Chapter 166691380

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Chapter NumberXIII
Chapter TitleTHE RESCUE.
Chapter Url
Full Date1862-08-09
Page Number2
Word Count1915
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleSydney Mail (NSW : 1860 - 1871)
Trove TitleTales of Barranjuee. No. 1. Morouya, the Black Eagle of Colo
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(By the Author of « Yo-Yo,' « My Solidity, ' &c.)

No. I. MOROTJYA, THE BLACK EA.GLE OF C0).,0. Cuxi'Iku XIII. — The Rescue,

With steps bb stealthily u those of the wild cat when Healing on her prey, the liirdcatcher detcended the steep ridge, until they reached the portion of It lying opposite to that on which the blacks were camped ; then croFBiog the crown of the ppur, they gazed long end anxiously into the heavy mass of thicket that surrounded the water hole. They were now, low ever in a woree locality for judging of the disposition or force of the enemy, than they had been when mounted on the summit of the ranee, and were con

sequently forced to chooee by chance alone a di cc tion for their dcectnt. Ab if fortune had wished to favour them, they selected a point which, above all others, was best tutted for their purpose. A. little to their light a cattle track presented itself, and thig they well knew led down to the wawrhole having been worn by the frequent passage of the herds in dry seasons. Along this they determined to go, as a pathway was thus found for them through the thick jungle. Had this track not offered itself, it would have been, if not an impossible task, at all events one of considerable labour and patience, to have pierced through the dense brush so silently as to elude the vigilance of their subtle enemies.* Noiselessly threading this track, and pausing at each step to listen if any sound gave token of an alarm, the two bushmen gradually approached the camp; and at last, having crawled on their hands and knctn, through an intricate and dense under growth, they found on raising themselves up partially, that they were directly in a line with tt.e large, or whitefellow's fire, whose flames, as they looked on tach other, were reflected from the black countenance (A the one, as well as from the embrowned visage of the other. The track had led them to the very edge of an immense boulder ot rock, bujiod in the earth on the upper side, but presenting a smooth face in the direction of the fire. This tace was about twelve feet in height, and from its smoothness only to be descended by a leap. Such a leap would, ot course, have been nothing ot itself ; but as it could not be peiformed so quietly as to dccelve the quick ears of the sleeping savages, it was not to be attom/ited. ThecMtle track wound round the back of the rock, but had been cut and worn by the heavy rains into a rough and broken channel, in which stones, sticks, leaves, and portions of rock had so accumulated mat the impossibility of descending there without alarm- j ing the enemy was tacitly admitted. Immediately on ptrctiving their propinquity to the fire the two companions had crouched to the earth, their chief care being not to give an alarm to their foe until all their depositions had been properly taken. To enable him to form a judgment how to act, the liirdcatcher crawled to the edge of the rock to recon noitre. The first object that caught his eye on 1 joking over was Jane, She was lying immediately below, at the foot of tho reek on the top of which he was placed ; and appeared to be enjoying a calm and pojco tul slumber. Between her and the fire rrposed, in various atti tudes, about a dozen dark figures; whilst frC-iUurtj i around were about twice thatuumber of small smoul dering fires, each marking the spot where a black lay sleeping. All this was noted in an instant. The whole scene, and the exact position of cach of the slceperB were taken in, at that one glance, and fixed indelibly on the memory of the JJirdcitcher. As silently as he approacked he withdrew, and pointing to Morouya with a gesture to take up the position he had himself first left, he crawled as noiseleisly and imperceptibly as a snake, back along the track by which he had arrived, and in a few seconds was lost sight of. Morouya gave a sign of assent, intuitively divining his companion's intention, then taking up trie position jutt vacated by the Birdcatcher, he laid himself at length along the edge of the rock, with his musket ready cocked and presented towards the foe. In this position he remained with stoical patience for upwards of a quarter of an hour, pleased with the adeptncBs in bush craft that his companion evinced, since despite his most vigilant attention, the Bird catcher's movements through the bush were inaudible. Suddenly, from a short distance higher up the gulley than the rock on which Morouya wm watching. R bush waB observed to be gently agitated, then its boughs parted, and the Birdcatcher stole for ward into the circle of red light formed by the embers of the no w expiring fire, and stood erect. Advancing rapidly, yet still with the utmost care and caution, he made for the spot where Jane was lying. A quick, hurried glance was cast around in order to discover the whereabouts of the bushrangers, who, he believed, were also in this party. Somewhat puzzled at not discovering them, he did not let this cause him the least irritation. On reaching the spot where the young girl was flteping, his first act was to ensconce hinuelf behind the bank which had been provided for ner shelter. Having executed this manoeuvre without in any way disturbing the slumbers of his easily-awakened neigh bours, he ihrutt his hsnd between the bark, and laid it lightly on the maiden's shoulder, at the same time venturing to utter in the lowest possible tone, the one word ' Jane.' Low as was the whimpered sound, the startled girl at once awakened at the accents of a friendly voice, looked round her half-bewildered, and then, seeing only the black forms of the aborigines and the wild fcufch around her, imagined that she had been dreaming, and once more disposed herself for sleep. Scarcely, however, had she again reclined, than again the same whisper was heard. 