|Newspaper Title||The Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 - 1916)|
|Trove Title||Benbonuna: A Tale of Thirty Years Ago|
.A TALK OF THIRTY YEABS AGO.
[All righto reserved by the author.] CHAPTER XVI.
Bx ROBERT BBUCE.
A DOUBLE TBAGEDT. M D'ye see, Mick, ia Mr Hawley in ?" inquired Brasher, whoBe face wore a peculiarly horror-ptricken appearance. » No, Broaber, he's away to Ilka. Bad eure'n here's Mr Bowyer, av there's anything serious," replied Mick, who inBtantly guessed that something startling had •happened. "Well, Brasher, what is it ?" demanded Mr Bowyer. "D'ye see" (in a sepulchral tone), there's murder been done! Murder! d'ye see. " Murder!" exclaimed his three startled bearers, in a breath. " Yes, murder, d'ye see. Pore Baggs, d'ye see, and another pore cove, d'ye see, is a layin' with their beads smashed in at Baggs's hut, d'ye see."
" How did yon find that out ?" " "Well, d'ye see, as I was a goin' ter git my sheep ont ov the yard, d'ye see, at sunrise this mornin', d'ye see, what Bhed I see bnt Baggs's sheep, d'ye see, a Btandin' roun' the yard an boxed with my sheep,d'ye see. Seemed as how, d'ye see, they'd knocked down the hurdles, d'ye see." « Well ?" " Well, d'ye see, seein' as how most of 'em was boxed, d'ye see, I jest boxed the lot, and then headed 'em to the water, d'ye see, tbinkin' ter meet Baggs a lookin' arter 'em, d'ye see." "Yes?" , , t " Then, d'ye see, as I didn't, I left the Bheep at the water, d'ye see, an' went ter see ef there was anythin' wrong with him, d'ye see." « And you found the men murdered 7 Did you see any tracks—anything to give any idea as to who did it ?" inquired Mr Bowyer. " Well, d'ye see, I didn't stop for no tracks, d'ye see, for I ses to myself, d'ye see, the sooner someone's arter 'em the better, d'ye see; BO I kem straight in here, d'ye see." "That was the best thing yon conld have done; but everyone is away from the station just now ; do you think you could keep both lots of sheep for a few days, till there is time to draft them," asked Mr Bowyer, who had evidently determined on hiB line of action. " Well, d'ye see, prapse I could, d'ye Bee, ef so be as how I was paid fur it d'ye see. But I should like ter have some cove with me ov a night, d'ye see, an a shootin' iron too, in case of accidents, d'ye see." " All right Baggs, we'll arrange all that
for you. Mick I" " Yes Sorr." "How long will it take to get the horses ?" " Sure'n id's asy enough to get them ; they're all down at the spring, I iust seen 'em goin'." " By Jove, that is lucky. Get them up to the yard for me, whilst I have a bit of a think." " Sure and I will, Sorr." " And look here, Mick." " Yis, Sorr." anyone. " Don't eay a word about this matter to cautiously I to should the people like over to break at the house." " 'Deed an' I'll say nothin', sorr." Mick took down a bridle which was hanging in the verandah, and was going off at a run when Frank eaid eagerly, " I'll help you with the horees, Mick," and started
up to do so, when he was stopped by the Irishman, who said, " Sure'n ye Bhtay where ye are, Mistber Heslop. I'll jist ketch one ov 'em an' drive the oders in wid him." " Yes, stop with me, Hetslop. Mick cau manage very well by himself," said Mr Bowyer, adding reflectively, "It is awkward everyone being away just now." " There's Falconer an* Leak, dye see, out at the llleuroo spring, aB is handy, dye see," put in Brusher sujtgestively. " Y- » ? Over UDrter Woo<inawoolpena ?" " Jesi about three miles up from Mi rniudina, dye see." " I know the place; there's a bridle track to it from the horee gully ; those fellows will come in bandy. I'll have to get tbem in." "Could I go for them ?" asked Frank, who was anxious to do something useful. " I don't know yet; but I fancy you'll have to Btny with Mr Ashby—we must consider him first. Now we'll see what hoTses there are—for I must send after Hawley at once, that's certain," replied Bowyer. Then resuming, he said reflectively, " I can't make this business out at all. For I don't believe there are any wild blacks about, and BB for a bushranger, there has never been one in the district." " Not as you knows ov, dye see," said Brasher mysteriously, " but there moight be, d'ye see." " Well if there were any abont, thoBe poor fellowB were the laBt people they would have interfered with," replied Bowyer decisively, and then, as he canght Brusher's shifty eye fixed on him, ; he asked pointedly, " Have you any idea as to who did it." " Well d'ye see 1 mought, an 1 moughtent. When the troopers come up it 11 be time enough for that, d'ye see !" replied Brusher evasively. " Yes, that is one thing we must do. We shall have to send to Mount Remarkable for the troopers ; and I believe this is Fridav, is it not ?"
