|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Ronald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay|
j laka ml Sffatûm.
OF KARLY SQITATTINO LlFE
AUTHOR OF ADVENTURES IS QUEENS-
CnAPTER XXXV.-Cotitimml. I
It was not a religious feeling that prompted Woutungalec to confess. The disclosure hud been forced from her by feelings of gratitude. She would have divulged all at first, only thc terrible threats of her mother, which she firmly believed would come to pass, so tilled her supcrstituous soul witli terror, that she dared not exercise her better feelings till all danger from her parent's menaces had passed away. She now felt that the risk of dis- obedience was reduced to a iniuinutm, because
ber end was so near. She always had a strong hope that after death she would " jump up white-Mary," for she thought that state of existence was thc highest it was possible for a gin to attain.
Ada felt, now, that the gin was perfectly sane and was telling thc truth. Feelings of joy and impatience at first predominated, but soon they were sadly mixed with doubts as to the possibility of recovering her boy from the hands of thc fierce Molonga. She stood as though spell-bound for a long timo, still holding thc hand of the gm, who gazed at her wonderingly and shook her head, for her fixed and altered look frightened her. The dogs barked, and Ronald and his friend, Throsby, rode up to the house. She dropped the girl's hand, and walked from the sickroom with the same expression on her faoc. She met her husband without the old smile of delight ut his return, and said,
'..Ronald, our first-born is alive, Wontun galee says, and is in thc hands of Molonga. Gp and bring him home."
With these words she staggered, but was caught by Ronald. Throsby heard what was said, and the news startled him, but he could take no immediate action, or make any Ïiroposal till Ronald had attended to his wife,
t waa only a momentary faiutnesss, and as soon as She recovered, she said,
" Go to her, Ronald. Sec if you can gather anything more from her."
"Ronald did so, and found Jupiter listening to something Wontungalee was saying, with the greatest attention and surprise. She was gibing him the whole history of thc carrying away of the child, the death of the three bushrangers, and the preservation of the fourth. These revelations astonished Jupiter not a little, for she had kept her counsel completely, never by word or look betraying Jher secret till that moment. She gave him ^instructions as to how he was to proceed to surprise Molonga, and get possession of the boy.. She also let him into a secret that the reader has probably hod some inclination to solve. It was the hiding place of Molonga, after he jumped off the bank into the lake when he was hard pushed, on more than one occasion; also where Cooreliahid Giovanni í when his three mates were killed by the blacks. She? asked to sec Ada, who went to
f ' MÍSSUB, I very sorry I been tell you big lie 'bout little Ronny-I say. Missus-you ask'm Misser Ronni' put'm me in a box (coffin) .'long aground-all the same like it white Mary, and read'm book. Then I believe mc jump up white-Mary, You tcll'm. Misser Renal1 not tchoot'm my old marmy, and Molonga, Oh !" .«ho groaned, for sue was seized with another temblé pain, and pressing her hands to her side, she lay motionless so long that all bent over her, thinking she was dead. Nothing could bc doiic to help her, so ter White friends left her with poor Jupiter, who sat beside her mourning, for ho was very
fond of her.
She lay for hours thus, and Ronald, Ada, and Throsby, Bat in council to form a plan of action for thc recovery of little Ron. They
knew it would be a difficult task, even with the utmost fiuessc they could bring to bear in its accomplishment. Any wrong move on their part might cause the death of thc boy at the hands of thc blood-thirsty chief. 1 hey thought that the best mode of procedure would be to reconnoitre, and Burpiïso thc camp at night, as nothing could be done with blacks in open warfare.
About midnight, Wontungalce awoke from her death-like trance, ano asked Jupiter faintly to go for Ronald and Ada. When they went to her, she was unable to speak, and could only turn her eyes upon them as if supplicating their forgiveness. They both
said some kind words to re-assure lier, for they rightly interpreted her look. Then she smued, closed lier eyes, and passed away so quietly that they did not know the precise
time of her death.
Neither of thc parents cherished the least illfeeling towards Wontungalce for her long silence respecting thc abduction of her child, believing that she was over-awed by her mother's terrible threats. They felt that she would not have planned such a diabolical act, for she was tender and indulgent to children, almost to a fault, and little Ron had always been ber special favourite. Moreover, lying and deceit were certainly not faults of hers. Her nature was affectionate and obliging, as is that of so many young gins. But, alas 1 in their wild state, how sadly they ohangc as old age creeps on. It may be that the brutal treatment of their tyrannical men is more than their temper-or that of any other human can stand, without utterly breaking down.
