Chapter 52031885

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Chapter NumberXXL
Chapter TitleGIOVANNI JOINS A DESPERATE GANG OF BUSHRANGERS-PEDRO, SNAKE, HOPPY, AND THEIR DOG
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52031885
Full Date1884-08-27
Page Number3
Corrections1
Word Count2170
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2013-12-20
Newspaper TitleMorning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)
Trove TitleRonald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay
article text

RONALD WALTON.

A TALE OF EARLY SQUATTING LIFE IN

QUEENSLAND

BY THE " AUTHOR OF ADVENTURES IN QUEENS-

LAND."

[All right reserved.]

CHAPTER XXI.—GIOVANNI JOINS A DESPERATE

GANG OF BUSHRANGERS.—PEDRO, SNAKE, HOPPY, AND THEIR DOG.

The reader may wonder what became of young Giovanni. He obtained employment in various capacities on stations. His first situation was as storekeeper on a sheep station ; then as stockmen, shepherd, shearer sud splitter by turns ; but the fact that a warrant was out for his apprehension on a charge of attempt at murder followed him from place to place, and at last convinced him that he had but two courses open-cither to give himself up or take to the bosh. The

first he determined he would never do ; and the evil fate that followed him proved to him that to lire honestly was an impossibility. He smarted under the cruel injustice that Blast had done him ; and all that he had suffered on account of the some wicked influ- ence since he had left him. His impetuous blood rebelled more and anore as each fresh obstacle reared itself in the path between him and an lioneBt livelihood, and impelled him to the resolve to be revenged on the society that had so unceremoniously cost him out.

"If I had actually committed a cold- blooded murder," he soliloquised, " I could not be more shunned or hunted. How many known criminals of tho deepest dye are now free and being employed without scruple, while I who have clone nothing amiss, am hunted like a black snake, or a native dog, and am obliged to go hungry, and sleep in the bush ? This is the boasted British justice ! If I imiBt, then, take to the bush, be it so- mit I will not go hungry ; I have as much right to liye as any other mon, and I will Srey on the society that has so unjustly

trust me out. - Oh 1 my father ! wy father! shall I ever behold you again! Why was I

born to such a fate ?"

As he talked, be was walking excitedly away from his last situation. When we do. make false moves in life, either perforce or of free will, we are seldom lett without Borne ex- trinsic, baneful .influence to help us an the

downward course.- So it was with Giovanni Within half an hour after he made his final resolve, threejnen rode o:to:e 1.1s path, ac- companied by an enormus dog. They were about two hundred yards behind him, but galloped up os soon as they saw bim.

"Hold up your arms, youngster 1" said the leader, levelling a pistol at his head. " Bail up 1" cried the other two. The leader then throw a green-hide lasso over him, and, with a dexterous jerk, pulled his lepa from under him, and he fell on his bock. The big doe placed his two paws on his shoulders, and glared, alternately at bim and his master. His blood-shot eyes, big yellow teeth, and hanging tongue, betokened his thirst for

blood. He was a vicious cross between the bull and mastiff, but was generally called " the bushranger's big bull dog," and was a

source of terror far and wide.

The leader was a Spanish Mulatto, named Pedro. He was a grand horseman, and expert with knife ana lasso. HIB swarthy features were good, -but a lier ce, cruel expres- sion was stormed upon them. His white

teeth gleamed lien oath a black moustache, and between thin lips that never closed. From his dark eyes shot a murdererous light when excited, that was hard for an adversary to meet with unconcern. He was tall, and lithè 'às an eel. One cheek bore an ugly scar that gave that side of his face a repulsive appearance. The wound had been received in a desperate struggle for mastery over a wild cow in a stock-yard. She had him down and was kueeüng on him, but Pedro won by plunging his knife into the cavity of the beasts neck just behind the poll, though not before he had been gored in the face by her sharp horn, lt is more than probable that be would have come off on that occasion without a scratch or hurt of any kind, but for the well irneant officiousness Of a mate, who, just at !the wrong moment, palled the lasso tight that .Badi* cast bv* her-horns,1 and tripped him

i '"Now 'younis^"what ere yo» doing on jtU*:tmkt . Whore are yo« going I Wb

don't like fellowi knocking abtrat on our beat and whan they can't give a good account of themselves, we just sut their wizzens. Give it tongue now. and let's hear all about yon," »aid Pedro. .

" I do not know what I am doing on this back, and I do not know where I am going to, if you must have the truth," replied Gio- vanni, in a defiant way.

" None of your aauoe, or PU pass the word to old Death-adder. He'll soon tame you. .

Death-adder-the dog-apparently compre- hending the worde of his master, ana in pleasurable anticipation of the word bf command, rose. HÍB hot breath panted on Giovanni's ueck,-as he growled and erected his bristles, and stomp of a tail.

"Not yet, Death-adder," said Pedro, and the brute crouched down again. " Now, tell us, once for all, what brought you here ?"

" Let me up, and shoot or knife if you will, but call this brute off. Let me die like a man -don't let me he torn to pieces like a dingo,

or a native cat."

"Very well, youngster-only if I shoot you, he'll have you all the same-he always does-he fattens on our enemies. Slip off there, Snake. Take that pistol and knife out of his belt, and let go thc lasso, Come behind, Death-adder. Now then, toll us all about you."

