|Chapter Title||A FIGHT HALF FOUGHT.|
|Newspaper Title||The Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 - 1916)|
|Trove Title||Benbonuna: A Tale of Thirty Years Ago|
A TALE OP THIBTF TEABS AGO.
.[All rights reserved by the author.'} CHAPTER XXII (continued). A V1GHT HALF FOTJOHT.
BY ROBERT BBUCE.
"Yes, Mr Hawley, tbe night yoa stayed at t>nr camp some nigger, in tlie things as I showed yoa, vent to the Flagstaff hot an 1 sm&shedin Baggs' bead and another Bundowner cove's; an* of course we all said as Billy had done it, seem* as nobody else would," annwered Falconer. "•Baggs murdered 1 I can't believe it J" cried Hawley incredulously, " Who was the first to find it oat ?" " Old BruBher, wasn't it Jack ? Baggs' sheep went to his yard in the night, an' so thinking something WSB up he took 'em to the water and left 'em there, while he went to the Flagstaff to see what was the matter; an' then kem in an' told Mr Bowyer, who sent over for ns, didn't he, Jack ? An' so we shoved all our traps on the dray an' kem round to the Flagstaff,an* dug a grave an' rigged it up, with the bark off tbe old smithy, an' put 'em in it, didn't we Jack ?" replied Falconer, who no doubt would have gone on to the end of the chapter had not the overseer cut him short with the inquiry— "But they are not buried, are they?' " Well, yoa see they're not kivvered up yet, are they Jack ? Mr Bowyer said the troopers 'ud have to see 'em before they was finished off." " Yes! I was going to say there would be a row if they'd been buried without an order, especially after being murdered," remarked Hawley, who appeared greatly relieved when he found that such a legal Boleriem had been avoided. Then he apfepf*, W>at does Mr Bowyer think of tbe matter ?" " Well, he dosn't say much about it but I think he thinks it was Billy as done it, don't you Jack ?" answered Falconer, and his familiar echo multiplied the opinion by one. " Well, said the overseer," it is lucky dropped across MaBter Billy aa I did, for tbe troopers would sever have caught him, and now we have got him we'll have to fasten him up pretty tight, or he'll get awsy again." 1 1 Deed an' he will, eorr, for 'tis himBelf 'ud go through a crack a guinea pig's tail 'nd eh tick in, so he would," said Mick, who, though he had just before interfered to prevent Billy from being killed outright, was now aB anxious to see him properly secured as the overseer could be; for the said Billy had become an unmitigated nuisance to the district, and was wanted by the police for numberless robberies, and in particular for a brutal assault recently committed by him on a shepherd's wife. Hawley therefore had really deserved tbe thanks of the community for the capture. Billy had been in custody several times before—only to escape ; but this time, with the shadow of a double murder upon him, particular pains were taken to secure him. One end of a stout trace chain was fastened with a split link round his waist, and the other was secured by means of a padlock to one of the horse rail posts; besides which he WBB to be strictly guarded till the troopers arrived. Whilst these arrangements were being made, Hawley gave a brief account of the capture of the black, and asked if Moses had been seen by anyone. "He was here half an hour ago, Mr Hawley, and told us you'd caught Billy ; and so we was on the look out for you, wasn't we, Jack ?" answered Falconer. " And where is he now, the — animal ?" "I think he's cleared, Mr Hawley; don't you, Jack ?" " Did any of you see which way he went ?" " Sure'n I think he wint to thrack the nagur as shook liiB spears," replied Mick. " What, did 6ome of them take 'em ?" inquired Hawley, eeemingly greatly inter eBted. " So Mrs Blowhard pays ; and as he'd got on the same things as the one ae did the murders had, he must he the saiiife wretch ; what do you think, Mr Hawley?" replied Falconer, this time relying on the overserr for an echo. " Me no bin' teal 'em 'pears. Me no bin kill 'em wliitefellow," cried Billy, who had been listening to what was said, suddenly finding his tongue. " Shut up, you dog, or I'll kick the life out of you," growled Hawley, menacing tbe native