|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|
BARDMBA STATION ; OR, Amy River's Sacrifice.
I True and Eventful Narrative op th2 EARLY DAYS IN HEW SOUTH WALES.
8T CAPTAIJY LAG IE.
Ooftbioht Rsbbbyhd. CHAPTER VI.
Captain Benson had not been gone from the cabin more than a minute when the men below heard a voice, which caused them to suddenly cease their revels and listen in u Iter „ as tonishment to the altercation above. It was the voice of James Moncton, manager of Barumba Station, which smote their ears, and after the first few words they knew he was fully aware of what had taken place. His discretion had evidently been overcome by anger, for he was storming at the captain in an excited way.
" 1 tell you, sir, these cattle belong to Booth, of Barumba Station, and I am his manager. These scoundrels of men have been robbing the place for some time, but I'll be quits with them now. You must unload them now if you wish to save trouble. It was your duty to make enquiries," he spoke. " Look here, my friend," replied the skipper, in clear, cool tones. "You are, I think, an old fraud, and you must be careful what you say here. Put down that pistol unless you want to be thrown overboard," he went on as Moncton drew the weapon from a coat- pocket " Where is your authority as manager. Have you got it? I may tell you I bought this lot of cattle from the manager of Barumba and I intend to sell them in Sydney. I am not in the habit of receiving stolen goods, you know." '/am- the manager of the station, and the authority is at the homestead. I am James Moncton, and, as you have no doubt been misled, I will get the authority to-night and show it to you. There is no use in blamingyou, I sup pose. Lynch and the other three are the crimnals, but they will suffer for this work," replied Moncton, somewhat mollified. "Ah, it is worse than I thought, then," answered the skipper, looking fixedly at the speaker. " You are not content with stealing a man's occupa tion, but you also appropriate his name. It was from James Moncton I bought this lot of cattle. Here is the order " —and he produced a piece of paper showing that the cattle had been re ceived from the. station with, the con sent and authority of James Moncton — " If I did my duty I would detain you on board and hand you over to the true manager of Barumba, but you are not worth the trouble. I'll send over word to-morrow to the station and let bim deal with you." . Moncton was furious. He saw at once he. was either being tricked or the qaptain was a dupe, but how could he prove his bona-fides ? The four men, whom he was convinced were implicated in the robbery, would, of course, in the captain's presence, maintain he was not the manager but an imposter, and he recollected the document — which in deed would be of little use to prove his managership — could not readily be found, if at all. The position was out- trsgeous, and, in his desperation, he said : " I suppose that thoroughbred scoun drel, Lynch, has represented himself as the manager. Bring him up from be- . low and confront him with me, and sec ' who is who,' I heard him trying to sing to you, so you needn't say he is not on board. It will be the last night he will have so much liberty. Bring him up, I say 1" Those in the cabin were listening, and Lynch, who had formed a murder ous resolve, asked the mate if it would not be possible to get off the ship with out the manager seeing them. " We will have to act in this emer gency, Giles, and it will be as well for the seamen not to be made any wiser. You can leave everything to me," and Lynch looked meaningly at the officer. " Yes ; there is a boat at the stern, and you can easily drop into it and row ashore. Come with me and I'll fix you up and, partly guessing what was passing in the mind of Lynch, he stood- up and asked them to follow 1 him. Lynch seized a large flask of whisky before leaving the table, and then with the others left the cabin. The voices of Captain Benson and the manager could still be heard in altercation; As cending the aft-hatch a rope was thrown over, and the quartette were soon in the boat. " Keep in the shadow of the jetty," whispered Giles, leaning over the bul warks; and, obeying the advice, they pulled into the shade of the little pier and went silently towards the beach. " There is only one thing for it now," spoke Lynch when they got about a hundred yards from the brig, "We must silence the old fellow. It is practically his life or our lives for it, and, so far as I am concerned, I am 1 not disposed to act the martyr. What do you say?" The men were doubly excited. The unusual quantity of drink which had been consumed during the evening had fired their passions, and the dread of discovery was of serious import to them. They well knew how relentless Monc ton was,, and, under the ciicumstances, the manager was bound to adopt rigorous measures with them. The robbery.was on a wholesale basis and ,. could not. be condoned. Long im prisonment must be the result of action, ar"1 '! young men full of love for the i jgita, tree life of the bush pcn%l counue-
