|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|
©ARDIBA STATION ; OR, Amy River's Sacrifice.
fi Trao and Eyentful Narratlye ' of toe EARLY DAYS IN NEW SOUTH WALES.
JBT CAPTAIN LA cm
The four men, Lynch, Laurie, Gib son and Thomas, held a secret meeting and they pledged each other to carry on .the illicit work and equally share the results whatever they might be. They also took a formal oath of fidelity and bound themselves under severe
penalties to be true to each other. A little gang of conspirators was in short formed, and the object was to loot the station and rob the employer. Many similar bands were in existence in other parts of the colonies at the time. The meeting was held in the begin ning of August, 1846, and for three months all went quietly enough. Two >or three vessels had called in to the bay and these had been supplied with .stolen sheep and cattle, but the quan- tities taken were comparatively small. On the 26th of October John Lynch Was sent to the port as a vessel was ex pected from Sydney by the manager of the Barumba Station with stores. When Lypch; got down to the jetty there was a craft lying alongside it, and, feeling . assured it was the small brig with the stores, he went over to it. He quickly found it was a craft bound for Melbourne from Sydney, but there were no articles aboard for the station. In consequence of heavy weather the vessel had been run in for shelter and not for trade purposes. The skipper was a saturnine individual named Benson, and he was pleased to meet 'Lynch and talk to him about , the district inland. The cunning boundary-rider soon took the measure of the visitor, and at length he said : " Why don't you try a little trading on your own account? I suppose you will never make a fortune working for a salary." " I am part owner of the vessel," re plied Benson, looking rather proudly at the tub-like outlines of the brig, " and am always willing to trade if it comes in my way. What is there in this district to carry off?" " Sheep and cattle. If you got them cheap no doubt you could dispose of them in Melbourne at a price. It is better than going into port half empty," , answered Lynch. The skipper looked hard at the man before him, and the returned glance he N received spoke volumes to him. He was too well acquainted with the colony and its customs not to be fully aware what the purport of Lynch's offer meant, but so long as the enterprise proved profitable he was not concerned about its morality. " I can take some cattle and sheep on board, .but only a limited number. Fortunately, there is some chaff and hay in the hold, and it will last say twenty-five head of cattle and a hun dred sheep until I reach Melbourne. 'Can you sell that number and have .them here by morning ?" he asked. " Yes. You can get them to-night, ar.d if the wind is favorable you can set off without delay. They will be down here between five and six this evening, and, as for the price, we will not quarrel about that. You understand that, of course ?" responded Lynch. "Perfectly. By the way, is there a large supply in this district? If so I wouldn't mind making a special trip here with food and filling up for Syd ney. I could easily take two hundred head of cattje and some sheep. There would not be much risk, I suppose?" said Captain Benson. ' Lynch mused for a few moments for the proposition of making a special trip was one which had not occurred to him before. The more he pondered over it the clearer became the fact that the idea was a good one. Instead of dab bling in the illicit trade, as it were, and multiplying the risks thereby, the pro posal. made by Benson would be in finitely preferable. It would be much . safer, for having such an ally it would be to his interest to minimise the danger in every possible way. The result, from a monetary standpoint, would also be most satisfactory. In that one trip more money would be cleared than by a year's peddling with-,various callers, anyone of whom might betray them to; the manager. . "Your proposal is a good one," Lynch at length said. " The risk is a mere nothing, for the brands on some of the cattle are almost grown out; but, 'even if they are noticed, who is to prove .the manager did not send them to Sydney for sale? My friends and I can easily get the number you state, and if you will give me an idea of the time you are likely to return here every thing will be in readiness for you." " Then, it is settled. I'll bring back the necessary food for the animals, and with the 'crush' yonder there will be 110 difficulty in loading them. I will not be back until the end of November, so you can keep a look out for me about then. Is there anyone hereabout iwho might inform on us ?" asked the captain. I " None. They are all barred with .with the same brush and v/e need not j be the least afraid of being interfered :with. If old Mpncton, our manager, 'suspected the plan he would move heaven and earth to defeat it, but we will take good care he hears nothing about it I'll go back now and get what I promised you," returned Lynch. " Cotne on board and have a glass of grog. I've got some good stuff there and ypujiiti hgye .a jar to drink my
