|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Ronald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay|
&¿ÜCJS and ¡fUttkw.
A TA OF EARLY SQUATTING LLFE IN
BY THE " AUTHOR OF ADVENTURES IN QUEENS-
[All right reserved.]
CHAPTER XXXVTII.-RON AND FLORENCE IN
SVDNEY.-RICKETT DICK AND BXS WIFE. COONBROOOIE STATION.-BUSH LETTERS TO AND FROM GIOVANNI.-THROSBY EN- DEAVOURS TO CONCILIATE . THE BLACKS. " No COMPULSION, ONLY YOU MUST."
" I intend to strictly adhere to the terms of my agreement with you, Giovanni, but will first ask if you will not come into the station and talk over our business quietly? You can depart just when you like," said Throsby.
" It cannot be, sir. There ore at least four hundred men watching us now, and they would not suffer me to go amoug the whites agaiu, or give me a chauce to escape, even if I wished it, which I do not."
Throsby did not see oue of the four hundred blacks he spoke of, but did not doubt his words, and said,
" Well, I wish to ask you if you have any authority over the tribe !"
" Yes, considerable. The chief's daughter took a fancy to me, and saved my life when my companions were killed, and as she was a really good-hearted creature, I took her for my gin, and we now have four children. I am not sorry that I took her-or rather.I should say, that she took me, for I really had not much say in the matter. I would not exchange her for the best white woman I ever knew. After you shot the chief, the blacks wanted to make me chief instead, but I told them that though I could fight with guns as well as most whiteinen, I did not feel quite up to thc mark to lead them against their enemies with their own weapons. I know that there were oap or two of Molonga's relatives who looked to be mode chief, and that if I usurped the supreme authority, I should bring a hornet's ueBt about my head, for I should have had to fight those, fellows with their own weapons, ana beat them, too, before I could become chief. Molonga was the best fighting mau of the tribe, and next to Hm was his half-brother, who is now chief For all that, the Wockogos look to me for advice, and I can lead them pretty much as I please. Old Momkoll, Moloiiga'e sister, who claims me as her son, has great influence in the tribe, and backs me up m everything."
"Do you think, then, that if we make a compact, the blacks will adhere to it ? I wish to be friendly with them; and to prevent bloodshed on both sides, would enter into some arrangeront that will benefit both parties. You know very well that if they commence hostilities, they will eventually be forced to knock under. Of course I do not lose sight of the fact that I om taking a urge tract of their hunting-grounds, but it seems to me that there ÍB plenty of country for them to hunt over,, to tue west."
"Yes, sir, but you must bear in mind that the further west they go the nearer they are to their enemies, the Mutta-Muttas ; and the country is not so prolific and game, being mountainous, and comparatively barren. There ÍB plenty for them, no doubt, out they will have hard work to get it, and they do not like hard work. Besides, they were born on the plains, and prefer them to the moun- tains, independent of the game being more abundant, and more to their liking. The Mutta-Muttas ore used to the ridges, and fight better in them than on flat country."
Throsby, who looked at the question from a true squatter's point of new, replied,
" Well, you know the niggers must go under in the loug run-and always do. If I do not take this fine country up, some one else would. I have got possession, and intend to stick to it, unless they wipe me out. Now, it is more to save them than myself, than I wish for peace. I hate bloodshed, but, by Jove ! if they do begin any nonsense, I'll show them what stuff I am made of ! I am not a new chum in the bush.
They had better keep away from the sheep and cattle, or they will find it easier work tackling the Mutta-muttos than me. They shall have it hot for the first offence, and double each time they repeat it !"
To this very conciliatory speech, Giovanni listened attentively, and when Throsby left off, more from excitement and want of breath, than because he had nothing to add Giovanni replied,
"Of course, sir, being a white man, I know how matters will go, pretty -well, but you cannot expect the blacks to see it in the same light ns we do. The Wockogos have never seen very much of the whites, and do not quite know the odds against them in a continuous struggle. You may say, 'These Bheep and cattle are minc, and you must not kill them ;' but they pay, ' This country was outs, and you have no right to it.' They are plucky, and know this much, that they can do you a deal of mischief by sudden raids on your out-stations ; and you know that
blacks sometimes commit unpremeditated outrages without reckoning on thc conse- quences, or if they do, they trust to their own cuteness to get away."
"It is to your interest to keep them straight, You say you do not wish to live amongBt the whites again-indeed, I do not think it would be prudent to attempt it for some years yet, so the quieter the niggers keep, the more peaceful and safe your life will 1«, necessarily."
