Chapter 52031065

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Chapter NumberXXXIII
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1884-10-18
Page Number3
Word Count1953
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleMorning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)
Trove TitleRonald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay
article text

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Little Ron's disappearance was caused in this way. He had been in the habit of running to thc stock-yard when cattle were being brought in, for thc purpose of having a ride back on his father's horse. Ronald and the men had ¡mt a mob of cattle in, but a cranky-tempered heifer calf, about four months old, ran away from the slip-rails, and over thc ridge, just os Rou was half way there. He, not being observed, Btruck off too, no doubt thinking he would meet his father on his return with thc calf. He ran on as hard

as his little legs could go, till out of sight of the house, stock-yard, and everything else that be knew bysight. Then he gat frightened and ran till ho had to stop for breath. He cried for his father and mother, and for the

men, but they were as yet unconscious of his absence, and the poor little soul felt thc bitterness of being without a protector in thc lone, lone bush. Reader, have you ever experienced thc sensation of utter helplessness desolation, and bewilderment, that takes pos- session of tnosc who are lost in the bush towards night, even with the knowledge that in the morning you were eure to turn up aafely somewhere ? fi so, you may be able, though partially, to understand the sufferings of that infant, who hod never been out of sight of one or other of his beloved paronts for five minutes during his brief existence, and who had no mature reason to guide and comfort him. He started again, and trotted on, as children generally do at such times, with almoBt unwearying steps in the wrong direction, and up into elevated land. When he had gone several miles, he sat down on a Btone on a high ridge. He thought of the story of " The Babes in tho Wood," which be had so often heard from his mother's lips. He thought how they, poor little creatures, had died. Their case was a sad one indeed, but how much more sad was his 1 He had no little

brother or sister to talk to, pray with, or snuggle into before the last Bleep. He knew full well that no kind little dicky birds would cover Mm up with leaves, but instead, the black, wicked crow would probably pick at him, and the native dogs would tear his tender flesh. True, the angels would be sure to bear his little spirit to heaven, his mother had always told uim that they would, when he died. He did not kuow what his spirit was but he knew it was a part of him that would live for ever. He had never seen an angel ; he believed them to be numerous and good ; but what could take thc place of his dear mother? What could possibly bc so good? He would rather have had his mother at that moment than fifty angels. But those terrible native dogs ! Oh ! The thought was too much for him, and he cried in terror. His senses were becoming numbed from thc great strain they had BO long sustained, and ho threw himself upon the ground, and was sobbing himself to sleep, when he was aroused by the sound of voices. He jumped up joyfully, instantly forgetting in his pleasure at being found, that he had ever been lost. He recognised Wontungalec's voice, and ran to her gleefully, asking har to take him to his mamma. She took him in her arms, kissed him, and asked him many questions as to how he got astray, and was about to carry him towards home, when thc devil entered into old Momkoll, and she determined to carry him oft to thc camp at Coongbroggie. Wontugaleercsisted with might and main, even to force,but thc threats of uer mother caused her eventually to resist, and abe went on her solitary way in grief, while the old woman returned with little Ron to her own people. Wontungalee knew what the consequence to the blacks would be, if she divulged what she knew, though she was sorely tempted to do so, when she saw the pitiable grief and trouble her kind protectors were thrown into by the event. But something more than fears for her people induced her to keep the Beeret. Her

mother had threatened her with the infliction of a loathsome disease, of which she would die a lingering death in great agony, if she divulged one word. Thc young of both sexes are held in great awe of such threats. They are forbidden, uuder the same penalty, to eat turkey's or emu's eggs ; and fear of the same punishment is ever before the eyes of the man who looks on his mother-in-law, and whenever he is in danger of doing so unwitt- ingly, some warning voice calls out, his hand goes up to bis face as a screen, aud he makes a circuit to avoid thc meeting. How much in advance of us are the aborigines in that respect ! Would it not be worth while to intro- duce the same item into our marriage customs ? It would save many heartburnings.

