Chapter 65385893

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Chapter NumberIX. (CONTINUED.
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article65385893
Full Date1891-05-22
Page Number3
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Word Count8405
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Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitlePortland Guardian (Vic. : 1876 - 1953)
Trove TitleA Final Reckoning: A Tale of Bush Life in Australia
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A FINAL RECKONING. A TALE OF BUSH LIFE IN AUSTRALIA. Br G. A. IENTY. CHAPTER IX. (CoX rrrm . -"Dinner is ready," Frances Hudson said, ranning into the room. " Here you are, pap", (alking away as uual whenever you get the chance. Now run upstairs quickly both of you, for Rachel will not be pleased if you let thefirt dinner ret cold, after she has been doing her best to prepare somethiing sfpecial in honour of the occasion ever since she heard the Paramatta was in port." "I won't be a minute, Frances. Ah, here coms Wilbcn. I was wondering what had ie come of him; he promised to come on as soon as he had een his chief." The dinner was an excellent one, and fully bore oat Mr. Hudson's anertion with respect to bi cook. All were in high spirits with the exception of Mrs. Hudson, who was cool in her manners to the young oficer, and was evidently deirous of haowing her disauproval of his engagement to her daughter, which had only taken place two days before. "I hare news for you, Reuben," Captain Wilon i in the first ipaus of conversntinn. "I sw the chief and told him I wanted an ap pointment for a young friend of mine who had come out in the Paramstta, and who had shown grat pluck and presence of mind i an affair at t Capd, which I described to him. He said that he ould appoint you at once, as young Houghton, a district superintendent, was killed thr weeks ago in an affair with the bush anges p country. He aid he was ery glad to ear of someone likely to make a good ofce tofilllis place. So if you make up tcr mind to be a constable, the place is ready " Thank yea very much, sir," Reuben said. I wru thinking the matter over last night, niult madeup my mind to accept thepace were kind enough to offer me, if you rink fit to fill it." "Ihave no far on that score, Reuben: I mm sure yo will do credit to my recommuen dahon. So then we may coniider that a ettled." ." There," gaombled Mr. HudsIn, " that's ust likeyou, Wilson; you upset all my plans. It wu arranged he was to come up to my station, and there, befcre you are on shore two hours, you arrane the whole baineas, and I suppoe you will be wanting him to get into his uniform and be off before a week's out." *" I dressy we can manag a fortnight," Oaptain Wilson laughed, "and I have no doubt he will hare plenty of opportunities for visiting you late on. Indeed,I don't know whyhe should not be able to look up as soon a yo getthere. e will, of course, Ib placed under an old hand for si months to learn his dutas and to get to spe?k a little of the native I&go. Hartwell, who has Tour d:strict, is as good man s he c be pt with. ie is a areful offier, though perhatp a little stow, but be will be a good man for ieuben to serve under, and I know the chief will ut him with him if Iak him, as itcan't nake anydiLfrence where he goes firt." " etl, if Tou can arrange that, Wilson, I will forgive you. And now, where are you goingto ?" " or the time Iam not going an where in particular," Captain Wils-n replied. "The chief says he thinks that things have got rather slack since I have been awar. There are several bands of bushrngers who have bon doing a deal of mischief up country ; so, to Igin with, he wihes mo to make a tour of in'peAtirn and to report generally. Afttr that I think I shall be settled here for a time, at anyrate it will be my headquarter. I think it proballe thechic! himselfwill ba goicg home onu lave Ltfore very long." "The sooner you are eettlcd here the better, ' Mr. Hudson sid, " fcr I know I hbll get no peace now till Francs is Ksett!d, too. Ever since she was a child when she once made up her mind that ho wanted a new toy she worried me till I got it for her, andyou are the last new tor." " Oh, apa, how can you say so ?" Frances aid laughingand coluuring; - as far as I am concerned it may be months and tmcnths." "Oh, that is all very well," Mr. Hudson broke in : " I know what you want. You want Wilson hereto lio alw'ays neglecting his duty and galloping over from the other end of the colony to see you. No, no, my dear, if Wilson is a wise fellow he will bring you to book as saon as I can either bild or get hold of a place ft for you. We shall be having no peace now. Erery time be is off on duty you will be picturing him as en gaged in oame dreadful struBgle with bush ragers and blacks, and if letters don't come as often as ou expect them you will le fretting yourself into afever." "What nonsece, rapa! Iknow of caure, George will have to do his duty. I don't suppose he's alw.y7 going to be tied to my pmo-string." "You take my advice, Reuben," Mr. Hadson said, "don't you go and lose your heart, for if you once do there's a police ofiWer rpoiled. It don't so much matterwith Wilson, becaM he Lb done his share of dangerous work and is pretty well up at the top of the trme but a man that has to tackle bushrangers and black ought not to have a woman at home thinking of him." "There is no fear of that for a good many tears to come," Reuben laughed. "Are these i really formidable fellows, Captain