|Newspaper Title||The Week (Brisbane, Qld. : 1876 - 1934)|
|Trove Title||Bill Hawkins and the Mystery of the Black Forest|
When Wicks and his party, with the assist* nnco of -the hew comer, had got the waggon out of tho bog, reloaded it, placed the sergeant:, in a comfortable position on the loading:, and
were on the point of starting' for the township, the bullock-driver made his appearance, having failed in the effort to find his hone, but sueceeded
in again coining across the old man he had found lying dead. This time he took care to mark the spot;- and had broken down branches - from • the young trees right on to tho main rood; which was only a quarter of a mile distantvon tho road to Kyuoton. .-All this he told tho. men standing round him, and concluded
by saying, " But what the donee lias become of my 'yarrauiim'I don't know." '
After a sliort discussion ii. wis decided that the whole party should make the best haste ihey: could for the township, so as to procure advice for the sergeant, and send another conveyance for the body of the old man. and the bullock-driver could mount the steed he had left at tho hotel to search for the horse that had been lent to him, and at the same tune get his bullocks together.
: 1 "While tliey are travelling to Kyneton, we will enlighten the reader as to what becamecf
Bill and the bullock-driver's horse. j
"When Bill, by plunging into tho hush, escaped the trooper, as before stated, be continued
to pursue his route some distance from, bat tunning parallel witli, tlie road, goingat as hard a pace as his legs would carry liiiu, kecphis
ears and eyes open as ho went along, and trusting to the thickness of the brushwood ho was traversing to screen liim from view or to - render him a means of escape, in case of his
being again detected. So as to prevent the accident of Ms losing his way—for lie did not know tho country he was surrounded hy—he - had to keep within easy distance of the road,
and every now and again, when he lost sight of it for some time and seemed in doubt as to whether ho was going astray, he would strike a direct line for it, then when, clearly seen,
take his bearing of it, and keep at a respectable distance from observation. In this way he had travelled until he had accomplished half the way to the township, when he suddenly came full upon the road, whore it had mado a turn at right-angles from, the course it had been bearing all along. He was on the point. - of at once going back into the bush some
distance, when he heard close to him the hoofs of a horse trotting along the side of the road be was on. "What was to be done? If lie attempted to stir, he felt sure he wonld he seen, - as the intruder was only a few paces from liim,
and- only obscured by the sharp angle of the read. There was no" time to be lost in consideration.
He therefore squatted down behind a bushy shrub in front of liim, and quietly waited the dreaded approach, trusting to the screen that sheltered himand his ready genius in emergency to avoid detection, or make his
Anyone placed in the position thai Bill occupied—let him he as brave as a lion—would ' feel anything but at ease. As Shakespeare - says, "Conscience makes cowards of us all."
And it was just this feeling that mado Bill at This critical moment feel very nervous. That the cause of his present fear was the trooper, who had nearly taken liim or shot him down, ? he had riot the slightest doubt. Great, therefore,
was his astonishment when he saw turning the' angle of the road a riderless horse coming towards liim,-with.his head to the ground. evidently smelling the way he was going as a hound tracls the scent. Bill saw at a glance that it was not the trooper's horse, and he gave, .a shrewd.giiess that it had .bolted with saddle and bridle from'some-one. The thought flashed across his mind like - lightning that if he oould'only catch the animal it would afford him a ready means of travelling at a more speedy rate than he could accomplish on foot,'and in all probability enable him to effect - his escape successfully. This idea having taken
possession of him, he carefully disengaged himself
ftom the bushy shrub he had buried himself in, and got at the side that screened him from the horse, so that he could make a spring as '.' the brute came abreast of him. In this position
he waited patiently till the horse came right up to his hiding place, when he sprang forward and seized the reins before the startled animal could evade his grasp.
Having secured his pony, Bill stroked him • down soothingly for a minute or two until the . frightened animal became more composed, arid
then he mounted upon his back and set off at a good gallop.
The trooper, when ho left Harry Wicks' party at the time of the accident, had taken the direct road back to Kyneton, first for the purpose
of getting aid for Sergeant Down, and, secondly, to procure assistance to secure the escaped prisoner.
As he proceeded on his journey he observed the fresh tracks of a horse going along the road in the same direction that he was travelling. This fact somewhat puzzled him, as he had not passed any horseman on his way to where he encountered Bill, nor had any one gone by while he was tailing to tho men belonging to the dray. Where, then, could this home have struck the road ? Hadhearideronhisbaek,or had he not? These and other queries suggested themselves to the enquiring mind of the trooper as he blundered on at the top of his horse's speed.
For the information of the reader, it is necessary
to explain that the reason the trooper . did not met the bnllock driverishorse before he
met with Bill, was owing to the fact that the poor brute had gone into the hush when left by his master, at tne time the crash took place, and his having kept off the road for some time, but finding it difficult to make much progress amongst the small timber, he had struck the roadway at a spot some distance beyond where the trooper encountered Bill, thus accounting for his not being seen by the trooper.'
_ When Bill Etarted the horse he had caught into a gallop the trooper was not far behind,
and could easily hear the click, click, click of' the hoofs. He, therefore, put spurs to his ? sturdy steed to try and overtake the unknown in
front of liim. As he turned the sharp angle of the road referred to he caught sight of the horse and rider ascending the range, nearly at its crest, and ahont half a mile ahead. Even at this distance, and with the dark shadow cast upon the rider, the trooper felt confident that the figure before him was none other than the prisoner who had escaped him.