" I think so, but I'm not quite certain," answered Frank who, like many another man in the bush, had got rather mixed as to dates. " It's Friday sure enough—which is lucky, anyhow, for thiB is the day the mail passes h -re, and it will reach the Mount on Sunday night. I'll write a note to Corporal Ganders at once. Brusher, I suppose you want something to eat; you might as well go to the kitchen and get it." " All right d'ye see, but kin yer let me have a sheet ov paper an' a henvelope, as I wants ter write a note myself, d'ye see. I kin git Mick's pen an ink, d'ye see." Bowyer, who bad gone to the brandy case cupboard for writing material, banded a sheet of paper and envelope to Brusher, who departed muttering to himself. " I'll keep it ter myself dye see, or maybe he'd nose somethink an' bolt, dye see." " HeBlop," said Bowyer, " I believe that old scoundrel know more about this business than be cares to admit; bnt it's no use trying to pump him ; I'll keep my eye on him nevertheless." " Don't you think the men were murdered by the natives ?" " I can't think so, but I'll take thorough survey of the place and the bodies ] and then I shall be able to speak pretty positively on the matter. There goes Mick with the horseB. I'll just scribble this note at once, for there is no time to be lost." Mr Bowyer sat down and hastily penned a note to Corporal Ganders, in charge of the police-Btation at Mount Remarkable, and then placed it on the mantelshelf, remarking, " I must give it into Mick's charge, in case I should not be back when Posty Frost arrives." " Are you likely to be away long ?" " Well, that all depends upon circum stances. If I can find the tracks of the murderer or murderers I shall certainly follow them, and try to secure the wretches. If I can't, I'll come back as fooo as possible After I have bad the poor
fellows pnt into an open grave to await an inspection by the police. Now I must go over to the house and tell the people what has happened. It won't do to leave that to the station hands. You might as well come with me." " Hadn't I better get your horse, and saddle it for you to save time? I don't see that I can do any good over at the house, unless I am required to attend on Mr Asbby." "Well, if you would I should be glad, and at the same time ask Mick to saddle np two other horses — one for Schlinke to go to Ilka, and the other for Considine's roan to carry a message to the but builders," which said, Bowyer strode across the fiat, and Frank, after getting a couple of bridles, joined Mick at the yard and gave him Mr Bowyer's message. " I expect he'll ride his own horse, an' so I'll ketch him," said Mick. " But phwat '11 I get for Schlinke ? Sure an' omnibus 'ud be the safest beast for him to thravel on, so it would." " Can't he ride then ?" " Oh, he kin ride all over a horse, Misther Heslop ; an' so I'll give him Badger, the ould thief, or there'll bo anoder corpse before night, so there will. But shure, sorr, this is a horrid business of Baggs's ; o a
an' tis mesilf can't make id out at all." " Neither can Mr Bowyer, at present; but he thinks he'll have a better idea after seeing the bodies." " Sure'n 'tis little '11 pass hiB eye ; an' he kin thrack like a nagur, so he can. But there's himself comin' across the flat wid Harry, an' we'll have to hurry along. Will ye lade that one, an I'll bring the oder two." " All light, Mick," answered Frank, who bad taken down the slip rails in readiness. "Shall we Bbut the others in, in case they may be wanted ?" " 'Deed an 1 we'd betther, sorr." "The spare horses were accordingly left in the yard; and on the arrival of Heslop and Mick at the horse rail they were met by Bowyer and the hawker's man ; the latter having brought his own Baddle with him, quickly put it on one of the horses and galloped away towards the range, on which Mick, who was busy saddling Mr Bowyer's horse remarked, " Bure'n tis aBy to 8ee id's not his own baste he's ridin'." " No, that's a self evident fact. But look here Mick, I shall depend on you to help Mr HeBlop in looking after Mr Ashby while 1 am away—and if one of you is not always in the room, be sure to b within MisB As'jby's call." " Suren ye may dipind on mo, Mr Bowyer/' " Miss Ashby, though naturally much horrified at the double murder, took the news pluckily ; but Mrs Ashby is trying to work up a fit of hysterics ; so you had better go over to the house at once Heslop, and look after Mr Ashby in case Mary haB her step-mother on her hands," said Bowyer to Frank, adding impressively
—" whatever you do, don't allow one drop of spiritB to go into the sick room on any pretence. I can depend on you r know." "That you can, Mr Bowyer," replied Frank, adding, "No other instructions?" " No, only be careful not to say anything to Ashby about this business. He doeB not know about it yet, unless that woman has gone howling in to bim." Frank then went over to Government house, and Bowyer rode away to the scene of the tragedy, alter telling Mick to equip Brusher with one of the antiquated " pepper box" revolvers which hung on the walls of the hut, and a supply of the necessary ammunition. CHAPTER XVII. ON THE TRACK.