Wilson" "Formidable 'to the settlers," Captaih Wilson said, "but not to us. They drive off attle and sheep, and sometimes attack solitary stations and murder every soul there; liut they aldom stand up in fair fight when we come down upon them, but they fight hard some times when they are acting with bush ."luh-rangern are mnotly escaped convicts, ar theynot " "Almost always," Captain Wilson replied, "ez ept that, of course, they hae among them a few men such as runaway sailors, and ne'er do-wlls who get sick of shepherding and take to the bsh; but the great iproportion are cn 'iets. It is not to be wondored at when you look at the life many of these men have led at home, and the monotony and hardehip of their lives in many of the up.country stations, alloted to men as ignorant and sometinms al. most a brutal as themselves. "Some of them, too, escape from the road. Pangs, and these are generally the worst, for, as often as not, they may harve killed a warder in making their escape, and know that it will go hard with them if they are cauht. It may he said that there are two sorts of baoh-rangers. The one are men who have taken to the bush Pimply from a desir of regainieg their hliberty. Sometimes they join parties of blacks and live with them: sometimes two or three get to gether, and all the harm they do is to carry off an occasional sheep for fooui; and the other kind are desperadoes--men who were sonorge in England and are a scourge here, who attack lonely stations, and are not contenti with *uAblahe b per l ardp ngement wth the sUnor,

robbing, but murder thos who fall into their hands. "Thay are, in fact, w?4 beast, to whomno mercy is to be etended, and who, knowingit,1 will fight to the last. They are not ear to I hunt down, their instinct asing mads them ary; and being generally in league with the blacks, who are as cunning as foxes and can run pretty nearly as fast as a horsne can gallop, they are kept very well informed as to our movements, and, the country being so immense, h wo should never ran them down were it not for our native trackers, "Thee fellows are to the fll as arp u the y Red Indians of North America. They seem, in fact, to hare the instinct of dogs, and can y folloUw a track when the keenest white's eye cannot ' tet the smallest trace of a footprint. It is something marvellous what some of them will do." "Hare you any of these trackers in your employment c" "There are ony or two attached to erert u. d cunntry station. They are, in fact, our b' oet hound, and although some of our men pick up a little of their craft, we should do ndtling without them." k The next morning Reuben met Captain b Wilson down in Sydney, and was taken by him to the chief of the constabulary, who at once made out his alpointment. On his return Mr. Hudson again started with him for the town and insisted upon ordering his equipment. As Reuben saw that he would bhurt by a n shadow of denial he accepted Hr. IIudson s kind offer, although he had intended to ask Captain Wilson to make an advance of pay in b order that he might get what was necesary. He could not. however, have purchased such an outfit as Mr. IIudson insisted on getting him, the latter ordering not only uniforms but suits " of plain clothes, together with saddlery, bholsters, a sword, and a brace of excellent double-. barreled pistols. Ife did not need to buy a horse, having in his stables one in every way suitable, being at once quiet and fast-it was, indeed, one of the most valuable animals in the al clony. "You will have to keep your eyes open, Reubn," he said as he gave him the horse, "or he will be stolen from you. These bush ranger fellows are always well.mounted, and d anyone at an upcountry station who has an anomal at all out of the ordinary way, has to keep his stable doer locked and sleep with one eye opyn; and even then the chances are strongly in favour of his losing his horse before long. Thesefellows know that their lives often depend upon the speed of their horse, and, naturiltr. spare no pains to get hold of a good one. Al. I have a good idea. Jim," he shouted to eneof the black boys, " come here." The lad, who was about eighteen years of age, trotted up. " Jim, this gentleman is going to be a police f officer, and he's going to take the bay with him : now he wants a good servant. Will you go with him i" The lad looked longingly at the hone, whichl be had groomed and was very fond of ; but he shook his head. "I no leare Massa Hudson." cl " Yes, but I wish you to go, Jim. This gentle- t man is a great friend of m:ne, and whan had black man attacked young Missy he saved her life. So I want him tobe taken goodeareof, and the horse too, and to see no one steals it. So someone I can trust must go with him. If you don't like him for a mter terfter you have tried - him, Jim, you can crmeback tome again. You h have been a good boy. and I have no wish to get ridof you: but this gentleman don't know 1: the ways of the country, and I want to be sure h he has someone with him he can trust" The lad looked at Reuben gravely with his mall eyes deeply sunken under the projecting eyebrows. "Jim will go," he mid; "he look after white ° man and Tartar to please Maass Hudson and young Mi.