Chapter 52033210

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Chapter NumberXVI. (continued
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1884-08-06
Page Number3
Word Count2636
Last Corrected2015-03-06
Newspaper TitleMorning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)
Trove TitleRonald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay
article text

MÍS ¿uni ffcetíte.






[AU right reeened.]

CHAPTER XVI. (continued

Ronald vas the first ta speak^E^^^^^^f " I thought you said, Pet,^^^^^^^^H had passed this year without^^^^^^^^H nected with thc horrible mysns^^^^^H ring?" ^^^^H

" So it has, sir-just a week. It^sj^^H came at midnight on the first of Septenn^B and this is tile eighth. I can't make it outH

" Your are out in you reckoning, Pet-this is the night of thc first of September."

" Well, I'm blowed ! I ve got a week a-heod, somehow. We docs get out sometimes in these out-of-the-way places. Why, I've often worked a Sundays and spelled A Mondays afore this, in tho buBh. P'r'aps he, jerking his head towards the corpse, "knowed it, and that's why he set up. Don't you believe it now, sir ?"

"I must think over it a bit. lam un-

willing to believe in the supernatural. I will tell you what I think. Poor Billy committed the murder-or know all about it. It has

preyed upon his mind till he became queer. Such tcrrihle secrets will tell that way, you know. We talked of digging to BOO if wc could discover anything at the foot of that tree, and his terror at thc certainty of our finding what the clements have reveal cd, may have-^uite unhinged his mind. When thc door blew-.pi>cn, his fears so acted on a diseased inma-,-íi¡at ho mentally saw the very man he so muclii3readcd, beckoning to him. His running three tiiiiïr-^ound thc nut, ami then towards the tree, mayhs^ebeen sugges- ted by what wc were sayiugnbt^so many hours before. Then wc know that both high trees and iron attract lightning, BO that "there ÍB nothing wonderful in that tree being struck -os many trocB aro on every run in Aus- tralia every year."

? " What about the skeleton, sir ?"

"There is nothing very wonderful, either, in a skeleton being turned to the surface when such a root as that was split, and thc earth heaved over by it ! The presence of the ohain no : doubt had a good deal to do with that particular root being split. If thc chain had been there without thc skeleton, the result would have been precisely the same."

" Well, sir, I ain't agoiug to argiefy with a scholard the likes of you, as knows such a lot about them things -, but I think it's true os

' Murder will out -I mean," he said, correct- ' ing himself, " wilful murder." i

At daylight they all proceeded to the fatal spot. It was a ghastly sight. The proud

spreading branches of thc tree were scattered I over un area of fully a hundred yards in diameter. The trunk was rent and splintered to the roots ; and the skeleton, was the still fettered leg-bonos, and a bullet-hole through the left temple, lay almongst entire, on the freshly-turned mound of earth. Ronald

picked up the decayed flint-lock pistol, and on comparing it with one belonging to poor Billy, its length, mountings, mid other features coiTcspundcil. Thc corpse of Billy

was examined next. One stream of electric fluid hod entered the head at thc left temple, leaving a mark like that produced by a bullet, while others had scorched thc flesh down the whole length of the l>ody.

" Wc cannot do the dead any good, so we had better bc stirring, and cut doun some more trees for the sheep, and then wc can get breakfast. It is not raining so hard now, and the sun is struggling to shine. I think the storm has caused a break, anil it may clear up some time to-dny," said Ronald.

They alt chopped away till about ten o'clock ; let the sheep out to feed, and then

went to breakfast, which consisted of very j lean mutton, damper, and tea. No matter

who dies, workers niuBt bc fed. The large flat j in front of thc hut was a perfect seo. A few of the wretched sheep had died in thc night ; and, to add to thc troubles, the ewes had begun to lamb. None of the early lambs could possibly lie reared, so they were killed as soon as they come. Ronald had faint hopes of being able to save some of the later ones, if the grass sprung sufficiently to give the mothers a little condi-

tion ' and strength to support them, One ' consolation remained, and that was, that with the exception of the oldest, and the weakest of the young sheep, there would be no great losses from starvation, foi* there wóuld be an 'abundance of grass in a week, and the sheep «mid be kept alive on apple trees for that length of time. . After breakfast-which was