Mr Bowyer lost no time in riding to the cene of the tragedy, and like a thorough ush man, kept his eye keenly on the road s he went along; after awhile he struck he tracks left by Brusher on his journey o and from the hut, and came to he conclusion that the outward tracks, hough they were over those left y the hawker's team, had yet been ade on the previous night, as they were ot nenrly so sharp edged and bright as he home tracks, aud were besides in some nstances traversed by the trail of nocurnal insects—whereas the back tracks ere clean cut and fresh. " Just as I thought," mused Bowyer, that old scoundrel knows more about his business than he professi-s ; I should not wonder if he did it himself. I'll have him if he did. At any rate no one else has gone this way." When the tall squatter was about four hundred yards from the hut he struck in towards the creek, riding slowly, and thoroughly scanning the ground for tracks between the road and creek bank, but without discovering any freBh sign. Then he rode back on his own tracks, followed the road till he bad passed the hut, and then cut into the creek again, soliloquising, as he descended into its bed, " Well, there's no one else come in from this side, that's certain." He next made a very close inspection of the bed of the creek ; but there was nothing to be detected in the chaos of smooth waterworn boulders that bestrewed it as thickly as broken " metal" freshly Bpread upon a road. He made his way to the foot of the southern bank, where, bordering the pebbleB, waB a sort of rushy ledge of moist, black, clayey soil, and this he followed till immediately opposite the hut, but without discovering any tracks, both the hawker and Brusher having crossed the creek some distance higher up. Bowyer's next proceediug, after fastenbis horse to a;ehady sapling, was to visit the bodies, which he found several yards apart and a few feet distant from the front of the hut, as if the men had come
out for the Bake of coolness, had lain down on the ground, fallen asleep, and had each received a murderous blow which had rendered that sleep eternal. But the assassin, whoever he was, had not contented himself with simply depriving his victims of life, but with remorseless ferocity had battered their skulls into mere shapeless pulp ; and in addition the bodies bore numerous wounds, evidently inflicted with spears, from which blood had issued copiously, and after saturating the clothes of the dead men had formed little pools which bad dried and blackened on the hot earth. Both these dried pools and the bodies were now covered with thick swarms of flieB, which TOBB with a horrid buzz on the near approach of Bowyer, who at once recognised the man Baggs, but fonnd that the other victim was a perfect stranger to him. After steadfastly regarding the horrible spectacle for a short time, during which he was evidently fixing the various particulars in his memory, Bowyer made a thorough inspection of the ground around the hodies, taking great care to make as few tracks himself as possible; but the more be looked, the more he seemed to be puzzled, and presently he Btopped, and announced his conviction in soliloquy :—" It wasn't Brusher, that's certain. He has not been near enough to them; and it's regular nigger work—but where's the tracks?" then be seemed to calculate as to where the murderer must have stood to have been able to deliver the blowe, and having fixed upon a spot, he stooped down and critically examined it, apparently gaining some light thereby. He next carried bis investigating operations to the hut, examining its dusty floor thoroughly; he looked into the ration bags, smelt the pannicans, and ejaculated as he did so— " Just as I thought" Then he entered the inner room, where he looked over the miserable personal property of the deceased, without, however, touching any
f it, and muttered the word " Strauge," B if ha was again puzzled ; and so indeed e was, for while outside he had come to he conclusion that the murders had been one by a native or native ; now he more han doubted it; the rations had not been ouched, and neither the tobacco nor lothes of the victims had been taken away, ad any of the sheep been killed ? That as the question Bowyer next asked imself, and so proceeding towards the heep yard he eagerly scanned the ground as he went, till he came to where the sheep bad issued from the gateway, and taking & slight sweep had headed away to the eastward. Over their crowded tracks appeared strange oval patches, obliterating the hoof marks within their circumference, which led in a nearly straight line, at about three feot distance from} the yard, towards the hut; in fact, if Ram Billy was the murderer, those were manifestly his footprints disguised by a pair of cuileab. " Wfll," soliloquised Bowyer, alter examining these strange tracks, and casting his eye over the yard, which shewed no signs of slaughter having been committed fait "if a blackfellow has done this at all, it must have been that cranky devil Ram Billy. Hullo! what's that?" he exclaimed aloud, as a little mob of crows flew up from the back of the yard, "some-
thing's dead there." (To be continued.) Cadet of the Jap. war ship buried at the Semaphore last Wednesday ; his hat and sword were interred with him, and a quantity of rice, carrots, and turnips were left at the grave. Concert to night, lecture Tuesday night tea meeting on the 24th. All church affairs. The R.M.S. Clyde had two cases of "German measles" on board when she arrived at Albany.