Bill, as he ascendw the hill, looked behind him, and recognised his pursuer.
Each rider now urged his horse to do his best.. Bill- reached the top of the range and descended at a tremendous pace, lint the .trooper's steed .was much stronger and fleeter a-foot, and began to gain at every stride. Still on they went, each extending every nerve. It was a desperate race for both, but more espe
oiallv for the lender. Wlienjlhe trooper l>nd got within a hundred yawls of Bdl he sung on ,
"Stop, "or I'll shoot you,, hut Bill dashed on rc-ariUcss of the challenge and threat.
On, 011, on they went, until they were only about a mile from Kyneton, the pursuer being now within fifty yards of Bill. Again lie called out, " Stop, or I anil Blioot you, but still, no response avas vouchsafed. lTe tlien leaelled. his revolver, toolc aim, and fired, when Bill rolled from his saddle by the side of the road, while liis horse started at renewed speed for Jus
StThc trooper had taken deadly aim indeed, for
bv tlio time lie reached Bill he found lie was quite dead, the hall having passed through Ins heart. While lie avas contemplating and examining
the unfortunate object before turn, a gentleman came up driving an express kankec waggon, with a pair of horses.
" What's the row t" he asked, as he drew up
alongside where the trooper avas standing over
Bi"Wln-, -I've shot this chap, as he wouldn't
stop," replied the trooper.
"Well I guess he'll stop for any other stranger tliat comes along, and he won't want telling cither any more, or I am a Quaker.
" It was his own fault, for I asked him more than once to haul up before I fired, hut lie wouldn't, so I had to let bang, or run-the chance of losing my bird, which I wasn t inclined
to do a second time." , , , " What's he /been up tor" asked the occupant
of the express.
Hero the trooper stated the case to tlio traveller, and asked his assistance to convey t he bodvto the township. This request; was rcndilvacceded
to, -and the two men ltftcABiU s (lead earc:i?c into tlie waggon and started for Kyneton, where they arrived in. a short, time, depositing
the remains in a stall of the stahlo.\
Just as the sun wis setting A\iuks party drew" up their team in front of the Glasgow Hotel, and carried, the sergeant into the bedroom
he occupied iii the house. 'During the ionrnev lie had become sensible, and . seemed mncli iiettcr tlian any of his companions had expected to find him. There was no doctor 111 the township, hui the chemist was called in at once. He had a smattering of the medical art, and possessed a slight knowledge of tlio science of anatomy. After ho had asked the sergeant several questions, and examined him carefully, he asserted tlmt'thero were no hones broken, and in fact no damage done;beyond a shock having been given to the system, and he said tliat" he would undertake to bring the patient round in ho time without the aid of a doctor.
This assertion he verified, for in the course of three days the patient was up and almost as
well as ever. ' •
The bullock-driver and the trooper Set out tlie following morning succeeding tlie death of Bill, with a conveyance to bring in" the* body.of the deadraan. This time the body b-as:fpund and brought back to the township. ' ' ? '
Themystery of tholiidcpns howls, and rattling of a chain, that bad caused such uneasiness to Bill and the new-comer at tho camp fife; and that had led to the accident to Sergeant Down, was now explained. '
When' the bullock-driver and the trooper
approached the spot where the old man was lying, a black Coolie sheep dog sprang up and began barking and howling, and rattling^ his chain in a most furious manner,' indicating in a series of demonstrative actions that he would not allow them to come near the object of our search. Tlicy liad to resort to every means of coaxing they could devise before tliey could passify the brute who stood between them and
his master. After some considerable time tliey
managed to sootli the dog, got hold of his chain
for be had that appendage attached to a collar, and fastened lnm to a sapling while they lifted the dead body into the conveyance they had brought, when they let the dog loose,
when be at once, and with great eagerness jumped up alongside of his late ? master, and rode all the way in this fashion into the township.
The evidence taken at the inquest upon the body of the deceased proved that his name was Peter Dixon, that he was a shepherd; that luhad
passed through Kyneton, some ten days before he was found by tho bullock driver; that he was then on his way to Melbourne; tliat he must have died rather suddenly from a general breaking up of the system, at the spot in which he was found, and tliat his fiiitliful dog had
pt by his remains without food beyond wliat could get from camp finds, or in the bush iring Die.whole time.
After the body of the poor old man had been nsigned to its long home, Wicks took possesm of the faithful dog, and took him on to Beugo
with him. But his mysterious appearances id disappearances while in search of food, his semblance to his satanic majesty, and a host other goblin stories that were manufactured out him in his nightly visits to several who d camped in the neigbourhood of tlie spot lere the body of bis dead master lay, formed e topic of many a fireside conversation for jiltlis after his old friend was consigned to
Tlie trooper wlio had shot Bill was rewarded ' tlie Government for liis pluck and energy
capturing the culprit, wlio was now, with e information in the hands of tho'authorities, id the little experience they liad of him, :arly characterised as a very desperate iininal, and one that society was well rid of. The sergeant and bullock-driver were also mpensated for tho active part tliey liad taken tnc discovery of the old man, and which scovery had led to the capture of Bill.