'Jane!' it said, 'For heaven's sake don't move, but listen to me quietly 1 Get up with as little noise as you can, and take only one step from the gunya. Be'firm, and leave all to me, bon't be surprised or alarmed at anything.' Jane listened in amazement, the words having been spoken in b low tone so as barely to reach her cars, did not allow her to recognise the voice ; but her heart told her that there was friendship and protec tion in the sound, and thus she resolved to truit her unknown adviser. Disembarrassing herself carefully of the opossum cloak in which she had been wrapped, she managed, without disturbing her guards, to gain her feet, and then to step out beyond the cover of the bark. Here she looked round with doubt and anxiety for her rescuer, and her heart beat with joy, when the well known form of the Birdcatcher rose from behind the bark. Hardly, however, had she time to recognise him than, impressively placing his fingers on his lips as a caution to silence, he raised her in his arms as if she had bees an infant, and made toward the lower part of the partially cleared space that formed the camping ground. Only & dozen paces more would have brought him within the shelter of the bush, but, just as he reached the margin of the friendly cover, em barrassed by his fair burden, lie trod upon a loose uneven stone, and nearly fell. He recovered himself, but not before he had given the alarm to one of the blacks who had been sleeping before the fire. Aroused by the noise, the savage sprang to his feet, and, catching sight of the fugitives just as they entered within the cover of the bush, comprehended in an instant what was taking place. Uttering a wild shriek as a warning to bis fellows, he darted after them, but had not made a half-dozen paces when a fla6h and a report proceeded from the rock, and with a yell of agony he fell quivering upon the sward. His warning cry, had, however, roused the tribe, for with tho sound they had simultaneously started up from their slumbers. The crashing of the boughs, as well as the direction their comrade was taking, showed them the course they were required to take, but as yet unaware of what had occurred, they for a moment hesitated. The next instant the shot from their rear that had laid their fellow low, diverted their attention from the pursuit. The Birdcatcher was thuB able to make good his retreat. Diving into the bushes lower down the gulley, he at length reached a secluded nook in the bed of the watercourse ; and here be deposited his half-fainting burden, beneath the shelter of a natural cave, in which she could remain in safety and undis covered. Having thus provided for his charge with the true spirit of the buslbman, he returned to the succour of his companion, whose well-timed shot had so well seconded his daring escape. The vengeful tricks of the blacks and the occasionally dropping fire told him that the struggle had commenced, and Knowing how much assistance a single arm could give, he had seated Jane beneath the corner of the cave, had covered her with his coat, and telling her to remain quiet and motionless until his return, had set off to lend his aid towards effecting the rout of the savages. But scarcely had he left her more than a few. minutes, than a rustling in the scrub 8t the side of the cave alarmed the young girl, and turning her head in that direction, she encountered a sight calculated to fill a stouter heart than that which beat in her woman's breast, with terror. Pale and livid as animated corpse, his whole attire bedabbled with blood, she beheld the villanous coun tenance of Diok Watson thrust through the bushes, The spear that had struck him still tiansficsd his

body though a portion of it had he-en broken otf in the fall that followed upon the wild spring he had given on receiving the wound. Notwithstanding the excruciating agony he suffered in dragging himself along, his features wote an expression of miliii'iant liiutnph and gratified revenge. Slowly and painfully he dragged himrelf along, an open knife in the hand that scarce had power to grasp it. Completely fascinated by this frightful speclre, Rstlic tnoughtit, that thus ro-e up before her Trim the very earth, Jane could find power neither to scream nor move, but like the poor bird within the charmed power of the snake, she remained breath less and palpitating, ready to fall an easy victim to the aBSiutin, if he retained life enough to reach her. Thoughts of vengeance seemed, however, to give renewed life to liu,bs which but a short time beiure were almost pnHkd by death ; and th^ nearer he ap proached her the more strength he seemed to acquire for his deadly purpose. And now it needs hut to take one other step, and his victim is within hii retch, fainting, prostrate, unresisting. (To be concluded tit cur next.J