|Newspaper Title||The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Qld. : 1875 - 1929)|
|Trove Title||In Days Gone By|
fraUs m& JRtttttas.
IN DAYS GONE BY.*
Br as Ou- Settler.
Ys&ss have rolled on with tbeir average ( accompaniments of joys and Borrow, pain and I pleasure, auice the time of which 1 am about j to apeak. Foar friends happened to meet in j a seaport on oar eastern seaboard. Commuoi- : cation with the southern ports was uncertain I
aad at long intervals. There was little of I interest in the place. The four were engaged I in grazing pursuits, and were delayed, waiting I foradricea trom the sooth. Time hang bearfly on their hands. The period of year was i December. A proposal was made to hire a | boat and go for a week's cruise on the coast [ and among the adjacent islands. ! 44 But where can we proenre a boat ? ' *' If you a§ree to the trip I will take on myself the responsibility of procuring tbe boat,' said Sims, who had served in tbe fleet of John Company Bah-a-door. The three others were only amateurs at boating, byname Roland, Rowland, and Jackea. Wherever Sims bad proenred her, a cutter of about five tons burden * is forthcoming. Tbe owner of which not ooi' demanded a good round sum for the use of his craft, bat made it a tine fttz nan. that be shonld be of the party. Presumably from a want of confidence in the nautical ability of tbe ' swells.' After some discussion tbe point was agreed to. The terms arranged were half cash. The balance and water were shipped, as well as a suoply of grog of different binds. Tbe idea of going to eea without a stock of rum being scouted as out of all rale. Lo addition to the five persons already named, Boland had picked up an aboriginal native of the district known ae ?? Paddle-nosed Peter.' From the peculiar shape of bis nasal organ, which, in the bygone past had been diaGgured by a fall into the tire, Peters insisted that he had been knocked down by a Boomerang. They were not wanting people who said that over indulgence in firewater was the cause. But there are people who will say envious things even of a bUckfellow. The host was * heavQy built slow going craft, which Jack Conden had brought op in expectation of a rigged, and named the Waterwitch, with as much sense of titQess as such names ure usually bestowed. When they had been some hoars on board, and had tested her qaalities, Sims suggested that The Tortoise would have been tbe more appropriate name. Carried. The only dissentient was the owner, who said—' Wait a bit till she gets a breeze and ye'll see her travel.' Tbe prospect of ?aid breeze seemed hopeJess. The firat day little more was dooe than drift with tbe tide There was not even the relief of splendid scenery to direct attention from their slow progress. A hint from Jack, that if the oars were pat in requisition the pace would be greatly accelerated, was laughed to scorn, a caution being added— that he bad better be careful how be propounded euch revolutionary ideas, or the Tortoise might possibly return to enjoy themselves, not to work like niggers. The enjoyment was in this case questionable. Floating slowly with the tide, under a fervid sun, a forest of tbaiigroves on either bank excluding every pasaiog breath of wind. They ate and drank, smoked, and sang songs. When the Bood tide made and stopped their progress effectually. Jack poshed in to tbe bank* and moored to & branch of mangrove. Just at dark a horde of bloodthirsty demons in the guise of mosquitoes, came down on them. For hours they suffered tbe torments of the damned. Jack, finding that the ebb ms making, launched into mia-etream on his own responsibility. As tbey drifted out tbe swarm of insects decreased. Sleep so long unsuccessful.'? wooed, came at last. Jack de clared he bad only had forty winks when he awoke. There was oo motion in the lra.tr— she was hard and fast on a mudbank. In his endeavoara to push her off he had roused the others. ' What is tbe matter. Jack ?' ?