Chapter 67863081

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Chapter NumberV
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1884-03-08
Page Number4
Word Count3148
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)
Trove TitleIn Days Gone By
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Sales aud fkctcks.


By ax Old Settler.


Suss was sitting by the fire in a despondent attitude, hie baoda elapsed on his knees, his head bowed on them. *' You have over exerted yoo*«elf to-day, Rowly. 'Perhaps so.' There is something more thfi physical exhaustion ? Do yoa know that when Jack laid hold of me to-day , I was all bat I have often heard it said, aod in the case of

persons drowning, more than by any other mode of death, that the whole of one's pre vious existence, all the folly and sin and sorrow in which one has had a part is pre sented before you in oae grand tableau. I never felt before what that means. The valley of the Shadow of Death. I have been in daoger often. Death has been basv all roond mi1. I laughed it to scota. I felt' as if I had lived oh ! so long. Bat for Jack's forethought in sculling the boat np to me. I should have passed the grim portals long since. Ehe« ! It may be only deferred for a little ' It is only for a little space with any of us,' said Rowly, ** come and walk about.' They walked and talked for more than an hoar, and then entered the tent, where Boland was makiue oight btdeons by certain unmusical sounds. ~ Rowly knew the best care for the bines in active motion. By putting life aatil his miod had recovered its tone, and his legs were weary. The morn, broke bright and fair. After a La! he in tbe sparkling water every one declared that they felt not a whit tbe worse. '? I don't see the nigger,' eaid Jack,' 'he has bolted.' 'Well,' said Rowly, ' he is a free agent. He can go if he likes. ' Before breakfast was ready Peter made his called them, 'Waroheeo,' which' he' deli berately placed, all alive oh ! in the centre of tbe fire, piling it up around them. ' Is he not a brute ? ' said Boland. 'YoV said Peter, 'that fella fas rate directly.' at which there was a laugh. ' What is the order of the day, Gemmen ? ' While they were hesitating, Jacques said, ' What ts that out there * ' pointing to sea ward. ' Is it a steamer's Bmoke ? ' '?No,'' said Jack. 'There is no steamer likely to be there away. It is a smoke on the big island. What ! It is then inhabited, I suppose ; tho' I never Been em. That's a big smoke, any how. They are burning the grass. ' What do you say ? ' said Boland. ' Let OB go prospecting and visit this island. How long would the tnp take. Jack ? ' ' Well, with the wind as it is we coo Id be out there by 3 o'clock, bat we could not get back to-night. Then there is a chance of its coming on to blow. We would have to stay there till the weather moderated.' ' See bow we etand for grab.' said Bowly. ?' There mast be water there if it is inhabited-' ?? Provisions for a week,' said Boland, *? only yoa mast go easy on the grog. We will re serve a portion of that, in case of accident, only Jack *an you love me.' If we land there do more slippery hitches.' Jack gave a grant. 'How about shooting irons! We do not know what kind of a reception we may meet with. There is my revolver and Sims', aod that ' piece of ordinance ' of Bo lands' ; qnite enough for defence. \V« are not bound on a predatory expedition,' Baid Rowley. 'Now let as be off.'' ' Time enough for half aa hour yet ; itit be slack tide then. The ebb will help us ont. Empty the water-keg and fill it with fresh They got away about eight o'clock, with a pleasant breeze irotn tbe north-east, beguiling the time by telling yams. ' What on earth did you two fellows 6nd to talk about last night,' said Boland. 'There is quite a path woro|in the sand where you patrolled up and down.' 'Oh lots of thing-,' said Rowley, 'I do not think you listened long to tbe 'steady beat of the tramping feet.' I wonder how Jacques rested alongside of you. That nose wedding quest. tie beat bis breast, for be heard the loud bassoon.' ' What the blazes is a bassoon, anyhow*;1 said Boland. something like you,' responded Jacqoes. 'Thou art m a parlous state, Shepherd,' retorte-l Bolaod. 'It is not a sign for good when pen tie youths of high degree condescend to personal abuse. Come on Sims, give os your instalment towards the general fund and thereby ' clap a stopper on this fellow's jaw tackle.' That is correct, Jack, la it not.1' said -Jacques. Jack laoghed. ' You knows a bit. Peter with tbe oo^e was eoconsed 10 the bows of the boat, crowing to himself some corrobaree air. He raised himself and looked round 'Which way you go. Jack ?* ' Long'a big fellow island.1 Tbe black's eyes shone brightly. With a grunt of approval be said ' Ugh, me get 'am gia.* ftuwly heard him.' quiet fellow by -and- by, or yon look oat.' Kowley tapped bis revolver poach significantly. Peter bumbled himself directly, and whim pered, ' me quiet fella Masser.' ' Now then Luff tenant as Jack calls yoa, we are zXt atten tion. Tbe rale is that yoor y&rt shall have a special reference to the time of year. What day of the month is this boyB ? Twenty* fourth. No, no ; twenty-third of December. * Written for the Capricnraian by a Kentieman of long and varied colonial experience

