|Newspaper Title||The Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 - 1916)|
|Trove Title||Barumba Station; Or, Amy Rivers Sacrifice. A True and Eventful Narrative of the Early Days in New South Wales|
S i t e ^cvcYurt. BMUIBA STATl657 OR, Amy River s Sacrifice.
A True and Eventful fiarrati?8 OF THE EARLY DAYS IK HEW SOUTH WALES.
BY CAPTAIN LAC IE.
[COPTBIANR RHSEEVED.] CHAPTER XIII.
Halpin's efforts in tiie direction of salvage would have proved almost useless had it not been for the opportune arrival of Cosgrove, who, in the strong light, ventured across, and being challenged was able to convince the party he was a friend. The old cook set them to work on the store-room, and a good many useful articles of food and clothing were obtained. These were conveyed to an outhouse used occasionally for curing beef and pork. The place was large enough to hold the party, and when the (lames were burnt out a strong watch was set and the re-
mainder of the worn-out men sought solace in sleep. At daylight all were astir, and Cosgrove told the major everything that had occurred on the previous day, not even forgetting the poison incident much as it was against himself. " They are, in a manner, wild beasts; but I wouldn't care to do anything like that, Cosgrove," was the major's comment on the affair j but he was speedily silenced by the Scotsman's retort. " I don't think the families of those two poor fellows, whose bodies lie in the stable, would think I attempted to do wrong. When they hear what has occurred they will lament I did not succeed. It was only done to save honest lives." "Perhaps you are right, Cosgrove. Certainly you arc looking at it in the light you do ; but we'll let the subject drop. I am in a diiemma how to proceed now. I was sent down here to make for the coast and see what the meaning of the wreck was—or, at least, what vessel it was. The fools who reported it did not take the trouble to make full enquiries. They said the sea was too rough to approach closely and all that. I will first hold the enquiry on the body of Moncton. You ; buried him where yonder mound is, I believe," the officer said, pointing to the small heap of earth which marked the last resting-place of the manager of
Barumba Station. "Yes, sir, poor James Moncton's body is there, but I hope his spirit is aloft The coast is only ten miles from here, and I daresay we could make the trip across and back in a couple of days. If you leave two men with me I'll have everything right by the time you return, and then we can take up the chase after these murderers. I have a couple of fellows in the bush yonder. They were too afraid to venture out last night, so I thought it would be best to iet them stop out till this morning. I'll go and bring them across," answered Cosgrove as he left Halpin and went for his late comrades. The enquiry into the deaths of Moncton and the two constables did not last long. It was a foregone conclusion, and when verdicts of wilful murder had been returned against Lynch, Laurie, Thomas and Gibson, two more mounds were added to the one under which the late manager slept in the embrace of death. As it was impeiative the major should carry out the instructions on which he and the party had been sent, he left in the forenoon with five of the men, leaving two to supplement the limited force with Cosgrove. It is needless to recapitulate what the cflicer found. Tiie remains of those lost in the Penelope, which had not disappeared, were collected and buried, and, after finding out the name of the vessel, there was no difficulty in ascertaining how it had been driven ashore, as the path of the tornado was weli defined.
On the afternoon of the second day Major Halpin returned to the ruined homestead of Barumba Station and found Cosgrove and his comrades had not been idle, as they had thrown up a rough structure from the material about under which they could live with more comfort than in the curing-house. That evening Halpin, Flood, and the old cook had a long and serious talk as to the best course to pursue, and it was finally agreed the bushrangers should be followed. " It is no use in my going back to Braidwood like this. It mear.s a journey of two hundred miles and would simply result in me being sent back to the district with instructions to hunt down these men. You ought to know a good deal about the hills, Cosgrove, and you are a thoroughly good "bushman, Flood, so we ought to have a fair chance of success. At any rate, it is our duty to try, and try I will. We'll go away in the morning and all hands with us. There is little to protect here just now, and eleven men will have a better chance of success than nine. If those two employees are too cowardly to fight they will be useful enough to carry food. Pack horses would be of little or no use in the ranges, I know, and we must get over the ground as quickly as possible. Of course you'll make one, Cosgrove," remarked Halpin. "That I will, sir. I'm determined to sec the end of them ! What if Laurie did spare my life ? I don't see they had any right to take it, and, besides, I'm a supporter of the law and James Moncton's avenger. Of course I'll go, fir, and show you likely places to find