* Agronod oo a bank,' was the reply. Th word was fraught with terror to those whose acquaintance with boatiog was only limited. Rowland seeiog that Jack showed not fully avrakened, rushed frantically for an oar, plunge*! it into tbe mud, fancying that as the oar sank the boat mornd. He redoubled his efforts, shrieking frantically to tbe others to come aod assist him. They ouly laughed at htm, hiring beard Jack say she would Dot hurt till the tide made, Sims, having sunk the oar so deep that he was unable to extri cate it, paoteil, aod swore, and straggled. Jack said, ' Young fella, if yon break my oar yoa will have to pay for it. It's not so easy to replace a twelve-foot oar up here.' Sims turned on the laughers, ** What the— ahem ! are you beggars laughing at ?' ?' Wliy, at you — working grandly for twenty man ! It is as clear a case of misdirected energy as I have ever seeo,' said Boland. Sims darted an angry look at the speaker. When the flood made, the boat floated, and tbe oir was recovered, Jack proposed tbey aboald pull a few miles. ' Don't Jack, don't troat this man with an oar. He'll stick it in tbe mad.' Sims grew furious, and threatened to go on chore. ' Do oot, £ implore yon. There is mod there. If you should stick, and in oar effort! toextricateyou. yoa were to break, there would be wailing and lamentation at a cottage that yoa and I wot oF.' Whereupon Siena challenged him to a game at fisticuff,,. '* What ! Oo board this ere boat— Not el I know* it. If an be as yer wants a tmH 111 * Written fur thp Capriconu'an by a eentlemau Of tuag aoil varied colonial experiences.
land yer on that there island, and yer can fight it out till we comes back ; bat yell have topnlL' So agreed, ?? Pet«r of the Nose ' baing told off to assist Sims in propelling tbe boat —Oh ! cunning Jack — jmst as Sims supposed the boat to be searing the island Jack hoisted tbe roain sail and jib. ?* That'll do gem men, ye can lay your oars in.' Tbe Tortoise was 'going free ' between the island and the main land, at tbe rate of eight knots an hour. What a beastly sell? ejaculated Sims. The others laoehecL Come ait here, and have some
amber fluid, and then to breakfast, to which reasonable proposition no one objected. Jack ran down aboot eighteen miles to tbe mouth of a creek. They landed oa a nice sandy beach. *' Now,' said Jack, ' what do ye thinks of Tbe Sell ? Aiat I brought you to a lonely place for a rough and tumble seeing as bow yer can't hurt yeraelves? If it was on that ere island. There's nout bat rocks and stones. Bat the fighting Bpirit had gone ont of Sims, Bolaod was never possessed. Tbey roatc ^d aboat until sundown, when they gathered round the fire at night, the sea bree2e being just cool eonugh to make a fire endurable. It was proposed by Boland that each one should 'and,' said Boland, 'as we are drawing close to Christmas, I propose that the relations have a reference to that season,' which was agreed to. It fell to Bowly's lot to tell tbe first story. Having, at Bofaod's suggestion, moistened his clay, he commenced. TALE FIRST. Australia, and my first experience in bash life would probably have been sufficient for who came to Australia, at that time, at least, — I am speaking of a time a few years before the cessation of coovict labour— I was in % blessed state of ignorance as to what kind of life lay before me. There is an awful amount of bosh written about the freedom of a bueh life. I should just like to see some of those gushing writers landed in Australia without friends, money, credit, or influence, and obliged to work their way. Tbey would find that although Australian skies are 'deeply, beautifully blue,' life is oot all ro*e colour, even when one has youth, health, and strength on bis aide. Well, X was under the impression that I had only to present myself to the first comer to obtain not ouly employment, but a welcome. People were supposed to be longing for the advent of a free industrious population. They were not long emancipated, from the convict yoke, immi grants from Great Britain would be received with open arms. Socb was the tale told ns on the other aide 'The Herring Pond.' I had not much money when I landed — not not more than enough to sustain one for a few weeks — nothing to spare for superfluities. I had to look out for labour of some kind. My first job was in a quarry, a little way oot of Sydney. I remained st that for a few weeks. Then I went dumping wool on one of the wharves. After a few weeks I heard of a person who was inquiring for men to proceed np country. I offered myself, bat was demurred to on account of my youth. Finally was accepted at forty pounds per annum and my rations. I started np to my employers station with the drays, and received my initiation into bosh craft. I was no horseman, never before having bestridden any animal save a long enduring jackass. By dint of per»everence and. a strong wilt, I overcame that difficulty, and once able to keep my seat I neglected no opportunity of practice, I soon fraud that an expedition to seek for meadows green, and pastures new, was in prospect, I was selected to make one of the party, X had not the slightest idea of where we were going, bat the word expedition had a charm in it. My employer asked me if I coold nse a gun. All my acquaintances with one, was, wben a dozen of as boys could get a rusty old firelock and shoot sparrows. 