with his boot. " Don't kick him Mr Hawley," begged Falconer, " he'll be hung sure enough this time, and it 'ad be a pity to cheat the gallowB." " Well, you'll have to mind he don't get away; we shall have to watch bim spell and spell about, or else Moses or some of the rest will be letting him loose, just as they did at Weepowie when he set fire to Wallace's hut, nearly killed Wallace with the wood axe, and then got away. I don't want him to burn me out in the middle of the night," said the overseer, referring to a recent exploit of the prisoner, and then retired into Bachelor's Hall to repair damages, Billy watching him as he went with a look which meant murder on the slightest opportunity occurring. " Ah, ye'll have no chance, honey, more's the pity," muttered Mick, who had noticed the expression of Billy's face, and then he added quietly to Leak, " Jack, just y<i slip up to the yard an' get poor ould cockey before the crows destbroy him, for maybe MiBs Mary 'ud liked to have bim sbtuffed. Ye can tell her ye's found him dead at the horse yard, and the divil a lie 'II be in id. But see now, don't ye be aftber littin' out fbwat kilt him, for id nd do no good an' only make her grieve afther him all the more, so it would." " Well Mick, suppose you goeB and takes him over yourself. I'd rather not have nothink to do with it," answered Leak, who had evidently a great dread of Hawley. " Av ye wants yer dinner, I'd advise ye to do as I tells ye," returned Mick, significantly. " But sure'n ye kin bring bim to me, an' I'll take bim over prisintly ; for the tike's ov ye's not fit to sphake to a faymale, much less a lady." " That will do for you, Mick. I suppose as how young ladies won't talk to a cove 'ceptin' he's got a nose like a tenterbook an' & month like a rat trap, an 1 that's why—. I'm goin' for him," concluded Leak, a look from Mick causing him to finish his speech in quite a different manner to that which he had intended, and to depart on bis errand with undignified celerity. " Sure'n that's thrue for yer, Jack, an' 'tis yeraelf knows yer own fatures," laughed Mick ; and then, turning to the black, be said, " Ye're in for it this toime, Billy ; bud av id's thirsty ye are, I'll git ye a dhrink, so I will." " Me plenty want it cowie" (water), gasped the prisoner, making the most of his condition, which was in truth sufficiently pitiable. "An' you'd have to want, too, you brute, if it lay with me," remarked Falconer, grimly. " 0, the poor crayture, sure'n he don't know no better. Besides he'll hang all the aeier av be keeps fat, so he will, Beein' ae id isn't the feather weight on Ihe crap (gallows) as paBBes the winnin' posht," said Mick, as he departed to get the prisoner a pannican of tea. " What for yon bin kill 'em two fellow s s d s y a t d w w s B m s m h w B l i o F E h q h a e t w t p
whitefellow, you darned skunk ?" asked Falconer of the chained native. _ " Me no bin kill 'em whitefellow. Him lie," cried Bill}' with extreme vehemence and rapidity of utterance. " What name black fellow bin kill '«m, then ?' " Me can't tell. Me no bin see 'em. Me think it thalt water blackfellow. Me tbit down 1 o-n-ge way." " Where you bin sit down ?" " Long a Lellulellulelluna." " How many sleeps like a that ?" " Two fellow sleepes," answered Billy, holding np two fingers to denote that two nights bad intervened since his departure from the place with the above euphonious name, which was about a hundred miles from Benbonuna. " That's a lie, master Billy, and if you didn't murder them two poor coves, I'd like to know who did," said Falconer with the most positive conviction as to tbe native's guilt. " Me no bin kill 'em 1" " See now, Tom, fhwat's the good ov yer thryin' to be jidge an' jury that way. Maybe yer can out down a three, av there's •ot too many bulldogs (ants) about; bud lave me to crassquistion him," said Mick, aB he handed the black a lump of mutton and damper, and a pannican of tea " Jist ate that Billy, an' thin come to yer juty to me, seein' as I'm the forty-second cousin ov a praste's nevvey. Bud suren here comes Misther Bowyer, an' he'll diBcoorse ye, so he will!" " What have wo here ?" asked the