|Chapter Number||SYNOPSIS OF I.|
|Newspaper Title||Gippsland Times (Vic. : 1861 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||College Jack: A Remarkable, Yet True Story of the Penal Records of Van Diemen's Land|
(CoretuIrr.) COLLEGE JACK. A REMARKABLE, YET TRUE STORY OF THE Penal Records of Van Dieian'a Land. LU C.4PTJIl. I.iCiE. > SYOPSIS OF CIIAPTER I. CHAPTER i--In the wildd ad pictlresque re gion of the east coast of oan Dieman a Land, at the foot of the Fingal Ranges and on the banks of the Hmroyseckle Creek, is situatcd the pleasant homestead of John Edwards one of the oldest and most posperosperous settlers in that country dining the year 1S19. The story opens on the night of the 3rd of May. Mrs. Edwards has been called to Campbell Town to the death-bcd of her sister, Mrs. Gosrage, while her three sons and their only man-servant are also abhent at a remote mar ket town with cattle, learng tMr. Edwards and his daughter, Mary, in charge of the place. In the absence of the former during the day a young fellow of gentlemanly appearance and good address rides up to the homestead, and, saluting Mary, makes enquiries concerning some cattle, he is said to haro lost, at the same time eliciting the information that the place is, comparatirely speaking, unprotected. In the evening about dusk Mary observes her father galloping home at a furious pace evi dently under strongexcitement. On dismount ing he hastily conveys to his daughter the startlingintelligence that a notorions character, known as College Jack, together with two other assigned servants, who have been worhing on a farm owned by the "Barrows" at Falmooth, hare escaped, taking to the bush, after first attacking the homestead, murdering old Mr. Bsrrows and attempting the life of the son, young Tom, who, by the way, is engaged to MaryEdwards. From the description gren by Mary to herfather he at once recognises her visitor as none other than College Jack, and immediately preparations are made to enable them to defend themselves against an expected attack by the outlaws. Firearms and ammu nition are conveyed into a strong log-room at tached to the house and especially built to re sist the attack of bushrangers, which was by no means of uncommon occurrence in the penal days of the colony. The horse was placed in a cellar underground in safety and ready saddled for use in case of emergency. Edwards and his daughter anxiously watch for their ex peeted enemies. CHAPTER IL After a hasty meal the father and daughter left the kitchen with the weapons and went to a peculiar-shaped room at the back of the building. This was a sort of projecting structure which ran out about ten feet on the north side, and from its peculiar formation a view of the surrounding locality could be obtained on every side save that immediately south.. There were three apertures or loop-holes-one in each of the walls, The place was not more than nine or ten feet in width, and there was no mistaking the fact that it was purposely constructed with a view to repelling an attack should one be made on the house and its occupants. "Forewarned is forearmed, Mary, and if College Jack tries any of his tricks with us to-night he will meet with a surprise. I believe he is bad enough for anything. It'slucky young Tom managed to get away as he did and give the alarm. He had a narrow escape, and if they had killed him the district would have been at their mercy for the time being," remarked Ed wards. "Did he tell you about it?" asked the girl, with a sudden interest. "Yes; we heard the story, and I may as well tell you it:--Three months ago when I was at Barrows's place with Fred I heard something about this College Jack, and now I think of it the name he is called by in the official notice is John Tarleton ; so he did not tell you a lie. It convinces me, how ever, that he means mischief or he would not be so careless in letting out who he really is." "Well, Barrows-God rest him gave me a short account of his new ser vant at the time. It seems he was really well brought up and comes from a good family in Yorkshire. He was accused of being an accessory before the fact, I think they call it, in a pecu liarly brutal case of murder. That means he really plotted on the crime, though his was not the hand which did it. Though his guilt was apparently clear enough his skill and cunning, backed up by the influence of his family, were stifficient to save him from thegallows though not from transportas. tion. How the authorities came to send him to such a remote spot as Fal mouth and to a settler like Barrows I don't know. It was not wise, Mary, to say the least of the matter, but the acts of those in authority are not always wise. "When Barrows got him he was in clined to object-pity he didn't-but the fellow was rather engaging in his way and the son, young