Ronald had been to Talmugga to tell
TliroBhy that he was ready to go to Coong broggie, to rix on sites for the buildings and sheen-yards. Jupiter was with him, and it was from that journey that be returned at the time Wontungalee was making her confession
Wontungalee was buried next morning in a rough collin, and prayers were read over her "all tlie same like it white-Mary" as the simple creature rai nested ¡ and if she did " jump up white-Mary," as she confidently hoped under thc circumstances, it may reasonably bc expected from her antecedents, that she did not disgrace her colour.
It took tile remainder of that day to com- plete the preparations for the expedition. Ronald determined not to take a large party with bim. He knew from long experience, that a few who could bc thoroughly trusted would bc better than n large party of men, most of whom he knew but little of ; so he selected Smasher, Pinchgut, and thc sheep overseer, who, with Throsby, Jupiter, and himself, would make a suuicioutly strong band of reliable men to storm the whole i tribe of Wockogos, supposing thom to be all
in camp together, which was not likely. A decided plan of action could not bc formed till a reconnoitre wus made, but thc genera] idea was to push on with all haste till within n fen- miles of the lake, then the party were ti camp in as good a hiding-place as could bc found, mid Jupiter waB to go by himself and find out the exact place where Molonga was camped, for blacks are always shifting their camping ground. Jupiter had gathered from Wontungalee, that Molonga never moved ilia head quarters from the neighbourhood of the lake, so thc probability was that thc camp would bc in some part of thc belt of forest
near thc lake.
CHAPTER XXXVI.-THE START FOR COOXC
BltOr.OIE.-JlTNTER RECONNOITRES, AND IS IN PERIL.-MOLOXCA'S SECRET HIDING PLACE DISCOVERED.-CArTrnE OF LITTLE KON ; RETURN OF THE PARTY ; AND RON'S BEHAVIOUR.
RONALD and his party started for Coong broggie, early in thc inöruingaftor poor Wou tungalcc's body was cummitted to the grave. Ronald was very much afraid that his wife's fortitude would break down when he left her, for thc suspense would be a very great strain on her ; but she assured him that she was brave and determined enough to bear thc terrible burden till his return, and would pray unceasingly for him in her heart, and keep herself from despair. She could quail at thought of possible evils, when they did but lightly threaten, but, like a true daughter of a gallant old British officer, she could face thc inevitable with courage. Thc adieu was short between her and her husband, for neither would risk a scene at the last moment ; but in spite of ail precautions, they parted with full hearts, and a little more lengthy leave-taking would have inevitably opened thc flood gates of grief. The stem, self-disciplinarian, Ronald, rode at thc head of the party for some miles in silence, which his friend, and the men understood and res- pected. They felt his position keenly. There was not one of that party, not excepting Jupiter, who would not willingly have shared or lightened his auxicty, if it had been possible, so deep was their sympathy for him. This kindly feeling had been brought about by his un ifonn kindness to all with whom be came in contact. Jupiter led the spare horse for little Rou to ride home on, if they suc- ceeded in their attempt.
On thc afternoon of thc third day, tiie party camped about five miles from the lake, and waited till dark before sending Jupiter on to reconnoitre. Instead of chain hobbles, the horses were hobbled with stirrup-leathers, for fear thc clink of the chains should bc heard by any stray black out hunting. Ko fire was made, so thc yiarty had to content themselves with cold water instead of the usual beverage
BO dear to bushmen-tea. There was not much conversation, and the little that was indulged, in was carried on in a whisper, for on such expeditions the utmost caution has to bc used, especially when in the vicinity of the
blacks that are " wanted."
There was no moon, and the night was fortunately windy. Jupiter proceeded cautiously, and it was lucky he did so, for Alien he had got about two miles on his way, he found himself in the midst of a party of blacks that had been out hunting, and were returning loaded with game. The blacks were scattered, and of course did not notice that Jupiter was a stranger. One of them spoke to him, but as he perfectly understood the language of thc Wockogos, he entered into conversation, and skillfully wormed out all he wanted to know. Having got within sight of the camp, and not during to venture too near for fear of detection, he lagged behind. Tho black who had spoken to him Bcomed inclined to wait, but he told him to go on, for he wanted to cut a 'possum out of a tree that lie knew of, and would soon pull him up. The block fortunately did not suspect any- thing, and went his way, and to avoid the possibility of detection, Jupiter nimbly climbed an ironbark tree, and stayed there for an hour or two after he supposed all the blacks hod passed, and then quietly decendiug, trotted back towards his own party. When within half a mile of his destination, he again encountered some blacks that were going in thc direction of the lake. In his haste, and not expecting to find any more about at that late hour, he did not observe them till they saw him, and called out. He did not lose his presence of mind, but still kept on, thinking it possible he might pass without further challenge. Not so, for one called ont, nud asked his name and where he was going. Slackening his pace slightly, he gave a name that he had heard one of the blacks called by, who was amongst thc lot he encountered near the lake, and further stated that he had lost bis tomahawk, and was in search of it. They were apparently in as great a hurry as'he to gut on, and uo doubt thinking it was all right tiley moved on at a rapide pace, and allowed bim to do thc same, which liberty he took full advantage of, though with a greater degree of caution than before. Jupiter's addresB, experience, and the friendly shades of night, were thus the means of saving his lifo on two occasions that evening. If attacked, he might possibly hare shot one or two of his enemies, for he was armed with a Enir of pistols ; but he would certainly have
cen overwhelmed and hacked to pieces eventually. He reached thc camp, and gave
an account of all he had seen and heard since his departure, Ronald and his companions felt to the full, how the object of their expedi- tion had boen jeopardised, and how adroitly Jupiter had averted the danger. Ronald toldhimhowthclastpnrtyofblackshe encount- ered hadpaSBcd closeto their place of conceal- ment for their voices hail been heard as they passedfifty yards off. Itwasfortunate, indeed, that they had taken tho precaution to hobble their horses with stirrup-leathers, otherwise tho rattle of thc chains must have attracted tho attention of thc savages.