health in with your friends. Why donit you start a whisky still in these moun tains ? Whisky would sell even better than beef or mutton ;" and Phillip Ben son laughed heartily as he led his new found friend and fellow-plotter on board where he was duly regaled, and shortly afterwards left for the station. Punctual to his promise Lynch and Laurie returned to the brig that even ing with the agreed number of cattle and sheep, and the latter became quite as friendly with Benson as Lynch had been in the morning. Without doubt the skipper of the brig was a dangerous man and one likely to proceed to ex tremes in the pursuit of wealth. As soon as the animals had been placed on board he called the two men into the cabin, and said : "Now we have made a start with this business the best thing we can do is to go right through with it. How much stock have you on the station al together?" "About fifteen hundred head of cattle, big and little, and somewhere near twelve thousand sheep and fifty odd horses, I believe," answered Lynch. "Then a few hundred will not be missed until the muster takes place. What I wish to say is this : If the ship ment to Sydney on my return proves successful, why should we not go into the business fully and take two or three cargoes of cattle and sheep ? On the last trip you could come with me if you pleased, for in .the end discovery must be made and it might be rather awkward for you. That, however, is a matter entirely for your own consideration. If you prefer to stay and face the conse quences — and, indeed, it might be best as I don't sec what anyone could prove against either of you — it will be as you wish ; if not, then my ship is at your service. If we all share the profits we must also take part in the risk, and I am quite willing to bear my share," spoke Captain Benson. " We need scarcely go into that phase of the question now. For my part I am strongly in favor of the course you suggest. It is as well to be hanged for a sheep as a lamb, you know, and we will be fools if we don't make hay when the sun shines. It will be easy enough to blind old Moncton for a few months, and when mustering time comes he will have a good deal to account for if all goes well. What do you say, Bill ?" Lynch asked. "Just what you have said, Jack. Now we have started this game let us go into it as we should do. I don't believe in doing anything by halves. If we make enough money there will be no necessity to beg our bread, so to speak, from a fellow like Moncton or Booth either. I'm thoroughly with you," an swered William Laurie. It will be seen by this that Laurie had changed considerably in his feel ings during the past few months. The descent to avernius is proverbially easy, and once having embarked on a career of wrongdoing the young man. was ready and willing to pursue it to the end. After receiving fairly liberal payment for the stolen sheep and cattle, the two left Captain Benson and returned to wards the station. They had scarcely done so when the skipper ordered anchor to be weighed, and, setting sail, the brig " Penelope " began to move out of the harbor in the gathering dark ness. It would have been awkward if James Moncton, manager of Barumba Station, happened to stroll to the jetty and saw the livestock on board, or, for that matter, anyone else who was not concerned in the conspiracy and could recognise the brands on the animals. Captain Phillip Benson was aware the unexpected sometimes happens, and he was determined not to be taken by surprise in his first attempt at cattle- lifting, or rather receiving. Lynch and Laurie had no such fears. They knew Moncton was at least ten miles away from the coast when they drove the cattle down to the ship, and it was that knowledge which induced Lynch to have the cattle loaded that night. Gibson and Thomas were also in the secret, and arrangements were made with them which would prevent the possibility of surprise. It was eight o'clock when the two men reached the homestead and Monc ton had not yet returned from his west, ward trip towards the ranges. Cos- grove, the inside man of all work, had the evening meal arranged for them in the big apartment, which was used as a kitchen, dining and general room. Gib son and Thomas had anticipated their comrades by a couple of hours, and they were anxious to learn how the two had succeeded in the nefarious work. So soon as they were served Cos- grove said he would go to the opposite side of the building, where the mana ger's quarters were, and prepare for his return ; and as the four men were glad to be rid of his presence they offered no opposition, but on the contrary ex pressed their willingness to do any little work necessary. " The old fool is always in the way only he doesn't know it," growled Thomas when the cook had left. "Well, how did you manage this evening ?" ho added, turning to the subject. "Very well indeed. We netted ninety pounds, and I may as well divide it at once. Let me see, four into ninety ? — ah, yes, we each take £22 10s. This is the biggest haul we have yet made, but there is better luck still in store for us," spoke Lynch, as he proceeded to count the money. His companions were engrossed in this occupation when Cosgrove returned down the passage to the door, and he was about to enter when he noticed the handful of money which Lynch held and the pile on the table. He was wearing slippers at the time, so that his footsteps were not heard, and when he noticed what was proceeding inside the man stopped and almost instantly with drew to a position where he could not be seen by those in the room. "Where on earth did they get all that money?" he muttered. "Yes, they are dividing it amongst'themselvcs, . There is something crooked goipg '