Tom, took to him in a remarkable way. Barrows had two more assigned servants who seemed to be decent enough fellows, but no doubt this man, Tarleton, soon got them in his clutches. Both father and son began quickly to put un bounded trust in their new servant and he appeared to merit it. Considering the manner in which he had been brought up the fellow deserved credit for the way he worked, and up till yes terday there was not the slightest sus picion in the minds of Barrows and his son that any evil was intended. "You know what a queer sort Bar row was. He used to do nearlyall the household work himself and since the death of his wife, nearly six years ago, his homestead has been a regular bachelor's hall. "Yesterday morning shortly after daylight young Tom left the house to try and get a shot at some duck on the river, and he did not return for nearly three hours. On going back he turned down by the swamp paddock where the men should have been at work, but oomewhat to his surprise they were not there. Considerably puzzled he was going towards the hIouse when Carlo, ihe old man's favorite dog, met him and at the first glance he saw the creature was wounded. A short ex amination was sufficient to show it had been stabbed and the wonder is the wound did not prove fatal sooner than it did as the knife had penetrated almost through its body. The sight of the blood and the brutal injury coupled Kans has fs20 women holdling office as Co'rnly .perintendents of public inosttuclita,
with e f,.t oai t:"e ,n.un's at.cnc~ caused a tcrribc ficn: to, take possession of him and he decided to be cautious. Something serious had taken place in his absence he felt sure, but of its nature lie was necessarily ignorant as may be imagined. The violence used to the aog was sufficient to fill him with dread, but lie could not find it in his heart so he told me-to give voice to the hor rible suspicion which fill upon him. "If he had not taken the round to visit the swamp paddock he would have returned to the house by an op posite path' to the one he was now tak ing. Instead of going towards the front part of the building he would have returned towards the back. When he came to the edge of the clearing around the homestead his suspicions had gathered strength for there was not the slightest sign of any living being to be seen; yet he decided on a most foolish step-the wonder being he did not lose his life in carrying it out. His anxiety for his father prompted him to risk his life in trying to ascertain if any thing had occurred, and to do that he must go to the house. "The dog which had, so far, fol lowed now crawled into the long grass and quickly died, and this made the young fellow all the more eager to probe the mystery to the bottom. See ing that his gun was ready for use if necessary, he went boldly out of the scrub and walked quickly towards the house which he reached in a couple of minutes The front door was closed and probably locked, but the window of the bedroom close by was easily opened and he stepped noiselessly through into the chamber. It was not occupied and the silence of death was on the place. He was about to turn from the room to the back when the sound of a voice fell distinctly on his ears-'The young 'un is a long time coming back,' were the words spoken. 'Oh, we can afford to wait now the old fellow is out of the way,' returned an other voice which Barrows at once re cognised as that of College Jack, or Tarleton, as I suppose his real name is. "Tom knew at once that a tragedy had taken place, but how was he to act ? The gun might hold the life of one man, but there were three to be reckoned with and he well knew they would be armed, for as he glanced at the wall where the weapons were usually hung he saw they were missing. His first feeling was to rush into the room where the men-murderers, per haps-were, and if necessary die in avenging his father's death. Then he reflected that after all the old man might not have been killed but only kept a prisoner, and if he acted rashly it would injure him. As he was in this state of painful doubt the voice of Tarleton again reached him-' We must get to the ranges to-night. There will be no use to lose time here,' he heard. A man, whom he knew as another of his father's servants, objected to quit ting the place so soon-" When we put the young 'un out of the road what is the need of rushing away like that The ranges will not be very comfortable -not half so good as this-and I say we should stop here and enjoy ourselves while we can. No one will come here for weeks.' "This put the intentions of the men beyond all doubt, and, seeing the fool ishness of risking his life in an unequal struggle, Tom resolved to slip round to the stables and get a horse, steal away to Thompson's and bring back his friends in force enough to