|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|
BARUMBA STATION ; OR, Amy River's Sacrifice.
I Trae and Eventful Narrative of trim EARLY DAYS IN NEW SOUTH WALES.
" £F CAPTAIN LACIE.
Goftbiqht Reseeved. — _»«_ 4 . CHAPTER 111.
Lynch and his companions were still in the dining-room when the manager entered, and the messenger informed him' that there was no sign of the Vessel which was expected to bring the pro visions.
" There was a ship bound for Mel bourne lying at the jetty, but they knew nothing whatever about any articles for here. She merely put in for shelter, so the captain told me," answered Lynch. " You might keep a look out every day now as the vessel can't be much longer delayed. It should have been in a week ago. You can look after the big herd on the river flats, Lynch, and from there it will not be much out of your way to take an occasional glance at the bay," the manager said as he left the room. During his presence in it he narrowly scanned the occupants, but there was nothing in their demeanour to raise sus picion in his mind. They met his gaze as fearlessly as ever, and theirs were certainly not the faces of guilty men. " Well, you are all agreeable to the plan, I suppose," Lynch remarked when the manager had gone back. " We must keep our own counsel, of course. I'm not afraid of any of you telling old Moncton ; but it will be just as danger ous to let Cosgrove get an inkling of our scheme. I once tried to get him with us but it was no good, and I'm afraid he has been suspicious ever since." "We are just as much in this as you are, Jack, and it's not likely we will give ourselves away. You have some of that whisky close at hand ?" responded Gibson. " Come to my room. I don't want that spy to know we have anything like that, or he would be prying round to try and find out where it came from,1' said Lynch. As he spoke Lynch led the way to the small room where he and Laurie slept, and soon the four men were dis cussing the contents of the jar which Captain Benson had presented to the ringleader of the gang — for such it might be called. Half-an-hour later the men separated, and soon the home- . .stead was hushed in silence, save for the baying of two large mastiffs which were kept on the chain. It was a full two hours later when Moncton and Cosgrove left the manager's room. They had been discussing the probable form in which the men might be plot ting, and it required much argument on the part of the cook to persuade Moncton it might be in the direction of cattle and sheep stealing. " I don't think so, Alf," the manager returned. " There is no market near enough for that sort of thing. It would be too far and too risky to take stock overland to places where they might be disposed of. As for the vessels which call at the bay, they would not offer much inducement in the line. An.oc- casional whaler — and they are scarce enough now — might take a few head, but the men would scarcely risk the danger of such a paltry dealing. I think you are wrong," "Where did they get the money, then ? If you mustered the sheep and cattle at once I have an idea you would find a good many missing. Perhaps I am wrong, but I don't believe so. Why don't you have a muster?" asked his friend. "And rouse their suspicions? Oh, no, that wouldn't do; we must wait and watch. If that is their game we will catch them red-handed. If we dropped on them now it would only make us ridiculous. We have no proof whatever if the sheep and cattle were discovered on the count to be short that the four men, or any one of them, were concerned in the affair. If I ac cused them more than likely I should get into a big row. It's pretty awkward to tell a man he is a sheep or cattle- . stealer unless you are able to prove it, Alf," remarked Moncton. " I'm quite agreeable to help you in the watch, and I don't want to get you . into trouble. My idea is these fellows have been making free with the stock ; but, of course, I can't prove that yet. When I hear anything further I will let you know, and I'll keep a sharp look out, you may depend." "You have a chance, Alf, of over hearing them say something which might lead us to a discovery, and, there fore, keep your ears open. To-morrow I'll quietly watch Lynch's movements. He is to be along the east side, and perhaps I may pick up something which will be of use. At the same time I .don't take So gloomy a view of the matter as you do. Good-night," ' and the manager turned away. Eager to obey his friend's wishes . Cosgrove kept an unusually sharp watch on the four men but he over-did 1 it, and the keen eyes of Lynch at once saw there was suspicion in the air. At . first he could not quite understand how : the man could have the least idea any thing was wrong. Then, with strange prevision, ho concluded the cook must have heard something on the previous evening, or, at least, seen the money divided. 1 Lynch was not slow to tell his com rades of the suspicions, and the inherent savagery of his nature was plainly shown ' in wnat he said. "That spy;fellow, Cosgrove, BUspects < (Us, lads, apd we must be careful how
