|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||In Days Gone By|
fralcs and MtkUs.
Us DAYS GONE BY.»
By ak Old Settler.
Fancy onr melancholy Jaqaes coming oat with a blooming sensational story, said Boland* Hurrah 'Peter of the nose, who had been sleeping aa only an aboriginal can, roused np at this and shonted 'Hurra! Fo she's a aholly goo fella ; Fo she's a sbolly goo fella.'
'Ghost of Homer! Do you bear that! Why ! Yoor eloquence has galvanized the niggers.' Jack Conden said, by way of excuse for| Peter, 'he hears the like about the pabs in ton-it when fellows is a boozin' np a bit. They Iarns those things fast enough.' The party camped tbrre for the oight ; in the morning at daylight Jack's voice aroused them. He baring passed the night in the boat at anchor. Breakfast having been dis cussed, ** Which way are we going to-day, Gemraen?' asked .lack. No decision had been come to on the point. While they were hesitating, Jacques proposed to visit some of the island. Agreed. The water keg was filled ; a start was made for a small island about' twelve miles off shore. The wind, which promised well at starting, fell oft The flood tide was against them, still they reached the island about noon. On closer view, it did cot seem to promise anything of interest. Bat Boland Baid it was one ot the stations in their pilgrimage, and though he had no hope of being called a Hadji or Badgi (with a look at Sims), visit it he most. 'Perhaps,' said Jacques, ' Badger might be the more appropriate term for you-' Hurra. ! Jacques again. I named this island seem to be anything deserving the name of tree on it, let alone a forest. I see a delightful little cove. Let us land there. This was speedily done ; Jack lit a fire while the others strolled op tbe elope to see the view from the top. Rowland went with Peter to prospect for oysters. Peter rather affected Bowly's company, perhaps, because he understood Peter's gibberish better than the others. After a long search some bivalves were Bccured. Such a small quantity it seemed to tbem. Looking down on tbe great masses on the seaward side, where they were un approachable, nothing bnt a goat or a monkey could have found a pathway to the water's edge, Howly and Peter scrambled back to a eloping shelf where they stayed to rest a little. ' You know im this place Peter ? ' ?' Yohi : Me come up a good while ago. fellows.' 'What for come? 'You see masser, here, pointing to a reef island, big fellow canoe brokealongathat place. Plenty flour, plenty tugar, plenty ri, plenty everything ; sit down.' By which Rowly understood that a vessel had been wrecked on the reef, and the cargo of flour, engar, tea, rice scattered along tbe shore. *? Plenty cask too, and bottle,' added Peter. ?'Well, did you all get drunk? I suppose there was plenty of grog ? 'Yo-hi; plenty bottle too; bnt (with a bead) baal blackfellow been know im that time.' No donbt if they had known the virtues of the fire water there would hare been a mon strous spree. Rowly fnrtber discovered that there were chairs and tables, and many other things beyond Peter's powers of description. From what he cocld compreLend a portion of the cargo was machinery 'like itsteamer,'alao that the £gure-head was washed ashore. ' White gin, along a waddie make im,' was Peter's description. They did cot eat the floor, not knowing how to cook it. The bags they kept for coverings and threw it into tbe sea. They knew the eagar was good. Tbey rt^ ? eat ? gat — until that no good, meaning that they bad sickened themselves. While they ate their touch Howly told tbe others of this story, and Peter's great regret that '* Blackfellow ha a! know him grog.' To con sole him Boland gave him a nip. They re turned on board, and proceeded to a smaller island a few miles distant. As they neared it Boland declared that he saw a vehicle of some bind on the shore. The others ridiculed the idea. It was not so easy to effect a landing as on No. 1. After a time they found a spot suitable for the purpose. Boland was right ; there was a new tip-cart very little the worse. The ends of the sbatie were frayed in dragging over the reefs. No maker's name on it. Be eider, there were number of cedar and pine planks ; cases which had fared worse than the cart being smashed and tbe contents all gone, lay about. This was near being a dear trip to them alL In their haste to sec the cart they left tbe boat together. Jack beinj* the last. He put the painter carelessly round a low rock. When tbey had ended their survey and looked for her she was gone. Here was a misfortune. Sims had gone to tbe left, and cried oat, ' I see him.' There was a rash. and there she was, bat fully two hundred yards from tbe ebore, drifting away to tbe southward, under the combined influence ol wind and tide. There was no time for inde cision . Sims and Jack stripped, and struck out for her. Those on shore were not to be from the mainland, treeless and, what was of infimtely more importance, waterless, doomed to a lingering death if any accident befel the only two who coald swim tbe dis tance. It seemed bonrs to them before tbey coald Bee that Jack had his hand on the gunvale. Stms they coald not see. His strength might have failed him— or, O God ! the sharks. Breathless with excitement they ? Written for the Caprieornian by a gentleman of long and tiried colonial experience
