Chapter 166688510

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter TitleTHE OUT SCOUT.
Chapter Url
Full Date1862-05-31
Page Number2
Word Count2522
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleSydney Mail (NSW : 1860 - 1871)
Trove TitleTales of Barranjuee. No. 1. Morouya, the Black Eagle of Colo
article text


(By the JLulhorofihe Yo-Yo, My Holiday, it.)

No. I., THE BLACK EAGLE OF COLO. CnArir.n III. — Tub Oit Sosut.

Leayino Morouja and his youthful foe to pursue their different routes, let us with the privilege of authorship hurry on in megic flight in advance of Everington and his companion, and give our readers s glimpse of the Wyong farm. At the foot of a huge mount or hill, whose crest wbb covered with vast blocks of granitic stone, piled un on each other in the most srutcsnue forms, or

heaped together in all the wild weird groupings of Nature, was placed the dwelling-house. Though built at the base of the main mount, it was at the same time tituated on the crown of a smiller knoll, still verdant, despite -.he hot and arid season, which sloped down gradually to a small stream fed from a spring in the hill above. The -nut built of heavy black butt tlsbs, faced with weatherboards, the inner surlawbcineMnoolhlyplastered with mortar. It consisted of two main rooms, with four skiUings or lem-to modus at the back. A broad passage with doors opening to the frcnt and rear of the dwelling divided the rooms on either side from each other. The main rooms were used as the bitting and the sleeping apartments of the owner ; whilst of the four shillings, two were conjointly employed as a store, one was appropriated to Dick Watson, the house ser. vant, Odd the fourth Mas for the use of any chance visitor to the farm. To the left of the house, at a dis tance of a couple of hundred yards, ran the clear waters of Wvocg Creek, now reduced by the drought to a putting brook. In front was a Urge and well stocked orchard, as also a flower and kitchen garden, running down the face of the elope to the email trick ling stream we have already mentioned. Over this a wide bridge had been thrown, connecting the home stead ?with the cultivation paddocks on the other side. These were of considerable extent, securely fenced, end partitioned off by cross fences. Almost adjoining the main building, but a little to the rear, was the overseer's hut, a comfortable fUb building with a pretty little garden in front. The men's huto were placed on the opposite tide of the creek, and at no great distance from the cultivation paddocks. The bush around, on all sidcB but one, was clear and open; but upon the lower tide, where the spring joined its waters with those of Wyong Creek, the ground was flat and low, and, being kept moist by the two streams, vegetation was more rank. There, giant trees raited their summits proudly towards heaven. Thickly clustered as they were, the [.paces intervening between their straight and lofty trunks wore yet thickly covered with a dense growth of underwood, bound still more closely together by nu merous creeping planU, amongst which the native vine, noWEtretching from bough to bough of the loftiest trees, and again twining around the trunks and limbs, was the most remarkable. At the time we have chosen for making this sketch of the farm, n tall, stout, ill 'featured individual was (tending sullenly leaning against the side of the back door of the house. His arms were folded acroSB his broad chest, and, though his eyes were bent upon the ground, yet the sudden flashes that proceeded from them — the cccational lower ing of the eyebron-s, and tbc quivering oi the lips, showtd that his thoughts were running in no quiet channel. Suddenly, he started, listened, and drew himself a little inside the door, so £S to be out of tight, whilst his cheek became deadly pale, aB a young lint. haired girl passed within a few paces of the corner of the hut and tripped gaily down towards the thick brush at the lower end of the clearing. Clenching his hands with excitement, he seemed for an inttant dUposed to follow her, but again drew b»ck, irresolute, after having gone a dozen paces. Striking himself fiercely on the breast, he muttered. ?' No, no ! Patience for one day— only one day. To-morrow it will be my turn.' The thought, -whatever it mav have been, brought a grim smile to his face, aid he was only aroused from the pleasurable sensations into which it had plunged him, by a heavy hand that was laid upon his shoulder, whilst a hush voice thus greeted him, — ' Why, Dick ; what's the matter with you now ? ' Dick raised his eyes, and they met those of Ralph Arnold fixed in stem enquiry upon his face. Kolph was a man of colossal stature and powerful frame. Already pant ike b»-c1«Uo »ee. his bodily encrey was unimpaired, and it 6eemed as if adaitionai years had but served to give ndditional strength to his gigantic form. Hescrved at all timee, he was occa sionally sullen and inoroee, and then, even his favour ite duupMcr could scarcely obtain a good word from him. The men on the place affirmed that old Ralph ' wasn't all there,' and that he was 'a shingle or two short;' by which playful terms they conveyed the fact that his reason was shaken. Be that as it may, these file, which only rarely occurred, lasted but for a short time; and when recovered from them he was always more than ordinarily kind and free for a day or two afterwords. It was with this man that Dick found himself confronted, and the piercing black eyes that wtre bent upon him seemed to read into the very depths ol his heart. Stuttering fome unintelligible reply, Dick turned away, for the link of those eyes made him uneasy, and he felt ae if Bis secret was uot eafe while exposed