we act. If he tries any treacherous action I'll put a bullet through him as sure as my name is Lynch. It will never do to have our plans' spoiled by a skunk like that I" he fiercely remarked to the three men that evening. A serloUs consultation followed, and the result was rather peculiar. It is simple truism to say no man is perfect, and Alfred Cosgrove was a living proof of tho fact. With all his good parts he had bne failing — probably he had many but Lynch and his friends knew of one which might help them to discover how much the cook knew, or fancied he knew. This was a Weakness for strong drink — a beverage seldom seen at Baruinba Station. The manager, though a Scotchman, set his face against having drink at the place, and any. which came to it had to be smug gled in as it would have been a serious offence in the eyes of Moncton if he knew any of the men were indulging in the forbidden article. It was probably out of consideration to his faithful and trusty friend, Cosgrove, that he acted in so strict a manner, for he was not a teetotaller himself when away from the station. The four men knew the weakness of Cosgrove, and it was determined to try and utilise it in "pumping" the man. Amongst the plotters Laurie was the greatest favorite with the old cook, and he was quite agreeable to making the test in the hope that it might assist his friends. Fully half the jar of whisky was still left, and arrangements were made whereby Laurie would be able to spend half-an-hour or so at the home stead during the following day and in troduce the ardent spirit to Cosgrove. The plan was carried out to perfec tion, and after the first couple of drinks the man's discretion began to give way. When the whisky was first introduced Cosgrove made a bold attempt to resist the temptation, but his resolution soon failed him and he fell an easy victim to the wiles of the tempter. It was not Laurie's purpose to get him absolutely incapable, fot in that case the manager would inevitably find out, and the con sequences- would be very awkward all round. "Just thaw his tongue-strings, Bill, and he will slip something to show what he thinks. For goodness sake, don't give him too much or it will spoil every plan we have in view. Put some of the drink in that empty bottle in the room and just leave enough in the jar to make him jolly. When he sees it is all gone he will not ask or brother you for more. Tell him you have had the jar in your box ever since you came down from the Goulburn. That will be the best excuse for having the stufl'," Lynch said to his comrade. Neither of the young men were in clined towards strong drink, and Laurie was therefore able to work the scheme most effectively. Strange to say it was not a hard' job to " thaw " the tongue- strings of the cook. Though usually a taciturn man two or three glasses of spirits made him garrulous, and, as .he had a liking for Laurie, the result was not difficult to foresee. In a burst of fatherly exhortation and advice he urged Laurie not to be led away into the broad and straight path which led to perdition, and if he de sired to avoid it he should shun as much as possible the company of that fellow Lynch. " I know it's hard, Bill, for you to do so," he went on, "because you are thrown so much in his way. It is pos sible to be civil, though, without going so far as to be led into crime." "Led into crime, Alfl What do you mean ?" interrupted Laurie, in af fected surprise. " It doesn't do to say exactly what I mean," returned Cosgrove as he helped himself to another glass of whisky. " I must leave that to yourself to find out. My opinion is Lynch is a bad com panion, and Gibson and Thomas are not much better. Many a young fel low is ruined through bad company. I've seen more than one case of it, Bill. What does Lynch mean by divid ing handfuls of money?" " Handfulls of money I" repeated Laurie. "Yes. I saw him the other night, and, depend upon it, that money could not be honestly got — at least that is my view of it. It may have been an ' old stocking' he had, but it looked peculiar to be lending each of you £22 ios, at the same time. I like you, Bill, and if you take my advice you will not be led into cattle-stealing, or anything like that," the old man concluded. Laurie gave a forced laugh, for he saw Cosgrove had witnessed the divi sion of the ill-gotten money, and prac tically he was aware the spoil was the result of illicit stock disposal. " Don't be afraid of me, Alf," he spoke. " I'm not a child to be led away by anyone, and certainly not foolish enough to begin cattle-stealing. If you had waited to the end you . would have seen the money given to us by Lynch was returned to him before we left the room. It was only produced as the result of a bet, and wa9 really the savings which Lynch brought to the station with him. As for interfering with the stock I am here to protect that property and would be the last to act dishonestly." "Yes, you might be all right; but I don't like Lynch and the other two men. There is nothing 'too hot or too heavy ' for them, if I am any judge of character. Take an old man's ad vice and don't be led away. That's all I've got to say," added Cosgrove. William Laurie did not require to hear any more. The fact that the cook had overheard the. conversation at the time when the money was divided was quite sufficient for the young man.' He jumped to the conclusion Cosgrove must have heard the words spoken, or how could ho have known each man received £22 ios, ? It was a warning which the words of the cook were intended for, but they fell upon barren soil so far aB he was concerned. Late that evening Laurie acquainted his comrades with the ' results ot his mission, and the news only .confirmed the suspicions raised by the ringleader,