" You may depend, sir, that I will not in any case advise them to do you or any one else any harm. I have always wished to live honestly, and thank God I can do that here. I told you how that man, Blast, ill-used me for years, and then caused me to go forth into the world branded asa thief and a would be murderer. That, after years of faithful service ! Thc stigma followed me, and I was hunted from place to place like the worst of felons ; and when my heart was full of bitter- ness, and not knowing which way to turu, I was met by Pedro and his companions. I joined them, because I had no alternative except to be shot by them, or starved in thc bush. If I could get to my own country I might live comfortably, but I will never again live with the British. I cannot see their boasted justice. I beg pardon, sir, if my words are Btrong, so arc my feelings. I mean no offence to you, however."
" I can excuse a great deal stronger lan- guage than that, Giovanni. You have been treated with terrible injustice, and I think if your case were represented to the authori- ties in its proper light, they would bc reason- able, and offer you a free pardon. If you ?wiall I will see to it for you.
" I thank you for your kindness most
heartily, »ir; but I have no friends, and no money, ona could not wort my passage 'nome now, not having been at sea since Twas a child." _ .
" I will give you work on the station, and when you have earned enough to take you borne, yon arefree to go."
.*Oh I Italy! Free Italy!" he cried fer ventry, " Why was I torn from yon, and from .my father ?" He mastered his emotion and continued, " A thousand thanks, sh*, but I think it better that I should remain here. I am out of sight, and away from temptation and evil. The blacks think a great deal..of me, and I have a great affection for my gin and children, and do not think it would bo right to desert them." .
"Very well, please yourself; but if ever you require assistance, apply to me. Kow, what can we do to bring about a mutual, amicable arrangement, between the blacks and myself ?"
A smile flitted over Giovanni's handsome features as the word "mutual" was pron nounced, but he replief gravely,
" I will explain the matter, and do all I can to bring about an amicable arrangement. In the course of a fortnight or three weeks I will let you know the result."
The two then shook hands and parted -one to bis new home at Coongbroggie, and thc other to his camp, tcu miles olf.
A little after the expiration of the specified term, Giovanni sent a messenger with another "note ' to Throsby, infonning nun that he was ready to communicate tho result of his conference with the WockogoB; and that be would be at thc old spot next morning. Throsby was punctual, and found Giovanni apparently alone, but he knew that there was probably a large force of blacks not far off, ensconced behind the trees. He feared.no treachery, however, and quietly opened the proceedings. «
" What is the result of your mission,
"Very much as I expected, sir. The blacks are very divided in opinion. The present chief listened to my proposals, was very cool over it, and I think is more inclined to hostilities than peace. There was a great meeting and much talk-even some fighting over the matter. Tho majority of the old men were in favour of peace, they knowing more about the power of the whites than the chief and his party do. I do not think I have been able to make any real impression on them, for they are all very sore at having their country taken from them, and many vowed vengeance against you and your men. My advice is, that you keep constantly on your guard ; always ride about amongst your Btock, BO that they will never know where they may meet you ; and visit your out-stations often, os you are doing at present. The blacks always fear the master more than five of his men. I do Toot think there is much fear of them attacking the head-Btation, for you have some good savage dogs there, and they frighten the blacks more even than rifles. My opinion is, that yon may keep tolerably free from rows with them if you do not allow them up at the head or out-stations. If they are allowed up, your men will be Bure to tamper with them in a way that they will certainly resent -you understand what I allude to, no
.' I quite agree with you. I do not intend to allow them up, and if I did, I would sack any of my men who dared to interefere with them in that, or any other respect, for I know that murders are too often brought about in that way. Then we may say that thc matter remains in »tain quo ?"
" I fear so, sir, though I have done, and will continue to do my best to avert trouble. If I hear of any mischief brewing, I Jilli cut across with my knife in the bark of this gum
Throsby thanked him for thc trouble he had taken, and for his promise to give him timely notice of any premeditated attack by the blacks, and then asked if he could do any- thing for him in return, or should give hun clothing or tobacco.
" I am not in want of anything, sir, thank you. I have been without tobacco so long that I have no craving for ii ; and as for clothes, one really does not require them for seven or eight months in the year, and we have plenty of - 'possumB, - and can make cloaks of their skins for the coldish mouths. "
The patient reader who has followed this Btory of adventure so for, will no doubt be either wishing or expecting to see the end soon, and the author would indeed be ungrateful not to comply with BO reasonable a desire or expectation.
(To be concluded in our next.)