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Chapter NumberIX
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1927-03-16
Page Number22
Word Count2767
Last Corrected2019-05-04
Newspaper TitleSydney Mail (NSW : 1912 - 1938)
Trove TitleSons of the Seven Mile
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Sons of the Seven Mile An Australian Novel of

Country & City Life

by Zora Cross


He crouches ; and buries his face on his knees, And hides* in the dark of his hair; For he cannot look up to the storm-smitten trees, Or think of the loneliness there — Of the loss and the loneliness there. Henry Kendall. RUT the capture was not to be so easy. .Campbell well was no fool. Hr wounds dressed, lie was facing his people

*'''^ with terror in his eyes. A big, burly black, white people had educated him, and a certain hatred. of those who had taken his country had come over him to partly derange him. Hated and despised by the white people, long1 mocked by them, he had sworn to show them that he was one with whom they would have to reckon. Campbellwell had white man's ideas. But his people were poor and a dying race when the white man found them. The Yonga Barra tribe was the strongest of those yet loyal to him, for though there had been a time when he could summon a dozen tribes to help him attack an outlying selection, murder all its people, and kill or carry off the stock, burning the homestead down afterwards, there remained less than half a dozen -who cared to join him now.; Too many blacks had been shot down by troopers. Besides, their own people had turned against them. Black trackers hunted them out. The white man had won, as he always did, and they were a lost people among him. Campbellwell, physically a truly magnificent black, than whom, perhaps, the while man had known no more powerful, sat amid the council of older warriors, trying to persuade them that without his firearm he was yet as strong as ever. It was no use. Yongi, chief of the Yonga Barra tribe, who had always been jealous of Campbellwell. shook his head. It was not safe to run into the police, who obviously were hunting the bushranger, for he had been shot in several places. Weak from loss of blood, though grass and hot clay had temoorarilY staunched it, Campbelhvell was for the

attack. There is little doubt that had he been able to rouse them all their poisoned spears and nullas. well aimed, might have put the white men out of action quicker than they expected. But Campbellwell could do no cowing without, a gun. 'You lot. of raw worms!' he said to them between his teeth. 'You rot ten blacks! You're all better dead and forgotten. You've sold me. You've given me away!*' He always spoke to them in white man's language, though he spoke fluently all their different, dialects. He rose to take the lives of those who dared to prevent him from run ning bush, before the white men reached them. But now his people were terrified at the thought of what the white men would do to them if Campbelhvell got away. Young gins, with naked weakling piccaninnies asleep in the skins slung over their shoulders, or asleep as they clung piteously helpless to their hips, looked on the bushranger as a menace and longed to see him captured. The older gins wished to see him escape. Children, young boys and girls with no future before them, expecting none, thinking of none, looked over fires or pet dogs, or bits of sweet root they wTere chewing, wondering what was going to happen.

Campbellwell always got them plenty of food, good juicy meat, and the bush was full of bunyah nuts and wild nuts and hency. - 'Yah! yah! yah!' There was- a -great fire in the midst of the blacks, and tires had been lit all along the scrub to show7 the white men they. were friendly. Yongi wanted to bind Campbellwell. Campbellwell picked up a stone and crushed his head with it. It was his last brutal murder, and his last hope of escaping. the punishment awaiting him. 'If I get free and beat them,'' he said. 'Fin coming back to do that to you all.' 'Yah! yah! yah!' ? The wife of Yongi set up a wailing, picked up a stone axe and chopped her head with it until blood streamed over her face. . But Campbellwell they were afraid to touch as he half crawled to his horse, pulled himself into the saddle, and gave up his overlordship for ever. He could hear the white men coming as he urged his horse along the scrub track' known only to a few. He had to pass the spirit-haunted mounds of the dead and the burial place of .the. dead king of the Yonga Barra. He was only a black, and Fear is the god of the. black man. He knew he was caught; knew he was beaten. He could not. climb to his cave if he ever reached it. And, beating the track like a madman, urging, on his horse with the pointed goad that stung it to insanity, a leaf of the abominable nettle, the maddened animal dashed for his and ils -own death. But Campbelhvell was genius as well' as madman and murderer. He knew the horse would keep the track and make for the creek. If he would only swim that with him, providing he escaped -willi his own life, he could swing up by the liana to the lower cave and perhaps escape yet. But the pain from his wounds was growing in tense. Though his arm was numbed, something hurt in his back. A great desire to end his own life swepl over him. But he was afraid to do it.

