|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|
ft True and Erantfal Narrative •"'.i.y-. . • OF THIS EARLY DAYS IN HEW SOUTH WALES.
BY CAPTAIN LAC IE. > <
[COFYEIOHT BBSEETKD.] CHAPTER IX.
The party continued their search and six other bodies were discovered, amongst them being that of the captain, which was scarcely recognisable through the battering it had received. It was almost naked, and no valuables were found on it, though money and jewellery was obtained from some of the drowned sailors. A keg of rum was discovered on a projecting ledge of rock about twenty feet above high water mark, where it must have been washed by one of the gigantic waves which accompanied or followed the tornado. Strange to say, it was intact, and the men resolved to take it back with them. " We may want it some of these days, and it will come in useful," Lynch remarked, significantly, as the key was brought down. From the search the men concluded that not a soul had escaped from the wreck, and under the circumstances, as Gibson had said, they were not sorry that such was the case now the disaster had occurred to the brig. Though the blow was a severe one, it was somewhat softened by the fact that they had
secured money and valuables to the extent of nearly five hundred pounds by their quest, and, not seeing a prospect of getting any more, it was decided to at once return. There was no food obtainable, and it would take them at -least five hours to reach the homestead ' of Barumba Station. Shouldering the keg of rum, Lynch led the way to the top of the cliffs, and with a final glance at the grim scene below, they turned and went towards the west. So little did they think of their late friends that they did not even stop to bury the bodies but left them exposed to birds and animals. They were strict utilitarians, and, as Captain Phillip Benson and his crew were incapable of rendering them further service, the four men did not waste energy and time in attentions to the useless bodies. Shortly before two o'clock the party reached a point whence they had a view of the bay where it ran round to the jetty. Laurie, who was in advance, was the first to notice the strand, and as his glance instinctively extended to the spot where the tragedy had been perpetrated, he saw the figures of several
men on the beach, which he pointed out to his comrades when they came up. " They may only be aboriginals, but it will be as well to ascertain before we go back to the homestead. It is impossible to say from here who or what they are," he said. " Let us go straight across the flat towards the beach. From the last rise at the opposite side we will be able to clearly see who these people are. I don't think they are blacks," returned Lynch. Without delay they went on the course suggested, though not without some misgivings. A superstitious feeling possessed them that all was not right, and for once their thoughts were destined to be realised. Half-an-hour's hard walking brought them to a point not much more than a quarter of a mile from the jetty, and as they got to the summit of the ridge they quickly paused &t the sight in front. The sea had given up its dead once more, for lying on the sand was an object, which they instantly recognised as 'the body of the manager, James Moncton. Apparently the stones had fallen from the corpse, the ropes having been broken by nibbling fish or other causes. Five men stood around, the only one of
whom they could recognise being Alf Cosgrove, the cook. They were apparently in serious consultation as to the best course to pursue. After looking for a few moments at the group, Lynch said: " I think it is about time we made a move for ourselves, lads. Those fellows are no doubt that Rivers and the ,men sent down by Booth to take our places. There has been treachery sortiewhere, and everything seems to be going against us lately. Even the sharks must have cleared out of the bay, or that body would not have come ashore like that. There are two courses before us. We can either go back to the station and face the matter out, or slip quietly away to the hills and gradually make our way to other parts. There is no doubt they will see Moncton has been murdered. The remains of the ropes will be on the body and they will be sufficient to show foul play. Yet they will have the greatest difficulty in proving his death against us. Indeed, I don't see how they can do it, though there is no telling what the law will bring forth. If extremes are resorted to we can swear the assassins must have been Captain Benson or some of his men; but that will bring up the question of cattle-stealing, and we couldn't so easily escape that charge. There is sure to be a search made along the coast for the Penelope, and when the dead bullocks are discovered it will throw suspicion on us. The brands are there and will be for weeks to come. Give me your views on the point." ' " Mine are clear enough," returned Laurie, savagely. " I mean to take to the bush, even if I go alone. Why sUcu'd we run the risk of imprisonment
