|Newspaper Title||Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907)|
|Trove Title||A Tale of Twins|
Princess Spinaway's Department.
A TALE OP TWINS.
(By Muriel Clarkson.)
(Dedicated to my old friend, E.T.) \
When Alick recovered consciousness, he tried to rise, but his ankle was swollen and discolored; so that he was forced to lie back with the pain, his mind tortured with horrible fears.
The air was cold and sharp, dew thick over the trees and grass, and over all a white, bright moon light, that threw weird shadows on the ground.
Alick wondered vaguely why Gerald had gone; what would he do alone in the great, wild bush; he who hated silence and loneliness, and had not his brother's fearlessness to uphold him?
Then a horriblè:fèar came over him.
If Uncle Harry had found Gerald, and he had been too ill to tell him where his brother had gone, and had taken him back to Woolgoine! Then he closed his eyes to shut out the strange shaJ dows, and In a few moments was In a troubled sleep, with crowds of phantom figures passing and repassing before him, and leering at him out of the corners of their wicked eyes.
He had a confused idea of something hct and liquid being poured down his throat, but thinking it was one of his dream ghosts, he struggled and fought- desperately; then a voice said, "Drink it up, my boy,'! and he sat up in dazed astonishment.
, The pleasant warmth he had felt came from a fire that was burning brightly near him, and in the grey morning light he could see three or four bushmen standing round, their hcrses' bridles over their arms, as they talked among themselves.
And Uncle Harry was there beside him; Uncle Harry with a world of tenderness in his brown eyes, that brightened with a suspicious moisture, as the little lad clung feverishly to his toil-worn hands. "Oh, uncle," Alick cried, "uncle, uncle!"
"AU right, my boy," said Uncle Harry; "I won't leave you; but where is Gerry?"
"Gerry," repeated Alick in bewilderment, then the cobwebs cleared from his brain, and he told them rapidly what had befallen them. Uncle Harry's face grew grave.
"We :must look for him at once,"' he said, thoughtfully; "but I can't imagine where he has disappeared to. He must (be very ill by now." He turned and spoke to one of the men, who imme diately galloped off through, the bush.
"Where is he going?" asked Alick, with interest. "Into Woolgoine," was the answer. "But we must come along ta the station now, and look af tel your foot. Then I'll go after Gerald."
"Oh. take me with you," said Alick, eagerly, "my foot doesn't páin much; do uncle!"
"Well, I'll see," said his uncle, rather dcubt
.Then, with the aid of one or two men, he placed Alick behind him on his hcrse, and they started for
As they went, he explained to them how he had not come in their direction before.
They , had searched in the vicinity of the shed all night, while it rained heavily, so that all: foot mark? were completely wiped out next morning; then one of the searchers reported that the traci« of two boys had been seen some miles to the east ward, and the whole party went that way, while all the tjme the boys were not very far from Wool goine.
After following the tracks for some time, it was f"und that they belonged to a pair of negro lads, who had. been presented with a cast-off pair of boots, and, thoroughly baffled, the men had taken the opposite direction, with the present success.
The eastern sky was flushed rosy red with the coming dawn, when they arrived at the shed; and one of the men began to prepare a hasty breakfast of coffee, and bread and' meat; rough far«, indeed, hut not to starving Alick.
"I reckon berries ain't very substantial things to live on," said one of them, a twinkle in his eye. as he watched him eat, and Alick qiiite agreed with im.
Then,- when his foot was bathed in cold water, ? and bandaged, he and Uncle Harry rode in one di rection, and the other horsemen in. another. They
hart gone albout two miles, when their horses be gan plunging and snorting in a most unaccount able manner, and looking through the bushes with their widely distended eyes.
Then the cause as seen. It was çothing less
than an old blackfellow, who stood near the path, as though he were cast in black marble, his with ered hands clutching a bundle of spears and boo merangs, and a long, white beard falling to his
He was of extraordinary height, and very,; very thin, and his only clothing was a pair of trou sers, a dilapidated coat, and a piece of a blanket pinned across his shoulders.
"It's Jackamon," whispered Uncle Harry, hur riedly. Then he called out, "Holloa there! You King Wolla Wolla tribe?"
The old fellow came swiftly towards them; while a look of gratification lit up his wrinkled face.
"Kia, me King," he said, pleasantly; "me King," and he tapped his breast with a lean fore finger. "You name--?" ' ^
"Me know-um Merton." Then he fixed his eyes oh Alick with a keen, penetrating look. .
"This one boy," he said, excitedly; "far away walk, me know um. Far away." y 1
"He knows where Gerald is," said Uncle Harry, in an undertone. Then he turned to the King
"You see um white boy, all same dis one?"
"Me see um," repeated Jackamon; "berry sick, me hut.'1 Me find um far away bush." .
"You take me white boy?" said Uncle, Harry, impressively; "me give um you baccy and rugs, King." . ' . : ?
At the magic word "baccy" a broad smile came over the old fellow's face; then he turned and stalked through tho bushes, while the two riders followed him with beating hearts.
Poor old Jackamon! He remembered quite well when he was the powerful king of a powerful tribe; of? times when his little army, armed with
spears and tomahawks, raided the white men's sheep and cáttle yards, and carried home the plunder; of wild corroborées following a success ful raid, with only the light of a huge fire and a faraway moon-oh! they were glorious times!
But the white invaders had encroached upon the blackfellows' hunting grounds, and driven them out of it; and civilisation had dwindled the Wolla Wolla tribe down to twenty br so, and old Jackamon's kingdom had fallen!
The name of "King" had long been stranger to his ear, and now to hear it from the lips of a white man was pleasant, indeed. Right in the heart of the forest was a little opening, with huts in a semi-circle; before them fires burning brightly, with several women cooking something, while a few grubby, half-clothed children romped with the dogs. .
The old chief led Uncle Harry and Alick over to one of the huts slightly larger than the rest.
Here on a bed of rushes, and covered with a dirty rug, lay Gerald, flushed and hollow-eyed, and raving incessantly; "while now and then a black gin held a pannikin of water to his Hpsi and tried to persuade him to eat some indigestible-looking damper that lay on a tin plate.
"Gerry!" cried Alick, falling on his knees be side his brother; "Gerry! don't you know me?"
But when the heavy eyes opened there was no look of recognition in them, only he called out to Alick not to leave him, and to hunt those hor rid, staring creatures away, and not to let them touch him.
Uncle Harry's face was very grave. He turned and said something to the old King, who beck oned two of his men, and spoke rapidly to them.
In a few minutes they had returned, bearing a neatly-constructed litter with them. They plac ed it on the ground, and then looked expectantly
"Put um white boy there," said Jackamon; "mc men carry um you station."
Uncle Harry raised Gerald very tenderly in his arms, and laid him on the litter; then the men took hold, and bore it swiftly away, while their chief strode beside them.
It was a long way to the station, and directly they got there,, and the men surrounded the litter with eager queries and exclamations, the two stalwart natives put it down hastily, and fled up the hill. The old chief turned to the aston ished men with a grin
"'Him frightened," he said. ' "No like um white fellow. Me no frightened."
They could hear the rumble of wheels in the distance-the Woolgoine carriage; BO Alick hastily rolled up three old blankets, with a good supply of "baccy" ifti them, and gave them, to the- old
black, making him understand by pantomimic signs tlat two were for the bearers and one tor
himself , , , _"
He stood beside his present, watching the men saddle up and depart in a body; then he shoul dered lis swag, and vanished through the bush.
(To be continued.)