big 1 squatter as he rode up. 1 What, Billy ! is that you ? Well, it is a good job at all events that you are caught. Who brought him, here Mick ?" " Misther Hawley, eorr, an' suren he's inside," said the Irishman, pointing with his chin towards the den from which at that moment issued tbe " Pirate," who exchanged distant " good days" with Bowyer, who then said, "I see you have caught that scoundrel. May I ask where you got him ?" Hawley in reply briefly related the circumstances of the capture, and then expressed his astonishment at the murders, and asked Mr Bowyer if he had any idea as to the perpetrator. " Well, it looks uncommonly like the work of a blackfellow; and whoever it waa he went down the bed of the creek towards Mernindinie; but though I had a good search yesterday and to-day, I can't find when he left it." " If that's the case, as it is only 14 or 15 miles from Mernindinie to Howena by the stony golly under Black Jack, it is very likely Billy there did the buisnesB. If be left the creek and took to the porcupine no one could run his tracks ; and at any rate he's brute enough for anything." " Yes, after that last job I think he is, and I am very glad you have got him, Mr Hawley ; but unless further evidence is forthcoming I don't see how this last crime can be brought home to him. He richly deserves hanging for the assault on that poor woman," replied Bowyer, who, though be regarded Hawley steadily, did not let it appear that he noticed any signs of the recent encounter on him. " I'll go out and have a good look round myself when I hare had some dinner. Perhaps I may find out something, though I expect the tracks are very dead by this time." " Yi'p f they are dead. But, by the by, I saw Bruslier this morning and he would be glad to have the sheep drafted, as he says he has to give them too much dog to keep them." " Yes, I'll have to see about that at once. Mick, if there's a likely looking man with & dog here to-night, tell him to see me." " Sure'n I will, Sorr." " And then about a jury, Mr Hawley There ought to be twelve men go together by Tuesday, as I sent to Corporal Ganders by the mail, and he should be up on that day." " I am very muuh obliged to you for sending, Mr Bowyer, for it's a long stretch from this to Mount Remarkable and back, and there is no one here I could have sent except a fool of a new chum, ae I fancy Moses has cleared ; I'll get Leak and Falconer here to go to Wirracowie and Nooltana to-rnorrow, to get a jury together, though it seems a regular farce don't it." " Well, it is law ; and it is ju6t as well to comply as far as possible with that. I suppose you did not find any weapons belonging to Billy, did you." " No, they're planted somewhere, I expect, and it is no use asking where they are. Besides, if he used Moses's tools he's probably snnk them in one of the water holes—they'd sink like stones/' " Yes, that's just about where they are, I expect, but if we could only get hold of the pads he wore, they would be a great piece of evidence. Perhaps by going and having a good search in the creek where you caught Billy, they might turn up, suggested Bowyer. ' I'll go and have a hunt there tomorrow morning, for we'll have to get a conviction if possible. Such a wretch a Billy being at large makes it unsafe for a woman to stay by herself whilst her husband is out with the sheep ; and if we can't get a regular clear case, it will be the usual thing—a month or two in gaol, and then a brand-new rig-out, with tomahawk complete, and a roving commission,' said the overseer, who seemed very anxious to clear up tbe mystery, and glad to receive tny suggestions to that end. " There is one thing more I wish to speak about. Considine, who left here this morning, supplied the murdered men with rum the evening before they were killed, and I told him I should expect him and his assistant at the inquest on Tuesday." " I am very glad you did, Mr Bowyer ; I warned the infernal rascal when here before, that I would be down on him the next time he brought grog about tbe place. It is very hard that such scoundrels hould be allowed to do such mischief!" aid Hawley with the most virtuous