|Newspaper Title||The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 - 1947)|
|Trove Title||Barumba Station; Or, Amy River's Sacrifice. A True and Eventful Narrative of the Early Days in New South Wales|
, BOW STATION ; OR, HKjtfRivers Sacrifice. y \u . -
: \ f'Tm and Ewntfnl Harratlw op the fellRLT MIS IN NEW SOOTH WILES.
BY CAPTAIN IACIE.
j'l Coftbioht Bssestxd. V< CHAPTER XII.
. ,v As soon as Senior-constable Flood . and his four men had left the stable, and keeping it between themselves and bouse were making for the shelter of the scrub, Halpin opened fire on the house chiefly with a view of distracting the attention of those within from the
action he was taking. It was possible a chance shot might take effect on the foe, he thought, though the strong waits made the supposition improbable. Lynch returned the fire, and a peculiar „ ' incident occurred in dciug so. Flood's party had almost reached the' edge of the forest, which extended round the clearing, when the leader re ceived a stunning blow on the back ef the head. Thinking one of his fol lowers had accidentally struck him with a musket, Flood turned round half- . 'dazed and just in time to notice some thing roll at his feet Picking it up he was intensely surprised to find it was a bullet partly flattened, and for an in stant he was inclined to believe an am bush was near him. The idea quickly vanished, as he realised the bullet was a spent one; and he concluded it must 4>ave come from the homestead where the foe was keeping up a desultory fire. This was actually the case, and the missile must have gone through both ' walls of the stable and then traversed ! a distance of nearly four'hundred yards before it struck Flood. This was ac counted for easy enough, as the thick slabs which formed the walls of the stable were not well joined and the tor nado had, to some extent, increased the openings. The bullet, by a lucky chance, must have entered the barn and left it either through the chinks or so near them it met the thin parts of the «labs and easily passed through. It is only mentioned as a curious instance of ' a man having a narrow escape from -death — as with a little more force the -bullet would have pierced Flood's brain — and the belief held by many persons that " every bullet has its billet," would have been verified. It took the party under the senior- constable quite an hour to reach the western side of the forest which inter vened between the homestead and the 7 clearing, and he took up a very strong position near the cleared space. In daylight there would be no difficulty .and Httle danger in exterminating the - party should they be imprudent enough its leave the shelter of the house ; but Flood knew well enough they would not be so simple, and if he came in conflict with the outlaws at all it would be ip the darkness of night That would be a very different matter alto gether, and he could get little, if any, advantage over them. His instructions -were to lie in concealment and not to betray the presence of the ambush by firing, except he was attacked. . During the day a steady fussilade was maintained from the stable, but Major Halpin had no common foe to contend against and they easily saw through the ruse he was trying to work on them. They knew well enough he desired to convey the impression all bis force was in the stable and from that direction and that alone would a rush be made. Halpin had, in fact, arranged in his own mind to give the outlaws a chance of coming into the open. He would allow tbem one night in which to show their hand, and if they still remained in the house he would storm the place from at least three separate directions. His strong . objection to doing so was the probable loss of life it would occasion; but still he could not remain on the watch besieg ing those within for days or possibly. . weeks. A great disadvantage he labored under was want of food. The rations .carried by the party would not last more tfcfl«„ twenty -four hours longer, , and under ite circumstances he could - not well order the men to kill sheep or cattle, dress and cook them, when every one was required at his post. So the day wore on, Lynch and his - comrades exchanging an occasional shot at the stables in reply to the fire there from. At sunset Laurie left his post in ; .. the bigjoom to have a . talk with , the ' - - " -chief, and as "he was passing out Cos- grove, who had been silent nil day, asked him who the attackers were, and if Rivers was amongst them: Strange to say the mission on which the bush rangers had come to the station and in . which Laurie was so vitally affected did not recur to the young man during the day, and he started as Cosgrove asked (the question. I " I don't know who they are, except constables. There- was one man in ordinary dress like those fellows," and Ihe painted to the two bound servants, I" and it may have been Rivers. I don't (know him- by sight — at least I have never seen him,'' he answered. - , "That must be Ted Willis, who left here with Rivers, then," replied the old . |«aan. " I don't think the young spark intended to return here from what I could see. He was quite differently idtessed to him you describe." . | . Cosgrove had a reason for trying to persuade Laurie his foe, Rivers, had mot come back with the party. If the outlaw really thought he was with Halpin he would doubtless do some- (thing desperate to obtain the much- (sought vengeance, and it might lead to - serious consequences to all.. The Uooner the outlaw cleared out of the . > . .(homestead the better it woild be, tor