watched. Boland said, ' I aee him now ; he is swimming low and slowly ; I hope be is not exhausted.' £imi was modi nearer to the boat than they thought ; bat he mi well* nigh beaten. What bad become of Jack? They bad seen him grasp tbe boafa side. Where was be? Sorely a ehaik could not have taken him. A few minutes more of suspense — boors, measured by their feelings. Something appeared on the boat's side. Still no sign of sail being set. The boat seemed to be leaving them. What would the end be ? At last two objects could be distinguished on board tbe boat, tbe saQa were set, and she was being -worked up to them. A l&ndsman never can be made to under* stand why a vessel under sail cannot be made to go direct to a given point. Boland was a latHft'''1 pore and simple, as far as tbe management of the boat was concerned. As the boat did not come directly to them he imagined she would never come. ** Why don't tbey come ! They are leaving as here to die ;' and soon, the refrain being sustained by 'him of the nose,' who, as Boland said afterwards, waa ' chanting his death eonp— a musical performance, in itself not at all cheerful or comforting. Rowly was silent He and death had been close to each other many times. It seemed to him worse than useless to howl about the matter. Boland was not reassured fully until the boat's prow grated on tbe rocks. With joy ful hearts they stepped on board ; and only then did tbey confess tbe intense thirst which bad possession of them. The very thought of being doomed to die of thirst had awakened it. Having satisfied tbeir craving with the the boat's head being once more pointed to the mainland, Jack told bis story. 'The boat did not eeem such a long way off— did it Gemmen ? Bat tbe water is very deceiving, and she was a trarellin ; tbe wind was dri«in her ; we hit out as bard as we could, bat the further we swam tbe further we seemed to be behind. Sharks ? No, I did not think of Vm. What's tte nse * We had got to fetch the boat ; that is what we had to do ; and if tbey took as how was we to better onrselves by thinking of it. I was nearly done wfaen I caught the gunnel. I was a good while before I conld poll myself aboard. I out to him to go easy an just keep himself afloat. 1 donno whether be heard me or not.' ' I heard yoor voice, bnt could not tell what yon said,' Sims said. 'I knew I was nearly done, so I just kept myBelf afloat, and hard work at that.' Poor chap ! He looked very pale and exhausted. ' I koew,' continued Jack, ' that if I put the sail on her I might never fetch him, and that would be all's one as murder ; so I got an oar out to leeward, and paddled her up gently to him. I had a job to get him on board, seeing aa how be could not help me much, an I were party well blown myself, Well we are are all right now It were a tight squeeze. Bat gemmen, I tell ye this. If so be as I had not fetched the boat. When I did I'd have thrown my hands up. For it all happened tbrough my con founded carelessness. *' I am much obliged to yoa both said Boland. And Sims old man FU never eay a word more aboat the ' ? Jaaued put frig bund over Boland's month. '* I moat confess said Bowly ' I did not feel at all comfortable I have as much physical courage as most men. Bnt it is an awful thing to face a lingering death, like what would have been our fate, on yon rocky islet. If yon had not reached the boat. 'Yes,' said Jack, 'it were a bad place. Plenty of wood to make a fire and a big smoke. Bat no vessels come so far in. If they saw a big smoke. Very liker, they would think, it was the Blacks. We will just have time to make the creek by dark, the wind is fair boss. Tbere'B no other place to make for as I know on.' Steer for tbe creek was tbe cry Jacques who was looking over the boats side said suddenly. ? Look here you fellows we are sailing over a garden. And a beantiful garden it it is. Look at those plants. What colour ? What beauty ? Could we not get some of them ? *' Lord bless your heart said Jack, if yoa had them ye would throw them away, them's only weeds that grows on the coraL The moving of the water, and the way tbe sun is shining on em slantway like, that's what makes em look so pretty. The can was getting low by this time. Boland was afraid, they could not find their way into the creek in the dark. Jack Bet bis mind at rest. Producing a boat compass, and pointing out tbe hill under which tbey bad camped. ' Not as I will want it even if we don't grt in before dark, I could smell my way in amost. As darkness drew on the water seemed on fire with myriads of fish coming into tbe creek with the flood. Every now and then a large body rashed past tbe boat, leaving in its wake a line of fire. Large medusa floated along like globes of brightness. '1 he water Becmed endowed with life ; but no one regretted hear ing the boat's prow strike the sand. Tbe cooking utensils were banded out. A bright fire eooo shed its glow on tbe dark back gronnd of the hill-side. The bushes around ! the camp glistened «ith the dew in the light of the 6re. All were too hungry to talk much ; their day's experience had somewhat sobered them. When tbe meal was over. Jack ! went on board the boat, and moving her from ! tbe bank, anchored, and was eoon asleep. ; His swim had made him tired. The others sat talking over tbe events of the day. Jacques and Boland soon dropped off ; Bowly and Sims were alone — as for him of the nose, having scraped a hole in the sand to receive his body, and lighted a small fire on each side of him, be soon gave oral evidence of having SDCcnmbed to tbe drowsy god. ( To be continued. )