" I was a lawyer's clerk tn Brisbane. He treated me over six years, like a devil that he was. I struck him, and bolted. He got a warrant for me, and .1 find that it ia useless trying any more to earn my living honestly, for I am hunted from place tn place. 1 deter- mined to-day to take to the bush, and it seems that I am not permitted to live even here, so what can I do ? The beat thing you can do for me is to shoot me at once," said Giovanni

" Yon loot: as if you were telling the truth, and I think you have got light stuff in you too. Can you ride ?"

"Yes."

" Then you walk off a bit till I talk to my mates, and we'll see what we'll do with you. Wait, though-have you got any money or jewellery, or thc like of that ?'?

" Only a silver watch."

" Off you go then, and walt till I call you." He obeyed, and the three men conferred.

" I think he's not a spy, mates ; and if what ho says is true, he's got pluck, and is hard up. If he can ride, what do you say to taking him on with us ? I like the lookB of him, and as the country's getting hot for us, we'd be tile stronger for another mate."

"Well, Pedro, said Snake, "I'mwiitin', if you think he's right. Yon always knows best. What says you, Hoppy ?"

"Oh, I'm all here for another mate ; ef he's the right sort," snuffled the man addressed, in very Yankee tones. His name was Elias Hopkins, so they called him "Hoppy" for

short.

"We will give him a dunce then-eh,

mates.

"Jest so. There's plenty of us to cook him-and eat him, too-cf bo cuts np bad.. I'll knife him, slick, by Jehoshaphat !"

" We'll have to get a mount for him," said

Pedro.

"Hed'ut we better seo ef he con ridel" suggested Hoppy.

" If he can't ne's told a lie, and I'll shoot him," replied Pedro.

" If he can stick to Rocket, he'U do," sold

Snake.

Rocket was a fine upstanding horse that had been stolen from Mr. Mc Arthur's station, Curracurra, and was the same off whíoh Murdering Skinner had been thrown when he was killed at the paddock slip-rails. He was a very spirited horse, but tolerably quiet except when touched with the spurs.

Giovanni returned at a coo-e-e from Pedro, who said, as he threw his spurs on the ground

at his feet.

"Puton those spurs, and mount Snake's

horse."

Giovanni did so without hesitation.

" Now, you bold him in nil you can-jam

the bleeders into his ribs-and stick to the pigskin likegrim death."

- He did BO, and the horse made several long bounds, and then started bucking in -e. airóle. His rider sat him with ease, and when Rocket gave in, the three bushrangers shouted some words of applause.

"By Jehoshaphat! you're tarnal good at that, younker !" exclaimod the Yankee.

" You're the sort !" and " Well done lad !' came from Pedro and Snake.

" Will you join us, lad !" asked Pedro. " We won t kick you out, so long as you're true ; and your work won't be bard. . We

make enough in a day to keep us six months,

when we have a stroke of luck, and it's our own fault when we don't get that."

" Yes, younker-we earn enough in a day to keep ns for life, and a few years t'other side of that," drily remarked the Yankee.

" Well the dog must be fed," said Pedro, with a diabolical grin. Thc others laughed

too.

" 111 chance it, if you will take me in," said

Giovanni.

" Well done, younker ! You've got the spunk of a true son of the United States, and by Jehoshaphat ! the eternal stars and stripes 'll wag their tails at yer, ef ever yer fight under 'em-seo if they don't. Give ns yet flipper."

They all shook hands with Giovanni, after which he was considered to be formally received into the brotherhood.

" We've been here long enough," said Pedro, ? " What's your name ? " Giovanni."

The three men exchanged astonished glances on hearing his name, but said

nothing.

"All right, Giovanni. Take off my spurs, and jump un bellied Snake. Rocket s up to double-banking with a weight like you. What's your weight!"

" About nine stone."

He vaulted up behind Snake, and the four rode off towards the Big Range, at the foot of which they camped some distance off the main

road.

Those three men and their dog had been a terror to travellers, and also to people at. stations, ever since they took to the bush in that part of the country. They hod been bush ranging near to Sydney for some time pre-

viously, but the mounted police had traced _ them out, and after a desperate fight, in ' which three of their mates and a trooper were - shot, and another of their gang was taken,

the three thought it best to try a new field of . enterprise further north. i

After they had boiled their tea, and turned out the contents of their ration bags, they set to with the appetites of men who had roamed the bush all-day. When the meal waB over they seemed more disposed to talk. Pedro said,

" I say Giovanni-have you got a father !" Snake and Hoppy looked curiously at him, and evidently waited his reply with eagerness. Giovanni looked sad, and spoke not for some

time.

"Why don't you spca1*, lad?" said Pedro, suspiciously.

" I was wondering whether I had a father * or not ; I have not seen him for some yoars."

" Let's be frank, youngster. Don't yon hide anything from us. What became of your father?"

"He was sent from Brisbane to Norfolk Island. I have never heard of him since more than eight years now." ij

The three men looked intently in h¡B face. The Yankee said, "'I

"Jehoshaphat! He only wants a little more whiskers an' beard, and by the stars an* stripes he'd-"

"He's a chip of the old block.{How queer !*? interrupted Pedro. (.

Giovanni looked astonished at the glances, and expressions of the three men. -4

"Your father was an Italian, and lagged

for killing a man in hot blood ?" ]

"Yes; how do you know aboutit? You told me yon all came from the South, and had -

never been in Brisbane." \ J .( <

" Bight you are ; and so we did. Bnt we , knew your father very well, all the same," í

iaald Pedro.

; Giovanni's belinga and enrionaity 'were j iaronaed, anti he begged them to tall him j Anything they knew about his father, j

tàÊ^ÊÊK^&oj* continued. j_ I