'Ruth was taken from her horse and carried back to her hotel.'

CHAPTER X. 'Then the loneliness of the Infinite steals over the awe-struck bus-h.' A. Bayldon. MEANTIME the others had reached the camp. They were all there — Regan and Andy, Morgan, Casey, and Dave. Ruth looked down in something like . . horror at the spectacle before her, for she had never been so. close to the aboriginal before. How squalid the life of the black was she never could have imagined. An unhappy expression w*as on every face, and instinc tively she .drew her. horse nearer Dave. He alone could address the blacks. 'Where is he?'' lie asked in their own tongue. There was a murmuring and muttering from the assembled tribes Ihat filled Ruth with more terror. They seemed to her to wave their arms madly and wildly about, pointing and gesticulating towards the secret track. 'Ruth,' Dave said to her suddenly, 'be a good girl and go back to the Hill with Regan or Morgan.' 'No, no,' she protested, staring at the strange scene and then glancing wildly at him. 'No, I can't.' But Dave knew he must Iry to catch the bush ranger if possible before he readied the creek. 'You must. Ruth. Morgan!' he called. Morgan galloped up to him. Casey was with Mor gan. 'Casey, leave this to mo,' Dave said. 'Morgan, you take Ruth back to .Hillborough.' 'No, no, no fear,' they protested. 'We'll all be needed.' But Dave had his plan well thought nut. Some of them were to ride back to the Hill and take the river road for the Seven Mile and the Rocks. Campbellwell would be cut off thus on both sides. Dave wished to follow him alone, as the black would he likely to take the risk of attacking one when he would dodge many. Dave suggested Ihat he would chase the bushranger to the creek and hold him up while the others made a ring around him on all sides. If. was necessary for some fo stay where they were

for fear of tribal treachery, and also important that two troopers should hold the Humpy Mountain, as Camp belhvell might make for Palmerly's old haunt, in which case if he had pro visions and ammunition there, as Dave believed he had, he might evade them and get away to do more damage. Handling the situation like a chief among them, Dave rose on his horse and, singling out one of the Yonga ' Barra tribe, he cross-examined him. The man could speak a little English, and he knew enough of what Dave said to understand that death awaited him if he were mislead ing them. 'Campbelhvell gone. A good rid dance,' he said. The others swarmed their horses about Dave, who, amid the snortings and pawings of the animals, assured them again that it was best to waste no more time, but obey him and make the capture sure. 'Listen. Casey,' he said. 'You want the reward to catch him liv ing, don't you?' 'Yes,' Casey confessed. 'Well, he's quite capable of rob bing us of that and finishing his own life. I know him. He could dive to the bottom of Deepwater Creek and hold himself down there among the boulders till he drowned, and nothing on earth would get him up again. No grappling irons, nothing, would -get

him. Deepwater Creek is too deep. It's really a lake probably the remains of a volcano, as you know and the 'bottom has never been touched. But that black knows holes and- cornel's' of it where he could lie for ever. Understand?' They all nodded. They wanted to capture him alive. ' Some of- the gins were crowding; curiously about Ruth as the men made their plans. -They were'looking at her yellow hair, her cloak and slim feet that showed at the edges. One said to her, 'Gotten haccy?' 'No, no.' she replied in terror, wetting her lips. She seemed trapped. Dave was going off to follow the bushranger, and would not take her. She either had to remain here or go back to the Hill with Red Morgan. Dave rode up beside her and gripped her hand warmly. . 'Ruth, you'll be quite safe,' he said. 'I'll be with you in. the morning.' 'Oh, Dave,' she cried, ?clinging' to him, 'be care ful. If you tell me to go back I shal), but can't Charley or Andy take me back? I'm afraid of Morgan' -