It was agreed that they should lie perdu for some hours longer, and then proceed with great caution towards the blacks' camp, which they would reach a little before day- light. Ronald and Throsby kept watch, while the three white men and Jupiter Blept. Throsby knew that his friend would not sleep at such a time, and kindly declared that he himself could not, so he kept him company in hisnight'slong vigil. Thiswasngreatrelief to Ronald at such a trying time, it kept him from dwelling too much ou the one theme. Jupiter told him all that he had learned from Wontun galce respecting the murder of the three
ushraugerB, of thc secret hiding-place of Molonga, and other things that would he useful to them on their present enterprise.
The reader may now bc enlightened on one or two points. Jupiter, in his converse with the black with whom he walked towards the camp at the lake, deduced that thc main body of Wockogos were away on a hunting ex- pedition to some distance, and that Molonga was camped not far from the place where the bushrangers perished ; and from the number of yttnyaJui he saw by the light of the fires, he supposed there were not more than forty or fifty men in the camp, which the little bond of whites could easily dispense if they could surprise them. Ronald's plan waa todiscover
Molouga's gunyah, for Wontungalee bad said that little lion's was always close to it, as the chief and the boy had come much attached. They lUlicd, hunted, and corrotAmreed together, and thc boy not in- frequently shared tile chiefs yunyah at night.
The party started on foot for the blacks' camp, first having caught their horses and fastened them, still in hobbles to trees, with strong grcen-hidc halters ; the saddles and bridles being placed on brandies of trees out of reach of the dingoes, in case any of those de- structive brutes should pay thc camp a visit, with a desire to relieve their gastronomic, cravings with a collation of cold pigskin and well-greased bridle-leather.
Unless it is desirable to storm a camp on horseback-and that mode of attack would not have bceu applicable in the present
case-horses arc useless encumbrances and should bo left ata safe distance from the scene of action ; otherwise they would probably be speared by some of tho flying natives, either in revenge, or to cut off tho chanco of thc whites' speedy retreat, or more effectual pursuit, as tho case might
Having arrived at a spot near tho camp, that Jupiter'squickcyehadlixcduponou his first visit the night before, us thc final rendezvous, before the charge, or stratagem-whichever it was tn be-was mude, they surveyed the camp and its surroundings minutely, Ronald said,
" Our principal business will bu to And out which ijunyny my boy is in, and take him at all risks. Do not fire a shot except in self defence, for however cruel it was of them to rob us of thc child, they have evidently lieen kind to hun, and I do not wish the blood to be shed of those he now considers his friends, and right before bis eyes, too. All keep together now, and let us sneak on the camp as quietly as wc can, and mind you remain strictly under my control."
They crept noiselessly on to within twenty yards of the camp, when a dog barked in the nearest tjunyah. Two seconds after, old Momkoll put her head out of thc doorless mansion. Ronald fired a pistol in the air. Immediately the whole camp woroon theirlegs, and giving one look nt thc little band, whose power they knew so well, aunost in their midst, they ran for thc belt nf timber, no doubt expecting a volley would follow them. At tho same time that thc blacks ran, Jupiter, who was ntl eyes, noticed thc long gross waving beyond thc last gunyah in thc direct- ion of thc lake.
" Come on, sir !" he exclaimed. " Molonga not messmate 'long a black-fellow. Look there," pointing to the waving grass.