for years or perhaps gibbetted when there is no occasion to do so. There can be no one at the homestead now, and if we go there at Qnce we can get a supply of food and also the horses. You know where we can keep them, Jack, until they are required. If we don't go at once we will be in a fix, as we must have food before we can take to the ranges." " Come on, then !" exclaimed Lynch, striding on followed by the three men, who were of the same mind on the subject If the truth must be told they had a secret liking for the wild but free life of a bushranger, and were not disposed to risk their lives and liberty while they had freedom in their grasp. As they ascended the low range which intervened between the bay and the homestead, they looked back and saw the group on the beach which was still there and apparently engaged in making a stretcher to carry the body on. This work would cause delay and enable the men to get what food they re-
quired at the house. They reached the place in half-anhour, and whilst Laurie, Lynch and Gibson devoted themselves to making up swags of food, clothing and blankets. Thomas saddled and bridled four of the best horses—quite a number being kept stabled—and soon had them outside the back door. In addition to the provisions, which were packed on the horses, three rifles were taken, with one shot gun and a pistol. Laurie had the pistol carried by Moncton on the night of his murder, and that alone if found on him would go far towards securing a conviction. A couple of axes, with a spade, tinder-box and other useful articles, were added to the stores, and just before leaving Laurie donned an overcoat belonging to the cook. A cold meal was set out on the large table—probably for the party on the beach—and the hungry men fell upon it voraciously, leaving little but bones when they were finished. All this occupied but threequarters of an hour, and, after getting all the ammunition they could out of the rooms occupied by the late manager and Cosgrove, they left the homestead
leading the well laden horses towards the west Half-an-hour later Cosgrove, with Rivers and three other men, entered the clearing leading to the house and bearing a ghastly burthen in the shape of Moncton's body with them. Going to an adjacent shed the corpse was laid out in it, and, after locking the door, they went towards the dwelling-house whither the cook had preceded them.: He met them at the door, with a scared look on his face and the exclamation, " They've been here!" A short examination showed someone had been making free with the house and its contents. Two sides of bacon, a bag of flour, half chest of tea, a hundredweight of sugar, corned beef, tobacco, and a score of other articles had disappeared. The repast was demolished, and a hasty visit to the room of the late manager showed that the firearms and the ammunition were gone. "Have you looked in the stable, Cosgrove ? They may have taken some of the horses. Just take a peep and let us know, will you?" Rivers said
and the old man at once went over only to find four of the best animals missing. " This action conclusively proves their guilt, and no time must be lost in having them arrested. One of them is named Laurie, you say ? I think I have heard that name before somewhere. Most likely they will make for the ranges, and it will be our duty to follow and capture them. What do you say, Cosgrove ?" continued Rivers. " If we do they will capture us, that's about the way to put it. I am afraid they will turn out very devils and do a lot of mischief before being taken. I am quite ready to take my share of risk, but we would be no match for thein. They are skilled bushmen, magnincicnt riders, full of courage and quite reckless of their own lives or others. You would be a marked man, Rivers, for I believe Laurie has sworn to kill you on account of some old grudge he has against you. Take my advice, as you value your life, and don't let him or his comrades get sight of you," replied the old man. Rivers was an arrant coward, and Cosgrove knew it Indeed, from the moment he saw him the old man felt an instinctive dislike to the conceited, contemptuous young man, and in every
possible way he was showing his repugnance. He could afford to be short grained in temper, for Cosgrove had decided to leave Barumba Station as soon as he could communicate with the owner. The tragedy which had been enacted completed the resolve which he had partly formed for some months past in that direction. "They must be bloodthirsty scoundrels, then, and it will be foolish to throw away honest lives on them. It is a job for the constables, and I'll ride back to the Braiawood Station to-morrow and get assistance. You can manage until I return, I suppose r" replied Rivers, whose bogus ardor to capture the fugitives had suddenly evaporated. "Yes, I'll look after affairs, and we may as well bury Moncton. It is no use waiting for a magistrate to come. You'll bring one with you, of course, and I'll give you a letter to send on to the head-station with your own," returned Cosgrove. A grave was made about three hundred yards from the homestead towards the east, and that afternoon at dusk the remains of the manager, so strangely given up by the sea, committed to it. The only real mourner was Alfred Cosgrove, for he had a sincere regard for the man who for many years had been his companion and friend through good and evil times. Next morning soon after daylight Frederick Rivers, taking one of the men with him, set out for Braidwood, which was about seventy miles distant; and as a proof of the cowardly nature of Rivers, he did not return with the magistrate and contingent of constables sent down to Barumba. but went on to