inconvenient was his position, and that' a little contretemps might end in a tragedy. Without replying Laurie went to the north room, and, forgetting for the time his idea about Rivers, asked Lynch what he purposed doing. "We must get out of here the mo- ;ment it is dark enough. We couldn't 'keep up this kind of business long, and it is more than likely they will set fire to the place during the night in order to root us but. If they do it will be awkward for us, as in the firelight they can easily shoot us down, while we will have little chance of replying. We'll make straight for the guiiy near the big hill about half-past eight. You can be ready by that time, and we will go to the room and out that way," came the reply. "Wouldn't it be wiser to go the eastern way and then turn towards the mountains. Almost for a certainty the way leading to the west will be watched and we will run into a trap," returned Laurie. " Not at all: If we go eastward we will fall into the trap. It will be in that direction the ambush will be placed as it will be expected that road is the one likely to be chosen by us. We must arrange some way to burn down the homestead. The more trouble and annoyance that can be inflicted now the better," replied the chief. " Why not put some of the arsenic in the tea or on the food before we leave ? They are sure to be half-starving when they come in, and that will soon wipe them out," interjected Thomas. " We might as well repay them in their own coin." " Oh, no, not that Some of these fellows may be old friends of ours from the Goulburn district, and if we carry out Jack's idea of burning the house that cannot be done,"- objected Laurie. " How will we manage about old Cos- grave and the other two if we use fire ?" he added. " Let Cosgrove burn. He deserves nothing better. As for the others it will -be easy enough to set them free. They cannot do us harm, so far as I see, except to tell those fellows who and what we are. It will do them no good," answered Lynch, with warmth. "If I thought Rivers was amongst tbem, Jack, nothing would prevent me making a night attack on the party somehow. From what Cosgrove says he must have gone on to Goulburn, j slowly answered Laurie. "Don't be a fool, Bill, It would mean certain death to act as you say, and he would have the laugh at you properly then. There is a time and place for everything, and this is neither the one nor the other. We may have a better chance of dealing with your friend in a day or two perhaps. It will be their duty to follow us to the ranges if we get clear off, and then we will be on more equal terms. Up to the present we have done very well, I think, but amongst the mountains we could sweep tbem away in very little time," answered' Lynch. The advice Was the best possible under the circumstances, and Laurie was persuaded to put the ideas regard ing Rivers out of his mind for the time being. Indeed, the situation of the men was in a manner desperate. Sur rounded by nine well armed andresolute men with three others inside the house, who only wanted the opportunity to become active foes, it did not seem clear how the quartette could hope to get away without a desperate struggle. Had Halpin known a little more about bush-fighting than he did, perhaps the men would have had a hopeless struggle. As it was chance had to de cide the matter. As soon as darkness began to ap proach arrangements were made for setting fire to the structure. A large quantity of the most inflamable ma terials were piled up in the inner room and a cask of tallow, from the store thrown over it. By eight o'clock every thing was in readiness Vor a flare up, and soon after that hour the question of what was to be done with the pri soners "was discussed. Lynch was al most obstinate in his refusal to allow Cosgrove's life to be spared, but at last Laurie got his way — as he invariably did — and it was decided to give him the same privilege as the others. " Just as we are about to go they can be sent out of the house towards the stables to their friends and we will go away to the west While they are en tertaining our friends yonder with the story of our doings we can be getting away quietljr towards our camp," sug gested Laurie. " I'll be quite agreeable to that, for the constables will be sure to shoot them as they approach. They will think it is us who are making an at tack," laughed Lynch. " We can't help what the other side does. If they kill, let them. The men will have to take their chance, and should be thankful we have given them the opportunity. It is not everyone in our place who would do so," replied Laurie. This idea meeting with the mews of all, the young man went to the captives and informed them what the intention was. " We are going to fight' here to the last, and, as you have no concern with the trouble, it is best you should get away. Your cords will be taken off now, and there will be no trouble in reaching the stable where your friends are. If not, you will probably be shot down when the attack is made on the house," he added. The men were grateful for the favor shown them, and Laurie did not forget to impress on Cosgrove the fact that it was owing to bis intercession his life had been spared. The old man did not take the news in a very kindly spirit, but only inquired, in a complain ing way, why the party should have such a "down" on him. To this Laurie did not reply, but led the men to the back door and they stepped out into the darkness. Fortunately for the two employees Cosgrove had sufficient .sense not to go directly to the stables, ykfrkndaJfif.the rj.?_k tjjqy