inignation possible. " Yes, it is high time that business was topped ; and now, as I shall have to remain here over Tuesday, if there is anything I can do in the meantime to assist ou, please command me." "There will only be tbe drafting of Brusher's sheep, if a shepherd comes long, and so I think I can do all right, hank you," said Hawley, adding, " If you on't want your horse again to-day, Leak ill take him out and hobble bim." "Thanks I I should be glad if he ould," and then, after hanging his addle and bridle up under tbe verandah, owyer departed for Government House, uttering as he went, "The infernal coundrel! If be does not hang this time y name's not Bowyer 1" Hawley, for is part looked after the retreating figure ith a black sneer, remarking inwardly, That buzzard, the sharp righted Mr owyer I Pshaw, he's got something to earn yet." Then directing Mick to bring n the mid-day meal without delay, the verseer retreated to his den, leaving alconer to watch the fettered Billy. CHAPTER XXIII. F MOSES ON THE SCOOT. t When Bowyer left Frank he gave the b mu his head and soon reached Brusher's s ut, where he dismounted and made a uiet survey of the place. The first thing e noticed was a little heap of fresh «artb t the back of tbe but, where it bad vidently been recently thrown. From his earth he took a small pinch, smelt it ith an amused smile, and then repaired o the spot where, the night before, be had oured tbe fum on the ground, then the y g m r t S i s w
smile broadened into a silent laugh, as he perceived that the ingenious Brusher bad dug up the earth Biiturated with spirits. Bowyer muttered to himself "The old scoundrel, he got to windward of me tbere," and after taking a further look round, which Beemed to satisfy bim that nothing had gone wrong, bo again mounted his horse, and keeping on the verge of that morning's sheep tracks, ran them for about four miles to the plain opposite the Flagstaff, where he found the ex-poacher and bis dog under a solitary pine tree, tbe sheep standing huddled up in small mobs as much under the Bhade of the straggling bushes as they could get, with their noses drooping nearly to tbe ground. In this position the animals would Btand till about 4 p.m., when they would snddenly wake up to tbe fact that they were hungry and make a start to feed home. " Well, Brusher, you had a lively ' bull' laBt night," was Bowyer's salutation to the shepherd, a remark to which that worthy replied with one of his repulsive leere— " Well, dye see, it didn't go bad, dye see; bnt tbere wasn't a drunk ter be raised in the hull lot, dye see." " I am very glad there was not, for . you want to keep sober for tbe next few days, if ever you did in your life. I thought I'd come and have a look at you, in case you might find the sheep too troublesome, and to give you an extra warning to keep your own counsel, as everything depends on strict silence." " Yer needn't trouble, dye Bee, for five hundred quid, dye see, isn't to be picked up every day, dye see, an' I ain't agoin' to chuck the chance away, dye see." " No, it is not," replied Bowyer, half choked with the disgust he felt for the wretch before him. " And now about a man to stay with you. No one has turned np yet, and I was thinking that perhaps it would be better if you could do without one altogether. You will be safe enough by yourself so long as a certain party has no suspicions about you, for it is not likely thai he will still further endanger his neck by any needless crime." " Well, d'ye see, I was a thinking as how I should be just as well be myself, d'ye Bee, seein* as how d'ye see, there's no fear of Bobby lettin' any cove near the hut at night, d'ye see, without lettin' me know, dye see, an' with that there " pepper box," dye see, it 'ud be my fault if he got inside, d'ye see." " And you think you have the sheep all right." " Well, d'ye see, I think I have, d'ye Bee, but I ain't sure, d'ye see." " 1 hope you have ; and now I'll say good-day. Someone shall loo<i you up at the water to-morrow, and you can send in word if you miss any of the sheep," replied Bowyer, as he turned bis horse towards the FlagBtaff and rode away. " Yer kin