They all ron after Jupiter, who was following thc track in the grass at top speed. .Suddenly, not twenty yards ahead, three forms sprang up-Molonga, old Momkoll, and thc object of their search, little Ron. Kot one of them wore a stitch of
clothing, and they all sped like deer. Ronald called loudly to his. so«, but tile only response he received WUB a frightened look over the boy's shoulder. All the pursuers, except Jupiter, were soon distanced, and he gained nothing on them. He would willingly have fired at ids mother-in-law, Momkoll, ana nt her brother the chief, but dared not in the face of Ronald's strict orders to the contrary. Ronald motioned to Jupiter to stop, when that individual looked round, then rapidly gave some orders to his party. Jupiter understood thc signal, and struck off at an angle from the direction he had been taking ; Ronald, Throsby, and Smasher following him; the overseer and Pinchgut still pursuing the fugitives who soon reached the spot on the bank of thc lake, known to the reader, where Molonga, and also his daughter Cooreelia,
with Giovanni, had disappeared on previous occasions so mysteriously. AlmoBt at the same instant that the three fugitives dived into the lake, Ronald and his companions jumped into a dry creek, about a hundred yards from it. The overseer aud Pinchgut kept watch where the pursued had disap- peared.
The creek was deep, but narrow, and ran from thc belt of timber of the lake, ending abruptly, BO far as a superficial observer would see, just where Ronald jumped into it, at which point, and for some distance above, grew a quautity of tea-tree and oaks. Jupiter was not lom; in finding au opening into a precipitous passago under thc wall of rocks that apparently stopped the course of the creek. They entered, and had to proceed with caution till their eyes became accustomed to the doom. For a'iout a hundred yards
the channel was composed of watorworn rock, after which it changed to boulders. The passage, so far, was neither wide nor high, but it took a sharp turn to thc right, and became considerably larger and lighter. At this juncture the party were gratified at hearing sounds of voices and splashing, for they were close to thc water which flowed in from the lake. They immediately crouched down close to thc dark wall, und soon had the satisfaction of seeing, though dimly, the three heads and shoulders, and then the bodies of the fugitives emerge from the irater. Molonga laughed and made some remarks, self-gratu hvtory, and not complimentary to the party of whites, little thinking that they were within a few yards of him. Thc b)y laughed, and in the Wockogo language expressed his opinion that they were no better than a lat of old women. Molonga then moved further up the channel, bidding Momkoll and the boy to follow, and remarking that he had a supply of spears and other good things for the whites, planted near the upper entrance, with which, under cover of tho darknesstke follow- ing night, he hoped to be iu a position to return their kind attentions of that morning with interest, as he did to the Mutta-muttas when they drove him and his party into tho same retreat. Dut thc plans of the ablest generals are sometimes frustrated, aud so it was with Molonga's. Throsby sprang between him aud the . water, .Smasher ana Jupiter cutting off his retreat to thc upper entrance. With a yell of surprise aud defiance, he drew from Iiis belt a long shear-blade and stood on thc defensive. Ronald rushed at his boy and caught him in his arms. Tile chief sprang at him, but Jupiter and Throsby endeavoured to hold him. lie then turned his furv on them, aiming several bluws with his knife, wound- ing them both before tiley could secure his arms. With a sudden excition he sent
Throsby flying from lils greasy body, and then turned thc whole of his attention on Jupiter. Jupiter was no mean antagonist, but Molonga's fury and ctcat personal strength were telling tjo much in his favour for Jupiter's satisfaction, 60 he drew one of his pistols and shot thc chief through the head. The whole scene did not take as long to act as to reíale, (lld MomUull was not idle during the sculUe. She picked up a large stone, and aimed it at Throshy's head when he was on the ground, and had not Smasher caught lier round thc waist just as thc missile was leaving her hand, it ÍB probable it would have fulfilled tho old lady's intention, but as it was, it grazed his head and struck his shoulder with such force as to render him in- sensible Smasher threw lier down with great violence and ran to Throshy's assistance
ut tile old witch jumped up and attacked Ronald, whose sou was still struggling violently to escape. .1 upiter ran towards hor pointing his pistol at her, but his master told him not to (ire. Seeing Jupiter's intention, however, she sprang into the water and did not trouble them again.
Ronald told his son who ho was, but the boy had lost all recollection of him, and would not listen, but upbraided him and Jupiter roundly for killing his " father," as he called Molonga. Tho child evinced thc greatest sorrow, lamenting with much pathos in the Wockogo language, thc death of Molonga, and his own capture by thc hated whites. Jupiter held the boy while Ronald assisted to restore Throsby to consciousness. As soon as he was able to walk the party made their way to the opening. When little Ron found bis struggles were useless to effect his escape, he became sullen, and walked along with them, but they, fearing the very thing that he was in reality meditating, a sudden escape, held him by the anns.
(To bc continued).