them." returned the old man, with vehemence. The majcr could scarceiv refrain from laughing at the logic of Cosgrove, but he managed to do so as he fully recognised the late manager's friend would prove a valuable aid in the ranges, and, after all, the matter was not a laughing one by any means. The four men he desired to bring to justice had placed themselves outside the pale of consideration by their atrocious acts, and while at large they were a menace to peaceful people. Before daylight preparations were made for the departure. As the expedition would probably remain away for a week or more it would be absolutely necessary to take a good supply of rations, and Cosgrove, with the assistance of his two men, and one of the constables were about at 2 A.M. preparing the food. At sunrise all was ready, and, after filling the ample wallets and securing the swags in a way which would offer the least resistance to the scrub and undergrowth, a start was made. Prior to this the horses were hobbled and turned loose to get their own food, and the same course was followed in the case of half-a-dozen penned pigs. " Our best plan will be to go to the place where we had the fight. It may be possible to pick up sonic tracks and follow from there," spoke Flood to his chief, as they turned towards the west. This seemed good advice and it was followed, but very little success attended the endeavors of the party to get on tiie trail. Three days had elapsed, and in that time the prints were rendered almost illegible. Once or twice signs were noticed which in-
dicated the outlaws had gone that way, and -Cosgrove found on a small log traces of blood, as though a wounded animal had rested at the spot. This discovery gave rise to the hope that one or more of the outlaws might have been injured—perhaps fatally—in the fight, and, after all, their quest might not be so dangerous a one as they thought. This success was not followed up, and, after a couple of hours' search, it was agreed to make for the ranges and trust to finding indications there which might lead them on the tracks. " 1 believe they are somewhere about the great peak yonder,'' observed Cosgrove, pointing to the high mount near the base of which he had the strange tryst with the late manager. " I may as well tell you," he continued, " that Moncton was searching about there for a couple of weeks before he was murdered. He had an idea a great cave or enclosed space existed in the vicinity, and that it was there the young fellows concealed cattle when they meant to get them off quietly. His notion was the man or men who bought them carried the stock inland, and it was almost useless to tell him they went away by sea. On the very day the Penelope was lying in port he was over there, and I went and told him about the ship and how I had seen the men ' cutting out' cattle. As we were leaving for the
homestead he said a big discovery had been made by him that day of a secret place in the mountain which he would show mc later on ; but, of course, he was killed that night and could not do so." "Then let us go across to the peak and begin our search from its vicinity. The information you now give us is most important and likclv to lead to something. I suppo/e Moncton was not the man to say what he did unless he had good reason for it,"' answered thfi major. "Not he. James Moncton was a man of his word, and never told a lie so far as I know. He meant ni-,'.e by what he said than was convoyed in his words, I could tel! that, but, being so excited by what I had seer., was in no humor to question him. If we go along this gully it will bring us almost to the spot we want to reach," returned the old man. Major Haplin had divided his forcc into two bodies, but strict instructions were given that not mote than t>vo hundred or two hundred and fifty yards should separate the two panics, lie did so for tiie reason that in such a rugged, timber-covered distiict two bodies of men were more likely to hit on the fugitives than one. A signal was arranged on, and after Cos-rove's communication a man was sent to Flood, who had charge of the second part, to bring him to the chief. The senior-constable was given the purport of the old cook's communication, and the objective point being known they
again separated and moved in the direction of the peak. It was almost sunset when the end of the valley into which the ('.rev Gorge flowed was reached, and in consequence of the rugged nature of the country ahead it was decided to camp at the spot and both books were called together. Tiie night promised to be fine and the camping arrangements were of the most primitive description. Selecting a spot at which reasonable shelter from attack could be obtained, the major told the men they must sleep like himself with their rugs wrapped round them, and, of course, a fne would not be permitted. The night passed quietly enough, and it was in striking contrast to the oncon which the homestead had been destroyed by the outlaws and two of the constables met their doom. The stars shone out brilliantly and made the surroundings quite visible. They were located almost under the tremendous cliff which lifted itself skywards, and the solemn, almost eternal, silence which brooded on it seemed to the men a protest against the quest of blood they were on. Far below them, as it seemed, a hoarse murmur rose, and it would have sounded wc-iid and su<"'cstive had not Cosgrove explained it^was the noise made by the torrent which j foatned at the bottom of the curious Grey Gorge. The crics of nocturnal i birds and animal:, vtrie the only other < noises which disturbed the st'ilir.e-:- ! and to the watcher;, who in ii i;n mounted guard, the scene was impres-: sive beyond description. j With the first ahmpseofday a-1 were ' astir, and it aas arranged to make a !