the meal waa taken under the little open kitchen, for the rain waa again falling-r-they dag two gravea. The ground was hard and atony two feet. below die surface, and ? the toola not being very good, it was late In the day ere their task waa completed. Ronald

had intended to leave the burials till the next

day, but the remains of poor Billy Cantwell were decomposing so rapidly, that he deemed it necessary to hasten tile last rites. Conse- quently, thc body was decently wrapped in uie blankets upon which it lay ! then placed in a large sheet of bark stripped for the purpose, and lowered into the grave. The skeleton waa also sewn np in a blanket, and put into its grave, minus the rust-eaten chains, which Ronald determined to keep as a momento of thc tragic occurenee. A prayer- book was searched for, and found where the Pet hod stock it months before, in a crevice between two of the sheets of bark covering the roof of the hat ; for Ada had supplied ali the out-stations with both serious and light literature, os soon as she became mistress of Boorooma. The former was either Btowed away quietly, or converted into pipe-lights ; and the latter, after it hail been thumbed over for a time, was either pasted on tho walls of

thc huts, or jammed between tho slabs to keep ¡ the cold winds out during the winter.

Ronald read the burial service between the

two graves, which were tuen filled in. Ono of the men caught his horse and he rode towards home, carrying the chain with him.

That evening, when all the men were as- sembled in the nut after tea, the conversation naturally turned on the sad events that had so recently transpired.

"The master wasn't convinced," said the Pet, " with all the proof he hod. He'll try and find out all about it though."

"He'll never find it out then ! and he must

be a thunderin unbelieving Jew, if be don't

believe !" exclaimed one of the men.

"I'm glad he took them chains away. I wonder how the missus 'll like 'em at head station ?" said the Pet. He ain't afraid of nothink."

"I shouldn't wonder if they rattled every first of September. The missus 'll soon get rid of 'cm if they do," said Hal.

" No, I don't think they'll rattle no moro," replied the Pct, with an authorativc air. " Cause why, when a murder's found out, and the murderer's dead, and prayers is read over and the murdered mon's bones, the ghost doesn't show up again. I've heard of man sich stories, and they all onded the same way. Murder will out-leastways, wilful murder and wben there's no chance of the law a takin

holt of the murderer, why the ghost just takes the thing into its own hands, and worries the cove to death, like a bull-dog."

"Well," objected Hoi, "but you don't mean for to say as thc ghost brought thc light- ning to kill poor Billy ?"

"P'r'aps I don't," said thc Pet, slightly nettled at Hal's doubt, and thumping his knee with his big fist ; " but thc ghost might have know'd just the time wheu thc lightning was

' f-mightn't he? Some ghosts is

fcaiknowin'. and knows more than they

fet on. ^HflsflHJsS||tef, Hal."

Hal thought a bit,

eideiable ''kiiowledgeaole^on

points, he dropped that part of til

and said,

" Don't you think it was bad bur two so close together? Don't beliej agree there, nohow."

He delivered the above very sej looked troubled. The Pet reply


"Nb, Hal. They're. You see pray,




prose, isl

the kno.wfl

Science. Onel

recent formations 3

mosses, which vary fri

feet in thickness. "In!

"at various depths are

trunks of trees, especially t3 fir (Pinns Sylvestris), as much

feet in diameter. This tree is not :

and has not in the range of history bee! a native of tliis island (England), and will not growherenow when transplanted. But it grew here within thc human period, for Steinstrup found, and re- moved with his own hands, a Hint instru- ment from beneath the trunk of one

of those pines." The Scotch fir-tree, now extinct in that region, was followed by several species of oak (quercus) ap- pearing successively at higher levels in the peat, and these in turn have been almost supplantedby the peach, which has been indigenous to that locality as far back in time as history extends. And yet, all the land and fresh-water shells,

and all the mammalia found in Danish peat, are of recent species. So we can begin to karn something of the age of a species. The great antiquity of man is further attested hy the chronological succession of materials used for making implements, and by the rude character of the utensils. These periods are called successively the ages of stone, of bronze, and of iron. The age of stone, as we have seen by the flint implement found under the trunk of the fir-tree, coincides with the period of the first vegetation in Denmark. The age of stone was succeeded by the age of bronze about the time the fir-tree was

supplanted by the oak in that region. These two ages passed, and were suc- ceeded by the iron age, and the beech tree before history began. Flint implements were recently found near the Seine, in the vicinity of Paris, im- bedded in grey diluvium, twenty feet below the surface. In the cavern of

Arcy-Sur-Yonne human bones have been found with the bones of extinct quadru- peds. Flint tools have been found im-

bedded with the bones of the rhinoceros

and the hyena, thirty feet deep in gravef resting on the chalk at Abbeville, Amiens, nnd other points along the valley of the Somme. In a cave near Torquay, called Kent Hole, the bones of

extinct mammoth and flint tools of a

very antique type were found mingled together in the stratum ; above these were human remains, all in a matrix of red loam, and covered with stalagmite.