*'When I was serving in the H.E.J. Co.'e ship Mesopotamia — 'Ob ! Interjected Boland, turning his eyes up. What comfort in that blessed word. ** Be quiet Boland,' that is worn out said said Jacques. 'Some years since, 'went on Sims '* we were employed in making a survey of the River Eoprates, or rather in connecting two previous surveys. ' On which occasion you became the possessor of that massive ring which yoa wear, with the curious inscription. I know what is coming, said Boland ; settling himself now. Gazelle-eyed dangfaters of Araby the Blest. Backsheesh. Camels milk and bouris. Bearded Sheikhs. The untamed Bedwins of tbe desert, and all the rest of it However, I am resigned. Boy, light my pipe. By ilahommed — ani I do not break any com mand meat in asing the words, I swear by nothing in heaven or earth. May your face shine ; go on Mashallah. ' Be qaiet yon idiot, or I will try what virtue there be in salt water. I cannot hope to relate anything so interesting, as the two stories which we have heard. And now yonr turn will come Boland. But to proceed. The ship lay 10 the river. The surveying had to be carried on in tbe boats. It was rather slow work. We had stack to it pretty closely for some weeks, and were ready for we were at work was aa Arab encampment. The ooly ioterconrse we had with them con sisted in the purchase of a kid or two, and some goats milk now and then. We were none of us Arabic scholars, so most of our basin ess was transacted by signs . We other, or rather I should say it grew to be an article of belief with ns ; that the neighbouring country abounded with a kind of partridge. Some of us were enthu siastic e ports oi eo, and in short excursions of a mile or so from the boats had bagged a few at different times . This on ly whetted oar appetites for more. We coald not safely go to any great distance without the consent of tbe Sheik, Abdallah Ben Sidi. So having obtained leave from the commander four of us started under by name, a tall swarthy {not very qaiet) look ing Arab, who was also to act as our inter preter, though 1 do believe sis words, so pro nounced as to be almost unintelligible to an on practised ear, was his whole stock of English, we were so eager to shake a loose leg, after months of confinement oo board ship, we ignored all difficulties in our way, and started to interview the Sheik. Of coarse we bad to walk, aod some eight or nine miles over sand, in which one sank to the ankle at every step, laden as we were with guns, game bags, ammunition, and sandwich cases, waB rather dispiriting. We were young and full of spirits, and cheered each other, anticipating the pleasore of making a good bag as well as as well as the acquaintance of real lire Arabs. Of coure we had romantic notions concerning the 'dwellers in tents,' fostered by the perusal of books, written by people who had race. Certainly, oar experience of the few we had come in contact with had taken as down somewhat. In course of time we arrived at the encampment. It was just a collection of ?shelters, by courtesy called tents, made of some dirty looking coarse staff like Drugget. The site had oothing alluring about it. it was what we would call in this country a low Band ridge, elevated a few feet above the surrounding plain. A few palms— date palms — grew about in straggling fashion. There was also a well of brackish water. The old chap's tent was larger than tbe others. A spear, oo which was affixed a red rag, was planted before tbe tent. We were introduced by our guide in a few words of Arabic. The chief received us very hospitably. We were in ani form. The brass bands on oar caps and the Oompaoy's Buttons made a favourable impression. Tbe old fellow was not such a fool as he looked, as we fouod oat afterward?. He knew all about *' Company Bahadoor.' After the first introduction there was silence for a little. The Sbeik clipped his hands ; a brown maiden in rather scanty raiment, with coal black eyes, her hair in tbe condition known as toweled, made her appearance. The old fellow said a few words ; she vanished, bat presently reappeared with some black stuff in little basios, which proved to be coffee. There seemed to be a hitch about pipes, at least we thought so ; cigar cases were pro duced ; the Sheik accepted one. We were made to understand that be had been to Damascus once, and knew what they were. We smoked away in silence for some twenty minutes, looking as grave as a party of owls. Then Abdallah eaid some words. Our friend broke out in a torrent of gutterals of which we could make nothing. We conjectured that him. lie was dismissed with a solemn shake of tbe head. ' No go,' whispered my neigh bour, tbe secood lieatenant, 'Tbe old fellow is not on. We shall have to go back empty.' I noticed something like a faint Bmile pass over the old fellow's face, and nudged Manly to be silent. Then there was more palaver, which was explained to as to mean, as far as we could understand, that tbe did fellow was ao sorry— desolee — that be could not keep us. Most of his young men were away with tbe horses at pasture. Me coald not let as go without a sufficient guard- He was op bad terms with a neighbouring tribe ; they were very bad men. We offered terms. Back sheesh— liberal terms — fora week's shooting \o— it coald not be done. In the coarse of the d-*cQB»Jjn. in which oar gaide took by far the largest share— talking like a steam engine, 1 caught Abdaliah's eye, and made a sign im palsively. He responded; we communicated; the difficulties vanished like smoke before the wind to tbe astonishment of my coin ptn ion b We suon discovered that the Sheik conld talk better English than the so-called interpreter.