capture the assassins, as he regarded them. Going quietly back he was in the act of getting through the window when his foot slipped and he fell against the frame shattering the thin glass. The noise could have been heard a couple of hundred yards distant, and, knowing the result, Tom set off at full speed for the shelter of the scrub he had lately quitted. Before he could reach it two shots were fired at him but both missed, and as he plunged into the thicket he looked back and saw the three ruffians just starting after him. Thompson's house is nearly six miles from Barrows' homestead, and the convicts knew this, but in young Barrows they had a per fect deer. "He quickly increased the distance between them, and when after a chase of a mile they saw it was useless to think of overtaking the fugitive they stopped and returned to the house. Packing up a quantity of food and other articles, they took the three best horses on the station and made off. Three hours after his escape from the place young Barrows returned with Thomp son, his two sons and three of the men in his employ. The homestead was surrounded, but of course the villains had fled. Poor Barrows was found in the kitchen quite dead. He had been stabbed to the heart. As it was almost dark when this was accomplished no thing could be done until this morning, when Barrows and one of the Thomp sons set out to warn the settlers and send word to the authorities of the out break," concluded Edwards. " What a narrow escape he had," re plied Mary. "Yes; if it had not been for the poor dog he would not be in this life now, and indeed that fact-or rather warn ing-would not have saved him if the scoundrels were not watching from the back of the house in the direction they expected himto return. Ifoneofthem had strolled to the front and seen the young fellow coming across thle clearing it would have been certain death to him. The most singular part of the business is the utter absence of motive for the crime. Barrows treated his men very well, and on no occasion was the least complaint ever made to him. From what the young fellow says they were quite a happy family, and it must be only the pure villainy of Tarleton which caused the outrage. Apparently he wants to be a sort of free and inde pendent bandit, but he'll soon find out his mistake. If-. Halloa, what's that ?' Edwards said, breaking off abruptly from his comments. "I-Hand me the rifle, Mary, and keep here close to the wall. I can see something mov ing near the cattle-shed. Don't you notice it ?" "'Yes, and it's a man, father," the girl, whose eyesight was keen, replied, a little excitedly. "Well, keep cool, mygirl. W\e have the whip hand of them to-night and no mistake. We ougl t to thank our lucky stars for this. Yes, I see another two-. The three scoundrels are over by the small shed, and I'm blest if they are not quietly tying up the horses. My best plan will be to fire on themn at once." "Iight theiy not he friends, fatheir ? It would be drradffl iifyon s:hot anyone wrho did not in:tend harm,' the ghil in terruptled. "You may be right, Mary, but in a PErisibane rpoesr to incur an expenditure of £50,000 tot wood prving.
::aUe hke this the best plan is to get in the first h!ow and the sooner you strike thebetter. You may be certain they are not friends; but I'll let them come near enough to prevent the possibility of making a mistake," answered Ed wards. The three visitors did not seem to expect attack, for after securing the horses in the cattle shed they quietly advanced towards the house to the door opposite which the horseman had been a few minutes before. As the starlight fell upon then both, Edwards and his daughter could see they carried fire arms, and when about seventy yards away the settler decided they should not approach nearer if ire cou(ld help it. Raising the rifle which the girl handed him he took the best aim possible and fired, but almost before the echoes had died out three reports were heard and at the same moment the old man fell back with a stifled groan. "My luck is out, Mary; but never mind, lass. Take your place here and if you see a shadow fire at it. Where are they now ?"' "They have run back towards the shed; but oh, father, what is the matter -you are hurt? Don't snay a bullet has struck you !" the girl cried. "It's nothing, Mary. Get me that pillow from the sofa and I'll lie down. That will be best. Hand me the gun there and keep a look out, but be care ful they don't pot you," Edwards re plied, striving to suppress a groan. The old settler's luck was indeed out, for the chance bullet from the volley had pierced his right breast and the lungs were perforated. He was, in short, fatally wounded, and Edwards well knew it but hesitated to tell his daughter so. "Time enough," he muttered, "time enough. She will need all her courage