start for the cliffs without ddav. As there w.t:; no water at the camtnng-Hnce a couple or the men were sent into the gorge below to fili the cans. It was part of the plan not to allow one man to leave the main body. Alone he might be pounced on and slaughtered without being able to give an alarm to his comrades. The place where the rivulet trickled in the glen was about a hundred yards from the camp, and the men had not been absent more than three or four minutes when they returned with a scared expression and empty cans. " What the deuce is the matter with you fellows ?" asked Fiood, in a bad temper, as they met him. " There's a body down there, senior," answered one of the men, pointing to the glen. " A body ?"' echoed Flood. Yes, a man's body. It is lying in the water, caught in a snag. We didn't wait to examine it," came the reply. " tVho on earth can it be ?" muttered the senior, going over to where the major was conversing with Cosgrove and conveying the quite unexpected and unpleasant news. " Get three or four of the men and come along. We may be able to identify it. Come on, Cosgrove," Halpin said, with sudden interest. The two men who had made the grim discoveiy led the way, accompanied by the major, Flood, Cosgrove, and two of the constables, and when they got into the gloomy gorge, shrouded as it was in a shadowy twilight caused by the overhead vegetation, it was some moments before they could recognire the hideous-looking object which floated backwards and forwards
in a small pool in the stream. It was a human body caught in the weeds and crcepeis, and as their eyes became more accustomed to the gloom it was easier to notice cach point. The corpse was fearfully battered and disfigured, and from its appearance had been two or three days in the water. None of the men could recognise the remains for some minutes ; bin at last Cosgrove said : " I believe it is Ned Thomas, one of the bushrangers. Yes, I'm sure of it. There is the tattoo mark 011 tiie arm, and the clothes left are such as he usually wore. Thomas it is sure enough," he concluded, with an air of decision. " 1'his would account for the blood found on the log, then. He must have been fatally wounded, but his comrades got him away and when he died threw the body into the gorge in the hope it would never again be found. You may depend that is what has happened. They couldn't all have escaped uninjured 011 that evening. Fully a dozen shots were fired, and some of them at close range. Ah, well, we know the end of one, and this discovery is important as it shows we arc on the right road. Let us take the body out of this and sec if we can find the cause of death. Come here, Mike ; it won't bite you," Halpin said, concluding with a vigorous admonition to
the dilatory constable, who did not relish the task before him. With some little difficulty the body of the luckless Thomas—for such it was—got lifted and conveyed out of the glen where the light was strong enough to allow of a better examination. This did not result in making the men any wiser as to the cause of death, for so bruised and mutilated were the remains it is probable a skilled medical man would have been unable to accurately determine the immediate cause which ended the outlaw's life. " We must give it up as a bad job ; we can't afford to waste time here any longer. Let the corpse lie where it is as we have nothing to dig a grave with," at length spoke Halpin. " Couldn't we lift it into that ledge of rock, sir ?'' asked Mike, who had all an Irishman's horror of leaving a body he had touched unburied. "Well, you may as well. It will not take a minute and the remains will not be so much disturbed there. Yes, put it into the recess,consented the <.Hi<"er. This was a small opening in a cliff large enough to hold the body which was at once placed in it, where twenty years later a few mouldering bones found by a shepherd revived the circumstance when the police were callcd to enquire into the cause of a human skeleton being deposited at ;-uch a spot. For some weeks the authorities thought they had got a clue to a barbarous murder, but full publicity being
given resulted in the facts cf Lvnch's bushranging cang being reviewed witn the story of Thomas's sepulture. After a short repast it was agreed to explore some of the goraes to the southward, as the fart af the body be-in-; found in that direction was presumptive proof the outlaws were not far away, or at least had gone to the south rather than to the north in which the pursuers h.-d been heading. The fust place examined was the chasm known as Grey Gorge, and out of which it almost seemed the corpse of the outlaw had been washed, as it was discovered not more than ten yards from the mouth. A glance into the weird depths suggested Thomas mi'Jit have fallen into the place at night time, and that theory would account lor the stale of the body. It mattered little to the men whether he had or not so long as he was out of t'nc way and had not to be reckoned with. After passing the adamantine plateau the party dipped into a deeper gulch than the ore lately examined, and there the vegetation was denser than ever. It seemed as if fortune was in their favor as they struck a point at the bottom where the ravine apparently ended in a wall of vegetation, yet under which a small stream of crystal water ran. The keen eyes of Senior-constable Fiood was attracted by this singular Vi-i;. and something in its appearance seemed to indicate it had been tampered with by man or beast. (Joins to the ws 11 i't creepers i:e< .I'Sghl a poriioii and loreit npait-, and the ii^ht b:eai:inu ki reveakd the continuation of the gorge. 11 1 (TO DE CONTINUED.)
(A Synopsi; ufprn-ou^ Chaps. ends lh:- i:i->iaWnl.)