to their gszc. ' Humph ! ' added Ralph, coldly, as with a mock iagemile he regarded Wick, ' you change colour like & young girl. One would almost suppose xhat you had some weighty matter on your mind !' ' Me— me i '— stammered Dick, 'what weighty matter enn I have J' ^^ 'It's very little to me whethsr.- JyWr 'ifitvc 'or' not,' said lialph haughJitS' ?vTbo be otf, and mind your work, unst-iVl.-iM standing about and dreaming in. the mid-»V»y sun. Be off I bbj- ! ' , --'The last emphatic addition waB in reply tD a quick j' ' eharp flash of rage that for an instant showed itself ?' in Dick's countenance. Cowed by the decisive tone, or perhaps restraining his passion, Dick turned away end entered the kitchen. Arnold looked moodily after him as he went, and as he entered the hut he murmured to himself, ' The fool!' to think to deceive me— me, a blacker villain than ever he dared to be!' With a half-stifl ed frenzied laugh, the overseer also proceeded to his part of the work. It was shortly after this scene that Everington had returned. ImprcsEed, more than he had wished to chow, by the warning words of the black, as well as by the solid reasonings of the Bird catcher, he had determined upon taking all necescaiy precautions for the defence of the homestead. Having disposed of his . dinner, his first task was to get Dick Watson out oi the way ; but whilst casting about upon what mes sage to tend him, he was saved all trouble on that point by Dick himself asking permission to absent himself till evening. With a little politic hesitation the required leave was, of course, given. And now he and the Birdcatcher set themselves Earnestly to work. The fastenings of the doors and windows were looked to, and it was found that all had been tampered with, most of them being so loosened as to be next to ueelcsB. The firearms were next ex amined, and bcie again was given proof of the care and extent of Dick's preparations. The locks had been taken off two of his best guns, and' one or two of the most essential screws were not to be found. It bad only been by the ingenuity of the Birdcatchcr that they had at lost been rendered at all serviceable. As the evening approached, three of the most trust worthy men on the station were brought into the house, and, after a brief explanation in regard to the expected attack, were armed with muEkets, after wil lingly consenting to defend the house. _ Arnold had also been early taken into the consultation, and it was arranged that he and his daughter should also sleep in the house, thereby giving themselves additional security as well as adding to the number of disposable men in the stronghold. Tbc convict servants, with the exception of the three, whom it waB deemed pru dent to trust, were not advised of what was going on, but were merely told to keep a sharp look-out against surprise by the blacks. It was drawing on towards sundown when these preparations were completed . The Birdcatcher was seated before the kitchen fire, enjoying Mb evening pipe ns calmly as if nothing extraordinary waB expec ted. His life bad beDn passed for years in the bush, sIwej-b at a distance from his fellow whites, though surrounded by subtle cnemieB who hated the white, fellow, and longed implacably for his blood. Thus ho had been always dependent for his safety solely upon his own resources of strength, activity, and ingenuity. The expectation of an attack from en ambushed foe caused him no feverish excitement, no unpleasant feeling; but he eat ia perfect comfort — his only thought being the lull enjoyment of the short black pipe with which he was now solacing himself. So deeply was he buried in this, that he scarcely heaid the footstep, which, with aboriginal noiseless nesi, aproachedthe hut ; and it was not until the tall lithe form of Horouya discovered the light in the door way, that his attention was attracted. 'Billy,' said the black, 'the Barranjuces are dancing the wat dance by the lake side ; will Billy see them with his own eyeB ? ' 'Aye, that I will, Morouya,' readily answered the 'BJrdestpher, at tbc sane tune starting tip. ^ You and

