Chapter 166688877

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberVII
Chapter TitleTHE ATTACK
Chapter Url
Full Date1862-06-28
Page Number2
Word Count2048
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 Ik jlulhor of the Yo- Ye, My Holiday, %e.)


ChATIZU VII.— The Anile.

We left Everington and Ralph mounting guard over Dick Vet ton, at the time when a signal had been giren on the shutter of Dick's bedroom. Immediately upon hearing the sound Ralph placed the muzzle of hU pistol to Dick's head, so close that he could Icel the cold iron pressing on his forehead, and, in a suppressed whisper, said, 'Answer !' Knowing the man he had to deal with, and fully aware that any failure to comply would ensure his fste, in a hoarse whisper Dick answered to the sum

mons, All square. 'Then stir yourself end let us in ; for I'm in no humour to wsit,' replied, in a low harsh tone, a voice that was at once recognised as that of Beardy Charley. 'Go round to the front,' rejoined Dick, at the suggestion 'of Ralph, and on a second application of the pistol muzzle to his head, ' the back door makes too much noise, and the cove is weit armed.' ' ? the door ! ' said the ruffian, ' Come be sharp 1 ' with this the rultian walked round the house to the front, where he joined bis companions, already lying in wait at the door. With Dick secured be tween them, Ralph and Everington, also went noise lessly to the front door, at which their own men were now all stationed. ' Remember,' said Ralph, impressively, to Dick, before the decisive step was taken, ' your life hangs hy s thread.' llut, if he could hare seen the expres sion wom by the villain's countenance, he would have saved &L1 further trouble, by at once cutting the thread he had just alluded to. When they reached the door, two of the men were placed behind it, so as to close and fasten it as soon as the bushrangers had entered. Everington, Ralph, and the third manserv&nt stood prepared to seize each his man. Ralph now undid the fastenings of the door, and no sooner had the three buBhrsngers entered then Dick, who had watched his opportunity, sprang suddenly forward, dashed Ralph aside with the violence of his spring, and shouting 'treachery,' darted through the door and disappeared in the darknesB. Before Ralph could recover himself, Deardy Charley had knocked down the man who had endeavoured to seize him, and warned hy this act as well as by Dick's cry, that preparations had been made for his reception, rushed to the still open door, and after a desperate struggle forced bis wayjout. Of the two remaining bushrangers, one was felled to the earth by a blow from the butt end of Ralph's pistol, and the other, who bud been seized by Everington, was secured with the assistance of the men. They were by this time made fully aware of the full extent of the danger of their position, and of the num ber of enemies that surrounded them, for on every side were the fierce yells of the natives, who, having discovered the failure of the attempt to gain possession of the house, vented their rage in savage cries. At the same time a Sight of spears fell upon the house, doing indeed no damage, but showing the invetwnte hate of the foe by which the little garrison was belcsgured. The shower of spears was followed by the report of two guns, the bullets from which rattled against the window shutters. A discharge lrom those inside replied to the challenge, whilst a hearty English cheer drowned for the time the yells of the blocks. This continued for a short time only, for soon the cries of the natives ceased, spears were no longer thrown, and the only evidence of the pre sence ol the enemy was the occasional discharge of a gun and lire sound of the bullet as it struck the slabs. Ralph, who had some experience in these bush con flicts, shook liis head ominously at this silence, con vinced, ss he declared to every one, ' that the darkies were plotting mischief.' Every man was ordered to keep a good look out ; but as the house was closed upon every side, no Tory great amount of reconoitring could be carried on. I'resently, a spear was heard to wbiz through the air, to miss the slabs, and to fix itself firmly in the bark which formed the roof of the house. Another, and another followed, each fixing itself in the same manner ; and as each fell in this manner, a loud yell of triumph burst from their adversaries. At last one of the men, -who had let himself out of the back door and crawled cautiously round to the front to note what was going on, informed those within that the blacks were throwing spoars with bundles of burning bark attached to them, and that already the roof in some places had taken fire. ' So the vermin think to burn us out, do thoyf' cried Ralph. ' Our time hasn't come yet for roasting, 1 can tell them. Quick, men, down with the rafters. We ehall be more exposed to attack, but we can't help tbst, and must only figbt the harder.' ' Better to die by the hand of a foe in fair fight, than to he helplessly roasted alive,' answered Ever ing, cheerfully. ' Ss at it. my boys, with a will. Down with the roof.' The men now went heartily to work, and in a very brief space had demolished the primitive roof ol' bark which covered the dwelling. Nor was this done a whit too soon, as the fire had obtained a firm hold of several of the sheets of bark. An occasional spear now fell in amongst them, but without doing any damage, and the only dread ef their present exposure was in the event of a rush being made with a view to carry the place by ecaling the walls. The moon had by this time risen high enough to clear the overhang ing ranges, and shining forth brightly, gave the be sieged a bi iter opportunity of mat lung their assailants. Ralph walked round the house and knocked out a narrow slab hero and there, as well for purposes of observation as for firing through. By these means, with the clear moonlight that prevailed, they hoped to be able to keep then- foes at bay until daylight, at which time it was hoped that, through the means of Morouya, succour would arrive. Finding their attempt to set fire to the hut unsuc cessful, the blacks again ceased their shouts ; and their silence once more proclaimed to Ralph that their cunning adversaries were plotting mischief. The pro vision he had made for watching them, by knocking out the slabs were now of infinite service, as nothing could pass the plot of cleared ground that surrounded the house, -without being visible in the clear moon light. A sharp look-out was also kept on all sides, as their lives depended upon not allowing themselves to he surprised. ' Do you see that ? ' at last Ralph said to Evering ton, at the same time pointing to a black masB on the ground that appeared like a charred stump. ' Yes,' answered Everington ; ' it's a log.' 41 You know aB well as I do that there's not a log or stump on the whole clearing. And besides that, loga don't move, and if you watch that clssely, you will find that it is gradually, though imperceptibly, approaching us.' It was then not more than fifty paces from the house. ' And see,' added Ralph, there is anotherand another,' pointing to similar dark objects on the ground. 'Lookout, lookout!' lie shouted. ' The vermin are going to make a rush. One shot from each eun, and then wait till their heads show over the wall.' No sooner had he uttered this warning than, taking a steady aim at one of these ap parent logs, he fired. A wild yeil followed, as the black mass sprang into the air, and fell to move no more, A frightful confusion of cries now followed, as, finding themselves discovered, the blacks sprang to their feet, and tomahawk in hand, dashed forward to the house. A shot from each gun in the little gar rison told upon an enemy before the house was reached, but still the blacks pressed on. Enraged and desperate, the savages struck furiously at the doore and windows, but their light tomahawks made but small impression upon the hard blsckbutt of which these were made. WhilBt some were vainly endea vouring to force an entrance in this manner, Bome, by mounting on the backs of others, tried to scale the walls and get within arm's-length of their victimB. It required all the courage, strength, and activity of those within, to keep out their assailants. Ralph and Everington were everywhere in the fray, now firing a shot through s rent in the wall at some eaemy who passed, now cleaving a black skull that protruded over the wall plate, and then shouting words of encou ragement to the men to hearten them in the struggle. In the very heat of the conflict, a shriek was heard from the skiiling in which for security Jane Arnold had been placed. Ralph heard it, ar.d even amidst the yells of the natives recognised his daughter's voice. Springing across the now ruined apartment, he dashed into the chamber, and found to his horror that it was empty. Looking round, even hiB quick end eager glance could see no mode of egress, and yet bis daughter was gone. Bewildered, discouraged, and maddened by the loss, he was about to cast him self in despair upon the ground, when two of the onter slabs, near to where stood the head of the bed, were thrown down, and a grim savage, made still more hideout by the war paint with which he was covered, leaped into the room. Shouting W Evering ton. Ralph raised a ponderous fslling-axe, with which he was armed, and its descending edge crashed through the skull of the intruder as though it had met no resistance. A second, who had forced his way in, received a , blow across the chest with the eye of the

