|Chapter Title||AN AMBUSH.-DISPERSINGTHE BLACKS.-LAKE COONGEEOGGLE.- A HAND-TO-HAND FIGHT.|
|Newspaper Title||Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1878 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||Ronald Walton: A Tale of Early Squatting Life in Moreton Bay|
A Tale of Early Squatting Life in
BY THE "AUTHOR OF ADVENTURES IN QUEENS-
[All right- reserved.]
CHAPTER XIX - AN AMBUSH - "Dispers-
ing" the Blacks - Lake Coongbroggie- A HAND-TO-HAND FIGHT
In the morning, Ronald was the first to awake, and called the sleepers, who, with the exception of Jupiter,'jumped up' at once. The boy, like all his race, was race, was a heavy sleeper
In the morning. It was scarcely light, but
many 'of the birds were already upon the wing
piping their. clearest notes. : The trees were dripping with dew like rain, each blade of grass supported its thousand fine drops from Nature's pure" still ¡ and from ''out" the blankets that covered the sleepers, a large quantity of moisture was wrung, and they were spread out where the first rays of the. rising sun would full on them.' The fallen iron-bark' trunk against which the fire had been made, was still smouldering, and a fresh
supply of dead sticks being heaped on were soon ablaze. There was very little twilight ;
the paling of the stars, and the rays of the rising sun occur so close together as to give one the impression at times that they .are almost simultaneous, and these phenomena are not the least amongst the many that
strike thc stranger with wonder. Thji rising of the sun on a fine spring morning is indeed à. glorious sight, 'Tlíe rays glint over the dewy vegetation, each tiny aro» reflecting
like a jewel, its' own prismatic . colours. Each minute. the. gems become. fewer and fewer, and in a short space of time thc magic of the scene is gone; the gross aud leaves become dull to the eye, and harsh to the
touch,. . ?.'.' .
Thé horses were driven up to the camp by Jupiter before breakfast, and stood about in the smoke of the fire to keep the mosquitoes and, flies off. In places where those, torment' ins; insecte abound, ' horses -wilt gallop miles ito obtain the luxury, of a smoky fire; and willsland by itside: by sïdèinsnch twrtionB - as to utilisé the switching of each Other's tails about!their heads, for the Wpodtbirsty plagues .'will dort in when the smoke ¡blows aside, and settle on then- ears, eyes, and noses
-then the tails are useful. ??
Breakfast is over ; .bridles and saddles ore on, and the hobbles aro token off the horses'
pasterns,- and buckled on thé girth-straps, or round the horses' necks, or ou to the straps that fasten the swag in front; for there is nothing in a bushman's equipment for travel- ling more important than the bobbles ; st thc some time, there is nothing that finds sueh various resting-places-except,'perhaps, the tin pannikan tor drinking out of. All mounted, and Jupiter again took the lead, following the indistinct traces that he occasionally found, but which always soon
IST^d "they '¿SvcMS
The sun again set like a great balrdrTB?.-, in a cloudless sky, betokening another dewy night, and a warm day on tho morrow.
The third day the some routine was gone through, and nothing disturhed thempnotony of thc journey, but the occasional sight of large mobs of kangaroos of a largar size than usual ; and also of emus formed on the same1 greatJ.scale. Guanos, carpet-snakes, and other reptiles were also much larger than the travellers had hitherto seen ; andthere were, birds of different kinds from those commonly seen nearer the coast. Tho country was rising, and the timber and grass were decided altering as they proceeded. Thus tho third day closed, and as Jupiter had noticed indications of blocks during the latter part of tho afternoon, it was decided, to keep watch that night: They had travelled about thirty miles-that day.
The dingoes .kept up an incessant howling all through the night, and it was clear that .the country was infested with them. No doubt they lived well ou kangaroos and other native game; and there was another thing that favoured their increase, they had no knowledge of traps or poison baits.
The night passed without adventure, and the fourth day dawned. The party travelled about twenty miles without stopping for dinner. They Btayed at a chain of «mall lagoons, at the foot of a nest of low scrubby ridges, there wero more recent traces of cattle there than they hod hitherto seen, and Jupiter was hopeful of finding some of the lost mob within a day or two. When they were about to mount, after dinner, Jupiter said he heard block-fellows shouting in the distance. Ronald commanded them to put the fire quite out, and to stay for a while where they were and listen, They were in a little grassy bay, as it were, between a lagoon and a steep bank washed out at the foot of a ridge, and were quite out of sight of any one approaching from the ridges above. The sounds were soon heard distinctly, mingled with the occasional bellowing of cattle. -
" Black-fellow I I believe hunt'im cattle," whispered Jupiter.
