, and agree to your terms, with only one stipulation on my part—that I and my man take watch and watoh about, patrol ling your houie during this night and early morning to see that 110 one escapes or even attempts to. Get your pen and paper, while I call one of my meu to witness your signature." The document was soon drawn up and signed, and safely in Warland's pocket. "Now, "said he, "wo will have a nip and turn in. I suppose we can camp in the hut." During the whole of the conversation Jack's name had only been men tioned once, so as Mr. Rodgers went out through the kitchen with his guest, ho oaid to Jerry (after instructing him about an early mesl), "I suppose Jack went on from Chowilla to Robertson's, acd has stopped there for the night." "Ah ! I should not wonder," responded Warland, "call me early, Jerry deur, for to-morrow is my wedding day," said he, slamming the door as be went out. "Wedding day is it, ye devil, more likely to be your hanging day." VeB, Jerry hated Warland most sincerely.

Jack, meanwhile, had gone as he said he would, to Rookville, where he arrived just at dusk. He saw the head of the police, who at once fell in with the s'oheme proposed, and promised to be very much in evidence at the time arranged; for, said Sergeanb Robertson, " I want Mr. John Warland for another little affair of my own which he thinks he has kept particularly quiet." Jack then saw the landlord of the Criterion, arranged for a room and for the assistance of himself and barman if required. He then proceeded to the Magistrate, swore the information necessary, and saw the war rants made out, then lastly went to the bouse of a friend on whom he could rely and arranged for his two'sons to go out early along the Bree long-road (or a ride, and that directly they saw a party of horsomen in sight, if accompanied by a woman, they were to make tracks across the bush and go direct to the Criterion, report there, and then on to the sergeant of police. This done he retired for the night, but not to sleep. His only fear was that Coppo might fail, but still this be thought was hardly likely; however, time alono would tell.