-sr." "That's right, Jim," his employer said. "That's a good stroke of business," he went on as he turned away with IReuben; if you treat these black fellows well and they get attached to you they are faithful to death. You will see that fellow will never let your T horse out of his sight. If you ride twenty to miles across country there he will be by your H side as you dismount, ready to take it and i looking as fresh as paint. At night he will sleep in the stable, and will be ready at all times and places to make a fire and cook a damper or a bit of meat, if you are lucky I enough to have one by you. All the people about the place would do anything, I believe. for Frances. and the fact that you have saved her life will bind this boy to you at first, afterwards he will get to care for you for younelf." A fortnight Ilter Reuben, in his uniform as an officer of the constabulary, rode out of Sydney. His baggage bad been sent on three days before by a waggon returning up country. Jim trotted with an easy stride behind him. Reuben at Erst was inclined to ride slowly in order to give hi attendant time to keep up li with him; but he soon found that whatever pace he went the lad kept the asme distance behind without any apparent exertion, and he was, therefore, able to choose his own pace without reference to Jim's comfort. Four years pa?sed. Reuben Whitney gave every satisfaction to his superiors, and was con sidered a zealous and effective young officer. So far he had not been placed in a position of a great resronsibility; for, although for the last two years he had been in charge of a district, it was not far from Sydney, and his duties con- b sieted principally in hunting for convicts who a had male their escape, in looking after refrac- t, tory ticket-of-lesve men, and in ordinary con- t stabulary work. He had lesrned in that time to become a fint-rate rider and a good shot with a pistol, accomplishments which would be of vital service when be was ordered to an up- t: country station. For his pistols he had as yet, however, had i. actual use. as neither bush rangers nor natives penetrated so far into the h settlement. t At the end of the four years' srrice'e re. crivel a letter from Captain Wilson, who had t just succeeded to the chief command of the d constabulary, ordering him to hand over charge of the district to the young officer who was the bearer of the letter, and to report himself at headqulrters. Ieuben was now nearly three-and-twenty, and had gaown into a very powerful young man. A life spent for the most art on horse back had hardened his muscle an filled out his frame. He stood about five feet nine, but lookled shorter, owing to his great width of shoulder. Hle wssstill quiet In manner, but he had the same bright and pleasant expresseon which had characterixd him as a boy, and his visits to Sydney, where he was introduced by t Captain Wdi'on and Mr, Hudson into the be't sordety, had giren him ease and self possession. The native, Jim, was still with him. HIe had become greatly attached to his mater, and his Edelity and devotion had been of the grratest service to him, and go wher e he would the black was always at his heels. On hi prerenting himself at Sydney, Captain Wilson said, after the Erst greetings: "I knowyou have been a little disappointed, t Reulten, because hitherto you have been at a stations where you have had but little opper tunity of di~stinguishng yourself. How ever, I thought better to keep you at quiet work until you were thoroughly master of your duties, and had, moreover, got your full strength. I don't know whether youhave quite arrived at that yet, but I think you will do anyhow," and he smiled as he looked at RIeuben's shoulders. "I think I umn as strong as most of them," reuben said. smiling too. "Four years'e millwright's work, and four years on horse hacr in this bracing air ought to make ones strong, if there's anything in one to begin t with. I think I shall doin that re.pect." "Ithink so, Reuben. I don't think there are many men in the force who could hold i theirown with you in a grapple. And new to business. You base beard of that altair of Inspector Thomas in the GooCra district-it was I Sbad bu.iners. ie and two of his men were out after some natives who had driven off I cattle, and he was st upon by a party of bush. I rangers. and he and lis men killed." " So I heard, sir," Reuben tsid quietly. "Wel!, I have decided in sending you up in his place. It is a bad district-the wonrst we have at presteo -and it needs a man of great 1 reco!ution and intelligence. I am sure that you have plenty of both. and that I cannot make a better choice than in sending you there. Your age is the only thing ngainlt yoa-not 1 weth me. you know, ut others may think that Ihave doto wrong in electing so young an ut-c'r; but. you ?e, I know my mon. I know, too, that everal of the inspectors are .gett too old for this sort of work; I do not moan toe old, perhals, in point of years, but they are inners d men with families, and for de~uerate work I prefer men without encum brances. The post should be held by an m spector, but I cannot promote you at present; it would tee puttieg rou over the heals of too manyl: but you will hare a good chance of eexrnog early promotion, and I know that is what you like." , Thokyou very much, Captain Wilson. I will do my best to show myself worthy of your confidence." "You will have all your work cut out for you, Bcuben. The district has all along been a most troublesome one. The number of settlers at present i small. There is a good deal of higher bush than usual about it, which makes it very diffiualt to run thsea fllews dawn, and the nat'ves are specially trouble