" Keep close into the bank," Ronald said. " And we may be able to Burprise them;"
T^As he spoke a stamping and rushing through the busheB above was heard, and in
less titan two minutes a mob of about three
hundred cattle tore down the ridge not twenty paces from the place of concealment. Several of the beasts had heavy cattle spears sticking in their sides. The mob filed off in the direction whence our party had come. The old stock-horses pricked their ears with excitement, and showed impatience to give chose. Soon some blacks ran down the ridge on the tracks of the cattle, looking in the direction the mob had taken. Ronald peeped cautiously np the ridge, and saw eight blacks, the leader of whom he at once recognised os Molonga, His blood ran hot cs he thought of his two murdered shepherds, and he scarcely [ had patience to allow him to get on to the flat ; before attacking him, He whispered to his ' men,
1 "As soon as they get well on to the flat, we i will gallop in, and pay those niggers for the I work they have been at amongst the cattle.
lam going to settleoldscoreswithMolonga, for
' he is tho leader."
The blacks soon gained thc Sat ; and then a signal from their chief brought them to a stand. .Tje cattle had gone on a long way ahead, and none had dropped, which was probably the reason why the savages thus gave up pursuit. Molonga uttered a few syllables, pointing to the ridge they had just
" Now is our time I" said Ronald. " They are going to turn back."
In a moment they were all mounted, and at a signal from theil- leader, darted out of their nook at full gallop, and were on tho blacks before they dreamt of the proximity of the whites. Ronald Blngled out the leader, and fired ; he fell. All the others fired ; more fell, and the remaining four blacks ran towards the ridges. Another volley and one of the four fell, but the other three fled up a broken gully.
"We will follow the tracks of those cattle
I to where they were started by the niggers. The prolraüiüty is, we sholl find the rest of the mob there,' said Ronald. " I would have ridden ten times the distance we have come, to have secured that big vagabond. He will give us no more trouble, I fancy. By running the back tracks of the cattle, we may drop ou some moro niggers, too."
They proceeded on the tracks, which led them to the top of the ridges through some nasty broken country for several miles. Then they found themselves on the verge of a large plain terminating at the foot of a high range of mountains eight or ten miles ahead. The party had reached about half-way across the plain, when they discovered that a splendid lake lay ahead of them. The scenery about the lake was grand. On one sidethegraasy plain stretched, and on the other a mass of rocky ranges towered, ridge above ridge, to a consia'eiB.ole height, at the foot of whioa was a dewe belt of forest and scrub.
- -The lito alxnmded-with -fish aad-fewl, andf Jv
tte shy platypus »ported m ito water». Av
Meepnu^mofgïgÂtoW«\UU fatMossosn; floated oftlmly-nu -ita- bosom. The country around teemed with game, such aa the plslñ
. turkey, emu, kangaroo, broniewiag and ;
squatter pigeons,. wallaby,: 'possomi somb
turkey, andbandiooot. - But what, in Jupiter'* .' opinion, «xoeeded every Other delicacy, were the grand old Carpet-enakéa, fot tfets blacks . esteem , them and their eggs very ' highly. ; There were plenty, of porcupines top, more
than Jupiter had;ever before seen-that is to say, more of their burrows than he .had ever seen within a like area of country, for they did not «how out, but he knew they were there, for all that.
The party struck' the shore of the , Jake at its head, and found that a large mob. of cattle had been in the habit of: drinking) títere. Their tracks led away towards the forest side of the lake, and the party were 'Soon ia .pursuit. .The country on that side was un- dulating, and fröm the top of a low ridge they discovered a large : mob. of cattle grazing peacefully, not farfrom the lake. As «ooo as they saw Ronald and his meta, 'they rai on to a camp and rounded up (.here. ' Caftl^alwaya prefer, ead run more readily to cajmps they make themselves^ than to' any they ape forced to adopt by the stockmen. The latter: camps are generally failures, for the cattle leave them as soon os they are left a bit ts them- selves. : ' TKey may be hroken-in to coinp on a particular spot, but BO well does their Instinct , prompt them as to the best site,-that they not
unirpjueutly form a camp only two er three - ? hundred yards away from it. . .'V<
The party camped oh the shore of the lake that night, and determined not to keep up a fire, but to, watch. A few trees were -scattered here and there between,jthe lake and the wood, whioh was about; a mile
" We will start those cattle on "thtf tracks ; of the others towards home, as soon after daylight aa .-possible, . Jupiter and I will scour round by that bit of timber and scrub,
and ase. if there arc any: moro; in that ,: direction, before we take them ; butlrbelievo they are all. there.. Wka^fdo- yoiu think.