In the Brixham limestone are caverns in

|~which were found in a floor of stalag- mite the humerus ot the Vrsus Spleneus (cave bear), and still under it various flint implements ; here, again, it is clear

that man lived before the cave bear: which is now extinct. On the banks of the Meuse and]

animals. Many more evidences of the

antiquity of man might be adduced, but

already enough, I think, has been pre sented to show that be has outstripped

most of the species of animals in the race of life that may have come into   existence with him. Geology and arch- geology have taught him that man far antedates history, and was con- temporary with many species, of   animals known only by their fossils.

That he roamed along the banks of the Somme, Thames, Clyde, Rhine,  

Seine, Mississippi, and the Po, and     scattered stones rudely fabricated by gis ' hands into utensils, as early' as the  

Pliecene period, and when the beds of   those rivers were 100 feet, and some of   them 1000 feet above their present level,

there is no reasonable doubt. The great     and varying depth at which some tools    

have been found in the same locality,     shows that the stone period was ages in     duration. Finally, man became en-   lightened enough to work copper and tin     into bronze, and this metal was uesd for   making weapons at a time anterior to ' the Roman Empire. Geologists calcu late that it required thirty thousand

years for the peat in the valley of the   Somme to grow. Yet, under this,and

resting on the chalk, is a stratum of   gravel containing stone implements. Fine canoes were found twenty feet

deep under one of the principal streets  

of Glasgow; evidently that ancient city.   stands on ground, which in pre-historic   times was the bed of the Clyde. In the valley of the Nile a brick was found, at a

depth of sixty feet, with the name of the -

Egyptian god, Amen Ra, inscribed on it. Another brick was found in the delta which, according to Lyell, must have been burnt thirty thousand years ago. Let us come nearer home; and we find in the valleys of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, numerous monuments, mounds, and kitchen-middens, with various other geological and archaeological evidences

which indicate that many agesylgo .this ~ country was inhabited by B^prcceding and better-informed peoply than the

Indians, whom we call aborigines. Still - further back in time, still deeper in the   earth's crust, are strata or rather beds   of fossil shells mingled with sand, which   represent the older and newer Pliocene periods. Ju Eigland th called crag "~ they i


and the whole tim? could not have 1

years. During the ¡

the land was upheaved,

mountains were higher tl

now. In the second period a

ence came, so that, according to Profesä

Ramsay, the land was 2300feet lower than,^ it is now. Then the tops of the mountains peered from the ice-clad ocean as clusters of small islands, presenting the appear- ance of an archipelago. And lastly, the boulder drift was dredged out of the valleys by glaciers. The chain of moun- tains called thc Jura presents many moraines and polished rocks, which, ac- cording to the high authority of Lyell, were transported by glaciers from the Alps, fifty miles across the valley of Switzerland. The same authority states that glaciers have carried granite from Andes to the island of Cliiloe, which is twenty-five miles from, and extends 100 miles parallel with, the coast of Chili,

and that both the island and the Andes

are undergoing a gradual upheaval. Thus, the Andes may rival the Alps, and the island of Cliiloe may in time become higher than Jura. The same process may in time fill up the channel between Chiloe and the shore, so as to form a valley just as the valley of Switzerland was formed. These gradual upheavals and recessions

of the earth's surface are doubtless due

tr^olcanic action, or to the alternations

ofbeat and cold. Now observe the following deductions from the foregoing premises. It must require a vast lapse of time for any animal species to become

extinct It is certain that man co- existed with some of the extinct

mammals. Further, the animals having the lowest organisations are most per- sistent in their type, and therefore the life of any species of testacea is longer than that of the higher orders ; and yet

two-thirds of thc fauna of the miocene period are extinct. Molluscous fauna have not been perceptibly the glacial perij"

and work