some. Besides which, at present there are two or three of the worst gangs of bouh.ranee?s in the colony somewhere inthat country. You will have to be cautious as well as bold, Renuben. It is a dangerous service I am sending you on, still the more danger the more credit to you." "You could not have given me a station I should have liked better, and I hope ere long I mabe able to give you a good account of the bushrangers, "And now, Reuben, it you will call again in an hour, I shall be free, and then I will drire you home. You need not start for a day or two, and you will, of course, stay with me till you do." CIHAPTER X.-As' Ur-corrts ny DtIrntcr. Mrs. Wilson received Reuben as usual with the greatest cordiality, but she exclaimed loudly when e heard that he was going to the Goora district: "You don't mean it, George. You can't mean that you are going to send Reubeu to that dreaddoul place. Why, we are always hear. ing of murders and robberies there; and you know the last inspector was killed, and the one before recalled because you said he had lost his nerve, and row you are sending Reuben there " " But I look upon it as the greatest honour, Mrs. Wilson, being chosen fcr such a staticn; and, you see, there will be capital chances of distinguishing myself and getting promoted." " And capitl chances of being killed," Mrs. Wison said in a veed tone. "I do call it too bad, George." "But, my dear, we want a man of pluck and energy. Besides, you know, we have been gettin into hot water over that district. The press hare been saying very severe things about our incompetence to protect the outlying settle. ments, and I was obliged to choose a man who will gsse stisfaction; and you will agree with me that euben will do that." "Of course he will," Mrs. Wilson agreed, "I shouldn't be alive now if he hadn't had plenty of pluck and energy; but for that very reason you ought not to send him to such a dangerous post." "But I wish to give him an opportunity for dtstinguishing himself, He wants to get on, and I want to push him on; but, you see, I can't promote him over the heads of some eight or ten men senior to him, unless he does some. thing a little out of the war." "Well, I don't like it'George, I tell you frankly. I always thought he was wrong to go into the constabu'lary at all instead of accepting papa's offer. I can't think why you men are so fond of fightin ,when you culd choose a quiet and comfortable llfe." "But it is not always so quiet and com fortable, Frances, as a good many have found in the district he is going to, and, after all, it is less dangerous fighting bnsh-rangers and natives when you are prepared for it, than to be woke up of a night with a band of them thundering at your door, and withno assistance within twenty miles." As Frances Wilson remembered how, in her childish days, her fathe's place had been for three days beset with blocks, she had no answer reads for the argument. "Well, I do hope, Reben," she said, "if you do go to this horrid p!ace, you will take care of yourself and not be rash.'" "IHe's going to take care of others, Frances. You know, if he had taken care of himself and hain't been rash, you weuld not havre come so wellout of that Malar busineos. I am sure he looks as if he cauld take care of himself, doem't heF" " Yes, he is big enoughand strong enough." Mrs. Wilson agreed, "but that's no good against spears or boomerangs, to say nothing of nrifles and pistols." " Why, Frances, you are not generally a croaker,"herhusband sad lightly, "but for on, you seem to be determined to do your best to frighten Reuben before he starts." Mrs. Wilson laughed. "No, I don't want to frighten him, George, I onl want to make him careful." "I will be as careful as I can, Mrs. Wilson. That boy Jim is a treasure. I will warrant if there are any black fellows about he will sniff them out somehow. That fellow has a nose like a hound. lie has always been most useful to me. but he will be invaluable at Goors." Two days afterwards lReuben left for his new command. It took him eight days to reach it. His headquarters were at Goors, a settlement of some twenty houses besides the barracks in which the constabuary force, consisting of a sergeant, eighteen constables, and two native trackers, were quartered. The sergeant, a north-country Irishman named O'Connor, was somewhat surprised when Reuben rode up to the station, for the officers preiously in command had been much older men. Reuben's own quarters were in a cottage close to the main building, and he asked the sergeant to come in the evening. " Now, sergeant," he said after a little pre liminary talk. " I have been sent up by Captain Wilson'with instructions to root out thesebands cf bohhrangers." The sergeant smiled trimly. " We have been doing our best for the last three years, sir, but we hare not made much of a hand at it." "No," Reuben agreed, "and I don't suppose, of course, that I am going to s:eceed all at once. In the first place, tell me frankly what sort of men have we got i" "The tlen are good enough, sir, but they have certainly got disheartened lately. One way and in ther we hare lost somethu~ like ten men in the lot two years: and, of course, that last affair with poor Mr. Thomas was a bad one." "I understand," Renbh said ouietly, " some of them are not quite so eager b meet the bushrangers as they used to be." " Well, that is perhaps about it, sir: but I must say the men have been tremesdously hard worked-pretty nigh night and day in the saddle, often called out by false rews to one end of the d':trict, and then to finl when ther return that those scoundrels hase been down playing their games at some sation at the other end. It's enough to