Chapter 166689355

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberIV
Chapter TitleTHE RESCUE
Chapter Url
Full Date1862-06-21
Page Number2
Word Count2227
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 Author of the Fo-Fo, My Holiday, $c.)

No. I. MOROUYA, THE BLACK EAGLE OF COLO. Ciiai-iee IV. — The Rescue.

\Y hen the Birdcatcher found liltnielf summoned in the emphatic manner described in a former chapter, he saw at once that bis esse was hopeless ; so, halting suddenly, he determined to give himself up with as good a grace as possible. His pursuer, by the speed at which he was going, passed him some distance before he could puR Up; however, coming up to him, he ejaculated in a voice that the Birdcatcher now recognised as that of Beardy Charley, — ' A nice old fool you must be, to come poking about

UCIC iu |l lUDVICf tUBb UVU V WUVVIH JUUt av U BC1VC you right if I Bent a bullet through your obstinate skull!' 'Well, said Billy quietly, 'its all a matter of teste. I suppose a man may go out 'possum shooting if he likes. ' Come, that's cool,'' replied Charley, with a rude laugh. ' Its a rum kind of 'possum you're after when you shoot a blackfellow by mistake.' But, said he, auddenly, ' where's your pal, the black I' ?' A couple of mile away by this,' responded the Birdcatcher. ' Betook the side of the range.' ' lack,' said the buahranger to one of two 'mounted men who had come up, ' send some of these black thieves to scour the ridges. We must have; his mate, or it's no use getting him. And as for you, my night-walking cove, if you don't want your head knocked in with a waddy, stick close to me,' And the cantion was not -needlessly given, for the blacks, who bad by this time gathered round them, were uttering loud cries of vengeance against Morouya and the Birdcatcher, and seemed inclined to venton the head of the latter the disappointment they felt at the escape of the former. It required all the command that the bushranger had obtained over his savage allies to prevent them from immolating the Bird catcher on the spot ; and it was only by promising them that be should be given up when Morouya was taken that he succeeded in temporarily appeasing them. Still, even thia promise would not aatisfy some, and many were the apcar-thrusts made at the Birdcatcher, from aome of which, even the thick cloth of hia heavy coat but barely sufficed to Bavc him. In this dilemma, surrounded by the savage threaten ing natives, they reached the camp. A kind of rude , gunya, or hut of bark, had been erected at a short distance from the group of fires, evidently for the accommodation of the white savages of the party. As the Birdcatcher, thus escorted, reached the camp, the first thing he noticed was a young black who stood leaning on his spear directly in the path. Ilis glistening eyes were fixed with an air of latent triumph in Billy's face, and the peculiar look more that aught eise had attracted the Birdcatcher's attention. Regarding him for an instant, Billy asked, ' What name!' ' Long Hick !' replied the youthful savage, with an outburst of wild triumph. ' Long Dick was a 'poacum in the apple tree when Morouya and the whites talked together by the big water-hole.' With unfeigned astonishment, the old man now gazed at the youth, and then resigned himself to his fate, though it was with a sigh for the inattentions that had allowed him to be out-manoeuvred by a stripling. He was now thrust into the gunys, a guard being left over him, whilst all the available men uf the force started oft in every direction in search of Morouya. Left to himself, Billy was able to look clearly into the position in which he was placed. From the first moment of liis capture he had not despaired, nor did he do eo now, and it had only been at the moment of bearing bow he had been ensnared that he had allowed himself to experience even the most transient feeling of regret. He knew that the blacks must soon depart on their expedition, and that it was then, if ever, was his only hope of escape. This idea naturally made him occupy his mind in calculating the probabilities in favour of his being left under guard at the eamp, or of being taken with the blacks on their foray. These thoughts, however, were cut short by_ the return of Beardy Charley and his associates. Their chaEe after Morouya had been fruitless, and they were in no very amiable mood. The first thing he aid on arriving was to order the Birdcatcher to be securely bound band and foot, uttering at the same time fearful imprecations against his prisoner, mixed with terrible threats of vengeance on him, should the ex pedition of the evening prove unsuccessful through information given by his black companion. Billy heard himwitkoutmaklng any reply ; the short period during which he was outside the tent was occupied in learning as nearly as possible the position of the fires that surrounded his temporary prison. He then resigned himself to Mb fate, and awaited in patience under the bark covering, into which he had egsin been thruBt, any accidentB that tnighf offer in his favour. Thus he lay, until at last he heard the blacks Resembled for the expedition. Full instruc - lions were given to them by the bushranger ; and with a feeling of satisfaction, Billy saw six men detach themselves from the dark group and dispose themselves in front of the gunya, as a guard to the prisoner. A eeventh black form had remained stretched by the fire in front of the robber's gunya, entirely heedless of all the bustle of preparation that was going on around. The bushranger perceived him, end said, — 'Hallo my snowball, we want you with us. ' Long Dick will watch,' said the young savage whom we have already described, scarcely raising his ' I telt you every man of the tribe will be wanted,' answered Charley. ' So come on.' 'Long Dick is the cunning 'possum. He hates the whites, and drinks their blood with joy. The kidney fat of the old man is Long Dick's. Long Dick will Willi an ejaculation of rage, the bushranger, who knew from experience the inability of attempting to argue with his hard-headed ana obstinate allies, mounted bis horse and rode off to join his fellows, leaving the black to act as he thought proper. All was soon silent in the camp. The black guardians of the Birdcatcher had each squatted hiinBelf before his fire. Thus they remained, motien lees as statues, their heads resting on their knees, and to all appearance buried in clumber. The Birdcatcher had remained perfectly still for some time, until the long -continued tranquility nppcared to favour the supposition that now his enemies might really be sleeping. Raising himself noiselessly to his feet, lie gradually approached the opening of the gunys. and peered forth. The first objects that caught his sight were the glittering eyes of the young black, fixed intently on him, though the body of the young savage remained motionless and rigid as though carved out of stone. Appearing not to notice the watchfulness of his face, the Bird catcher once more fell back within the hut, end again laid himself down. But very shortly after he had done so, there rose from the margin of the lake, the wailing cry ot the curlew, sounding mournfully through the stillness of night, and follswed by the hoarse note of the night liawk. Almost involuntarily, the Birdcatcher Btarted on hearing these sounds, which conveyed to him a signal known but to him and to one other. At the same time, however, Long Dick sprung to his feet and bounded out of the circle of fight made by the fires ; the same sound having alarmed him that had startled the Birdcatcher. With a penetrating eyo, he scanned the quarter whenee the sound had proceeded, hut all remained tranquil and calm. No sound was heard save the epla6h that followed the leap of some mullet in the lake, or the rattle of the leaves bb the opossums spotted amongst the branches of the gums ; nor could aught he seen save the wavering lines oi light reflected on the waters from the Btare above, or the lary circling of the bird of night, whose hoarse note had wakened the watchfulness of the youthful warrior. , With a half dissatisfied air, as though suspicious of he knew not what, Long Dick again equattei him self before the fire ; and instantly all was quiet as before. The Birdcatcher lay uith his senses on the alert and stretched to their utmost tension in order to discover soma farther evidence of the help which, he felt atsured, was now at hand. His policy was now to allay the suspicion of his guard ; so he not qniy remained perfectly motion less, but by Ms lone, heavy, and regular breathing,' hoped to make them believe that he was Boundly sleeping. Suddenly, and without so much sa a sound to warn him of what was about to be done, he felt a hand thrust through an interstice of the temporary wall of the gunya and clasping it, found that it was armed with an open knife. Without a moment's hesitation, he drew forth hia wrists, and one draw of the knife freed Ms hands. Then, taking the friendly inetiument from his preserver's hand, another . second saw his feet also free. This effected, he turned himself noisily over, bo as to be within reach of his gun. This' he had brought into the hut with Mm, I .. when first token prisoner, and it had since been over looked by Ms captors. At the movements thus made, Long Dick raised himself with a start, that plainly showed that he had been dozing ; and at once sprang