Goulburn wherehe considered he would be safe. In the meantime affairs had not been quiet at the station. When Lynch and his companions left the house with the stores and arms they headed towards the peak, which rose out of Wanderer's Range. Progress was necessarily slow, as they could only move at a walking pace on account of the loads carried by the animals and the nature of the country. In consequence night fell before they were able to reach the destination they aimed at and they camped in the open. The horses were tethered ; with long ropes brought for the purpose, and with a good fire they made themselves comfortable enough for the night, a strict watch being kept, though they did not appear to be in dread of pursuit. At daylight they resumed the march and quickly reached the spot known as Grey Gorge, which, strange to say, the horses would not cross. Seeing this, Lynch said: " Take them round at the bottom of
the gully and I'll meet you at the White Cliff, Laurie. Keep your eyes open for those fellows may do a bit of tracking to-day." Laurie, Gibson, and Thomas took charge of the four horses and turned back so as to cross the ravine lower down in its course where the gorge ended in a narrow gully. Lynch continued ahead. Crossing the chasm, he went over the bare plateau of rock in a southerly direction. The breast of the peak rose upwards in an almost perpendicular line of solid rock broken in places by small patches of vegetation which clung to the sides. For a distance of nearly two hundred yards the sides were unscalable, but Lynch evidently did not wish to ascend. On reaching the south edge of the rock-flat—for such it really was—he found himself on the brink of a narrow but exceedingly deep ravine which dropped down at an acute slope fully a hundred feet. He clambered down with some difficulty and soon reached the splendid—almost tropical—growths at the bottom. A- perfect veil of vegetation was thrown -across the ravine, beneath which a subdued, mysterious
light—or twilight—existed In the centre a pellucid stream about three feet in width and not more than three or four inches in depth flowed like liquid crystal. The tree-ferns, ash and dogwood which grew around formed a support for the magnificent shrubs and creepers which canopied overhead, and as most of them were in flcwer the sight was a beautiful one. Lynch did not heed the fair scene, but made his way towards the east, walking in the flowing water as if he were desirous of hiding his tracks. Soon he came to a perfect barrier of ' vegetation, which apparently prevented exit or entrance. In a few minutes the young man, with an evident knowledge of the tangle, which it could now be noticed had been artificially formed by training, was divided on either side the network of luxuriant creepers easily parting. A hundred yards further down the ravine a similar screen was encountered and treated as the first one. By the way in which Lynch went about the work it was evident he had been at the spot before, and doubtless both he and Laurie had partly arranged the living barrier.
The ravine fell at a rather acute slope, but as Lynch descended, clearing away obstacles which hung across the small silvery stream, he saw the horses standing in a group at the bottom where the slope levelled and the ravine extended in breadth to a fairsized gully. When he reached them Laurie led his animal, which appeared conversant with the place, along the course of the stream upwards to the range. He was followed by the others, each leading a horse, and almost as soon as they passed a spot the water filled up the tracks with the sand and yielding mould of which the bed of the watercourse was composed. This was evidently the idea of the men in making the rivulet their roadway. The steepness of the path made it a matter of great difficulty to ascend, but gradually the ground was covered and the spot reached where Lynch first descended. As the cavalcade passed the screens of vegetation already mentioned Lynch and Laurie arranged them as they had first been, and no one would have imagined a wallaby much less men and horses had gone through the place. As the face of the mount was reached the ravine, now almost dark from the
dense growths overhead, turned in a half-circle to the south and for nearly a hundred yards it was almost level. Suddenly the party came to what appeared the end of the gorge. A wall of rock rose abruptly from the back, and from this three small springs poured out and joined forces below. The wall was not less than fifty feet in height and in spots overgrown with creepers and shrubs, but which were not sufficiently strong to afford aid in climbing. When the halt was called Lynch and Laurie left the horses, and, going to the west side of the gorge, they began to make another passage through the sylvan growth. Gibson and Thomas looked on with some wonderment, for though they were aware that the two men had found a retreat in the great range, they did not imagine it would be so concealed or so difficult to reach as apparently the one they were now attempting was. The huge masses of moist creepers were soon lifted to one side and a narrow passage scarcely wide enough for a horse to go through was revealed. It led due west and the slope was upwards but not very steep. The rocky floor was slippery and the gloomy place was dimly lighted from chinks that existed in the roof of the pass which was at an avenge height of twenty feet In places it dipped as low as seven feet and again it rose until in the gloom the rocky covering was not discernable. After going about fifty yards to the west, the sound of falling or rushing water was heard, and extreme difficulty was experienced in getting the horses to go forward. B 9 (to be continued.)