ment would be almost as bad as death. Indeed, it would probably be far worse. "We must not let Moncton return to the station. He is alone it seems, and if we meet bim near the end of the jetty it will be easy enough to put it be yond his power to hand us over to the gaoler. I'll stop at nothing — even murder 1" whispered Gibson. "We must do it, I suppose. The old fellow has bean ' laid on ' to us by someone, or he could not have sur prised tis in this manner. There is only one course to follow, and I will go along it, . If we lose time he may get away. Pull there, Thomas 1" Laurie said as the boat neared the strand. Half a minute later the keel grated on the sand, and, jumping out, the boat was dragged on the beach and silently the four men, headed by Lynch, moved towards the spot where the jetty met the land. None of them had spoken openly the thought which was in their minds save Gibson, but the determina tion was none the less. The full moon rising in the cloudless sky outlined their figures in the open beach, and as they moved through the dim light like phantoms Lynch saw it would be better to seek the shelter of the low scrub which encroached on the sand. " We can conceal ourselves in these bushes just at the entrance to the pier, and the old fellow cannot leave without passing near one of us. Whoever ite first approaches must strike — stun him with a blow on the head — and I'll see to the rest. If you don't agree to that say so and I'll carry out the whole job myself, though we may run some risk in doing so if he is far away from where I will be located. He is armed, and you know he wouldn't be particular in put ting a bullet through one or all of us if he had the chance. I'll stop here and you can hide where you please," con cluded Lynch, taking up a position right in front of the jetty. " Perhaps Captain Benson may take some action," whispered Gibson. "No. Giles will let him know we have come ashore with that object, and it would scarcely do for the skipper to act. The sailors would see what was done, and that would spoil it. He'll just keep bim long enough to give us time to get ashore and carry out what ever plan we have agreed upon. Hush I Hide yourself, Joe ; I think he is com ing," added Lynch. As the man crouched down about five yards to the left of the leader, he could see down the jetty the monstrous figure of an approaching man. For the moment he was smitten with a superstitious fear, but he saw the gigan tic reflection was caused by the slanting moonbeams and the peculiar vista made by the elongated jetty. The spars, masts, and yards of the brig stood out clear cut like a labyrinth of ropes stretched skywards. The hull of the brig was in darkness and the masts seemed to be suspended in the blue- heavens while the moon tinged them with feathery lines of silver. As. the man approached his- propor tions became more normal, and as the figure shrunk so did the desperate and murderous resolve in the minds of the watchers increase. In five minutes the manager of the Barumba Statioi. reached the land end of the pier, and for fully half a minute he halted and turned seawards. The ambushed drovers could hear him muttering, but it was not possible to distinguish wha< he said. They naturally concluded lit was raging at the act of the wholesale robbery which had been discovered b\ him, but that only made their desire to silence him all the greater. Whatever doubts or qualms the four men might have had as the solitary old man walked down the jetty had time to dispel during the halt and the muttered vows of vengeance which they con cluded he was uttering. At length lu turned, but instead of walking straight on to where Lynch lay he turned to tht right and went almost directly to the spot where Gibson was concealed. The flickering shadows' thrown bt the moon on the waving grey scrub — now slightly shaken by the breeze which was springing up — rendered ii very difficult to distinguish objects even if a person looked for them. James Moncton was not suspicious it that respect. His brain was on firr with the discovery he had made, and as he tried to realise the position he be came more convinced of the weaknes: of his case, Indeed, he could see if the captain of the brig was working with Lynch and his comrades that it would not bi easy to prove the guilj of the cattle- stealers. If Benson swore it was James Moncton himself who delivered the stock to him for sale in Sydney and the four men backed him up, in addition to perhaps the mate, Giles, and others on board, it was quite possible the guilty would escape and the innocent, in the person of himself, be branded and suffer as a cattle-stealer. In his posi tion of trust also the crime would be even greater. It was uncomfortable and bitter thoughts like theSe which racked his brains ; and he went mus ingly along striving in vain to evolve some practical and efficient method of meeting the difficulty. A dozen steps brought him from the end of the pier to the bush, behind which the would-be assassin, Gibson, lay in concealment. Fate had ordained that the hideous task should fall to his lot, but the man did not waver. He had been used to a wild and desperate fife, and where his liberty was concerned scruple was out of the question. As the old man passed the spot Gibson rose, and instantly Moncton saw the figure. He made a movement as if to grapple with the man, but instantly the heavy stick held by the murderer was wielded with terrible effect as it crashed down on the head of the manager, and he fell to the ground with a half-stifled cry on his lips. The remainder of the party were at his side in a few moments, and, kneel ing beside him, Lynch made an ex amination of the body. After a few minutes he said, in a matter-of-fact way : "He's not dead. You have only