diohe?ten a "~o it is, sergeant. I was rpeaing to Captain Wilson about it, and saving, tat if we are to succeed we ought to have sons fresh hands, who will take up the work wth neaw slint. We are seven below our bree at present, and he has promised to end me up fifteen new hands, so then will be eight to be relieved. I will leave it ta you to pick out the men to go. Mind. put it to them that ther are to be relieved imply because Captain Wisor thinks they have had their share of bhard work, and should therefore be sent to a quiet statiln for a time. Just pick out the men whom yu think would be mrost rleaned to go." "Very well, sir, I a:n glad to hear tie news, for to tell you the truth I do think we wrant a little fresh blood amonrot us." Three days later the new deta~chmentarrived, and RIeuben saw at once that Captain Wilson had chosen a picked set of young men. About hall of them were freshly collted in the force, the others bad all been employed at upcountry stations, and were well acquainteod rith the nature of the work before them. Tie same afternoon the eight men picked out by hergeant O'Connor as being the least useful on tho station started for Sydner, most of them well pleasel at being relieved f;rom their arduous dries. Reuben found that therewere in the oiice a great many letters from settlers askingfor pro tection. It was impoosible to comply aith all these. but after consultation with O'Conor he sent five parties of three men each to as many exposed stations, keeling ten in hand ;o more as realuireld. Taking Jim ard two of the constobles who had been longest on thi station, he spent two months in traversing his district from end to end, and making himself tloroughly aoluainted with its geographical feabres, for he felt that until be had masteredthese he should only be working in the dark. For a time the outrages had cased, the busherangers having ehifted their :u'rters and the natves withdrawn after the murser of the late inepector. Thia was a great relief to Reuben, as it permitted him to gain m insight into the country before setting to work in earnest. Upon his tour he and his followers were everywhere mcort hospitably neivced at the stations at which they halted. Pierywhere he heard the same tale of sheep kiled, cattle and horses driven off, and the isolent de meanour of the natives. "I was thinking of giving it up aol moving baeck into the more-populated dotrict," one of the settlers snid toreuben; "but noryouhare come i will hold on for a bit longe and see how it turns out. You look to me th right sort I of fellow for the post, but the dificuty is with such a large scattered district as yera to be everywhere at once. What I hareoftinthooght of is, that it would be a good tutg if the whole district were to turn out anf no right into the heart of the black country and give them a lesson." "From what I hear," Reuben said "it will Sbe next to impossible for us to find hem. The Scountry is sovast and covered with bush that there would be no searching it. This have no I txed villages, ani the want of w.ter would render it imposiblo for us to go vero far. But the worst point would be that they lt seem to be well informed as to what is ping on. I suposes they get waranings from the native i hcdmen and servants, and if ~werea all Stogether to enter their country we must leave h the stations unprotected, and we hould find Sthen in ashe an our return." "Tem, that is true," the ssstIer sai "I

suppo it could'tbedone. But it's anxio work sleeping here night after night with one's rifle by one's bedside, never certain at. what hour one may be woke by the plling of the blacks. But they are not as bad as the bush rangers. If the blacks can but drive off your cattle they are contented; you have got nothing else that is much use to them. The bush-rangers don't want your cattle beyond a head or two for present use; but they wan't everything else you've got, and whether you 1 like it or not is quite immaterial to them. Thank God I have got no money in the place. and I and my three men can make a pretty good fight o it. But I pity the men with wives and I daughters." " Well. I hove we shall soon rut a stop to it," Reuben said cheerfully. "We will give I themalesson af we catch them,you may be I quite lure." "I hope so," the settler said. "But you It folks have been mighty unlucky ltely. Never t seem to have been at the right plas at the t right time. Not that I am surprised at that in such a district, but they never seem to come up t with the fellows afterwards."' "No, they seem to have had bad luck," Reuben agreed. "I hopewe shalldobetternew.' r Three days after his return from his last visit of inspection of his district, a settler rode at a full speed up to the station. "Captain." he said-for although Reuben had no right to that title, he was always so called by the settlers-" the blacks have been down at my plae. They have killd my two shepherds and driven off the sheep." "Sergeant O'Connor, turn out Leo men at f once," Reuben shouted. "See tha: their am. mumtion is all right, and let each man take a t water-bag and four days' provisions in hist harersack. When was at " he asked, turning a to the settler again. "Some timnyesterday afternoon-at least I judge so. One of the men was to have mome in I for supplies and when nightcameand he hadn't I come in I began to be afraid something was wrong, for I kew that they were getting short, I io this morning at daybreak I rode out with the I hands I have about the house. We could see nothing of the sheep, so we rode