towards the gunys, and looked in. There was nothing there to cause him alarm. The steady breathing of his prisoner betokened sound repose, and the very noise that had been made in turning tended to allay suspicion. With renewed confidence, he once more squatted down, and in a short space his bowed down bead clearly evinced that fatigue had ovirpowered him. The Birdcatcher was on the watch, and no sooner did he perceive these symptoms than he com menced operations. Rising to his feet, he grsBped hia piece, then approaching the entrance of the hut, he took a rapid survey of the poiition of his guards. Without an instant's hesitation he then sprang forward ; passing ever the body of the young black, and letting fall the butt of hia musket heavily on the head of the youth, who was in the act of start

ing up. As he received the bio w, the savage uttered a yell of mingled pain and rage, and almost at the same instant, and roused by the cry, the six guards y ere on their feet. Uncertain far an instant, they had allowed their prisoner to gain many yards before they perceived what was taking place, and the direction their prisoner was purBuing. This, however, was not for long, and soon they were bounding along on the Birdcatcher's track. They had not gone a hundred yards, when suddenly a shot from a cluster of bushes on the margin of the lake, lsid the foremost amongst them low ; and then the tall form of Morouya was seen bounding forward from his ambush. Tomahawk in hand, he leaped upon his foe, and knocked down the first he encountered, almost without resistance. At the same time, the Birdcatcher finding his friend at hand, had turned upon his pursuers, shot down the first that came within range, and then, holding ids ground, coolly re-loaded his gun, in preparation for the next. But his enemies were, not prepared to meet a second discharge. A third had already fallen, after a brief resistance, brained by tjie tomahawk of Morouya, and the re maining two, finding themselves thus over-matched, precipitately took to flight. The Birdcatcher now hastily approached Morouya, and shook him warmly by the hand. ' Morouya,' he said, ' this is the second time you have saved my life.' ' Waugh ! It is nothing,' answered Morouya. ' The Barranjuecs are blind pups of the Warrigal. The Colos have no trouble in dashing out their brains. Bill has saved Morouya from worse enemies than the dull-cared Barranjuee*s. 44 Mavhp vnn'r#- riolit.' reanonderl the Rirdcateher.

' and we muat all give and take in the bush, in such times as these. For all that, a man can't help being thankful for the saving the life that God haB given him, no doubt for some useful purpose. But come, Morouya, it's time we looked out to see what's going . on at Wyong.' To this the black assented, and they at once hurried away over the ridges that divided Wyong from the lake ; and they had but barely reached the crest of the range, than the loud yells of the blacks, and the crack of the muskets told them that tlieir services were required. (To be continued.)