now. I suppose my time had come or the shot would not have hit me, and I must have missed that fellow. I be lieve it was Tarleton. Do you see them, Mary?" he added, raising his voice. "Not a sign, father. Can't I shut these loop-holes and look after, you. Perhaps they have gone away though; the horses are still tied up. Let me attend to you, father," came the answer. "No, Mary; I'm right enough. You can't do anything for me. Keep watch, girl, keep watch. It the scoundrels creep up they might set fire to the house. Open this shutter here and look around this side," the father said, nodding towards the opposite wall. The small oil-lamp was close to the shutter, and, taking it down, Mary Ed wards placed it where she could see her father's face and shaded the flickering light so that it could not illuminate the small chamber. The girl was shocked to notice the change which had come over her father, but recognising the desperate position of them both she re frained from making any great fuss at the time. After this was done she care fully opened the strong slide which covered the loop-hole and glanced out. For a few moments nothing was to be seen, but as her eyes became more ac customed to the outside light, dim and uncertain as it was, the girl became aware that some object was creeping slowly towards the back door. It was in the shadow thrown by the side wall and this rendered the outside line in distinct. Bending near her father she whispered to him what she saw. "Take careful aim and fire, Mary. Shoot it if you can, for whatever it is it has no right there. Do the best you can for our lives now depend upon you," he faintly replied. Poor fellow, he well knew his own life was almost at its end, and he had no doubt the creeping figure was one of their deadlyr foes but he did not care to make the girl certain on the point, though she must have guessed. Rest ing the musket on the ledge of the aperture Mary, who had a. little know ledge of the weapon from the tuition given by her brothers at different times, fired at the indistinct object and the re sult was tragical. As the explosion flashed ont a hor rible yell followed, and the form of a man sprang into the air only to fall an inert mass. The bullet had done its work well. Almost immediately after another shot was fired from the cow shed where one of the men was in hid ing, but it did no injury. -'Did you kill him, Mary? I hope so, for it may drive them off," the old man asked in broken gasps. "I think so. He is lying still near the wall," she answered, with a slight shudder. "Don't be afraid, my girl; if you don't kill them they will kill us. It is a matter of life and death, and imagine you are dealing with wild beasts and not with human beings. Keep up your spirits, girl, and tell mother I died fight ing for our home." "Died! Don't talk like that, father -oh, don't talk of dying ! Where are you shot. Let me see ?" Mary cried, raising the lamp and throwing the light around. Its beams revealed the life's stream which was ebbing from the dying man, for John Edwards had not many minutes to live; yet he was self-sacrific ing to the last. "Don't bother about me, lass. If those two fellows are not kept at arm's length we'll both die. If you care for me, keep watch; for I'm afraid they will not go away unless you have been lucky enough to kill Tarleton. Tihe more you worry aboutme the worse I'll be," he concluded. iThus adjured, Mary Edwards again took up the watch, but her heart felt as heavy as lead. The night wore on and before iz o'clock, finding tihe horses were still tied up in thie shed which was open towards the house, Edwards told hIis daughter to fire on them. This shre at once did, and tirhe second shot broughlt one of them down. In half a minlute the btushrangcrs had removed the other two to a pilace of safety; and t:e fact that they nmust ihave been round to the south side of the house trying to clfct an entrance filled her with dread as it sihowed how deter mined they wecre in thIe Iiurauit of plunder, or perhails now rCven-,e. A quarter of an helur after thIe horses were removed John Edwards, in a choking whisper, called hIis dlaughter. SIi'm going, Mary, irut don't Ibe afraid. Tell nmother and the Iovs I died happy -that is if you'll do as I sa'. As soon as Irm gone slip into thile cellar and get the horseand mnake for the Point. iYou nrust get out of this as soon as possible. I'I soon be reveniged. My boys will-," A rush of bilood stopped hIis utter ance, al:d in a fesw momtents John IEd irards had passed away to the mystcri S~s world beyond the grave. lie left ihe brave mressage that he died happy, sir truth hlie could scarcely have done so l, nowiisg thIe terrible plight of his cnly and youngest child. C J 2 (To 0E CONTINUE' Last year 1055 pitents were aopplied for in eonnection with cycle conastrction.