The evening little Rou was lost, Ronald Walton was employed at the stock-yard draft- ing the cattle till it was quite dark. Ada

missed Ron from the verandah soon after ho disappeared, but as she had heard the whips and the cattle coming in, she felt no uneasi- ness about his absenoe'not, doubting that he had gone to the stock-yard, and quite expected to Bee him on his father's horse as the party rode up to take their saddles off. Ronald called for the child before unsaddling, knowing that he would be disappointed if ne did not have a little ride, and wondered why he had not made his appearance. Ada went out on bearing her husband call ; then questions and answers came rapidly from each side-questions and answers of ex- pectancy and dread. Then was consternation suchas Boorooma had never before known. Every one took up the search with the heartiest goodwill, for each loved the little boy as though he hod been their own. With sinking hearts, they scoured tho buBh far and near, cracking their whips, shouting, and firing guns at intervals, with what result may be

imagined from what lias beenalready narrated, i Wautungalee was met and interrogated, but 1 without effect. AU that night the search

was kept up, and next morning, when the ! searchers dropped in one by one on knocked up horses, they were commandod to Btay till all were again together, that the search

might be carried on more systematically. Two ] parties were then formed, one to go on foot, ¿with Wontungalee as tracker-for she w*as the only black on the station-and the other ou horseback, under Ronald's own command. Wontungalee was quite competent to have run nis tracks from the start to the finish, but of course she kept clear of them altogether, and led the little band, with apparently the freatest zeal,deceiving them most completely,

t must bo said that she would willingly have

avoided the deception and have told all, but J that was out of the question, for, however ! potent the protection of the Boorooma people might bc against thc personal violence of her tribe , yet she could not shake off her native superstition sufficiently to defy the terrible incantations of old Momkoll. Days of agonised unsuccessful searching, and nights of sleepless tossing, quickly told on even Ronald Walton's iron frame, and he dwindled down to a shadow of his former self ; so great was the chango in him, that Tommy Jones did not recognise him when he saw bim, and was much shocked at the alteration, and also the cause of it, Tommy had, aa on all former trips, a large supply of toys of the noisiest

description, for his favourite, little Ron, and J shed tears as he gave them into the keeping of the new woman, with strict injunctions to give them to the little fellow if he overturned up again-a contingency that every one at Boorooma had as completely givedup all idea of, as tiley wished from the bottom of their hearts it might come to pass.

Tommy Jones' sad information respecting Silas Blast and his man reached Ronald's ears without touching one chord that vibrated

Wiith pity or wonder, or, indeed, prodnoing

any feeling at all, for be waa dead to any near

sensation, of however startling a nature, tuv, connected with his Son. It is quite likely that he would have forgotten all about it, had it not been that he remarked to Tommy when that individual told him of it, that he would write a letter to Blast's partner; which

letter, Tommy jogged his memory about the evening before he started on bis down trip ; for it was only by such opportunities that letters could be forwarded in those


When Tommy arrived in Brisbane, bis deposition was tiken, and two policemen were sent up to Boorooma to make further enquir- ies, and also to examine the place where the remains were found by Tommy, They recognised thc bushrangers' dog by his peculiar head, and portions ot his

skin that were still extant.

Blast having died intestate, and thc nearest of kin being his infant daughter, it was arranged by thc proper authorities, that the estate should bc managed according to the direction of trustees, in whom it was invested for the benefit of the child till she became of age ; said trustees being subject to thc control of the Judges of the Supreme Court in Sydney. The trustees requested Ronald to continue as manager of the station, offering him a much more liberal salary than hitherto, and other advantages not previously accorded bim by Blast, which he gladly accepted. A cycle of good seasons came, and all things improved. The sheep increased, the station paid better than it hod ever done, and in due course Ronald's Malary was again raised. AU this was very gratifying, but Ronald's family kept increasing, and though he could see , no immediate prospect of being able to make a i fresh start entirely on his own account,; he I yet determined to do so as soon as possible. ! He was restless at Boorooma, and would hkve

very gladly taken up with something fresh that would have occupied his mind more fully, if possible, to chase away the niue devils that had thc unpleasant knack of coming back ever and anon with whisperings

of his lost ono. He felt that it would be so as

long as he remained amongst those old associations. One day, in a wretched state of mind, ho started for Talmugga-the station before mentioned as being six wiles fromCurra Curra, by the Big Range-to see his old friend and school-mate, Harry Throsby, the manager, his object being to soc if he would join liim in taking up . the Coongbroggie country, and stocking in. Throsby waB at home, and lent a willing ear to the proposal. They talked over their plans, and arranged matters to their mutual satisfaction, and Ronald returned to Boorooma. He was to send Throsby word when he could find time

to pilot him to the country, and explore it

with him.

[To be contlnufd)