I'll warrant. One, two, three, four- just a lot for each." He stopped muttering, for he could just faintly hear Lynch saying : " There you are, lads, take your shares and see if I counted it right. There should be £22 xos. in each lot, and you had better put the money out of sight in case that fellow comes back. We don't want him spying about, for he tells Moncton everything and some times things that don't happen. Our next haul will be worth having, you may rest assured. It will be ten times more than this, and in six months we should all be independent of this miser able work. I may as well tell you what we have done." At this point the speaker lowered his voice, and, strain his ears as he might, the disappointed listener could not catch the import of the communication which Lynch made to his companions. As the reader already knows, it was an explanation of the proposal made by Captain Benson, and both Gibson and Thomas fell in with the idea readily as they were both prepared to go to ex tremes in the work of cattle-stealing, and such an unlimited market as the proposal would give them was exactly what they wanted. For a quarter of an hour the four men earnestly discussed the matter, whilst Alfred Cosgrove remained near the door anxiously striving to catch suf ficient of the conversation as would enable him to penetrate the secret of the conspirators. At length a move ment in the room, which showed the plotters were about to separate, caused him to retreat in the direction of the manager's quarters where he found Moncton had just returned. Cosgrove and Moncton had been as sociated in station-work for nearly six teen years — long before the Barumba run was thought of. They had no secrets from each other — and, indeed, the manager had every reason to treat his subordinate in the most confidential manner. On one occasion, seven years previous to the opening of this narra tive, Cosgrove had saved Moncton's life. The latter had been thrown from his horse whilst riding in one of the out paddocks of a station near Braidwood, and whilst unconscious six aboriginals came across him, and, thinking the man was asleep, they proceeded to spear him. At a critical moment Cos grove made his appearance, and so wrath were the blacks at being dis turbed that they turned their primitive weapons on the intruder, who received a nasty spear-thrust in the left leg which so injured one of the sinews that ho never had the full use of the limb after wards. For that reason Cosgrove had to accept indoor work, and, being of an easy-going disposition, he took kindly enough to his new life. With the cook, therefore, the stern manager unbent and assumed his most affable manner, for he did not forget past services. 1 "Well, Alf, what have you got to eat? I'm fearfully hungry after my long ride," Moncton said, with a slight Gaelic accent. He had been so long in the colony that the rugged dialect of his native land was smooth and softened by contact with other nationalities. Without replying Cosgrove, who ap parently was not only cook but waiter as well, spread out a substantial repast before the hungry man who, without ceremony, fell upon it and showed that advancing years had not impaired his appetite. The, manager was nearly sixty years of age, whilst Cosgrove was some five winters his junior. The rough life of the early settlers had left its im press on them. " What is the matter with you, Cos grove ? You are pretty silent this even ing," asked Moncton, at last looking up from the table. " I'm afraid there is something wrong going on. Why don't you try and get married men here instead of the young fly-away dare-devils you have now ? Depend upon it, you'll have nothing but trouble until you have men settled down with wives and families. Men who would think twice before doing anything which might send them to gaol !" answered Cosgrove. The manager laughed — actually laughed — as he said1: " This is no place to bring women and children — besides, I must take those whom Booth sends. The young fellows here are as good a set as ever I met with. Laurie and Lynch are perhaps the two best riders in the colony, and they all do their work' well. My experience is that married men are as liable to get into trouble as single fellows, and when they do they come whining for mercy qp account of wife and children. I'm quite satisfied with the present staff, Alf. Have they been doing anything to you ? If so tell me and I'll soon put a stop to it." " No ; they keep me at a distance, or I keep them. I don't know what it is. To-night, though, I saw them dividing a lot of money. I think each of the four had £22 10s., and I'm puzzled to think where it could have come from. There is a screw loose somewhere, and my duty is to tell you. They have a plot on hand as sure as I'm alive but I couldn't hear what it was. Lynch laid down the law in the matter, and it was he who divided the money," responded , Cosgrove, slowly. " Divided the money, eh 1 There is something in that perhaps, though it may be none of our business. We are not supposed to know what their private means are. It may be the savings which Lynch has hoarded up for years and is now lending out to his comrades for some purpose or other— at any rate, we must go cautiously. If you really think they are scheming or plotting we must say nothing but watch for our chance to expose them. The only thing they can do is clear out, and that would not be a very serious calamity. The quarter's wages is not due for six weeks and they wouldnot be so foolish as toleave until then. Wemust watch them and if I suspect they intend to leave I will hold the money back . and check mate them. I sent Lynch down to the port to-day, and I'll go and see what, news he has," said Moncton. >' .$0 BE CONTINUED,))