me have been in their camps, Morouya, often before i this, end have taken their 'possum rugi from them, justoutof shew devilment. We can surely go now \ without ritk and fee what they intend to do. I'm with you, my man.' ' Good !' responded the block, ' Come on ! and ? without further parley he led the way at a quick pace towutds the lake, followed clotcly by the Bird They'pas«-l round the foot of the mount which overhung the station ; and, when arrived at the back of it, they descended upon a Urge grassy Wat that formed a beautiful open forest. Along this they con tinucd at the same rapid pace until they reached a Epot where, on cither side, two branch fpurs from a main ridge shut in. a portion of the valley. Here they prscccdcd with more caution, and, after passing lor 'some distance up the gully thus ninde, they ascended the ridge to the right, and, with eyeB and eats on the alert, steadily pursued their way. Xho fun had by this time sunk below the horizon, and already a thin vapoury mist had begun toriEC from the earth, and to lie like a narrow cloud on the lowlands. They were fast approaching the main ridge, and, ae they drew closer to it, the two spurt, which at the opening of the gullcy had been half a mile apart, and had tin nee gradually collapsed, were now within not more than half pistol-shot of c&ch other. Suddenly, Morouya stopped in his walk, and, with a quick gesture of silence, sought the cover of the nearest tree. The Birdcatcher instinctively and instsntaneoublv followed his example, and, when thus concealed, llorouyu pointed noiselessly to the opposite spur of the lidgc. Descending this were scin three uguteB, indistinct in the gathering twilight, but still sufficiently ;perceptiblc for the quick eyes of of the Birdcatcher to rccoRnke the forms of white men. They were convening, though in a low tone, and Silly (stretched his organs of bearing to the utmost, to discover the tubject of their conversation. As they drew nearer, this became lees difficult, and when almost opposite to him he was able not only to hear distinctly, but alto to make out that one of the three was Dick Watson, whilst another to whom he was talking, a short thick tet man -whose bushy black beard web perceptible even in the little light that re moincd, Hilly knew from description to be Beardy CJh&rlty. ' Well then, as you say you're all reidy, we'll make him up to-night ;' said the bearded ruflUn in continuation of their previous conversation, though I thould have prcfurcd to have taken my chance, and to huvc bailed up the place professionally.' ' If it's not done to-night, you must leave the dis trict,' replied Dick. ' lie alrcidy begins to drop down ; und to-morrow the traps will be up here aud at jourheelB.' ' As there's a stake to go for, I suppose I must drop my professional prejudices, and at him to-night; though to tell you the truth, I don't fancy mixing up with these black devils,' returned Charley. ' How ever, trust me we'll weed him carefully whatever happens.' ' ltomember, above all,' eaid Dick impressively, ' the girl is not to be injured, and is to bo my ehore.' ..Th'e bushranger replied with a laugh, and a coarse oath. ? ' Take caic you play me no games !' retorted Dick, fiercely; 'it would be better for you to be surrounded with no chance of cEcape, by the mounted police, than to make ire vour enemy !' Chi.rky here laughed again. ' What do you think I want with your'girls f Take all ia the country if y- u like lot me ! All I want ia business. You bring gritt to our mill snd I'll serve you.' ? 11 Then we understand each oilier !' said Dick ; 'but,' he growled between his teeth, 'beware, I say !' 'No threats here, Mister Dick,' answered the bandit v.ith a Eavage oath, whilst he touched the butt end of a huge horse-pistol that was thrust into his belt, ' wn have a quick way of our own of disposing of troubleEome customers. But, there— we've nude a bargain nnd I'll keep to my part, if you stick to youis. An hour before the moon riscE, I'll meet you— that's settled.' So saying, and without waiting a reply, he turned upon his heel, beckoned his comrade, and retired by the way he had come. Dick' looked after them for an instant, raised his hand with a wild malignant threat against them as they disappeared, and then proceeded rapidly down the gully.