ran he piloted them towards the east.! Indeed, even then he fully expected to' be the mark for a bullet, and he drew a long breath of relief when the forest' was reached and they sought shelter im a thicket to wait for daylight. They could riot have been at the: place twenty minutes when the solitaryl glass window which faced in their direc- tion appeared to be illuminated. Byi some oversight the inside shutter which covered it was not in position, and the. glare from the interior was brightly noticeable through it "They must have set fire to thei house," Cosgrove whispered to his com-l rades, " though why they should do sol I can't understand." I As they regarded the ever increasing! light a tongue of flame shot through the roof, and as it found vent the roar ing fire fed by the combustible materials' below spread over the building. | For a few moments they looked atl the weird scene, and then as the sound of several shots rose on the night air to- the westward Cosgrove jumped to his feet and exclaimed : j " They are making for the mountains and have been intercepted. Come with me; it is our duty to help in secur-| ing them !" | If he expected the two men to aid in| the attack he was woetully mistaken, for one of them replied : "You may go yourself if you like, but I'll not. Those fellows could have killed us if they cared to, and because they spared your life more than once you want to kill them ; besides, what! could we do without arms?" j His companion cordially approved' of his answer, and Cosgrove was left to. go alone if he pleased or stay. Re-1 cognising he would be risking his life! and not be in a position to assit, hei decided to remain where he was. j From the frequent shooting which! was going on to the west ot the home stead, it was clear a desperate combat- was being waged, and such was the) case. It seems when the three captives| bad gone from the house the outlaws at once set fire to the material piled in the inner room, and a few minutes later they slipped through the shutter which covered an aperture to the south ward and commenced to make their way towards the gully mentioned by Lynch. This was densely wooded and led direel to the gorge which they wished to reach to enter the camping ground. The night was intensely dark. The stars were obscured by heavy thunder clouds, and as the men moved it almost seemed as if a black wall confronted them. Knowing as they did the sur roundings so well, they were able to slowly make their way to the edge of | the clearing and escape the numerous j obstacles, such as posts, fences, &c., . which lay between: In this manner they got to the scrub, but as they reached it a bright jet of flame shot through the roof the house. ! It did not illuminate so for as they were;; but, knowing it would be the signal o£) their flight, they went on more quickly! in order to put as great a distance as! possible between themselves and theirl possible pursuers. Thomas was a few! yards in advance of the others, and he! was moving as noiselessly as possible,! when a dark form rose up before him. i At the moment he thought it might be, a bullock or a horse ; but instantly human voice whispered : " Is that you, Mick?" The answer was swift and awful. With the rapidity of a lightning flash Thomas pulled the trigger of his weapon and a bullet sped through the luckless man's body. The jet of flame as well as the report of the rifle drew! attention to the shooter, and in a couple of seconds two bullets were aimed in the direction. One of them struckl Thomas in the side inflicting a painfull but not fatal wound, whilst the other) whizzed past Laurie, who was close be-i hind. 1 In a moment the fight was general,! The outlaws had stumbled on the party ambushed, under Senior -constable; Flood, and the struggle was an even' one as there were four on each side,! though the bushrangers were not awarel of the fact. Laurie and Gibson dis-i charged their weapons in the direction; whence the last two shots came, and at; the instant Lynch glided to their side and whispered : "Make for the lagoon in the flat. Let us meet there as soon as possible and separate now. If not they will alt be down on us. Finding Thomas was; wounded he caught him by the arm, and, taking no notice of the shots which were being fired almost at ran dom by the constables, the two moved off rapidly through the gloom-en-i shrouded scrub and were soon beyond! the range of bullets, In fact, the men under Flood were' in a desperately excited state and not1 at all inclined to maintain the attack if! it were possible to avoid the contest i It is bad enough to engage in a death' struggle with lethal weapons in' broadi daylight, but darkness adds tremend-i ously to the horror of the situation. The men, after discharging their mus-, kets, huddled together momentarily ex pecting an attack ; but it did not come.1 For some minutes they were too! frightened to load the weapons, as thei sound might draw the enemy's fire on, them. They quite believed the bush-i rangers were in a similar position toi ' their own, and the sound of Halpin, and his men coming to their relief wasi a welcome one. When the reinforcements arrived the homestead of Barumba Station was! blazing furiously and the whole clear-! ing was illumined. Even where thej fight had taken place object could bei distinguished, and with the added, strength a search was made in the; scrub. It only resulted in the finding' of the body of the constable shot by Thomas through his incautious query,, and, recognising the folly of attempting pursuit on such a night, Halpin ordered, the men back to the burning house. ' j " We may be able to save something., Carry back the body, Flood, and I'll goj tllQad," he said. . A® .