Lynch. The latter was quite con vinced the old employee would ac quaint the manager with what he had seen and heard, and this idea only made him more desperate and unyield ing in the course he had mapped out. This feeiing was quite shared by his - three companions, and even Laurie forgot the good advice tendered him and Vowed he would go the " whole hog," and not be turned from his ob ject by the eaves-dropping of an old spy. Their anger Was roused at the idert of being thwarted, and it received fresh fuel on the following day when Lynch unexpectedly came upon JameS Monc ton, who was apparently trying to keep himself out of sight. Nothing more was needed to inflame the men's pas sions, for the discovery showed that Cosgrove must have told his chief of what he saw in the diningroom, and the manager was keeping a watch on the supposed ringleader. Moncton, when he saw Lynch ho- ticed him, rode up and explained his unexpected presence by saying he was going to the head-station in the morn ing, and he wanted to know how many head of fat cattle were in the creek paddock. Of course Lynch acted as if he did not suspect anything, and, after galloping round the stragglers, he gave the required information — adding 15 to the real dumber, as that many had been surreptitiously removed from the herd. " There are two missing then, Lynch; but that is a good average. Died, I suppose?" returned Moncton. " I don't think so. They must have got into one of the other paddocks. If they died there would be some trace of them about the place, but so far I've not seen the least sign," returned the man. With a brief glance around the man ager rode off towards another part of the run, and he left Lynch brooding in an ominous manner. " The old fellow suspects something, and the spy must have told him what he saw. I'm fully determined to send off that shipment even if twenty managers tried to stop the game. They will do so at their risk if Cosgrove and Monc ton interfere," he muttered, as he looked after the fast-disappearing form of Moncton. That night he told Laurie, Thomas and Gibson what he suspected, and he also urged the desperate course of tak ing to the bush in the event of the manager accusing them of stock-steal ing. Gibson and Thomas were op posed to this, and the latter put the objections in a nutshell. "Why should we do so? Neither the manager or anyone else can prove anything against us ; but if we run away and the stock is found to be short we will only be condcmi ing ourselves. Let us stand otir ground and defy them all. There isn't the least fear of Monc ton doing anything like you think. He is too cautious in the first place, and it wouldn't suit him in the second. He would have the fullest evidence before taking any such step." This was Thomas's argument, and it was a sensible way of looking at the matter. Nevertheless, Laurie and Lynch were not satisfied, and when they met the following afternoon at the homestead the conversation with which tnis narrative opens took place. Monc ton had left in the morning in company with a half-caste to go, as he said, to the home-station at Goulburn, and he expected to be away about a fortnight, though the period might run into three weeks if the roads ,were in a bad con dition. Lynch had some doubts about this journey, though there was apparently no reason why he should have. The sus picions which filled his mind caused -him to look askance at everything which the manager or Cosgrove did. He had embarked on a desperate enter prise and was fearful some act would be done or discovery made which at the outset might mar it. Being quite sure of Laurie, he desired that Thomas and Gibson should be as trustworthy, and to that end it was necessary to have them committed to a definite course of action. " When they come back, Bill, we will have another talk with them. It is no use their saying they are prepared to do this or that if such and such a thing happens, We must have them bound down in some way. Let us all swear to stick to each other in life and death no matter what happens. You, know, Bill," — and the speaker's voice sank to a whisper — "the end of this may be the bush if our plans don't turn out so well as- we expect. Captain Benson will carry us away, no doubt, but unless he takes us to a foreign country I don't see what we would gain by going- with him, In Sydney or Melbourne we would be worse off than here. The hews of robberies would soon reach head-quarters,, and In the centres of population we would have no chance, My idea is to get to America if we . make a haul. If not, go back into the bush to a snug retreat until Benson will be able to take us right away," said Lynch. " I'll go to the end with you, Jack, but I would like to wipe out old scores at Goulburn before I left for good. It Would please me to raid old Booth's place there and come across that fellow, Rivers, before I left for ever. But here comes Thomas and Gibson; ahd, after all, Moncton may not suspect us in any way. . I think if he did he would be the . first to tell us so. I agree with our comrades. We should stand our ground, but we must know how far they are prepared to go with us. It wouldn't do at the last moment to have them turn'back on us. We'll get a definite answer to-night," replied Laurie. Thomas and Gibson had returned an hour or more before the usual time, for in the absence of the manager they wero not disposed to over exert them selves—in fact boundary-riding on Barumba Station was not very hard work, being much easier than the same occupation on some of the vast arid runs on the interior plains. (tO BE COtfl'IMUBD.),