Smasher?" -.1 í
'"I oWt -think there's none -away, air, " when we reckon them'ss run' post -ns where We caught th» niggers.' Pretty.nigh all the
marked cattle'is among1'em. I never seen f the roan bull, though." yu> .
"Me see'im Tosh ball, "long a first mob, '. whero'master'been bowl, 'im-over Molonga. Ha! hal that good, my oath'" »lid iho boy
chuckled at'&e recollection of the slaughter. .
" What a magnincieht sheep and cattle ron. this would make. I believe I shall tender for it. It. is the finest bit of country I ever seen. Thè worst inf'lt is, it is BO far away from a port,"said Ronald. ' ?.'
"Mino think' it is too many block-fellow
sit down. this fellow country," remarked;:,.; Jupiter. .:'. . .' : ' '.'
" Well, it they never manage better thad. they did to-day,''replied Ronald, should:
not fear them. Be|idis, the greatest rascal. ' among them is down, and I do not think theresa, can be another to take his plai^-^^ingnear ', *
" Do you think, sir," said Pinchgut, "that
"out^oláí-WiligojM off thisplace? Itís
nothing like it nowhere.1' . " *«si
< " I was just thinking whether lt would not: be better to take, a day's spell here, .for tko«
sake of our horses, for they must be a. bit. r tired. We came-let me see-thirty, andi; : forty-that is seventy. And tbirty-^that-i»'. ;: one hundred. And we could not tave come less than thirty to-day-that is one hundred' , and thirty miles in four days. They would
be all the better for a day's spell, but we will '.
Ronald took the first watch, and was ' ? several times disturbed by a Suspicious
cracking of ary Sticks, but not being able to',
discover anything in the gloom, he supposed^ the noisesf most nw« been caused by nativtf A dog« or other Dight prowlers, in which thstf; part of the , country was sb prolific. * Not
feeling quite satisfied, however, he jthoughi vi. it wa* hisdnty as watahmao to endeavour to
find out the cause, consequently he proceeded :
on hands and knees in the direction of the .
sounds. He discovered nothing, and returned;!" to his sleeping companions. All wo* quiet for an hour, when the same sounds again struck his ear, but from the opposite direction, or
lake side. Ronald again proceeded cautiously . - in a crouching attitude, to try and find ont
the cause, and had got about sixty yards from * the camp, when he was seized by the leg from behind, and pulled down on to his Tiaèk. Ia- -
stantiy agreatBaTOgewosftstride him,.holding , a shear bude high above his head for a, deadly '
blow, and, had not Ronald possessed great,'; strength, as well as presence of mind, it' is
probable that in another second it would have¿
been buried in his throat. He seised the
decending arm with his left hand, and " endeavoured to cock his pistol with bis right, ; but the wrist waa held with a grip of iron,:,; He could see the gleaming teeth and fierce Ï eyeballs of his assailant, who sat on him witfyi
tue horrible calmnesss of one who khew his,: advantage and great power, and who was.f' waiting fora sign of weakness or cowardice: on the part of his intended victim. Vat"-: several minutes they maintained their forced positions, for neither could materially alter his;
without the concurrence of the other! Each j
had tried little feints with his hands and arms 3 but each in turn found that his adversary waa'-! worthy of respect, and that a wrong move';, would meet a4ira reward. . Ronald's fingers i grasping the pistol were beginning 'to 1eel ;ij numneo from the grip the savage maintained;: round his wrist, and ne determined to'make a last effort to get at the hammer of bis pistol with bis fingers. His antagonist felt the
action, and bore more of his weight on the , wrist, effectually staying all further movement in that direction. The strain on the iron - muscles of both was becoming painful. : Neither hod said a word up to this time. Ronald might haye shouted to his companions at the comp, but with that repúgnanos a. brave man has to such a course, he abstained / from doing so, wishing to overcome his enemy in single combat. '
(To be continued.)