made him unconscious, and I daresay he would recover if looked after. You are not a murderer yet, Gibson," he continued, in a lower tone, "and it will give us all a chance of taking a full part in this affair. If he recovered it might only be as a luna'#:, and we - musn't allow that. We will carry him down to the boat and take him out in the bay. Each one get hold." Lynch spoke with a cool villainy which was astounding. His object was clear enough. It was just possible the terrible blow which the manager had sustained might not prove fatal, and it was imperative he should die. Even if lie were dead the matter of burial had to be considered, and with devilish, cunning and cruelty Lynch decided the hay would be a most effectual place to deposit the unconscious man. The water would quench the last fingering spark of fife and the fi6h — sharks in particular — would remove every vestige of the body in a few days. There was little doubt but James Moncton would thus disappear off the face of the earth, and the four men would in the future have nothing to fear from him either living or dead. Silently Moncton was raised and borne towards that part of the beach where the boat was stranded. When the spot was reached the craft was launched, and in the most methodical manner Lynch and the others — directed by the chief — tied a rope round the hapless man and fixed the other end to the stern of the boat. Two heavy stones were next obtained and securely fixed to the body, which was then lifted and placed face downwards in the shallow water. As the men stepped into the boat they noticed a slight convulsive move ment in the striken man, but the next instant Lynch seized the oars and push ing off the boat the body was dragged behind it into deeper water and sank out of sight. " We must row out about half a mile and then cut the rope. Before it can wash' in the fish will have done their work, and no one will ever be able to trace the manager of Barumba Station. Pull away, lads. I have some whisky here and a drop will do us no harm." As Lynch finished he passed the flask around, and thus stimulated they rowed with redoubled vigor. In truth they were anxious to get rid of the hideous burthen which they were tow ing. There is always something un canny in the presence of death even under the most ordinary circumstances, but in their case the tragedy was an utterly ghastly one. They had weighted the half-slain man and deliberately drowned him; and though the men were callous and reckless to a degree, they had never before stained their hands in human blood. As they looked behind the boat they could see the luminous streaks which utlined the body. The suspending rope which dipped into and rose out of the sea dropped pendants of fire, as it seemed- to the men. -The phosphor escence of the ocean was extraordinary, and it almost conveyed the impression that they were in tropical waters sailing ' in a sea of fire from which jewels of flame tinged with blood were being flung. Under other circumstances the sight would have been one long to be pleasantly remembered — as it was they —unused as they were to marine fife tnd the wonders of the deep as shown on such a pleasant night — were under the impression there was something weird and suggestive in the appear ances. i ' This ought to do," spoke Lynch, in a low, deep voice, rousing himself rom the strange but horrible fascination >f the scene. "Hand me that knife, Bill, and I'll cut the rope." Laurie did as requested, and in a ew moments the link which bound the :orpse to the boat that held the mur- ierers was severed, and, loaded as it was, the body Blowly sunk into the lepths. Each man drew a deep breath, which sounded like a prodigious sigh, ind, without a word, they turned back ;o where the "Penelope" lay. In a juarter of an hour it was reached, and, aking an advantage of the rope which dill hung over the stern, the craft was secured and the four assassins climbed n board. They were recognised by the watch, who had seen them depart, and in a tew minutes they were in the cabin with the captain and the mate. Looks lull of meaning were passed between the two parties, and to the enquiring <lances of Benson and Giles the leader said : , " That matter has been settled, and we need expect no further trouble. What about the sheep to-morrow ? Will 1 we bring them or not ?" " That depends upon circumstances. Perhaps it will be as well for us to leave at once for Sydney. The cattle, are the chief stock required, and the sooner we get away from here the quicker we will be back. Will there be any trouble >hoiit the manager, think you ?'' asked the skipper. "He has disappeared, that is all; and you may be sure he will never be found, so I don't see what trouble can arise. It may be a month' or two be fore a search is begun, and then it will naturally be thought he has lost his fife in the ranges. There are places there where an army might be destroyed and scarce a body found," returned Lynch. " Then you intend to take it to the hills, I suppose ?" queried Benson. "No. We have already taken it out there" — and he pointed seawards — " The sharks ought to make short work of the body, and if not it will soon be destroyed ' by other agencies. You need not trouble about that ; but as it is probable old Cosgrove may be spying around, it might be as well if you sailed at once," added Lynch. " I have been thinking of doing so since that unpleasant visit Look out for us in about a fortnight. Get all the cattle you can for the Melbourne trip. We-can manage two hundred and fifty.. Don't bother about sheep," said Cap tain Benson. B 6 ... (to be continued.)