|Newspaper Title||Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 - 1954)|
|Trove Title||John, the Bishop: A Tale of the Dark Days of Tasmania|
JOHN, THE BISHOP.
A TALE OF THE DARK DAYS
BY JAMES GRASSIE.
The preaching of the present time, with all its poetry, is not up to the ancient; mark, nor have we any modern divinity equal to that fulminated by Fox, Knox, and Bunyan. I doubt whether the modern devil is equal to the old serpent; and I fancy that if Thomas Acquinas was about in these days, he would flog the modern gentle, man more for his wild secularity than his unbelief.
When in Arabia he inculcated pay- ment by results, and tested patience by knocking Job's eye out; he introduced a foretaste of compulsory education and criminal jurisprudence-"eye for eye
and tooth for tooth " was in his code
long before Coke upon Lyttelton an nexed it. No fear of him telling you to let the man who took your coat have the cloak also; there was too much Coke in him for that-too much of
Magna Charta and vote by ballot in jury boxes and out of them. Coke upon Dahomey has, however, trans cended the Lucifenian code, and ex ceeded the teaching of Lyttelton. The African Lycurgus, in cases of murder, says-" Take the murderer if you can, and if you cannot get him,
take his brother or his next of kin!"
I wonder that Lyttelton did not smuggle that wise Dahomian provision
into his lex talionis.
Having stuck up and robbed a hawker
and two sheep dealers, John and his hopeful companion arrived on the sea coast, and fell in with a shepherd who was also a prisoner on assigned service, who at once took them under his pat ronage and informed them that two
desperate mutineer sailors, who had re- cently escaped from the penal establish- ment, now occupied a cave in the vicinity, and contemplated stealing the boss's yacht, which lay in a bight not far away, and putting to sea in the hope
of falling in with a whaler or one of the Southern Islands, and getting thence to America. John's heart
throbbed at the sound of America; and its glorious flag and free institu tions sparkled in bis mind's eye like stars in the galaxy. Oh, how he longed to quit this hateful isle with all its'
cursed associations aud tread on that sacred soil. The shepherd conducted them to the debased sons of Neptune in the cave, where a council was held,
the sederunt of which was that money and a water cask were required-the former to furnish pvovisions and arms for the voyage, and the latter to hold water. The tars had seen the yacht, which was only a half-decked boat, hauled up on the bench, from which she could easily bo launched, and her masts and sails were kept in a bark guuyah near her and could be had also. "There is a store," said the shepherd, who had also attended Pandemonium, "within three miles of us now, where the store
keeper is 'all right' (which meant that, he was an unprincipled rascal, who would act dishonestly if opportunity offered) and the station horse and ration cart were now at the hut. The station storekeeper had brought out the monthly rations, but as his horse had knocked up he had returned on foot. " Now," said the follow, " fortune has favored you. There is plenty of money here, and there is a man (laying his hand on " the Banker's" shoulder) who will deal with the storekeeper." " The Banker " at once and unhesitat ingly offered to go to the store next day with the station horse and cart, and there ''dispose of the two new saddles, purchase the required stores, and ex change if possible some bank notes for specie. ," The Banker " went to the store next day and found the store keeper, a. sinister looking man, ready to enter into any nefarious transaction, and he had no difficulty in dealing with him. For the two new saddles, he got a double barrelled gun, worth three or four pounds, and for one hundred pounds in paper money he got thirty eight pounds in gold and silver, and he paid three prices for the provisions and ammunition, when the worthy merchant invited him to hava a
drain. He, however, shook his head and declined the kindness with a "thank you all the same." Lost and abandoned as he was he knew that a man who drinks grog is un worthy of trust from others, and has no no confidence in himself. He knew that one glass of grog would create a desire for another, and that if a third followed- and it would bo sure to follow - he would very likely betray himself and all his companions in crime, and rush headlong to the gal lows. " Better have one nip," said the storekeeper, "this ain't no shanty, grog, and it han't seen no water yet." " No, thank you all the same;" said " the Banker," " I'm troubled with sore eyes,, don't you see, and grog ain't good for it.'? " Well, have a drop or hale !" "-No thauk ee," said "the Banker," "ale and me don't agree, it takes the shingle off my upper, story, and when I do take it I'm always for a ahootin' of somebody." The storekeeper bit his lip, and dropped the grog subject. The truth is that he had been calculating whether there might not be a reward for his customer, and if he could get
him drunk and hclpless he would rob him to-day, and get a reward for him to-morrow, but he was discomfited by the, caution of the criminal; and as he was looking for a salient point in some other quarter, a blackfellow emtered the stove. "Well, Jacky," said the storekeeper, addressing him, " "Where come ballie this time ?" "From White Hill," replied the black. "And wbere 'nother one blackfellow ?" con tinued the merchant. " Him come bailie, bye and bye," responded the darkie. " And what see all about on travel along o' this place ?" asked the storekeeper, to which Jacky replied, "Me see two whitefellow at Shingle Hut, and me think Mr. Prender one, and Mug Morton, policeman, 'notker one; and crow and native cat eat him." "You don't mean to say that Mr. Prender is dead," said the storekeeper. "Him very dead," replied Jacky, " And not a bit too soon," muttered the storekeeper. Then, addroasiug "the Banker," he said, " That's the beak he's
speaking about; he says he is dead-a good job if' he is-he were'nt no friend of mine-facf he weren't no friend of anybody." " You seem to have a jerry upon him," said the "Banker." " I orter have a jerry on him,*' said the storekeeper, "for he once sent me to quod three months for nuffin'; but it seems he'll have to be set upon hisself now." " Yes," said the "Banker," " and you will have to send for the crowner, or you may get into bother over it."
" He was the crowner hisself," replied the storekeeper, "and I don't know who to send it to." Then said "the
Banker," "You had better make it rights with the darkies." It was ult- mately, arranged that for a gallon of rum, a loaf, and some tobacco, the darkies would move on and say no- thing abotr their discovery. "No -- fear of me yabber," said Jacky, and the storekeeper proceeded to mete out their bribe. He poured a bottle of rum into half a bucket of water, and having washed several vitriol and spirits of wine bottles - neither of them empty - in it, and dashed in a hand-
ful of sugar and some alum, he gave it to them, and turning to the " Banker," said with a wink, "They'll murder each other to-night, and a good job
(To ha Continued.)