straight to the t men'shut.There,lysmgsometwentyyardasway, was the body of one of the men riddled with spear holes." lie had evidently been running to t the ht for shelter when he was overtaken. I I did not stop to look for the other, for no doubt i he had been killed too." " Well, we will do what we can for you," IReuben said. "I will be ready in five minutes " IIe ran into the house, buckled on his sword, t put some cold meat and a small bag of fou tnto his haversack, together with some dampers Jim had just cooked, and then went out agai. i Jim had already brought his horse round to the 1 door. Before mounting he took the pistols out of the holsters and examined them carefully. By this time the sergeant and ten men were e in the saddle, and placing himself at their head, with the settler, whoso name was Blount, he t rode off at full speed, followed by his men, the two native trackers, and Jim. .ubea soon I reined his horse in. "It will not do to jush them too hard at first, there is no raying how far we shall have to go." "Do you mean to follow them into their own country '" Mr. Blount asked. "Ido," Reuben said, "I will follow them I till I catch them, if I have to go across Austra lia.' "That'sthe sort,"Mr.Blountsaid. "Ienpect s you will finad half-a-dozen other fellows at my station by the time you get there. I sent my t hand off on horseback to the stations near to tell them what had taken place, and thatI had ridden off to you, and asking them to come round. " How far is it?" Reuben asked. "About forty miles." "Butyour horse will never be able to do it," Ieuben said. " I got a fresh hone at a friend's four miles from your station. so I am all right.'' "They will have more than a day's start of us," Reuben remarked presently. "Yes;thirty-six hours, for you will have to stop at my place to night. But they can't travel very fait with sheep, you know." "No," Reuben agreed. " If they had had cattle it would have been useless following them, but with sheep we may come up to them, si.s "aloy if they don't think they will bo followed far" "No; that'esybape. They will know I had forty miles to ride to vourstation. Besides, had it not been that I was expecting the shepherd in for supplies I might not have found it out for two or three days. So Iexpect they will think that theyare pretty safe from pursuit. They have never been followed far intothe bush. It's nasty work, you see." "It's got tobedone," Reuben said. "It is impossible to keep guard everywhere, and the only way to put a stop to these outrages is to teach the lachks that punishment will follow wherever they go." It was late in the afternoon before they arrived at Mr. Blount's station. They found fourteen or fifteen of the neighouring settlers gathered there. They came out as the sound of the tramplingof the horses was heard. Several of them were known to Reuben from his haring stopped at their stations. "Glad to see you, captain,but I am afraid you are too late" said Dick Caister, a young settler whose station lay about twelve miles away. "'That remains to be proved," Reuben re plied as he dismounted. " Oh, they harve got twenty-fourhours' start, and it'stoo late to do anything tonight. They must be thirty miles away in the bush already. " If they were a hundred I would follow them," Reuben said. There was an exclamation of surprise and somethinglike a cheer on the paut of some of the younger men. " The difficulties arevery great." one of the elder settlers said. "There is ncithcr food nor water to be found in the bush." " I know it's not an easy business," Reuben said quietly. "But as to food, we can carry it with us: as to water, there must be water in places, for too natives can no more go without drinking than we can. There must bestreams and water-loles here and there. But, however dificult it is, I mean to attemptit. It is the only way of bringing the blacks to book; there can nevercr be safety asinong the out-lring settlements unless the fellows are taught a lesson. And now, gentlemen, before we go further I want to siy this: I know that you a5e all ready to help, that you are all thinrtiueg to wipe out old scores wiih the blacks, bnut at the same time I would point out to you that it is likely enough that the bnush-rngenrs, who cortainly work with the blachks, will follow up this stroke, therefore it will not do to leave the stations defenelesa . I donotwanta lars force with me. If we once overtake the blacks I have no fear whatever of being able to give a goodaccount of them. Therefore I would urge upon allof you who are mirried men that it is of the firt importance that you should stay at home, in case the bush-rngenr take the oppor. tunityof orbein away to pay you a vis." That is the hst thong to ' thought of. II any of the others like to go with us I shall be very glad of their assietance. We may be away for a week or more for ought I know." "That is certainly the best plan, Captain," Dic~ Caister said. "As you say let the married men stop at home and guard their stations. I think the rest of us will all go with you." There was a chorus of approval. Eight ef thosepresent weremarried men, and, though reluctant to give up the thought of punishing the blacks, they were yet glad that they were not ,alledupon toleave their wives and families. With many god wishes for the success of the eapedition, thevat once mounted and rode off to their rcrnective stations, some of which were more than twenty miles away. "Now for ways and means," Rouben said. " What spare horses have you, Mr. Blount :" "I