axe that drove him back lifolcsB through the opening, the force by which he was expelled upsetting s third who was on the point of entering. Aroused once more to action, Ralph at once pushed the bedstead against thb opening, and then, with the assistance of Everington, who by tbis time hod come to the rescue, heaped up against it every moveable on which he could lay hands. Rushing back to the main rooms, the defence of which had been considerably weak ened by this double absence. Ralph and Everington came back in time to see two blacks on the point of leaping down into the chamber. Before there was time to reach them, however, the almost simultaneous crack of two shots were heard from without, and each pierced with a bullet their two foes, who fell intd the chamber struggling in the death agony. Again and 8gain were these shots heard from without, and with each report a blackfellow bit the dust. It soon became apparent that this attaok from new assailants, to whose unerring shots they were fully exposed, caused the besiegers to waiver, and at last so disheartened them that an attempt made by some of their leaden to bring them again to the attack signally failed, for, before they had reached the house, they were seized with a panic, and precipitately fled. As they retreated, those in the house could hear an occasional discharge from one of the two guns that bad done them so much service, until at last the sound was lost in the distance. Everington was not left Bt leisure to ponder upon the iuin around him ; whilst, the excitement of the fray over, the anguish of Ralph, at the unaccountable absence of his daughter, came back upon him with rodoublid violence. ( To he continued.)