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'Morgan will be needed in Hillborpugh- if Campbell well has had other tribes on the other side of the town near Parbury ready to raid the Hill with him. Go with Morgan.' 'All right, Dave.' She kissed him, and with a little cry saw him sweep away after the black, who now had a good start. Dave, however, wanted him to have that start. He would never suspect anyone of following the way Dave was following. J- 'Come: along-, Ruth, if you're ready,1.1 Morgan said ; and Ruth thought that even despite the danger of the occasion there was an ugly light of victory in Morgan's eyes. As she turned towards the road, glad to get away from the wild blacks' c'amp, she gave a last glance in the direction whence Dave had gone. Suppose Morgan, who had been:.such a friend of Flash Harry's, were also a friend of CampbellweH's! Casey had told them of the capture; of Palmerly, alias 'Flash Harry,' and his death. So Ruth had noth ing to fear from him. But this big, red-faced man at her side! She dared not look at him. 'Well, Ruth,' he said, when they had ridden a little in the direction of the Hill, 'so you tried to break away from me without finishing your night's work?' 'I had finished,' she replied angrily. 'Excuse me, you had not. You had not made -the rounds of the tables.' Ruth was silent. Then she said, 'I'll come back and finish any time you want.' 'But aren't you going, to marry Dave Markham?' 'Yes.' 'Wish you luck, Ruth. You've picked the best.' : She looked at him quickly to see if he were serious.

but t\yo' other riders, who were going to hold the road to Brisbane at the Hillborough Crossing, rode up beside them, and, to Ruth's intense joy, Morgan and she were no' longer alone. They rode on silently through the night lill Jeanie and Maggie, and those who had ridden out for Ruth's sake, met them. 'Thank goodness, oh, thank goodness you're safe!' .Teanie greeted them when she saw that Ruth was with them. 'It amazed Ruth that Jeanie should so quickly change, should be concerned at all about her welfare. ; 'What happened?' asked Maggie as the girls turned their horses. Morgan told them, and Jeanie looked suspiciously at Ruth. Once the excitement of knowing she was safe was over she felt aggressive towards her again. She even 'thought as they rode on, 'She's scored, as she always did.' But Ruth was thanking her warmly as she brought her horse beside Jeahie's.

'I can't tell you how grateful I am, Miss Markham,' she said. Jeanie half shrugged her shoulder, and replied shortly : 'I'd do the same for any woman.' Then she galloped on with Maggie, and Ruth stif fened Jn her saddle. She was not going to have a yery easy time with Jeanie. She wished' she were married to Dave and had him safely away from Hillborough. For she did not intend to spend her life in such a place, nor would slie give up her career for him. Since she was to marry him he must go where she wished. But' she was still trembling from the shock of the adventure, and wondering if Dave were in danger. .-*3?liey rode into the Mill, to be surrounded by hun dreds of anxious people. Cries of 'Did they get him?'— 'Have they got him?' — 'Is Ruth safe?' — 'Oh, here's Miss Duggan,' were heard from .all sides. 'No, they haven't got him,' Morgan said. 'Dave Markham's clxasing.him to the Rocks, and the others are surrounding1 him.' 'Dave's gone alone after him.' Jeanie cried. 'Oh, the fool! Why did they let him?' Rufji felt her face twitch with fright. 'Will they hurt him?: Will they kill him?' she ' asked. But she did not hear Jeanie's reply. SHOUTS of 'Three cheers for Ruth! Ruth's, safe! -Hurrah! Dave Markh'am's catching him. '-We'll '.have him in town to-night. Three cheers for Miss Duggan;' drowned out any reply. Ruth was taken from her horse and carried back to her hotel. Feeling sure that Dave Markham would bring the

bushranger in, everyone became excited. Though it was early morning a huge bonfire was built, and men, women, and even children roused from their bed to keep watch for the attackers, gathered about it singing and talking. Ruth came back to sing with them. Snatches of 'Darling, I Am Growing Old,' and 'Juanita,' and other popular songs filled the air. People took turns to sing, and sang choruses. Old Denny O'Keefe sang: 'If the queen she would agree To grant a man for every three, Happy, happy, would they be, Poor old ladies.' That was an old, old song even then. Ruth sang in her bravest way, keeping down the still terror in her heart: In Dublin sweet city, Where the girls are .so pretty, I first clapped my eyes

On sweet Molly Mai one. Where she wheels her barrow Through streets dark and narrow, Crying 'Mussels and cockles, alive, alive, oh!' A great roar of voices joined in the chorus. Riders had gone. out to the Seven Mile by this, and were forming a ring of men around the Rocks, where Campbellwell was known to come. Jeanie, feeling vicious towards Ruth again, , knowing that Dave had exposed himself to serious danger for -them all, had sent a horseman out to Mombea to warn her mother and father of the black's escape. In all directions riders were hurrying to tell lonely settlers that Campbellwell was at large, and for miles around the bush rang to the echo of horse's feet. {To be Continued.)