1 was taught how to load and fire, until I became a very fair shot How useless to me the knowledge was tbe sequel will she's . Some weeks were spent in making preparations. We expected to be away for four months. My employer was not to be one of the party. The command of which was to be given to a nephew of his named Blair. Three* other relatives of bis. foar old hands who had served their time with Mr. Lepe). Another yooth, a native of New Sooth Wales, sod myself were included. We had a bollock dray laden with supplies, arms, &.c. A lot of cattle were to come slowly after ua. I have forgotten the names of the men as also of the places at which we stopped before we launched into tbe unexplored country; but aa far as this yarn goes it does not much matter for Dames. We journeyed on, travel), ing sometimes eight, sometimes ten miles a d»y. For some three weeks we had seen no natives, though there were sign* enough of tbeir presence. They let as alone, and we did not seek for them. Tbe leader had as yet seen oo country tn bis mind. There was a rumour prevalent among the men, wherever it came from, or on what founded I never knew, that far away to the west aod north-west were extensive plains luxuriantly grassed. Mr. Blair used to go on to advance of the main party to examine the country, find crossing places in creeks and that. Sometimes he took me with him, at other times Jim the native. Jim was with him one day, on which they bad been away longer than usual. He told me oo bis retnrn that Blair and he had been on tbe banks of a large river which was running strong. The banks were very steep, they could only find one crossings a very indifferent one, and hia impression was that there were thousands of blacks in the neighbourhood. Blair baited at some lagoons about a mile and a half from the river early in tbe day. We had not been Jong in camp when some bUcks made their appearance at a little distance. Blair was aoxioai to gain their good will, and by signs invited them to oar camp. They
were very shy *t first. Eventually one well- 1 made young fellow came np. One would; have thought turn good looking, bat for his . eyes, which were creel and for an immense I tisb bone stnek through the cartilage of b» nose. He was offered food, which be would not touch, until one of the men bad eaten , before him. He then tasted it gingerly, aod ; aaid some words to three of bis companions who stood a few yards off. Hit eyes were ' roving about, ooting everything in and about ; tbe camp. Seeing that their companion was ?
not molested, and doubtless hearing from him of the wonderful things in the camp, bis ; fellows came op. Tbey were presented with ' food and a few trifling articles. Their atten- 1 tion was chiefly directed to an are which the j oook waa using. They spoke to each other in low tones and looked at It deairingly. There was no attempt at theft, though many tools were lying about. Tbe bnllock driver bad broken or strained some of his yokes, and « there was plenty of swamp oak convenient we remained in camp while he renewed his supply. The blacks went away at sundown, making signs that they would come again next day. The next day and the succeeding one we passed ia camp. The darkies had come in greater force. There were some dozens of them roaming about tbe camp. We tried hard to gain some knowledge of the conntry ahead, especially of the river, making all kinds of signs. Some of the men tried to talk to them as tbey do to tame blacks. Tbe fellows would attempt to repeat tile words and laugh. Tbey seemed to onderstand some thing about the river. They pointed to the north-east and spread tbeir fingers, by which we understood that the river was wider in that direction. But all Blair's efforts to make them understand aboot lower banks or a better crossing place were perfectly unavailing. (To bt continued.)