harve only two besides the one I am riding." "I should like to take at least sin. We must carry a good store of provisions." "I don't think you need trouble about that." Mr. Blount s id. "We must take a supply of flour with us, andof course tea and sugar, and a few bottles of rum will not be amiss. All these I can furnish. But ps to meat I do not think we need trouble. Going as fast as the b!acks will travelthere are sure to Ie lots of sheepfallbhr theway. The tlacks will eat as manyas theycan, but even a black cannot stuff himself beyond a certain extent, and there will be pleaty for us." "Yes, I did not think of that," Reuben replied : "in that case two spare horses will be enough." "ltwouldbe a good thing to have a few with os though," one of the youno men smid. "M y p'ne is only six miles off, I will ride over and iringlack three with me; they are all good ones, andI should be surry to find they were gone when I get back. t can lead one, my ack boy can ride another and lead the third. It is likely enough some of the horaes may give out or getspeazred if the hlaseks make a fight of it, and half a dozen spare horses would comein very handy." Reuben thought the plan was a good one, whereupon two of the others als volunteered to ride over and fetch the one three and the other two horses. "That will make ten altogether with Blount's two; we shall travel all the faster, because we can ride the spare horses by turns." The three settlers rode off atonce and returned late at night aith thespare horses. They had not been idle at Mr. Blount's. A bullock hbd

been killed and eut up and aconsiderable portioi cooked, so that each of the twenty men going on the exedition would start with ten pounds of cooked meat in order to save the time that would be spent in halting to cook the carcass of any sheep they might come upon. The ques tion of weight was immaterial, as the meat could be packed on the spare horses. As soon as dav broke the party were in their saddles. Mr. Blount led them first to the hnt near which he had found his shepherd killed. The native trackers now took up the search; the body of the other shepherd was found half a mile away. It was in a sitting position by a tree; the skull was completely smashed in by a blow of a waddy, and it was evident that a native had crept up behind him and killed him beforebe was conscious that any danger was at band. The trcker were not long in finding the place where the sheep had been collected together and driven off, and a broad track of trampled gras showed clearly enough the direc. i'on which had been taken. "How many of the black fellows do you think there were" Reuben asked one of the trackers. " reat many black fellow, captain," he replied. "? hat do you calla great many " Reuben asked. "Twenty, thirty, captain; can't say how many. No use, captain, look for dem, gone right away into de bush, never find them." "I am going to try, anyhow," Reuben said. "Now, do you lead the way." "I tik dare are more dan thirty black fellow,"Jim aid to Reuben as they started; "quite a crowd of dlem. Me no much like those two black fellow," and he nodded towards the trackers who were running on ahead, "no good those fellows." " What makes you think that, Jim?" "Two days ago Jim saw dem talking wid black follow hall a mile from the station, not know Jim saw dem; secret sort of talk Why dap never find de tracks beforeblack fellows and buahrangers always get away : Jim tink those fellows no good." Reuben himself had often thought it sineular that such continued bad luck should hare attended the efforts of his predecessor to Loht down the bushrangers, but the thought that they had beon put ofi their scent by the trackers had not occurred to him. ie had the greatest faith id Jim's sagacity, and now that the idea was presented to him it seemed plausible enough. "Very good, Jim you keep your eye on those fellows, I will do the same we shall soon find out if they are up to any tricks." Jim had been running by his master's stirrup while this conversation had been going on, and he now dropped into his usual place at the rear of the party. For some miles the trail was followed at a hand-gallop, for the grass was several inches in height, and the trail could be followed as easily as a road. The country then began to change, the ground was poorer and more arid, and clumps of low brush grew here and there. Still there was no check in the speed. The marks tadde by the frightened flock were plain enough even to the horsemen, and bits of wool left behind cn the bu:hes nffcrded an unmistakab:e testimony to their paesage. "They were not going so fast here," Mfr. Illountsaid after dismounting and examinirig: " the footpriats do not go iu pairs as thee aid at first, the flock has broken auto a trot. Ah ! there is the first ahead." In a hundred vards t.er came open the skin and head of a sheep, nothing else remained. Unable to keep up with the Lock it had bt-en speared, cut up, and eaten raw by the blacks. In the next mile they cae upopen the remains of two more, then the track widened cut and the fcotprints were scattered and confused. The horses were reined up and Jim and the trackers examined theground. Jim returnedin aminute or two. "Black fellows give 'em a rest here; could no go any furder: lie down and pant." One of the trackers then came up. "They stop here. captain, five six hours till moon rite; make fire, killed sheep, and have feast.' Reuben and some of the settlers rode over to the spot to which the tracker pointed. "Confoundthem " llount exclaimed,"l loo there! there are atleast twentr heads." " 3ohc.eo ea." -tueses raid ; "thesre muot have been a lot of natives." "Yes, there must have teen a good many,"' the settler agred. "bat not so many, perhaps. as you would think. NobLoy has ever found out yet how much thcse blacks can eat when they makeup their mind to it, hut two could cer. tainly devour a sheep. They will eat till they can't sit upright" "They would hardly eut as much as that with a long journey before them," Reuben said: "but allow only three to a sheep, there must be sixty of them. My man said there were a good many more than the trackers put it down at." "So much the better; I only hope they will show fight." After five minutes' halt the ride was continued for the next three hours, then three dead sheep were passed. 