We coald not possibly go until next day. In Another dapping of haw^^ the damsel whom we bad seen before re-appeared accom panied by another like herself, only more so, bearing dishes of rice, and stewed kid, thick milk, aod little cakes of bread, one of which was given to each of us. We scooped oat of the same dish fraternally, when we had eoded, the thick milk was not half bad I tell you. Pipes were brought, some more coffee, and tbe Sheik and I kept np a desultory conversation, eked ont with signs. A tent was set Apart for us. I daresay some one was dispossessed for our benefit. We stayed with him nine days,' horses, guides, everything necessary was found for us, we made such a bag every day as de lighted their hearts. People in England woald doubtless have looked on the result of our day s work with scorn. We kept our hosts camp kettle sapplied and sent lotB to the gun room mess besides. Our first leave was for a week, we bad it extended to ten dayB. Oar time was up, return we most, unless we were prepared to throw oar lots in with the tribe, aod retire into the desert for good. On tbe ninth day we started to go back to tbe ship or properly speaking to where the boat awaited as. Parting from our friends in the kindest manner. We had been liberal in onr monetary transactions. The old Sheik oo parting gave me the ring, which Boland spoke of, and a general invitation to come and visit him agaia whenever I was in the neigh bourhood. We started somewhat late in the day on onr return. Only accompanied by our friend IsmaL We were not fated to reach our home withoat an adventure. Whether those 'bad friends' of the Shieks, had re ceived some inkling of oar generous dealing with his tnbe, or were indignant that all the cood things should fall to his lot I do not know. We were abont half way, when Ismai made us halt. While we set off to reconnoitre. We had not noticed anything suspicions in our surroundings. Apparently he had. He returned in a short time, and gave as to under stand that there were robbers. Bad Bedivin in front. How many? He could not say how many. He had seen some evidently watching nition was nearly expended. We had no idea of being impeded in oar progress so near oar friendly Sheik's tribe. Manly was for poshing od . I have a few cartridges, be eaid. Let as press on, they will hear our firing at the boats if we can only get close enough. There are four of as not counting the Arab. Those fel lows know we are armed. Their only advan tage is that they are mounted. There seemed to be nothing else for it, so we moved oo. Some straegliug bushes were in front of us at some distance ; the only cover within sight. We made a detour to keep dear of them, oat of range as we thought. Those long guns of theirs carry a good distance, however, as we found. On arriving abreast of the bashes, which being on a ridge, bad served to conceal our enemies. We were saluted with a shot which struck the sand just in front. Imme diately, about a score of mounted men rode down uDon as. Bat seeing that we were armed, halted about two hundred yards away. We had halted, and awaited their charge. There were ooly four cartridge.— We would make sore of some of them at close quarters. However, seeing that they were in doubt, we moved elowly on, halting whenever they showed a disposition to close. We had ad vanced some distance in this manner. The rascals grew bolder, and moved round as in circles, gradually hemming as in. One of them fired and strnck poor Ismal in the leg. He fell on thesand with a load cry. I thought it was all up with as being so outnumbered. When, jast as the party seemed to be about to attack ae, the report of a heavy gun in front of ns was heard at a considerable dis tance. They drew together in consultation. Now for it said Manly, sorely they will come not decrease their distance. We could see some of them gazing back in the direction in which we had come, shading their eyes with their hands. Presentlytbeybegantomoveaway. to our surprise and satisfaction. The cause of musket was discharged in oar rear, and up came tbe old Sbeik Abdallah and a score of his men. Ismal knew them, and snooted some words in Arabic At tirst we thoaghf* that we were takeu in the rearbyasecond party Ismal reassured us on that point. 'Give them a parting shot,' said Manly, as the attacking party wheeled and began to depart at a gallop. They were hardly within range ; however, ire let them have the four guns. Tbe Sbeik and his party swooped down aa them, and pot them to tbe root. Ismal was not much hart. We bound bis leg up with our handkerchiefs. He could not walk, so we remained until the Sheik and his party returned, when be mounted him behind one of his men, and sent him to camp, accompanying us to the boat, which we found at the appointed place. It turned oat that after we had left tbe camp one of his men came in, who bad been looking for some of the camels, aod had seen the tracks of the party. He reported they were coming in our direction, whereupon Ahdalla bad saddled op, and arrived in the nick of time to oar relief. Tbe big gan which we had heard was our own boat swivel, which the midshipman in charge had fired to let us know he was waiting. And so we spent oar Christ mas night in a different way from what had seemed at one time probable. 41 Let me see the ring, please,' said Bowley. Sims handed it to him. (ToUcotttiuunt.) When tbe pake of York daring the Walcheren erpidition had to retreat before the French, Sheridan gave as a toast 'The Dake of York and his brave fotlotctrs.' ' The * dynamite party!' exclaimed Mrs. Shoddy, who was reading over the papers. 'Dear me, Augustus, well have to give one right away before those Smiths bear of it. I wonder what it's like !'