tell Hawley, d'ye see, as how, d'ye see, the sooner the sheep 's drafted the better it'll be, d'ye see," sbouted Brusher, in such an offensive tone that if Bowyer's expression of countenance was any index to his thoughts, it was only by a resolute effott of self-control that he refrained from going back and giving the ex-poacher a sound licking. As it was, he contented himself with muttering, " The filthy old scoundrel!" and then unconsciously urging the Emu to his fastest amble, he was soon at a healthy distance from tils pet aversion. From Bowyer's subsequent proceedings, it looked very much as though he was merdy putting away time, as Hawley had done on the previous afternoon ; for though he visited the scene of the tragedy and afterwards rode about in various directions, he seemed to be far more engaged t in thought than in looking out for any fresh sign. Be was so absorbed that when about a couple of miles from Benbonuna in returning, be was somewhat startled in crossing one of the small creeks by tbe sudden appearance from behind a gum-tree of Moses, who with an ivoryladen grin saluted him with, " Hullo, Mr Bowyer ! When you bin come up ? You all right ?" " Yes, thank you, Moses, but where you bin spring from ? Mr Hawley bin come up." " Him come back pickaninny time. Him bin ketch 'ein Ram Billy long a Howena creeke. He bin run away, that one Mr Hawley no bloomin' good." " it is a good job Billy is caught; but what for you bin run away ? Him no bin hurt 'em you ?" " Him bin hit 'em me long whip. Him bloomin' wretch." " And so you cleared out, did you ? What are you doing here ?" " Me bin look out long a track. Me bin look out long a' pear." " And what have you found ?" " Me bin find 'em plenty. No blackfellow bin took 'em 'pear. No blackfellow bin kill 'em Baggs !" cried MoseB with an immense air of mysterious importance. " Track come up long a llleuroo ; walk long a Flagstaff." " I know. And now look here, Moses, no you yabber you bin look out long a anyone ; and no you tell 'em you bin see 'em me. You see, all about trooper come up three fellow sleeps; and they plenty ketch 'em. But suppose him look out something, bim bolt. You understand ?" " Me no yabber!" exclaimed Moses eagerly, exhibiting an extraordinary amount of eye-ball. " Well you 6ee, supposing Mister Hawley come up long a station pickaninny time, I think him walk long a Flagstaff long a afternoon; then you plenty look out long a creek ; but no you let bim look out long a you. You plenty look out, and no you make 'em track." " Me no bin make 'em track ; and me plenty look out, no gammon, an' him no look out alonga me." "That's all rigbt; and then you plenty tell 'em me all about everything; but no you come up longa station. You Bit down longa Knob. Me plenty look out longa you, and send 'em tuck out longa your mother." " All righte, all rigbte 1" answered Moses enthusiastically, evidently delighted with his commission. " You got it 'bacca, Mr Bowyer ? Me only got it leedle bit." " Yes, I suppose you must have some. But mind, Moses, no you yabber longa your mother. No you yabber longa Mickey. No you yabber long anybody. " No 1 Me know. We ketch 'em. No bloomin' gammon I" replied MoBes with swelling importance, then suddenly bis countenance fell, and he said in a very different tone indeed, " Suppose him brine 'em Quilp ?" " 0, by jingo, I did not think of that; but if he does you'll have to skedaddle, that's certain. But there, you'll see him longa way ; and suppose him come up ou walk longa range. A lot you too ood for dog's meat 1" " My God, yes 1" fervently ejaculated Moses, " but him no ketch 'em me. Me plenty look out;" and then after taking a editative whiff or two of his pipe and eceiving a few more instructions from Bowyer, the blhcfc departed towards the lagstaff, carefully solicitous to leave no racks, and the squatter went on to Benonuna, where be arrived, ae we have een, shortly after Hawley and his prisoner. (To be continued.) " Lord Tom" has pnt hie name down on he list of guarantors for the Jubilee how expenses. Bather soft of him ; but t is clear that all tbe fuss and flattery howered on the BraBBey party was not asted.