'his time the flesh had not been devoured, but the poor beasts had in every case been speared. "Savage brutes:" Reuben exclaimed; "theyr might at least have given the ho.ep a chance of life when they could go no further, instead of wantonly slaughtering them." "That's their way always," IMr. Blount said : "they kill from pure mischief and love of slaughter, even when ther don't want the meat. But I don't suppose it mikes much difference: I expect the sheep hare drooped as much from thirst as from fatigue, and thee would probably have never been got up again after they ornc fell I fancy we shall come upon a stream be fore long. I have never' en out as for as this before, but I know that there is a branch of the Nammo crosses the bush here somewhere." Another five miles and they came upon the river. The wet season was only just o'- r, ani the river was full from bank to barnk. It was some thirty yards wide, and frome two to three feet deep. Ascore of sheep lay deal in the water. They had apparently rushed headil n. in to quench their thirst, and had either drunk till they fell, or had tbeen trampled under water by their companions preesig up?n theor from behind. For the next ten miles the track was nlain enough, than they canme to a s?ries of d ?was covered with a short gerss. At the foot of thse another halt had been maode by the blacks. "We must have come tweOntyfive miles," Reuben said. " Quite that, captain: the flock must have been drea beat br the time theyr got here. I should think they must have ctlpped here lat night ;we will soEn see-there is one of thir fre- plaoes " The settler dismounted and Iput his hand into the ashes. "Yes,"he said. "theor are warm still; : theyr must have camped here aLst night, they cta'.ed1 when the moon rose, no doubt. Thaus they have right or nine hours start of us only, and as ther can't travel fast after such a journey as theyh hd yesterday, we ought to be able to catch them long before night." "They will go better to-das than they did yesterday," Mr. Blount s?id: "they we:e over-driven to start with, and that was what knocked them up; but the blacks will bgin to feel themselovs safe todav, and will le them go their own p:ace. Sheep can do tawenty miles in a dar if not hurried." "WIll, at anyrate," Reulnen sail, " we will give our horses a couple of hours' r'st. It is just eleven o'clock now, and I ehould think every one is ready for a meal. ' There wasa chorus of a?rsnt. The troop dismounted at once. The grths were cestoned, the bits taken from the horses' mouths, and they were tnamed loose to greae in the long grass at the foot of the hill. There was no fear of their attempting to stray after thtir journey of the mornmg. Scme of the men sot to cut bruoh, and inafew minutes a fire was lighted. Oneof the sheep, of which there were several lying ab'ut, was skinned and cut up, and slhes on skewers of green wood were soon frizzling over the fire. Twenty minuteslater the water in a lrge potha?g~ng over the fire was boiling. TLre. or four handfuls of tea were thrown in: andl with thefried mutton, cold damper,and tea, ahearty meal was made. Then pipes were produred and lighted. wwhle several of the men. lring down andl sha ling their faces with their ;road hat', indulged in a dtre. "One o'clock," Reuben eaid at last, looklin at his watch. "It is time tobe mnovegn sUin.' "The horses were fetched in, the ridles re?. placed, and the girths tightened. "Now, which way t" lieslen nasked the trackers. "Along here, eaptain, by de foot of de hill de trail is plain enough." It was so. A track of some widlth wao trampled in the grass. Reuben was about to rive the crrer to proceed when bh caught Jim's eye, and sauw that the black wished to speak to him pri vatelr. "Whati it Jim " he asked, going apart from the test "That notdeway, cptain. Ahundred, two hundred sheep gone that way wid four or five biack fellow; de rest have all gone over de hill." " Are yon sure, Jim " " 'fe quite sure, car; de ronnd very hard : but while de captain emoke him pipe Jim wenat over de hill, saw plenty sign of sheep. WVnI straight up ill and then turned away to d,

lefl. Di hitls purty here ab only gone to frow white min off de tra'l" " The trackers ought to have seen that as well as you, Jim," Reuben said angrily. " Dey see, ?ar, sure enough. Could no help seeing wid half an eye. You see, mur, dose fellows up to no good; lead party wrong if dey can. Don't say, sir, Jim told you. If you say dat, put 'em on their guard. Muass ride along the trail for a bit just as if talk wid Jim about odder affair, den after little way begin to talk about trail being too small, den turn and come tuck ere and go over de hill." "A Torr good idea, Jim. I will do as you say." To nz cocnoor .